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Punching the Clown (2009)

Winner of the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival, this realistic comedy tells the story of Henry Phillips, a hapless modern day troubadour who grinds his way through the ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ellen Ratner ...
Wade Kelley ...
Matthew Walker ...
Matt Phillips (as Matt Walker)
Audrey Siegel ...


Winner of the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival, this realistic comedy tells the story of Henry Phillips, a hapless modern day troubadour who grinds his way through the heartland, living out of his car and singing his twisted satirical songs to anyone who will listen. After a booking mishap involving a Christian fund raiser, he decides he's hit rock bottom. Seeking to shake things up, he moves to L.A. where his luck changes overnight. Thanks less to his inept manager than to a wild case of mistaken identity, he falls backwards into a string of packed gigs, a record deal and even the promise of love. But he who lives by the whimsy of show business dies by it, and reality hits him like a fist in the face: an innocent miscommunication over a bagel brands him a neo-Nazi in the world of tabloid journalism. Luckily, somewhere between rock bottom and nowhere lies the perfect terrain for his dark and hilarious songs.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What he takes from his life, he gives back through his art. So far he's taken nothing but shit. See more »



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Release Date:

22 October 2010 (USA)  »

Box Office


$140,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Matt: Hi, can I have something fruity with an umbrella in it, please? Something to get me messed up in a hurry?
Becca: Oh, I'm sorry, we just have beer and wine.
Matt: Then I'll take that bottle right there and one glass and a pretty smile.
Becca: Oka... okay.
See more »

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User Reviews

Extremely funny and surprisingly poignant comedy
3 February 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is my first review on IMDb: I just want to spread the word about this small treasure.

I saved it to my Netflix queue months ago after missing the theatrical release and hearing that Sarah Silverman loved it, and then I forgot all about it. It was finally released a couple of weeks ago.

What a treat. Watched it with my over-intellectual wife and our dumb 14 year old son. (I'm a dumb 54 year old who likes his beer cold and his beef and humor very rare). We all loved it.

Thought it was a Sundance winner at first, but I realize now it's a SLAMDANCE winner... (Note to independent film people: you have to come up with better festival names, it's confusing.) but who cares, whatever: It's a great film.

The story is very quirky and written with a sharp eye. The main characters and many of the supporting parts are vivid, hilarious and multi-dimensional. The songs are almost all original and cough-up-your-popcorn hysterical. The dialog is better than anything Woody Allen wrote in 25 years, or Judd Apatow... ever.

And if that wasn't enough, the movie is heartfelt and very human. The main character, Henry, plays a fictional version of himself and really draws you in. He's the funniest soft-spoken guy in the movies, take my word for it. The director co-wrote it and apparently had total control over every detail, casting, editing etc... real talent.

What else? Entertaining DVD bonuses. Deleted scenes. Running commentary with the director, the main actor and the actress who plays the manager. Ellen Ratner. Never heard of her, but apparently she was in Seinfeld. Anyway, she's wonderful. It's a no-name cast, but it's a solid, solid comedy.

Hope to see more from these guys.

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