Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Klown

Ricky Gervais and Larry David aren’t the only TV comedians to master the fine art of awkwardness; from 2005 to 2009, Danish comics Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen starred in the improvisational sitcom Klown, which dealt with the petty frustrations and embarrassments that stem from being a middle-aged adolescent. For the feature-film version of Klown, the actors reunited with their sitcom director, Mikkel Nørgaard, to tell a raunchy story about a tomcatting canoe trip Hvam and Christensen dubbed the “Tour De Pussy.” The major complication to their plan? Hvam kidnapped his girlfriend’s 12-year-old nephew (Marcuz Jess Petersen) to prove Hvam is capable of being a proper father to her unborn child, and the kid is seriously cock-blocking the heroes.

Watching Klown will likely be a strange experience for most American viewers. The “shock and guffaw” style of humor ought to be familiar—perhaps overly familiar—from movies like Bad Santa and The Hangover, and from TV series like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Eastbound & Down. But the pop-culture references and celebrity cameos are frequently very specific to where the film originates, as is common with this kind of comedy. (Foreign-film buffs who know who Jørgen Leth is will have a head start for one scene, at least.) And as is also common with this kind of comedy, Klown is only fitfully funny.

But whenever Klown hits, it’s hysterical. Hvam and Christensen make their outrageous comic setpieces plausible, trying to provide legitimate explanations for why a man might commit armed robbery, photograph a child’s tiny penis, or ejaculate all over a sleeping woman as an expression of affection. One reason is that Klown’s protagonists are so caught up in their own inflated sense of themselves that they don’t always see how inappropriate it might be to ply teenage girls with wine at a place called “Teddy Bear Camp.” But the bigger reason—and the one that gives Klown its actually fairly profound theme—is best expressed when Hvam tells Petersen, “When grown-ups are horny, they do horrible things to those they love.”