Vulgar

2002, Movie, R, 97 mins

Review

VULGAR
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Vulgar doesn't begin to describe it: Try one of the foulest, least amusing films ever made under the rubric of black comedy. At least, it seems to be meant as a black comedy; it's hard to tell, since this sordid tale of degradation and misery isn't the slightest bit funny. Written by Bryan Johnson, who also co-stars, it purports to tell the backstory of Kevin Smith's View Askew Productions mascot, a fat clown in hooker gear. Smith appears as a Mephistophelean agent, and several of his repertory of associates worked on the film in some capacity. What were they thinking? Will Carlson (Brian O'Halloran) is having a rough time of things. His gigs as a children's party clown named Flappy barely pay enough to keep his embittered mother (Jay Petrick) in a rundown nursing home, his house is a dump, his car is a junker and he's tormented by drunken neighborhood thugs and teenage bullies alike. Then Will has a brainstorm: He'll create a new character, a clown as gross, lewd and insulting as Flappy is wholesome and kind. Will figures this alter ego — dubbed "Vulgar" by his pal Syd (Johnson) — could be the novelty hit of the bachelor party circuit, appearing in sexy lingerie in place of the obligatory stripper, cracking a few smutty jokes and then stepping aside to let the real girl strut her stuff. Will's first job is a nightmare: He arrives at a seamy motel to find sadistic sex criminal Ed Fanelli (Jerry Lewkowitz) and his perverted, idiot sons (Ethan Suplee, Matt Maher) waiting. The Fanellis collectively beat, rape and brutalize Will, capturing the entire assault on tape. This traumatic experience plunges Will into a suicidal depression and when, months later, he finally rouses himself to accept a new Flappy booking, he walks into a hostage situation. Long story short, Will rescues the birthday girl, becomes a media sensation and is hired to do a TV children's show that becomes an overnight success. But just as everything's coming up roses, Will gets a call from Ed Fanelli. One of his boys has edited the tape of Vulgar's night of horror so it looks like an amateur porn video, and unless Will cooperates, they're going to release it to the media and ruin Flappy's reputation as a kid-friendly performer. What's a beleaguered clown to do? Nasty, ugly, pointless and depressing, even if you hate clowns. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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