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What seems to be a simple documentary following Conan O'Brien on his live tour, is also an exhausting roller-coaster ride of hilarity, melancholy, anger, arrogance, farce and gratefulness. Hilarity in the constant ways Conan tries (and succeeds) to entertain everyone around him. Melancholy and anger in seeing Conan fight with his emotions of having to cope with a broken dream of hosting The Tonight Show, with both morose moments and slapstick jabs to the people that let him down. Arrogance in his "Mean Conan"-persona to the people closest to him, and in trying to cope with the many demands of fans. Farce, in the moments where things boil over and Conan truly can't stop talking, singing, being courteous to everyone around him. Gratefulness, in the fact that he keeps on keeping on, because he knows that people care and want to live up to their expectations. Conan O'Brien Can't Stop is truly the perfect title to this documentary, but you only really understand that after watching it.
I am not a big Conan O'Brien fan, but I love behind-the-scenes type documentaries. This one is excellent. It showcases Conan during a very difficult time in his life when he tries to come to terms with losing the Tonight Show and what to do with his anger. It shows a side of Conan that most people never see, and is hilarious throughout. I have so much more respect for him as a performer after seeing the film even though he comes across as a fairly arrogant jerk during most of the film. He is still very funny, even when you wish he were nicer. The director had over 140 hrs of footage and cut this down perfectly. Great audio and editing which was a huge task. Overall, it is a truly enjoyable movie.
Ever since middle school, I have been a huge fan of Conan O'Brien. I
would only watch his show on Fridays or over school breaks because if I
got caught being up so late, I'd get in trouble. But when he started on
The Tonight Show, I stayed up late and watched it anyways no matter the
day. So I was watching every night as the battle for The Tonight Show
unfolded and, like many, I gave all of my support to him. So after
leaving the Tonight Show, he planned a 32-city live tour, which is what
the film focuses on.
The tour moments are fun, especially the backstage bits. During the Radio City Music Hall show, we see Conan, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert backstage preparing their skit a mere 9 minutes before they go on stage and perform it. We really see the creativity that went into this tour and they pulled it off nicely. There are moments after the shows where he complains about not wanting to meet fans, but he does it anyways. He definitely shows much appreciation for them and all of their support.
We get to see a darker side of Conan in the film. At one point, he teases Jack McBrayer, calling him a hick and even making up a song on the spot that's very dark, yet I found myself laughing. Who wouldn't be able to go into a darker place after losing one of the biggest television shows of all time? Honestly the film made me love Conan even more. Even though he does act somewhat mean at times, his amazing team still sticks with him. He has such a wonderful group of people supporting him. There are some really nice moments of him with long time friend and sidekick, Andy Richter. You can really tell that they will always be there for each other. Also I have to give credit to Sona Movsesian, Conan's assistant, who handles him well at some pretty rough times.
I think documentaries about entertainers are always great to see. You get to see much more of them than you do on TV or on stage. This is one of the best I've ever seen and I'm not just saying this because I'm a Conan fanatic, but this film is very well made. We get to see moments of Conan that we normally don't get to and it's fascinating to watch. The film gets dark at times, but for the most part, it's hilarious. The film is a must see for Conan fans and it's the year's absolute best film. I don't think there will be a more honest, funny and entertaining film this year. Go Team Coco.
This documentary explores the life of Conan O'Brien behind the scenes. His creative mind and how his comedy comes to life. It was refreshing to see a different side of him and seeing him get sometimes bitter and deal with the disappointment of not being able to perform. The tour was cathartic and you can see throughout the movie how we copes with his loss and how he finds clarity and reassurance.It is important to notice that the director focuses solely in Conan's life and most of the other members of the crew are just there to complete the film. You can see a more human sometimes bitter and angry Conan, impatient at some times but always trying to get something funny and meaningful out of the situation.The people he surrounded with provide him with support and play a major role in this cathartic and life changing experience.
