“Like Moses in the desert, I believe the Lord will guide them. Because they’re pure of heart.”
All the way back in 1994, Peter and Bobby Farrelly made Dumb and Dumber, one of the funniest comedies to come out in my lifetime. They filled out an amazing trifecta with Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. Then came a whole lot of years of hit (Me, Myself and Irene) and miss (pretty much everything else on their filmography). When it was announced a few years ago that the Farrellies had made a Three Stooges movie, it sounded like they had really hit rock bottom. As a kid, I found the Stooges annoying, as an adult, they’re just painful. Funny has never been a word that came to mind. So why did I watch the Farrelly Brothers version of The Three Stooges? I don’t know.
Abandoned at an orphanage as babies, the stooges grow up to be Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Curley (Will Sasso). Too dumb and destructive to ever be adopted, they’re still living at the orphanage as grown ass, middle aged men. And they will seemingly spend the rest of their lives there. That is, until local a priest played by Brian Doyle Murray lets the nuns running the orphanage (including Larry David, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson and Kate Upton) know that unless they can raise $830,000 in the next thirty days, they will be forced to close. (more…)
“You don’t have to be miserable. But there has to be something wrong with you.”
I’d say most people who recognise Kevin Pollock, recognise him as an actor. In the 90s, he had an amazing run. He was in big budget, big prestige movies like Scorsese’sCasino. He was in massive money makers like Grumpy Old Men. And he was in one of the quintessential indie-movie-becomes-blockbuster of the 90s, The Usual Suspects. But before his acting career took off, during his acting career since, and seemingly with no sign of slowing down, he’s always been a stand up comedian. Which is why he seems like as a good a person as any to make a documentary examining what makes comedians tick, with Misery Loves Comedy.
Through a series of talking heads, Pollock takes us through a kind of life cycle of his subjects. Who was the first person they recognised as funny? When was the first time they realised they were funny? When did they start using that skill to their advantage? And eventually, he gets to the title with his final question, do you need to be miserable to be a successful comedian. (more…)
In the 90s, Larry David helped redefine the sitcom from behind the scenes when he co-created Seinfeld. In the new millennium, he did it again, this time much more visibly, playing a fictionalised version of himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm. At the height of Seinfeld’s success, he thought he’d give movies a go by writing and directing the immediately forgotten Sour Grapes. Then news came after Curb’s eighth season that there were no immediate plans for a ninth, because David was once again off to have a crack at the movies. And it looks like the result has been pretty similar to his first go round. And that’s a shame, because like Sour Grapes, his latest effort, Clear History, deserves more attention than it seems to have received.
Ten years ago, David’s character, Nathan, was working with a fledgling electric car manufacturer, run by John Hamm’s Will Haney. After a miniscule difference of opinion gets blown way out of prepetition (this is a Larry David story, after all), he cashes in his shares and leaves the company. Almost immediately, the electric car he’s been helping develop, the ‘Harold’, becomes a huge success and Nathan has literally lost a billion dollars by walking away when he did.
A decade later, he has escaped the humiliation of his billion dollar mistake by moving to the island of Marha’s Vineyard and going by the name Rolly. He’s built a modest but happy life that is turned upside down when the now multi billionaire Will Haney moves to the island to start building his dream mansion. Again, because this is a Larry David story, easily fixed misunderstandings run rampant, totally unnecessary lies, cover ups and deceptions go down, people act in ways no one ever would in real life in a million years, and almost all of it is pretty hilarious.
For a movie you’ve probably never heard of, Larry David was able to pull together an amazing cast. Besides Jon Hamm, there’s Danny McBride, Amy Ryan, Kate Hudson, Eva Mendes, Phillip Baker Hall and an almost unrecognisable Michael Keaton, who absolutely steals every single scene he’s in.
Going back to the Seinfeld days, and only amplified on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David loves coincidence. The amount of tiny little, coincidental meetings, overheard comments, character quirks and contrivances that need to occur within your average Larry David story should make it impossible to suspend any disbelief. But somehow, in the hands of Larry David, they work.
There’s an odd side story about Rolly’s ex girlfriend and the band Chicago that never really leads anywhere or has anything to do with the main story, but it’s funny enough to more than justify its existence. Plus, his ex is played by Amy Ryan who is always amazing, so if nothing else, she makes that subplot worth it.
Basically Clear History is an extended episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, only Larry has a different name and set of friends. And if I can’t have ten episodes of Curb every year, something like Clear History is a pretty good substitute.