WRINKLES THE CLOWN
(director/writer: Michael Beach Nichols; screenwriter: Christopher K. Walker; cinematographer: Michael Beach Nichols; editor: Christopher K. Walker; music: T. Griffin; Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jennie Bedusa, Mike Dill, Jon Lullo, Lowell Shapiro; Magnet Releasing; 2019)
“Pointless, Goofy and disconcerting documentary on a creepy unidentified 65-year-old clown.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The Emmy-winning TV documentarian Michael Beach Nichols (“The Man Behind The Curtain”) directs and writes this pointless, goofy and disconcerting documentary on a creepy unidentified 65-year-old clown, called Wrinkles the Clown, living out of a white van in Naples, Florida, since 2009, after the retiree and divorced veteran moved there from Rhode Island. The clown wears a red polka-dot costume and a clown mask. He can be hired for a small fee (a couple of hundred dollars) to either attend birthdays, scare misbehaving kids, or be a prankster. Publicity about him comes from a 2014 b/w online surveillance video that went viral. It’s the one that brought him into the public eye. The popular but really creepy YouTube clip shows a young girl sleeping in her room while the clown Wrinkles comes out of a large drawer beneath her bed and places a doll beside her before leaving her room.
The clown mainly advertises by handing out business cards in costume and placing stickers in various Florida locations with his phone number on it. He claims he receives a couple hundred calls a day from those thinking about hiring him or just wanting to talk to him or mess with him.
We observe the clown in action with the parents who seem to think they need his services to discipline their kids, and hear from a psychologist condemn that activity as a form of child abuse. The film became a turn off for me when at the mid-point it reveals that its gimmicky story is staged and not true, and that this is not Wrinkles but an actor portraying him.
In any case, to me this evil clown story is so slight it doesn’t warrant treatment as a full-length film even if weirdly funny. If it only wants to tell us that this is just a way for the pathetic clown to make some bread to survive, a chance to rail against social media for pushing such nonsense stories on the public or just getting a few cheap laugh, it seems, in all seriousness, to show us that parents who discipline their children through being threatened by a clown are really committing some sort of child abuse and the film should be called out for promoting such a dark activity even if it only does so as a goof.
REVIEWED ON 10/13/2019 GRADE: C