Year-End Sub Promo Film Comment Film Society of Lincoln Center

Review: Klown

By Sophie Blum on July 27, 2012 in Film Comment

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Reprising roles from their sitcom Klovn (often compared—by Americans, anyway—to the pseudo-autobiographical Curb Your Enthusiasm), Danish comedians Frank Hvam and Caspar Christensen star as caricatures of themselves named Frank and Caspar in this raunchy romp co-written with director Mikkel Nørgaard. Frank’s girlfriend is pregnant, but since she doesn’t deem him dad material, it’s shape-up or break-up—until he kidnaps her 12-year-old nephew Bo in a misguided effort to prove his nurturing potential. Together with Frank’s sex-crazed buddy (Caspar), the two-and-a-half men paddle away on a canoe-propelled “Tour de Pussy”—Casper’s long-awaited vacation from monogamy, the flip side to Frank’s paternal test run. Along the way, Klown casually poses the greater philosophical question: does the biological capacity to fertilize an egg entitle guys like this to “have a go” at child-rearing?

While Klown takes European license with the crude and unseemly (you probably don’t want to see this film with your nephew), at heart it’s a somewhat twisted feel-good fable–a man-child buddy flick as Bo, Frank, and even Caspar grow fonder of one another and learn a little something about themselves, if not about the people around them. Somehow, between the kinky carnality, urine spills, and other assorted debasements, the film remains quaintly sentimental—a quality that may well deteriorate into disingenuous schmaltz in its upcoming Hollywood incarnation (starring Danny McBride, who is writing the screenplay, and produced by Hangover director Todd Phillips).

Hvam and Christensen’s performances distract from the film’s cheesy premise. With a scratch of the chin or the lift of a baffled eyebrow, the pair simultaneously elicit cringing contempt and compassionate giggles. Caspar, a pan-sexual Don Juan, deftly pretends to have read Heart of Darkness not once but twice during a cultish men’s book-club meeting (in attendance: fellow Danish provocateur Mads Brügger). Frank’s attempts to follow in his best friend’s suave footsteps reliably backfire. Frank’s best intentions and the advice of a gaggle of middle-aged men on women, love, and commitment, end typically enough in a disastrous masturbation accident.

Women serve as straight men in Klown’s affectionate ode to masculinity and all its flaws. Frank’s girlfriend, despite her harsh ultimatum (total relationship rehaul, or abortion), represents a rare vestige of spoilsport sanity in a three-ring circus of outlandish males (although one wonders how heterosexual men manage to score at all despite their congenital shortcomings). Above all, Klown holds nothing back in the interest of likeability, and, whether the results are clever or stupid, tasteless or topical, that kind of candor is hard to come by.

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