Blu-ray Review: KLOWN Will Have You Crying With Laughter
The penis is nothing if not a vastly underutilized vessel for comedy. The makers of Klown: The Movie understand this, and have set about to rectify this problem. The film jauntily breaks down the barriers of good taste and propriety all in the name of a laugh. Is it successful? Absolutely! Klown is one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time. The key is that the film is played absolutely straight, and it never stretches the bounds of credulity beyond their breaking point. This slice of life comedy is crude, inappropriate, disgusting, and ridiculously funny.
Klown is the story of Frank and Casper. Frank is a single man who has just discovered that his girlfriend is pregnant. Frank doesn't want kids, but he also doesn't want his girlfriend to leave him, so he has to find a way to prove to her that he's Dad material, which she rightfully doubts. Casper is an enthusiastic philanderer. Casper has planned a Tour de Pussy for the pair, disguised as a canoe trip in case the girls ask. The plan is to travel to a mysterious and infamous brothel that opens only one night per year and flies in the best working girls from around the world. Casper is psyched, Frank is along for the ride, and then something happens.
On the day that the trip is to begin Frank is suddenly stranded with young Bo, a pudgy nine-year-old. While Casper is incensed and insists that he find a way to abandon Bo before they embark on the Tour de Pussy, Frank sees the opportunity to prove to his girlfriend that he is father material, and decides to bring Bo along. The two older men on their search for tail, and the boy, excited to go canoeing. Frank moderates his expectations to be in line with a man in his situation, Casper does not. Hijinks ensue.
It would be unfair of me to reveal any further plot details of Klown. The film plays in an episodic manner, with each episode revealing a little bit more of who these characters are, warts and all. The genius of this film is in these characters, Frank and Casper, who have been refined on Danish television for years in a TV series of the same name. Basically, both guys are assholes who make terrible decisions at every juncture. Casper is the alpha male asshole, Frank, the beta male, but no less of an asshole. Their combined poor decision-making is recipe enough for comedy, but when you add the fact that they have a young boy in their care the whole time, all hell breaks loose, and the bounds of good taste are breached frequently.
Casper's insatiable sexual appetite leads him into trouble on more than one occasion, and even when he thinks he's got it licked (no pun intended), it comes back to bite him more than once. Frank's insecurity leads him into just as much trouble, if not more as time goes on. Their relationship with Bo is a roller coaster that oscillates between fatherly and antagonistic, but even that is fodder for some great comedy. When the need arises to atone for his misbehavior with Bo, Frank and Casper step up to the plate in an inspirational sequence involving drunken teenagers, a gun, and a prison sentence. The beauty of it is that it could all happen, if you were an asshole.
Klown is in unrepentantly poor taste and hysterical. Casper (Casper Christensen) and Frank (Frank Hvam) have honed these characters to a fine comic point. Every action in Klown has a stupidly funny and rational reaction. The team involved leaves no sacred cows untipped in the pursuit of laughs, and no penis unbared. Consider yourself admonished. Don't miss Klown.
I've seen Klown on the big screen twice now, once at Fantastic Fest 2011, and once on the outdoor screen of the Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow. I think it's safe to say that after those two viewings, I wasn't particularly optimistic about the film's prospects in HD. Klown is shot in a cinema verite style on HD video with mostly natural lighting, as such, it isn't exactly a marvel of modern cinematography. However, what detail is lost in digital projection is more than adequate for a home HD image. The image quality on this disc is perfectly fine, and I can say with some comfort that this Blu-ray looks better than the film did on the big screen by some margin. The film suffers from intrusive ambient light, but that goes right along with its faux reality show origins, so no harm, no foul. The sound makes a marked improvement, as well, particularly when it comes to the wonderful soundtrack. The songs have real bounce and life to them, while the dialogue is clear and crisp. No complaints, it ain't The Avengers, but it'll do.
Drafthouse Films have proven with their first two releases that they care about home video. Whether it is the awesome reversible cover art, the beautifully put together booklets, or the more than comprehensive extras packages, you can tell they mean business. Klown is further proof of their dedication to that mission. In addition to a feature length audio commentary with the director and stars (which is, admittedly, a little hit and miss), there is a forty minute behind the scenes featurette that flashes back and forth from the film's Danish premiere to the production period in a really cool and illustrative way. There is also an episode of the original Klovn TV series included titled, "It's a Jungle Down There", co-written by Lars von Trier. This is just a taste of what we have in store, however, as Drafthouse appear to have licensed the entire series for US home video release somewhere down the road. God bless them. In addition there are a couple of brief special effects featurettes regarding some of the more interesting segments of the film, at least one of which could be considered a spoiler if I listed it. There are also deleted and extended scenes, most wisely edited down for the final feature, and an alternate opening sequence which played in front of the film when I saw it in July, but not at Fantastic Fest.
Overall, another stellar release from Drafthouse, and at this point their releases are among my most anticipated every month or so. Roll on, The Ambassador/Miami Connection/Wake In Fright, etc...