For anyone who thought that ‘The Hangover’ was too tame,’Ted’ was too innocent, wish that the Monty Python gang had gone X rated with their films, or dreamed that the Dogme movement would have tackled lowbrow comedy, the minds behind the Danish TV show ‘Klovn’ have filled in those blanks with the hilarious and raunchy road trip comedy ‘Klown’. I haven’t seen the show, but if it’s anywhere near as funny as this movie, I’m clearly missing out. The filmmakers and stars have an uncanny ability to come up with some of the dirtiest jokes and pay them off in such a way that they’re not only filthy, but funny and clever as well. The Monty Python reference is actually very apt, as this is often an immature flick, but it does have moments of surprising depth. Another film that it shares some similarities with is ‘Sideways’, but overall this tale of debauchery is its own distinct animal, all the while fitting in nicely with the bromance sub genre of buddy comedies. Writers and stars Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam have teamed up with co-writer/director Mikkel Nørgaard for a shocking and shockingly entertaining tale. If you like to laugh and don’t offend easy, this is the movie for you. It’ll never happen, but I’d love to see ‘Klown’ score a nod for Best Foreign Language Feature. One can dream, but anyway, this flick is definitely worth checking out, especially before the likely inferior American remake hits in a year or two.
Frank (Hvam) and Casper (Christensen) are best friends who are planning to go on a much anticipated canoeing trip. Frank is looking forward to the outdoors, but Casper is looking forward to sleeping with as many women as possible, pretty much the whole point of the trip, despite having a live in partner named Iben (Iben Hjejle). Frank’s lady is Mia (Mia Lyhne), who’s recently become pregnant, something Frank only accidentally finds out about. She’s concerned that Frank won’t be a good father, and is considering an abortion. Frank doesn’t want that and sort of kidnaps Mia’s pre-teen nephew Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen), bringing him along on the trip, presumably to show his parenting skills. Casper isn’t happy about this at all, but Frank talks him into it, leading to all sorts of hilarious adventures that are always in rather poor taste. They include a number of sexual mishaps and embarrassing instances for Frank, who seems to have a permanent storm cloud resting over him. All the while, he’s trying to get through to the sullen Bo, even when Casper’s shenanigans threaten to get them in trouble time and time again. Essentially, they move from one place to another, with something getting them in trouble, usually do to Frank’s misguided attempts to help Bo or Casper’s wild sexual flings, and it only gets more embarrassing from there. It happens to all be very funny though, and that’s what counts.
I wouldn’t say that any of the actors do especially noteworthy work, but they all manage to elicit laughter, so that’s certainly worth something. Frank Hvam is pretty fearless as an actor and comedian, willing to go the extra mile for a joke. Look no further than the “pearl necklace” scene for proof (if you don’t know what that term means, you’ll soon find out) of his commitment to the craft. A similar thing can be said for Casper Christensen, who gets a slightly more active part to play, but likewise attacks the comedy with full force. Hvam is the straight man of the duo, while Christensen is the clown (sorry, couldn’t resist). They have solid bromance chemistry, but I’d imagine they get more opportunities to cultivate that on their TV show as opposed to just here in the film. Marcuz Jess Petersen doesn’t get too much to do, but he gets in a few solid remarks along the way. As for the women, well they’re kind of an afterthought (much like they often seem to be for the guys in the film). Mia Lyhne has a nice moment with Frank towards the end, but Iben Hjejle isn’t so lucky, which is a shame considering her very strong work with John Cusack in ‘High Fidelity’. This is Hvam and Christensen’s film all the way.
Director Mikkel Nørgaard certainly finds a new way to use the Dogme style of filmmaking here. I’d hardly put ‘Klown’ in as a Dogme 95 film, but it does have some similar stylistic and visual traits, which I found interesting and unique for a comedy like this one. Nørgaard is able to set up the jokes consistently well and paces the film strongly, so his direction is very solid. The script he co-wrote with Christensen and Hvam never tries to be highbrow, but it succeeds in always being amusing and sometimes even being hilarious. The trio even manage to work in some subtle commentary on arrested male development, but it never takes center stage. This is about the jokes first and foremost…a strong decision by the guys.
‘Klown’ may very well be the funniest movie of the year so far (either this one or ‘Ted’ in my book), but it’s also just a very solid indie comedy that aims to please and always manages to do so. As long as raunchy comedy doesn’t turn you off, I can’t imagine someone not getting a kick out of this flick. The film won’t be an award winner, but it gets a recommendation from me and that has to count for something, right? Give this one a shot if you’re in the mood for a bunch of laughs…you’ll be sure to get plenty of them!
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!