Slated for an upcoming American remake by Danny McBride and The Hangover’s Todd Phillips, the long-anticipated cinematic treatment of Danish absurdist phenomenon Klown is currently available on Blu-ray, courtesy of pioneering exhibition and distribution powerhouse Drafthouse Films. As raunchy and unforgiveable as pretty much any American film in recent memory, Klown: The Movie also manages somehow to be a halfway sweet coming of age story, and a hilarious and witty send-up of d*ck-swinging bromance comedies.
Venturing deeply into the very bowels of human depravity, where even the legendarily outré TV series has previously feared to tread, Klown: The Movie finds its unapologetically sleazy protagonists, Frank (Frank Hvam) and Casper (Casper Christiensen), embarking on a cross-country canoeing trip, orchestrated by Caspar as a smokescreen to dodge his shrewish girlfriend, Iben (Iben Hjejle). Just before they leave, however, Frank is dismayed to discover that his long-term girlfriend, Mia (Mia Lyhne), is pregnant, and has been keeping the pregnancy secret from him due to her lurking doubts about Frank’s “fatherhood potential.”
Anxious to demonstrate his exemplary parenting skills, Frank impulsively hijacks his twelve-year-old nephew, Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen), and drags him along, kicking and screaming, on the canoeing trip – much to Casper’s frothing chagrin. As Frank’s self-absorbed preoccupation with impressing Mia continually clashes with Casper’s persistent desire to get laid and cause havoc, both friends find themselves caught up in an escalating riptide of public humiliation, sexual debauchery, and general physical discomfort. Meanwhile, Frank and Bo find themselves forging a tenuous and unexpected personal bond – one that threatens to be cut all too brief, however, by Casper’s persistent grandstanding, and incitements to gross depravity.
Klown’s unique brand of humor has always played like a weird hybrid between Curb Your Enthusiasm and balls-out raunch comedies like The Hangover. It uses instances of mundane, middle class social awkwardness as springboards for amplified, cartoonish grotesque. Klown: The Movie’s real success isn’t just that it manages to one-up itself in that respect (though it certainly does), but that it’s able to simultaneously expand on its character dynamics without jacking up its own recipe. The core of the show’s humor is that Casper and Frank are both purely and casually awful human beings, and a film adaptation could have easily tanked by trying too hard to make either or both of them seem suddenly redeemable. Even in its tenderest moments, however, Klown: The Movie remains acerbic and emotionally ambiguous enough to maintain its prior agenda, even while venturing into fresh emotional territory.
As if the film itself wasn’t enough, Drafthouse’s disc comes triumphantly packed to the gills with special features that will actually, seriously entertain you. The Blu-ray includes cast and director commentary, a blooper reel, alternate and deleted scenes, and for the uninitiated, a starter episode of the original TV series – written by, of all people, the notoriously brooding and eccentric Danish arthouse filmmaker Lars von Trier. Whether or not an American remake can capture the film’s moxie remains to be seen, but the Danish original is definitely a unique and raucous cinematic experience, finely keyed to simultaneously unhinge and entertain.