Klown

2012, Movie, R, 90 mins

Review

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Two self-absorbed men make an endless series of terrible decisions while taking an adolescent boy on a debauched canoe trip in Klown -- a feature spin-off of a cult Danish sitcom -- and the result is a taboo-breaking comedy designed to make you cringe until you cramp. Imagine The Hangover crossed with Curb Your Enthusiasm and you’ll have some idea of what to expect from this raunchy road-trip comedy that goes places most American films would never dare tread.

Eager to prove that he has what it takes to be a responsible parent after learning that his girlfriend Mia (Mia Lyhne) is pregnant, misguided Frank (Frank Hvam) snatches her adolescent nephew Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen) and heads out for a weekend of male bonding in the wilderness. But Frank's sex-crazed pal Casper (Casper Christensen) has been planning this trip for months, and he isn't about to let the presence of a child get in the way of his adulterous escapades. However, when fun with prostitutes leads to armed robbery, prison, and worse, it soon becomes apparent that immature Frank isn't even capable of looking after himself, much less a 12-year-old.

Foreign comedy isn’t always an easy sell -- language barriers and different social norms often make it difficult to appreciate the nuances of humor from abroad -- although occasionally a film comes along that’s just broad (and bold) enough to charge straight through these obstacles and leave us in stitches. Adapted from the Danish television series created by Hvam and Christensen that aired from 2005 to 2009, Klown is such a movie. Though some viewers may be skeptical that a subtitled comedy could really leave them doubled over with laughter, the situational style of humor in Klown feels as if it’s been honed to a fine point over the years, and the two leads display a flair for physical comedy that easily rivals that of their English-speaking counterparts. And while others may scoff at the fact that Hvam and Christensen seem determined to push the boundaries of comedy well beyond good taste, those possessing a playful sense of humor will recognize that Klown is indeed a film with heart, as irresponsible Frank fights his every childish instinct to do right by Mia.

Despite being a generally lighthearted affair, however, Klown does feature one somewhat grim plot development around the halfway mark involving a topic that’s deeply divisive in U.S. politics. But while that particular moment may cast an unexpectedly somber shadow over the movie, the mood is quickly brightened soon thereafter, and some of the film’s biggest laughs are still yet to come. They’re definitely worth the wait, too, because when the lists for the best pictures of 2012 are tallied, Klown could well emerge as one of the most memorably outrageous comedies -- Danish or otherwise -- of the year. leave a comment --Jason Buchanan

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