Television Movie: Clear History

I haven't seen Curb Your Enthusiasm, but a number of sources have told me Clear History might as well be titled Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Movie. Well, okay. I'll have to take their words for it.

My general sense of Clear History is that it's a loose framework of story wherein Larry David has reason to go to various places and kvetch. Sometimes he goes back to the same places and kvetches some more about things he's already kvetched about. It's a stand-up routine on location. And it has funny moments, if you like that kind of humor. I could imagine my parents saying at some points, "Yeah, he has a point there."

There is a reliance, too, on repetition as part of the joke. How many times must we go back to the "unsanitary" conditions of placing silverware on a diner table? (And yet it's somehow less unsanitary to lick your finger when touching money—do you know where that cash has been?) And even the final moment of the whole thing is predicated on a through joke. ::shrug::

Really, there's something old school about the whole of this little movie. Clean it up a bit and give it a warmer ending, and it could have been a Wonderful World of Disney Sunday Night movie from the 80s. Not necessarily a bad thing. But it's a very particular audience, and I think a lot of people won't find Clear History funny at all. It's a tad too long, for one thing. Meanders a bit in the middle as the plot swerves then goes back . . . What is the plot? Oh, well, Larry David plays Nathan Flomm, who walks away from a company just before its shares go through the roof. In short, he loses nearly $1 billion, becomes a national laughingstock, then moves to Martha's Vineyard under a new name. When the billionaire owner of the company Will Haney (John Hamm) takes a house on the Vineyard, Nathan (now Raleigh) decides to get revenge by blowing up the house. Then decides he might rather steal Haney's wife. But when that doesn't work, Nathan/Raleigh goes back to the house explosion idea. And the whole thing culminates in a Chicago concert (that viewers don't get to see, or are spared from seeing, depending on whether you like Chicago).

Anyway, around the 70-minute mark, I began to wonder how much longer this was going to go on. Which is pretty bad when the whole thing is only 100 minutes to begin with. (I also kept thinking Larry David, when in a baseball cap and sunglasses, looks an awful lot like Jimmy Buffett. But that's something else again.)

In the end, Clear History was marginally entertaining. It had its moments, and I enjoyed seeing Michael Keaton act crazy and Liev Schreiber with a ponytail and an accent. I didn't really buy the ending (would have enjoyed the Disney ending more, I think), but whatever. I wasn't invested enough to be truly disappointed. The plot was rote and flimsy, and the whole thing was really just a Larry David showcase. So if you like that kind of thing . . .

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