Starring: Frank Hvam, Casper Christensen
Director: Mikkel Norgaad
Danish comedy Klown is a film that hides a heart of gold under a whole lot of inappropriate behaviour and coarseness. The protagonist, Frank, a gawky, maladroit man-child, discovers that his girlfriend is pregnant but that she’s having second thoughts because she doubts that he has “father potential”. The perfect opportunity to prove her wrong seemingly presents itself when her nephew Bo comes to stay. Impulsively, he drags the meek 10-year-old off on a canoeing trip with his sleazy friend Casper, who is thoroughly disgusted by this turn of events because he has been keenly anticipating a wild time: “This is no trip for a kid, this is the Tour de Pussy for Chrissake!” Quickly forgetting that there’s a minor present, Casper is soon involving Frank in all manner of unsavoury peccadilloes, being chased by angry campers, smoking dope and engaging in an awkward threesome with a woman who helps them out when their canoe capsizes.
This all plays out in a European comedy style that’s so dry and deadpan, it’s more like a Dogma movie that the Farrelly brothers (the Hollywood version, apparently greenlit, will doubtless amp up the volume). Frank and Casper (played by co-writers Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen) at first come across as greyly ordinary – one boss-eyed and dull, the other car salesman-seedy. But eventually the pair establish themselves as an all too memorable comedy duo as Frank struggles to do the decent thing while Casper – who gets out of tight situations with a technique he calls “man flirting” – lands them in ever deeper trouble.
The themes – Frank’s desire to stop being a big kid and learn to be a proper man – have potential to be soft and sticky, and so does the humour, which abounds in dodgy willy jokes (Bo is so under-endowed he can’t pee standing up), gross-out nudity and bad taste gags (there’s a funny sequence concerning Frank’s potential mother-in-law and a pearl necklace). But Mikkel Norgaad’s directorial style is as brisk and disciplined as the characters are self-indulgent, ensuring that the bad taste never lingers. Meanwhile, the script saves its very best punchlines for last, with a shocking final twist guaranteed to leave you speechless – with laughter or offence depending on your tastes.
The film’s willingness to base some its more outrageous gags around the prepubescent Bo could conceivably be viewed as exploitative or even sick, but it’s just as likely to seem refreshingly honest and earthy. And because of the undemonstrative, casual way in which it unfolds, Klown is a film that actually seems funnier and more accomplished in retrospect that it does upon a first viewing, making it a movie you’ll want to return to. And that’s a sign that it’s probably a very good one.