A surprising powerful and interesting look into the mind of one of the
most intelligent, innovative and personally inspiring minds existing in
our current culture. Conan O'Brien is a brilliant man who was treated
very unfairly by NBC and this picture does a great job of documenting
all of the turmoil and conflicting emotions that came as a result of
that debacle, along with his concert tour that came afterwards when he
was banned from being on television. Conan is brave enough for letting
this relatively dark chapter of his life be put on film forever, and
the makers of the film used it as an opportunity to showcase the man
behind the hilarious hour of television he gives us four nights a week.
The film did a superb job of stripping back the layers and showing every side of this man, from his self-effacing humor to his anger over the pressures of the tour and his unjust treatment by NBC, to his genuine joy for life and performing in front of an audience. This is a man who spent over a decade getting to perform to a crowd and make people laugh several times a week, living his dream only to have it stripped away in one of the most childish and bizarre disasters in late night television history. We get to see what happens when that dream of his came crashing down and he had to build himself back up. There are so many great scenes throughout, ones that had me in stitches like when he laughed at the fact that he would never be caught dead on a network like TBS and ones that had me almost in tears of joy or frustration, like when one of his back-up singers brought in about a dozen people to meet him after an exhausting show he performed that he now had to entertain or when he was forced to schmooze a Hollywood crowd at a party for hours before having to do another insanely exhausting show. They really highlighted the pressure that was put on this guy almost every day and how easily people take for granted someone with a genuinely kind heart who just wants to make people happy.
That being said, they didn't make Conan ever seem like this martyr for amusement all the time, they definitely didn't shy away from showing some unlikable characteristics of his. They let him have his moments where he was just being a frustrated jerk, which made the whole thing very human and authentic. I love Conan to death and he will always inspire me and the film would have rang very false if there hadn't been moments where he as kind of a prick. In his situation I feel like it would be pretty impossible not to have a ton of moments where the pressure and frustration become too much and you just want to lash out. But his honest craving for making people happy shines through almost all of the time, even in his darkest moments of depression and confusion over what he was supposed to do at that time.
It's a fantastic documentary and it really exceeded my expectations. It made me laugh even more than I was expecting it to, which was a ton, and provided a surprising level of insight into his psyche at that time and who he really is behind everything. His relationships with those around him were heartwarming, especially the comradery between him and his assistant Sona; I thought their sarcastic back-and-forth and constant support of one another was really beautiful. Their relationship alone is enough to merit watching the film. In the end, it's a film that had me laughing frequently and thinking quite often about the levels of who Conan is and, ultimately, the levels of who I am as well. He will always be a huge inspiration to me and this exploration just further solidifies that.
I found this film useful viewing for one reason only: it captures the
energy necessary to perform and the momentum that's required to sustain
that energy. Had Conan not mounted a stage show, perhaps his need to
perform may have itself atrophied. Watching this energy propel Conan is
in itself contagious and inspiring.
Beyond this achievement, however, there is a lack of any greater investigation into the nature of performance or putting it into a greater context. It exists more or less as a loving video postcard, whose brief tension has been sapped out by the fact that Conan now has his own show back on TBS.
This film suffers from a lack of a strong antagonist. It also suffers from not providing any detracting views or opinions on Conan himself. We never get the sense that there will be any real failure here: a high level, well-oiled, show business machine, with a large staff, sells out some 40 odd huge A-level theatres in major markets in a matter of days and then proceeds to play them by flying to and fro in a private Leer jet plane. Not exactly the same tension created by an artist battling for public acclaim in his salad days. Riding a gravy train is not as exciting as walking along the edge of a cliff.
As a loving video postcard, it is at times frustrating in it's selection of events. The film chooses to show a lengthy clip of Eddie Veder covering "The Who", yet deprives us of Jim Carrey's impromptu performance with Conan. As a fan of comedy, I would much rather have seen the Jim Carry act than watch Eddie Veder, as awesome as he is, who seems to have nothing to do with Conan. And yet musically, I would have liked to see more of Jack White, since Conan was instrumental in launching his career and genuinely loves his music.
