The influence of Kevin Smith’s brand of sweet but foul-mouthed comedy has been wide-ranging and occasionally very popular. Judd Apatow took the formula and turned it into a series of hit comedies, and in America this has transformed into a series of female-centric comedies such as Bridesmaids, Bachelorette and For a Good Time, Call…. However, despite a number of promising twists on the concept, the combination of heart and smut has basically gone as far as mainstream American cinema can go– even Smith’s own Zack and Miri Make a Porno proved that for most audiences, the line had been drawn past which they would not follow. God help those folks if they end up watching Klown: based on a popular television series and produced by Lars Von Trier’s Zentropa Entertainment, Klown jets past the line of propriety, pushing the Smith/Apatow style well past its logical extremes.
Casper (Casper Christensen) and his girlfriend Mia (Mia Lyhne) attend a wedding where Mia’s doctor inadvertently informs Casper that Mia is pregnant. When they discuss the matter, Mia explains that she is (justifiably) concerned about Frank’s status as “father material” and is uncertain whether she wants to keep the baby. Casper’s best friend, the impossibly lecherous and self-centered Frank (Frank Hvam), advises Casper to deal with the situation before the two men set off on a weekend canoe trip that climaxes with a visit to Europe’s most exclusive bordello. Through a series of ridiculous circumstances mostly of his own fault, Casper ends up in charge of Mia’s 12-year-old nephew Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen), and decides to prove to Mia that he is indeed “father material” by kidnapping the boy and taking him on the canoe trip to debauchery. Frank disapproves, but thanks to the intervention of his wife Iben (Iben Hjejle), the matter is settled and Bo joins the men on their trip.
Frank immediately decides that in order to keep Bo from talking about what he plans to do on the trip, Bo must either have the time of his life or Frank and Casper must get some kind of blackmail material on Bo that they can threaten to reveal if he talks. This is a distant second, however, to Frank’s constant quest to have sex with as many women as possible. The weekend quickly degenerates into one disaster after another as Frank attempts to get laid while Casper tries to keep Bo entertained and in the dark about Frank’s activities. For his part, Bo just seems miserable most of the time, and is more interested in collecting enough caps from Underberg bitters bottles to cash in for a toy car than anything Frank and Casper are doing. After Bo storms off thanks to being embarrassed by a massively stoned Casper, the weekend is cut short when Mia and Iben appear at the festival. Casper’s plan is foiled and things look bad for Frank, but Casper decides to make one last very, very bad decision in the hopes of getting Mia back and patching things up with Bo.
Klown is truly, deeply inappropriate and all the more hilarious for it. More to the point, its humor is often based in concepts that American comedies would never go anywhere near– the very idea of taking a pre-teen boy on a weekend sex trip, after all, is not the final punchline of the film but the point from where it kicks off. As raunchy as the film gets, though, its heart is always in the right place. Casper is completely unprepared for fatherhood, but he honestly loves Mia and becomes a (terrified, drunk, kind of awful) father figure for the extremely shy Bo. The film shifts between very bad behavior and sweet moments of bumbling earnestness at a moment’s notice, which can make for something of a schizophrenic viewing experience, and the running joke about Underberg may cause more confusion than laughs for American audiences. Still, there’s no question that Klown is one of the funniest films of the year, and a huge score for Drafthouse Films. Be sure to catch it before the inevitably disappointing American remake!
Image Entertainment and Drafthouse Films released Klown on DVD and Blu-ray on 25 September 2012. Special features include a commentary with the director and stars of the film, an episode of the Klown television series written and directed by Lars Von Trier, three behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, an outtake reel, and five different trailers for the film. Drafthouse Films also sells a few different special editions of the film through their web store, including the “Tour De Fisse Edition” that comes with the DVD or Blu-ray, digital download of the film, a full-size 27″ x 40″ autographed theatrical poster, and a set of Klown underwear!