|ENTERTAINMENT (director/writer: Rick Alverson; screenwriters: Gregg Turkington/Tim Heidecker; cinematographer: Lorenzo Hagerman; editors: Michael Taylor/Rick Alverson; music: Robert Donne; cast: Gregg Turkington (The Comedian/Neil Hamburger), Dean Stockwell (Frank), Michael Cera (Hustler), Tye Sheridan (Eddie), John C. Reilly (John), Kalia Prescott (Maria) Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Bryan Ramirez/A.J. Trauth; Magnolia Pictures; 2015)|
misanthropic comedy, which is mostly a
turn-off, might best be appreciated by a
cult audience that thrives on originality to
counter its familiar trope."
by Dennis Schwartz
director Rick Alverson ("New
Jerusalem"/"The Comedy"/"The Builder") conceives the
pic as a starring format for Gregg
Turkington, who plays an unfunny comedian
performing under the name Neil Hamburger. He's a
potbellied, cheaply attired, unsuccessful aging
stand-up comedian, who is a lonely and sad figure as
he makes the rounds of third-rate venues in the
California desert--including performing in prisons.
The clubs are lightly filled, and hecklers are always
there. The Comedian gets back at them with a barrage
of insults, most of which are sexual in nature. Living
in seedy motels and having his dreams destroyed of
being a class-act popular comedian, leaves him
unrealistically hoping that a lucrative Hollywood
offer awaits at the end of the tour even if no such
scripted by the comedian Tim Heidecker,
the star Gregg Turkington and the
Comedians also is trying to make contact with his
estranged daughter. The fun and electricity in the
dreary pic is a number of surreal moments when the
performer encounters others in his field.
Sheridan plays the Comedian's young warm-up pantomime
act. John C. Reilly is the performer’s loudmouth
prosperous farmer cousin. Michael Cera plays a pervert
hustler in the public restroom.
What stands out is the sensitive treatment given to the loser Comedian, who is falling apart because of his failures and his heartbreaking loneliness. The desperate performer puts out a gruff outside front to hide his real hurt inside. The misanthropic comedy, which is mostly a turn-off, might best be appreciated by a cult audience that thrives on originality to counter its familiar trope. It's not the kind of comedy where the laughs are easily forthcoming.
REVIEWED ON 11/1/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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