Review of Klown

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In order to prove his fatherhood potential to his pregnant girlfriend, Frank takes her 12-year-old nephew to his best friend Casper's debauched weekend canoe trip.
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Movie Review: "Klown"

-- Rating: R (adult themes, profanity, coarse humor)
Length: 89 minutes
Release Date: December 16, 2010
Directed by: Mikkel Nørgaard
Genre: Comedy

It is often said that humor doesn't translate well, but "Klown" tackles that cliché with reckless abandon and comes out on top almost every time.

The movie follows the same story as the popular Danish television show "Klovn," in which the main actors portray themselves in comedic fashion as they tackle their own self-centered and oblivious daily lives. Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen, the stars of "Klovn," are joined in the big screen version by Marcuz Jess Petersen. The storyline of the film is that Frank has kidnapped Marcuz from the family of his pregnant girlfriend to prove his fitness as a father.

Hilarity ensues as Frank and Casper both ultimately prove themselves far too oblivious and incompetent to take care of themselves, much less a child, on a daily basis. Frank and Casper deliver their usual top-notch performances, and Marcuz regularly steals the show by pointing out the many flaws in Frank and Casper's lifestyle. There's no clear line where the television series ends and the movie begins, and many viewers may catch themselves wondering where a specific character or reference originates.

A mix of slapstick and morbid humor defines the movie. This style of comedy is commonly known as cringe comedy and focuses heavily on the insanity of the characters' situations and their constant devolution towards a complete lack of morals or principles. Unlike American sitcoms, however, things usually don't work out in the end, and the slide to hilarity often takes a very dark tone. The number of adult themes in the movie may be off-putting to some moviegoers, and topics generally declared taboo in most modern cultures are discussed openly in front of Marcuz.

The movie's director seems to have focused the film firmly on the existing audience of the television series. This is good for those who are familiar with the show, but foreign audiences may be confused by the sheer number of cameos and inside jokes that pepper the feature. These inside jokes provide one of the less enjoyable aspects of the film for those not familiar with the TV series.

The lighting, effects and sound of the film are standard European fare. Anyone who has watched popular films from Europe, specifically Eastern Europe, in the last few years will notice a cinematography that hearkens back to the early BBC comedies. This works well for this style of movie, however, and causes less disconnect than might otherwise be expected.

The cringe comedy of the series leaves moviegoers not knowing when to laugh, flinch or groan painfully when they realize what the characters are going to do. Every time Frank or Casper set on the wrong path, it makes viewers wonder just how far they'll take the joke. Unfortunately for those not familiar with this style of comedy, they take it to its logical and morbidly hilarious confusion almost every time. This results in even more taboo scenes and further alienation for audiences that may be sensitive to such situations.

While Frank struggles to show his fitness as a father, Casper continues his quest to sleep with the entirety of Europe. Casper's constant philandering, and his use of Marcuz as a tool for it, crosses the line into taboo as much as the dialogue and humorous scenes. The two play off one another wonderfully, in that "Odd Couple" style where Frank messes up, Casper must take a break from his carnal devotions to fix it and the whole mess continues to devolve into its lowest and basest form.
Frank and Casper may find a large number of fans in the international market.

"Klown" does a great job serving as an advertisement and sample for the television series. However, just as many viewers may be put off by the absurd and outrageous events that occur throughout the film. It's best to go in understanding that bad things will happen. The movie challenges perceptions while maintaining its focus on comedy. That's something few artists outside of the "Monty Python" camp can claim.

"Klown" demonstrates that humor can translate across linguistic and cultural borders, proving an excellent choice for a fun evening out with friends or a romantic evening with a partner who doesn't take things too seriously.

Rating: 4 out of 5