Klown Forever | Mikkel Nørgaard | Denmark | 2015 | 99 minutes
While Chris Lay liked the first film in the Klown franchise, he argues that the bad outweighs the good in the sequel, Klown Forever.
The US exports many things, but cringe-comedy is not generally thought of as being on the same list of outbound goods as, say, pharmaceuticals or even less tangible things like…I dunno… jazz. With the unexpectedly ever-expanding Danish franchise, Klown (Klovn), though, you can see what it looks like when foreigners consume and regurgitate squirm-inducing American entertainment institutions as niche as Curb Your Enthusiasm and as broad as “Frat Pack” films starring Vince Vaughn, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, and / or Ben Stiller.
Written by and starring Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen as characters named, respectively. Frank and Casper, the Klown family of products includes a TV series that ran for 60 episodes between 2005 and 2009, the film Klown in 2010 (which played at the Wisconsin Film Festival), and its sequel Klown Forever which was released just last year. I encountered the first film when it was programmed by Sacha Baron Cohen in a film festival, which should give you a good idea of just how profoundly uncomfortable things get. When the guy who made a name for himself with naked fights with obese men in Borat implies that “This is the comedy I aspire to” you know that you’re in for something memorable.
The first Klown was a purely Danish affair, with Frank and Casper crashing through the back roads of the country and leaving nothing but mayhem in their path. Frank is a guy who wants to be a good person, but is very bad at it, and Casper is someone who is a very bad person, and he gets in trouble every time he tries to incorporate Frank into his careless debaucheries. The two of them together generate a morally bleak feedback loop and before you know it you’re watching a room full of people stare in stunned silence at the exposed micropenis of a teenage boy. Believe it or not, after all that, the film ends on an unexpectedly touching note underscoring the power of friendship between Frank and Casper. That was the first Klown movie.
In a lot of ways, Klown Forever is more of the same, but with the action moved to the Hollywood Hills of all places. Casper has moved to LA, and Frank, now a very new father, follows him there to leverage the power of their friendship as a means of convincing Casper to move back. Along the way, their relationship becomes fraught and Frank ends up sleeping with Casper’s daughter after a drunken party. Infidelity though, is only the tip of the awkward iceberg, as Casper makes things irresponsibly icky by suggesting that the only way Frank could right this wrong, and keep him from spilling the beans to Mia, Franks wife, would be to engineer a situation where Mia is under the impression she is having sex with Frank but in fact is having sex with Casper.
It’s the sort of premise that is cringe worthy in every sense of the word, but mostly because what we’re talking about here is two grown men attempting to wring comedy out of literally negotiating a rape. There’s a scene where they go back and forth hammering out how long the penetration will last. In a comedy sense, I can see what they were going for, and they honestly almost stick the landing, but even with characters that are presented as being horrible people this level of misogyny is a black hole from which no humor can escape.
I wanted to like Klown Forever. I liked the first film well enough, but even that leaned too far over the line for me on occasion. It sucks to be a “comedy cop,” but with Klown Forever the bad certainly outweighs the good.
Check out the other Missed Madison Film Festival reviews for Thursday, January 26: