VOD film review: Klown
James R | On 03, Aug 2014
Director: Mikkel Nørgaard
Cast: Frank Hvam, Casper Christensen, Marcuz Jess
Watch Klown online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Two grown men kidnap a 12 year old boy and take him camping where they proceed to give him alcohol, try to sleep with teenage girls and flirt with paedophilia in the Danish film Klown. It’s a comedy.
Your reaction to that last sentence will determine your reaction to the whole film. It’s a crass, low-brow, generally abhorrent movie – but it’s a funny crass, low-brow, generally abhorrent movie. How funny lies in where those elements intersect. Firmly following in The Hangover’s gross-out footsteps, is Klown so wrong it’s right?
Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen waste no time in making their intentions clear: from pearl necklaces to abandoning children at the first sign of a robbery, their aim is to shock as much as possible. So when Frank’s wife reveals that she’s pregnant but doubts his daddy potential, there’s only one option to ring the maximum number of alarm bells: he sets out to prove that he’s a perfectly wholesome father figure. By taking babysittee Bo (Jess) canoeing with his best friend, Casper (Christensen). Without asking.
Their double act follows the traditional formula of good cop, bad cop: every step along their “Tour de Pussy”, as Casper calls it, he’s looking to get laid, while Frank just sits there looking embarrassed. At times, it’s spot-on: one sex scene in which Frank becomes a reluctant third wheel is laugh-out-loud funny. More than that, it evokes genuine sympathy for the loser thirty-something.
All of that good will, though, goes out the window as things become increasingly depraved.
Hvam and Christensen continue playing up that contrast between the two men to try and keep us on Frank’s side. Casper, for example, hits on a camping party of schoolgirls. Whipping out a harmonica and slicking back his hair, the joke is firmly on him. But as Frank starts willingly joining in, rather than wincing from the sidelines, Klown takes a large leap – it asks us to laugh with them rather than at them. When sequences involve child abuse, played for giggles at the expense of the child, it’s hard to jump with it.
After honing their schtick on the small screen, there’s no doubting the easy chemistry between Hvam and Christensen. Their long-term helmer Mikkel Nørgaard captures that close-up TV atmosphere with handheld cameras designed for candid extremes. For the first half, that brazen lack of restraint makes for a guilty pleasure, but by the times trousers are being pulled down, things just feel guilty – a tone firmly established by the decision to actually show some unnecessary photos near the end of the film. To top it all off, our leads seem to learn nothing during their trip, which leaves any attempt at a feel-good, heartwarming core distinctly hollow.
How much is the uneasy tone a culture clash between the UK and Denmark? How much is simply inappropriate? It’s hard to say. But one thing is sure: Klown is wrong. At times, it’s so wrong its right. At others, it’s just plain wrong.
Your reaction to that last sentence will determine how much you enjoy it.