Netflux “The Aristocrats”

I’d been meaning to see this one for a while, but I could never really let it drift to the top of the queue because the premise seemed questionable.

A whole movie about one joke seems like it might be a little much. That this particular joke is a classic among comedians and can be told in a myriad of different ways is helpful, especially when you have top notch comedians telling it, but it still seems like the subject matter might be light.

That being said, the movie, only about an hour and a half, didn’t drag. This is mainly by sheer force of personality of the participants and interviewees. Comedians are some of the funniest, strangest, most out there people around, and they were not afraid to show it on camera

This movie was produced by Penn Jillette, the famous magician and libertarian. That’s another reason I was interested in seeing it, as I think he is one of the most fervent and impressive advocates for free speech that is out there. The movie certainly takes advantage of the idea of free speech.

Here’s a hint: if you are easily offended, don’t watch The Aristocrats. Much of the charm of the joke revolves around how dirty you can make it, and some of these comics can make it pretty dirty. Bob Saget, for example, probably gives the dirtiest rendition.

I only laughed twice during the film. Once was at Kevin Pollak’s very funny impersonation of Christopher Walken telling the joke. The other was at another version that is simply too vulgar for me to describe to you, though if you watch the movie I’ll be happy to point out which scene I’m talking about.

One thing I wasn’t sure I liked about the movie was, unlike most documentaries, they didn’t explain who each of the interviewees were as you were moving along. I didn’t know who about 40% of them were, and I would have liked to. During the credits they did end up pointing out everyone’s names, but I still would have liked to know more about these comics.  Tim Conway also did an excellent job in the credits sequence with his “rendition” of the joke.

It’s almost as if the movie was made for comics in order to appreciate each others’ art, and we normal mortals are just along for the ride. Often that makes for a good movie, one where they’re not hitting you over the head all the time. There was definitely some aspect of that here.

The movie was very good at doing what it meant to do, so I think I will give it four stars. I recommend this film, though again, if you’re easily offended, you might want to go watch The Aristocats instead!


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