ENTERTAINMENT (director/writer: Rick Alverson; screenwriters: Gregg Turkington/Tim Heidecker; cinematographer: Lorenzo Hagerman; editors: Michael Taylor/Rick Alverson; music: Robert Donne; cast: Gregg Turkington (The Comedian/Neil Hamburger), Dean Stockwell (Frank), Michael Cera (Hustler), Tye Sheridan (Eddie), John C. Reilly (John), Kalia Prescott (Maria) Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Bryan Ramirez/A.J. Trauth; Magnolia Pictures; 2015)
“The misanthropic comedy, which is mostly a turn-off, might best be appreciated by a cult audience that thrives on originality to counter its familiar trope.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
TV director Rick Alverson(“New Jerusalem”/”The Comedy”/”The Builder”) conceives the pic as a starring format for Gregg Turkington, who plays an unfunny comedian performing under the name Neil Hamburger. He’s a potbellied, cheaply attired, unsuccessful aging stand-up comedian, who is a lonely and sad figure as he makes the rounds of third-rate venues in the California desert–including performing in prisons. The clubs are lightly filled, and hecklers are always there. The Comedian gets back at them with a barrage of insults, most of which are sexual in nature. Living in seedy motels and having his dreams destroyed of being a class-act popular comedian, leaves him unrealistically hoping that a lucrative Hollywood offer awaits at the end of the tour even if no such offer exist.
It was scripted by the comedian Tim Heidecker, the star Gregg Turkington and the director.
The Comedians also is trying to make contact with his estranged daughter. The fun and electricity in the dreary pic is a number of surreal moments when the performer encounters others in his field.
Tye Sheridan plays the Comedian’s young warm-up pantomime act. John C. Reilly is the performer’s loudmouth prosperous farmer cousin. Michael Cera plays a pervert hustler in the public restroom.
What stands out is the sensitive treatment given to the loser Comedian, who is falling apart because of his failures and his heartbreaking loneliness. The desperate performer puts out a gruff outside front to hide his real hurt inside. The misanthropic comedy, which is mostly a turn-off, might best be appreciated by a cult audience that thrives on originality to counter its familiar trope. It’s not the kind of comedy where the laughs are easily forthcoming.
REVIEWED ON 11/1/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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