The new Danish comedy Clown is one of the most offensive films I’ve seen. It is also very funny. Imagine a movie that crosses Curb Your Enthusiasm with Borat and you get the idea. Like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Clown bases its humor on situational comedy but takes it to such a ridiculously ribald level that half the enjoyment of watching it is wondering how far past the line the filmmakers will go.
Based on a Danish television show, Clown stars Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam as themselves, or at least exaggerated versions of themeselves. Casper and Frank plan a canoe trip that also includes secret stops at a music festival and a brothel. Before they leave Frank discovers that his girlfriend Mia (Mia Lyhne) is pregnant and thinking of terminating the pregnancy; she isn’t sure Frank is Dad material. In an effort to prove to her that he’s good with kids, Frank decides to take Mia’s nephew Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen) along on the trip. This of course throws a wrench in Casper’s plans for a debaucherous weekend.
Most of the humor comes from Frank’s earnest efforts to prove that he will be a capable father by bonding with young Bo. Frank is passive aggressive and a coward, and his reactions to easily resolved problems create the most absurd situations, but you believe that this man could get himself into these messes. Casper refuses to let the presence of a 12-year-old boy ruin his weekend of sex and drugs, which leads to some awkward moments. Casper is a despicable character, particularly in his efforts to blackmail the young boy into keeping his mouth shut about everything he sees. His comeuppance at the end is both gratifying, hilarious, and very nearly pornographic.
Raunch for the sake of raunch is pointless. What makes Clown work is that you believe that these characters would actually do the things they do. As each situation escalates to absurd heights, the filmmakers earn the laughs because in the context of the movie, it all seems plausible. It’s a fine line to walk, but the makers of Clown pull it off.
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