The Comedy

SXSW 2012 film review

The Comedy

Director: Rick Alverson | Screenwriters: Robert Donne, Colm O’Leary
Indifferent even to the prospects of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson (Tim Heidecker), a desensitized, aging Brooklyn hipster, strays into a series of reckless situations that may offer the promise of redemption or the threat of retribution.
Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, James Murphy, Kate Lyn-Sheil, Alexia Rassmusen

Film Synopsis (from SXSW.com)

WHO’S IT FOR? Don’t come to The Comedy looking to laugh. And at the same time, don’t expect to learn something significant about comedian Tim Heidecker either.

OVERALL

Something is trying to be said with Rick Alverson’s not-so-funny The Comedy, but Tim Heidecker might not have been the right choice for said role. Not because the guy can’t act (he’s clearly a good performer if you pay close attention to his comedic work), and also not because he’s undeserving of making a serious statement. But watching Heidecker navigate through the emptiness of The Comedy, with its ironic title, and the conscious inclusion of his comedy partner Eric Wareheim, makes for a distracting experience. It’s a movie that not only makes you ask, “What does this extensive scene of biking even mean?” but at the same time, “What does this have to do with Heidecker and his career?” “Is this movie being ironic, or ironically ironic?”

Seeing Heidecker in such a film is appealing (I couldn’t miss this one provided my gut feelings), but there are parts that seem to go in and out of possible meta reflection on the unique image that the writer/director and star of his own empire has created for himself. It seems necessary to know whether this movie was made FOR Heidecker or WITH Heidecker before it even starts.

With its glum musings, The Comedy is ultimately a shrugging of the shoulders from a person who doesn’t look you in the eye. Fans of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim will be looking for moments to laugh with their comedy deity, and they’ll be given some. But such absurd moments (including futzing around in a church, or having a near-naked dance) are unclear as to whether they are unironically going for amusement.

In the vein of all that Tim & Eric do, this movie succeeds in creating a very disorienting experience, this time unleashing such randomness into the arthouse world. And yet, even jokes like the “Shrim” moment from Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie feel like they have more heart and focus than anything in The Comedy.

FINAL SCORE: 4/10

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