The first line of “Klown” -- “Aha, we’re the last to arrive!” -- stems from a couple arriving late to a wedding reception, but it could also apply to the American audiences likely unfamiliar with the Danish sitcom of the same name.
Fortunately, “Klown” the movie stands well enough on its own from “Klown” the series. It offers a crudely enjoyable blend of the middle-aged insecurity of “Sideways,” the raunch-coated sweetness of “Role Models” or “American Pie” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm's" well-honed social awkwardness. It even kicks off with an opening theme awfully close to that of “The Odd Couple,” and indeed, we find ourselves thrown in with such a pair: hapless Frank (Frank Hvam) and horny Casper (Casper Christensen).
When the former inadvertently discovers that his girlfriend is pregnant, he essentially kidnaps her nephew, Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen), in a desperate gambit to prove that he’s up to the job of fatherhood. The problem is: He’s decided to take Bo along on Casper’s weekend canoe trip, a long-planned excursion to the land of infidelity -- Casper even chose canoeing because it’s the one thing his wife wouldn’t want to tag along for. Where Frank sees an opportunity to prove his parental worth, Casper only sees dead weight, a kid who could very well interfere with these men getting to behave like boys.
The shenanigans ensue from there. Each stop along the river brings with it new problems, ranging from fighting bullies to mocking willies, poorly delivered pearl necklaces to ill-placed thumbs of hospitality. Director Mikkel Nørgaard’s handheld approach keeps in line with the anything-goes nature of the antics on display, and the six-seasons-long camaraderie of the two leads makes their eagerly misguided behavior that much easier to bear.
Also check out: Watch "Klown" Online
To the film’s credit, it rarely settles on any one type of humor, often overlapping uncomfortable comedy of manners with outright vulgarity and working in occasionally sly touches. (Much is made of Frank and Casper’s reluctant participation in a book club, where the title of the moment happens to be “Heart of Darkness.”) The narrative generally breezes through misunderstandings, although a detour to a real-life rock festival halts the momentum a bit before our shameful protagonists rally forth for a sentimental (though never groan-inducing) finale and an undeniably gasp-inducing climax.
One shouldn’t be surprised to hear that “Klown” is already due for an American remake at the hands of Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”) and Danny McBride (“Eastbound and Down”). Before the material becomes a little less daring and a little more mean-spirited, I would recommend that anyone in the market for a good dose of bad taste should make a point of checking out this version first.
In addition to opening in select cities, “Klown” will be made available On Demand through cable providers and iTunes starting this Friday.