Having hit a home run twice now — first with Seinfeld, then with Curb Your Enthusiasm — Larry David has nothing left to prove when it comes to his skill at creating wonderful, memorable TV comedy. But they can’t all be home runs, and unfortunately, David’s new HBO movie, Clear History, is a disappointing offering.
David stars in the film as Nathan Flomm, a marketing exec at a small company about to make its big launch; a new electronic car they think could revolutionize the industry. But when Nathan’s boss, Will (Jon Hamm), reveals he’s going with the eyebrow raising name “The Howard” for the car, Nathan ends up in a blow up argument with him that results in Nathan deciding to be bought out of his 10% stake in the company… which turns out to be literally a billion dollar mistake, when The Howard becomes a giant sensation.
Larry David Talks Clear History
10 years later, Nathan, who became a media laughing stock over his decision, has completely changed his appearance and identity, living in Martha’s Vineyard as the caretaker to an elderly woman, under the name Rolly DaVore. But when he discovers that none other than Will has moved to the area, a decade of anger and frustration comes boiling to the surface, and Rolly begins planning some rather dramatic forms of revenge. His big advantage? Now a nearly bald guy with patches of white hair (that is to say, he looks like Larry David), “Rolly” is unrecognizable from the longhaired, bearded Nathan of 10 years before and Will doesn’t have any idea of who he is.
Clear History certainly isn’t lacking for star power. On top of David and Hamm, the cast includes Kate Hudson, Amy Ryan, Danny McBride, Michael Keaton, Bill Hader, Phillip Baker Hall, Eva Mendes, Paul Scheer and David’s Curb co-star, J.B. Smoove. It’s a terrific group of actors and everyone seems to have shown up ready and willing to jump in with David’s style of improv comedy – Clear History didn’t have a full script, just an outline explaining what plot points needed to occur throughout the story.
However, despite all of this talent and a skilled director in Greg Mottola (Adventureland, Superbad), Clear History never fully comes to life. The names Nathan or Rolly aside — and the hard to deny humor in seeing David with that long hair and beard in the prologue — David is essentially playing the same variation on his real life persona he’s been playing for years now, which is fine, but ultimately, the movie feels like a lesser Curb episode stretched much longer than it needs to be. Of course, not every single Curb episode works, but part of that show’s appeal is how it can experiment in each 30-minute episode, with David and his collaborators giving a shot to all sorts of scenarios, with some working and some not. But Clear History, as a full length movie, feels far more meandering and there are diversions it takes — Rolly complaining about the local restaurant not putting a napkin in-between the utensils and the table or his wish that all plug sockets were higher on the wall — that are certainly amusing but feel like TV episode scenarios David would rather be exploring, even as he’s part of this larger storyline it feels like he’s not completely invested in.
As impressive as the cast are, not all of them really stand out here. McBride gets a few laughs in the best friend role, but it’s surprising to see some, like Hader, never really spark, despite their huge comic talent. Michael Keaton though is certainly entertaining as an eccentric explosives expert, with Keaton using a voice that is pretty similar to a certain bio-exorcist. Smoove, while also pretty similar to his Curb persona, is still very funny in a handful of scenes, though the standout may be Liev Schreiber in an uncredited role as an unsavory type Rolly meets with, only for the two to have a very everyday occurrence keep their relationship lasting longer than intended. But still, it’s unfortunate that people who’ve proven to be very funny in other roles, including Hamm, Mendes and Ryan are just sort of there for much of Clear History’s running time.
In addition, a few too many subplots also don’t really go anywhere or have weak or nonexistent payoffs. Of course, that wouldn’t matter if Clear History were flat out hysterical, but I found myself chuckling or smiling more than I was actually laughing, with too few moments feeling as inspired as one would hope. And let’s face it, while every episode of Curb isn’t going to be one of the best, when David decides to do a Curb-like movie for HBO instead, it’s hard not to want it to feel worth the extra time.
With Curb on another prolonged hiatus and no certainty yet on whether it will be back or not (as always, it’s up to David), it’s understandable fans of David will want to check out Clear History. And it’s decent, as a diversion. But its best moments are a bit too spread out – and will have you more hopeful to see David want to return to new TV episodes soon, given its a form he’s such a master at.
Clear History premieres Saturday, August 10th at 9pm on HBO.
Courtesy: Click Here
Review Summary :
|Reviewer :||Amita Singh|
|Review Date :||2013-05-05|
|Item Name :||Clear History Review|
|Item Description:||Clear History Review|