By Don Simpson | July 1, 2012
I has been a very long time since I have been canoeing. (Fifteen years, maybe?) I think that can be said about most film critics n Austin (and probably elsewhere). Not to make excuses, but the nature of our job does not allow us to venture outdoors very often. And typically we don’t need to exert much energy to attend a film screening, but this time we had to paddle for four miles to get to our intended destination. (Luckily, it was downstream.) The experience got me thinking… In the history of cinema, how often have audiences had to paddle canoes to a film screening? In the early 1900s, I would guess that horses were a prevalent mode of transportation to the local Nickelodeons, but probably not very many canoes were utilized. This is based upon pure conjecture, of course…
I would estimate that approximately 100 people met at the Guadalupe River Canoe Livery (Spring Branch, TX) for Drafthouse Film‘s Ultimate Klown Canoe Trip. Groups of 25 people were sent down the river at a time — and, quite purposefully, The Alamo requested that the film critics be the last group down the river. I say quite purposefully, because I think they knew that the critics would cause a massive pile up on the narrow (and sometimes treacherously shallow) Guadalupe River. Oh, and they also wanted us to paddle down the river alongside Klown‘s Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam.
But let’s back up a wee bit, because I need to do a bit of bragging… I sat beside Hvam (with Christensen seated across the aisle from us) on a school bus — it was a short bus, but that’s besides the point — to our canoe launch point. I bet not many people can make that claim (at least not in the last 25 years)! I didn’t record our conversation and free beer was flowing generously before we boarded the bus, so who knows what we talked about. (So much for journalist professionalism!) I do remember that we talked a little about the Scandinavian vs. United States reactions to the gay subtext in Klown. We also discussed the sheer genius of Tim League and Drafthouse Films‘ distribution model — this event being the perfect example of the uniqueness of Drafthouse Film’s marketing model.
Once we got off the bus, it was time to find a canoe partner because someone already had dibs on Hvam. This is where Twitch’s Josh Hurtado came into the picture. We didn’t know each other beforehand, but Josh and I were the odd men out. So, we grabbed our life jackets, paddles and canoe, hit the river and became fast friends. The aforementioned pile up of canoes occurred right at the onset of our journey. (We hadn’t even reached the “canoe eating tree” yet!) Maybe that is why Josh and I opted to distance ourselves from the pack and never look back… If it was a race, Josh and I would have won. Sure, we didn’t get to paddle alongside Christensen and Hvam but our reward was to have a much deserved jump start on drinking more free beer…and man was that strawberry crepe yummy (but no “yummy, yummy” was involved).
It’s funny, because after all of this build-up, any discussion of the film screening itself is going to sound like a total bore. (It wasn’t.) Back when I first saw Klown during Fantastic Fest 2011, I wrote that the film’s “episodic humor is absurd, crude, inappropriate, immature, disgusting, and unbelievably wrong on so many levels…but it is abso-fucking-lutely hilarious.” Klown played just as hilariously this time around as well. If anything, the second screening made me realize that there have not been any recent Hollywood comedies that come anywhere close to Klown — and let’s just say that I have absolutely no hope for the Danny McBride/Todd Phillips produced remake. I still have not put my finger on [in?] what makes this Danish comedy more appealing to me than Hollywood’s output. There is something unique about the Scandinavian approach to over-the-top humor that seems more mature to me. Okay, maybe mature is a poor choice of words, but it definitely feels more heartfelt and sincere.
Klown will be released theatrically (and VOD) in the United States by Drafthouse Films on July 27; as well as Blu-ray, DVD and Digital download on September 25. (Note: the MPAA was shockingly lenient — considering the film’s graphic sexual content — and gave it an “R” rating.) If the release is successful, Tim League promises that Drafthouse Films will find a way to distribute Christensen and Hvam’s television series of the same name. That right there is reason enough for me to champion this film.
For a little taste of Klown, check out this Green Band Trailer: