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ARISTOCRATS, THE (director: Paul Provenza; editor: Emery Emery/Paul Provenza; music: Gary Stockdale; cast: Jason Alexander, Drew Carey, George Carlin, Phyllis Diller, Whoopi Goldberg, Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Idle, Eddie Izzard, Lisa Lampanelli, Kevin Pollak, Paul Reiser, Don Rickles, Chris Rock, Bob Saget, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Robin Williams, Penn & Teller; Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Peter Adam Golden; ThinkFilm; 2005)
“Everything about the film felt slight.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An obscene one-joke movie revealing a secret naughty joke known by comedians from the days of vaudeville that is now revealed to the public. It’s a documentary about freedom of expression or pushing the envelope in how far to go with a joke that is directed by stand-up comedian Paul Provenza and put together with the help of his co-executive producer Penn Jillette. It soon either wears out its welcome or causes great hilarity. In my case, I found the vulgar joke unfunny and the movie a bore. Just because a film takes a libertarian position I favor, doesn’t mean that I have to enjoy it. It tells the history of an intentionally poor joke whose telling details vary greatly from comedian to comedian; there’s always something disgusting present such as scatological material, bestiality and incest, while the punch-line is not supposed to make sense or be funny. The long standing joke is called The Aristocrats, which supposedly makes it oddly funny that such shocking stuff is given such a sophisticated title.

There are around a hundred or so comedians of various stripes who tell their version of the joke and plead with you to take their word this is funny shit they’re dishing out. They laugh a lot at their own stuff, compliment Gilbert Gottfried for how exuberant he was in telling the joke at a Friar’s Club roast for Hugh Hefner soon after 9/11, and seem intent to prove the joke had more value to the professional comedian than the public. Everything about the film felt slight.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”