PLOT: KLOWN follows the comical adventures of Casper and Frank as they plan a canoe trip to an infamous brothel. However, when Frank finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant she explains that she doesn’t want to have the baby. Due to her Frank’s less than parental worthy behavior she feels he is not ready for fatherhood. Hoping to change her mind, Frank misguidedly kidnaps his twelve-year-old nephew to prove to her that he would be a great dad.
There is an overwhelming sense of awkwardness in KLOWN – the Mikkel Norgaard directed feature film based on the Denmark sitcom “Klovn.” Much like the series, the film version follows the humorous yet bizarre adventures of best buds and funnymen Casper (Casper Christensen) and Frank (Frank Hvam). While planning to go on a “Tour de Pussy” – a journey to a famed brothel - Frank ends up kidnapping his twelve-year-old nephew in hopes to prove to his pregnant girlfriend Mia (Mia Lyhne) that he would be a good father figure. Sure they don’t treat it like a kidnapping as the boy is not necessarily harmed, yet it is one of the many bad choices the two friends make. And believe it or not, this is one of the least offensive actions of the two questionably motivated men.
On this unsettling road trip, Casper tries to have sex with several young girls but ends up with a few surprising lovers. Meanwhile Frank does a terrible job taking care of his nephew Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen). This includes pulling a bully’s pants down for making fun of Bo’s small willie. Yet against better judgment, Frank and Casper decide to take photos of Bo’s privates to blackmail the boy in case he tells people about their misadventure – a close-up photograph of this is shown near the end of the film. This outlandishly raunchy comedy is very simply shot with matter-of-fact storytelling yet it remains an abrasively funny gross out flick. Hell, this movie makes THE HANGOVER look like Disney.
As taxing an experience as watching KLOWN can be, there is something oddly likable about it. Both Casper and Frank add a distinctively disturbing charm to their characters. However, simply watching the film without seeing the series may not be in the viewer’s best interest. Certainly the sitcom carries the dark humor that the film has, but it feels a bit more grounded. Once you get used to their antics, it is easier to accept their abrasiveness. The irony being that most of the time, they at least have some thought as to doing the right thing. However, if you have no real knowledge of these characters beforehand, they may simply come across as unwatchable jerks.
As far as child actors go, Marcuz Jess Petersen is especially likable. The patience he seems to have for his “Uncle Frank” adds a little heart to the story. And even Frank clearly has compassion for Bo, but much like how he treats Mia, he is not the most skilled person when it comes to expressing any understanding. My biggest problem with the film lies with both Mia, and Casper’s wife Iben (Iben Hjejle). At least in the film, it is very hard to believe that either of these two women is dumb enough to remain with their badly behaved husbands. Somehow, the characters feel a little more legit on the sitcom. This of course could be because the storylines don’t seem to be as twisted there. Even with this both actresses give terrific performances – as does the rest of the cast – and they are very believable in their way too understanding wife roles.
KLOWN works in a strange and awkward manner as it explores the lives of these two men and their families. Much like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” it operates in a documentary style which makes for a sometimes uncomfortable viewing experience. Had the filmmakers taken a more over-the-top slapstick approach, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as it is. Yet like most films developed from a TV series, the story feels a bit stretched out at times to make for a feature length movie. KLOWN may not necessarily garner Casper and Frank too many new fans, yet it will most likely please the target audience with its raunchy and sardonic humor.
KLOWN opens this Friday, July 27th in limited release at the following theatres:
New York - Village East
Los Angeles – Cinefamily
Austin - Alamo Drafthouse
|Extra Tidbit:||Danish auteur Lars von Trier guest wrote an episode of the original series titled "Its A Jungle Down There," about Frank and Casper's wives taking interest in a masturbation class and their persistent infiltration of these very private sessions. Drafthouse Films has released this hilarious episode for free on their website and are also planning a release of the series in its entirety later in the year on various digital platforms. KLOWN, the feature film is also available for pre-order on DVD/Blu-ray via the Drafthouse Films website and www.KlownTheMovie.com.|