This is a reprint of our review from Fantastic Fest 2011. KLOWN opens this Friday in select theaters. Find out if it’s playing near you here! It’s definitely worth your time.
Directed by: Mikkel Nørgaard
Written by: Casper Christensen & Frank Hvam
Starring: Frank Hvam, Casper Christensen, Marcuz Jess Petersen & Mia Lyhne
Have you ever stumbled upon a movie that you loved so much you dragged your friends and family to see it immediately? KLOWN is that type of movie…but you might not want to watch it with the family.
Coming from Denmark, KLOWN is the feature length film based on a very popular comedy series. I had no knowledge about the show before I entered the theater. Needless to say, I have a lot of interest in it now. This movie came out of nowhere and knocked me (and many others) on my ass. It’s easily the funniest film at Fantastic Fest and might be the funniest of 2011.
Like all good comedies, KLOWN follows two lovable losers. Well, one lovable loser and his more socially suave friend. Frank (pictured above with the rude child) lives a suburban life with his girlfriend Mia, who reveals she is pregnant. Sadly, Mia doesn’t feel that Frank would be a good dad. That makes sense, he wouldn’t be; he’s childish, he’s an idiot and he’s selfish. But in a deranged attempt to prove his skills at fatherhood, Frank drags a friend’s son, Bo, on a camping trip. That angers Casper, Frank’s best friend, who was planning to have as much extra-marital sex as possible on the excursion. You can bet that bringing along a young child won’t help his cause.
From there, KLOWN takes us on the painfully funny adventure of this awkward trio, from canoeing naked to getting stoned at a concert. Things don’t go easy for our leads. Indeed, there are some moments here that would make Ricky Gervais squirm.
Director Mikkel Nørgaard employs a bare bones, handheld feel used in THE OFFICE and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. Like those shows, KLOWN is all about socially awkward characters making awful decisions. Similar to other comedies, this journey is also about redemption and growing up. So while KLOWN doesn’t change the comedy genre, it does it better than most.
Nørgaard, Christensen and Hvam have no qualms about pushing the limit. Nørgaard was in attendance at the screening and said that the trio knew just how far was too far. That’s hard to tell when watching KLOWN, there are some incredibly distasteful jokes in here. Luckily they are played perfectly and aren’t mean-spirited. They never make fun of the victims but rather the perpetrators. Simply put, these guys understand comedy and push it to the limit.
One of the most surprising things about this Danish film is how accessible it is to American comedy fans. Sure there are subtitles but, aside from that, this is a movie that could be watched and loved by fans of Apatow, Louis C.K. and, of course, Larry David. I don’t think comedy is always universal but it is when done this well.