Comedy veterans and co-creators Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza capitalize on their insider status and invite over 100 of their closest friends--who happen to be some of the biggest names in entertainment, from George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg and Drew Carey to Gilbert Gottfried, Bob Saget, Paul Reiser and Sarah Silverman--to reminisce, analyze, deconstruct and deliver their own versions of the world's dirtiest joke, an old burlesque too extreme to be performed in public, called "The Aristocrats." Written by
Sujit R. Varma
On his radio show, co-director Penn Jillette said that Rodney Dangerfield and Buddy Hackett were both invited to appear in the film and were supportive of the film, but declined due to their failing health (they would both die before the film premiered). Also, the filmmakers intended to have a private screening for Johnny Carson at his home, but he died only days after the premiere at Sundance. They then decided to dedicate the film to him. See more »
The joke leads me down one path and then it switches the path on me suddenly and hits me with a hammer. It's just, "Here we go folks."
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After the credits, this appears on screen: "Now that you know the joke - keep it alive, spread it around. It's easy. 'A guy goes into a talent agent's office...' All you have to remember is ONE word." Then, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette are standing among a group of goats and say "Aristocrats!" while doing the hand flourish that Drew Carey invented. See more »
After seeing "The Aristocrats" I found myself wondering if I truly enjoyed a film about the craziest joke in the world. The answer: Almost.
The film itself centers around a single premise: A joke with the punch line "The Aristocrats!" has existed for a long time, and many different comedians tell their versions and try to explain why the joke is funny, allowing reflection on what makes this particular joke so memorable and humorous.
Don't get me wrong. There are parts of this movie where I was having difficulty breathing due to the humor and the telling of "the joke." Some of the deliveries were flawless, executed with the aggressiveness and impartial judgment that have made some comedians famous.
But some comedians I didn't find funny. And their telling of "the joke" created another feeling inside me: How much longer is he going to try to make me laugh? And the problem here is that these parts of the movie are just very difficult to sit through. Using foul language and references to numerous taboos is one thing, but it hurts to listen to a comedian do it badly.
Ultimately, the comedians do a good job of explaining some of the finer nuances of "the joke", comedy in general, and its place in our lives. But the film spends more time on each comedians' angle with "the joke" than the development of why the joke is great. And I think the movie suffered from it. Listening to the philosophy of "the joke" was great; listening to bad comics preach the scripture was unbearable.
So the dilemma was created: I thought I enjoyed the film afterward, but I didn't know. After careful deliberation, I gave it a 7, losing 3 stars through the lack of developing more comedic philosophy and for the sometimes painfully unfunny moments a movie like this has in it.
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