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Klovn

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

Klovn

As a lifelong wisenheimer, I've gotten a lot of mileage out of being a pain-in-the-ass but in a way that is somehow socially acceptable. It's definitely a blessing that I can make a rude comment in public and, somehow, most people seem to think it is okay. (Or at least I think they think it is okay – I still get invited back to parties.)

The wonderful Danish comedy Klovn (Clown) is an entire film devoted to just this principle. Were I to break down some of the story beats you'd think them puerile at best and exploitatively crude at worst. Trust me when I say, however, that when Frank Hvam ejaculates on his mother-in-law's sleeping face it will actually make you like him.

How? Some of the good will comes, no doubt, because these comic actors come to us with no baggage. Unless you watch a lot of Danish television you don't know anything about Frank Hvam's clueless, good-natured schlemiel persona or Casper Christensen's swaggering oaf. So their male bonding canoe trip (dubbed by Casper as the “Tour de Pus*y”) is something that may come off as somewhat gross with comics we know, but when these dopey Danish guys do it, I dunno, somehow it's okay.

Klovn is something like Sideways, with prostitutes and cheap hookups taking the place of Pinot Noir. Casper drags Frank (who, okay, doesn't protest THAT much) to what's supposed to be the most exclusive sex palace in the land. Their “Heart of Darkness” journey finds immediate complication when Frank learns that his girlfriend is pregnant. She's unsure of her future, but knows that Frank won't be part of it, because he's too much of a stooge to be a father. To prove her wrong (and for the sake of comedy) he takes his Kevin-from-Up-esque nephew along for the NC-17 ride.

Along the way there are screw-ups and redemptions and, quite frankly, the funniest depiction of an unnatural sex act I've ever seen on film. And it wasn't just the shock value – though it was indeed shocking. It was Frank's unexpected reaction, one motivated entirely by his character. See. . . if you are going to work blue, you have to earn it. And when you do, it can kill. (PS – the scene I'm describing involves a finger going up someone's butt. Don't think any of this is high-minded at all.) Since the movie is European, it has a more nuanced approach to the women characters than its American cousin would have. Some of the trampy women are okay with their trampyness, and the girlfriends remain unfazed by infidelity. This does not mean they stand idly by as their feelings are trampled, but their acts of vengeance differ from just histrionic crying or matronly scolding. Furthermore, sins are sins. Casper is kind've a bastard, and while the movie shows that he is a real human being, it doesn't pretend for a minute that he's learned his lesson. Frank grows, surely, but he's still a putz Those of you inundated with Apatow films might wonder how many more trips you can take with immature men who are still sweet underneath. This would be like rejecting “Exile on Main Street” because “Sticky Fingers” and “Let It Bleed” already had plenty of The Rolling Stones songs. I laughed til I hurt during Klovn, and the contours of the characters made it such that I didn't have to feel guilty about it.
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