What was the last comedy you actually enjoyed? The last one you actually found funny? Not just amusing, not chin-strokingly smirksome, not ironically witty but full-on sidesplitting, gut-busting, leave you gasping, breathless, on the floor funny? So funny you wee a little bit? A huge hit in its native Denmark, Klown is just plain wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! It’s also the funniest comedy you’ll see all year.

A spin-off from the long-running cult Danish sitcom of the same name, Klown takes the comedy of embarrassment favoured by the likes of Larry David and Ricky Gervais and raises it to pant-wetting levels of transgression, serving up a film that’s dark, taboo-busting, sentimental, brutally funny and cover-your-face squirm-inducing.

When he discovers his pregnant girlfriend is considering terminating their child due to his lack of maturity, middle-aged manchild Frank (Frank Hvam) decides to prove his fatherhood potential…by kidnapping her 12-year-old nephew Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen) and dragging him off on his planned mancation with priapic best bud Casper (Casper Christensen), a canoeing trip through the Danish countryside. The last thing the sex-crazed Casper wants to do though is babysit a kid, the canoeing trip a cover for his ‘Tour De Pussy’; a debauched, boozy, drug-fuelled trip to a world infamous exclusive brothel. But as Frank tries, and toe-curlingly fails, to prove he’s a responsible adult, their journey goes spectacularly, awkwardly off course.

Forget the gross out comedies of Judd Apatow, Todd Phillips, Evan Goldberg, et al, or the modern day Cheech & Chong stoner antics of Seth Rogen and James Franco; not since the early films of John Waters has there been a comedy quite as dark, as transgressive, as subversive, as determined to make you burn with shame on behalf its protagonists, pushing the envelope of what is acceptable, as Klown. Frank and Casper are almost the adult equivalents of American Pie’s Stifler; two bumbling, self-absorbed, sex-obsessed manchildren, completely devoid of self-awareness, causing havoc wherever they go. They ply underage girls with drink at a family holiday camp in an attempt to screw them. They take part in an embarrassing threesome. They mock and blackmail their young charge. They consume drugs, get in fights, visit a brothel, commit an armed robbery. The gift of a pearl necklace is delivered to the face of a sleeping, elderly woman. And yet we like them however reprehensible their behaviour becomes. They’re arseholes, selfish buffoons, little boys completely in thrall to their penises. But they don’t mean to be. As Frank tells Bo in perhaps the film’s most sentimental moment: “When grown-ups are horny, they do horrible things to those they love.” He’s not trying to make excuses for his actions or even apologise for them. He’s simply explaining them and that’s what makes Frank endearing.

Warner Brothers has apparently already bought the rights to remake Klown with The Hangover trilogy director Todd Phillips rumoured to be involved. Do yourself a favour however and see it before Hollywood screws it up with those bellends from The Wedding Crashers, rounding off Klown’s spikier corners and allowing its antiheroes the measure of redemption, of self-knowledge and personal growth that Nørgaard, Christensen and Hvam resolutely deny them, robbing them of their dignity at every possible opportunity, determined not to excuse their characters’ wildly inappropriate behaviour. Hilarious and, at times, heart-warming Frank’s groping journey towards adulthood, bonding with Bo and becoming a…well, not father figure exactly, more of an embarrassing, disreputable uncle is sweeter than it really should be. But it’s shot through with an unapologetic darkness that makes Klown feel almost like you’re watching a Lars Von Trier remake of The Hangover or a Dogme 95 Pineapple Express. Which probably isn’t a bad idea…

VERDICT: [rating=5]


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