Film Review: ‘Klown’


Based on the long-running Danish television series of the same name, Mikkel Nørgaard’s outrageously juvenile comedy of errors, Klown (Klovn, 2010), is nothing if not crude, vulgar and inappropriate; and it’s also the funniest film of this year. Having been released in the US late last year, it now gets a cinematic release in the UK  via Arrow Films. Combining extremely naturalistic performances with some superb examples of gross-out comedy, Klown plays like a cross between BBC’s The Office (2001) and Todd Phillips’ The Hangover cycle – yet is considerably more outrageous than both aforementioned parties.

When protagonist Frank (Frank Hvam) learns that his girlfriend Mia (Mia Lyhne) is secretly pregnant, she reveals her concern that he wouldn’t be a fit father – much to his consternation. As he prepares to go on a canoe trip with his pal Casper (Casper Christensen), Frank decides to take along Mia’s pre-teen nephew Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen) in order to demonstrate his daddy potential. However, Frank kidnaps Bo and dubs the trip the “Tour de Pussy”, with the getaway designed in order to lure the married Casper to an exclusive brothel. The conceit that every man has the potential (and, more importantly, the right) to be a father is central to Klown’s narrative drive, as the hapless and idiotic Frank makes stupid choice upon stupid choice.

That Frank stays a lovable jerk throughout – and consequently that the film retains a warm heart – is down to the wonderful and finely-honed portrayal of Frank by Hvam. On the other side of the equation is the substantially-less likeable Casper; a sex-crazed jerk who deservedly gets his comeuppance. Fully embracing its gross-out side, Klown never shies away from grandstanding bodily humour with even a twelve-year-old participating in full frontal nudity. Yet it’s the absurdity of the whole thing, combined with subtly brilliant comic performances and a richly warm centre, that make Nørgaard’s film so thoroughly enjoyable.

The film may be a little too episodic in nature – a natural hangover from the TV origins one suspects – but this is a minor misgiving as the laughs keep on coming. Klown could well be one of those Scandinavian exports that unfortunately slip through the cracks when it comes to the UK box office, with its natural arthouse audience likely to baulk and recoil from the unrepentant crassness. Fortunately, Arrow Films have taken to the task of releasing what has the potential to be a breakout comedy hit for Nørgaard’s and the rest of its talented cast and crew.

Ben Nicholson