There is also not much here on tracing Conan's history. He's not put under the microscope as much as I was led to expect from the promotional campaign. He's basically just doing his thing, being charming and entertaining. As a documentary subject he lacks having a darker side and/or strong opposition.
The tour was cathartic for Conan. But the film for the audience lacks surprise and tension. There is no great question explored here, such as "Did Conan hit the road to fill some great void within himself?" Please, that is some serious marketing BS. He's simply a hard workingman who loves his job, his staff, his family and kids and wants to keep working, because he knows not working leads to the death of the performance muscle.
An endurance runner wouldn't take six months off if someone told them they couldn't run a prestigious race. They'd keep running in the back woods if they were passionate about running. Mystery solved. Conan is passionate about performing. He needs to keep entertaining audiences if he's going to stay in peak shape. Can't go on TV, well hey then, lets do theatre!
The problem with this film is it provides neither tragedy nor comedy. As funny as Conan is, he's not hilarious. He's simply a very sweet funny guy that everyone wishes was his best friend. After all, he's the straight man to every one of his guests, so that they can shine and be funny. So herein lies a film about an entertaining straight man, an MC if you will. Which is fine. It's just irksome that it's pretending to be more than what it really is.
You don't go to the show to see the MC, you go to see the featured acts. Conan becomes his own featured act by filling time with his music performances. Something no one would pay money to see under normal circumstances. Now that those "abnormal" circumstances have passed, the exercise of documenting it seems pointless except as a record for those involved, which is exactly what this film is.
A documentary on Conan O'Brien's comedy tour of the U.S. and Canada
after leaving his post at "The Tonight Show" and severing his
relationship with NBC.
Early on, we see some good humor with the mock fight at the protests (although this is more a reflection on Conan's fans than the man himself). But then, it goes wild...
I have mixed feelings on this. I love Conan, and the clips from the tour (on stage) are pretty good. But the behind the scenes moments are strange -- he sometimes comes off as angry (at the wrong people) and childish. He was wrongfully removed from NBC, but he is far more bitter than probably necessary... though this improves as the tour continues.
(Roger Ebert actually sums up the negativity nicely: "Everyone around him pays a price. He relentlessly nibbles away at his support system, picks on his personal assistant, needles his sidekick Andy Richter and dominates his "writers" so compulsively that I can hardly recall one of them being allowed to say anything at meetings. He seems to consider them more of an audience.")
Some people have commented on the anti-Semitic comment made by a fan. I do not really wish to get into it, but I will say Conan deserves a little credit for putting the kid in his place without being too harsh... it was a bad word to say, but was clearly not meant as hatred.
I've heard from several people that his attitude in this documentary has damaged their perception of Conan as a person. In some ways, I can understand where they're coming from; his humor on a person-to-person basis is much more biting and acidic than it is on television, and the film's approach of basically lining up every joke told behind the scenes, back-to-back-to-back, does give the impression that he's constantly picking on anyone who dares to enter the dressing room. That it also cuts away so quickly after every punchline doesn't give us a chance to understand the context of the conversation or the target's response to his barbs. The japes are constantly funny, but that uncertainty about their reception ultimately keeps the laughs from flowing freely. There's also an impression that he's always on, telling jokes without taking a breath - even during quiet moments at home with his wife and kids. To some, that might make him seem imposing and attention-seeking, but I took it as his way of dealing with the stress of an overloaded schedule, uncertain future and relentless media attention that he was working through at the time, just weeks after his public blowup with NBC. Conan runs with a very funny group of guys, and their puns combined with the glimpses both on the stage and behind the curtains at his "Prohibited Tour" make for some great material. It's just not an entirely friendly atmosphere for unbridled comedy.
'CONAN O'BRIEN CAN'T STOP': Three Stars (Out of Five)
Documentary following Conan O'Brien and his six month comedy tour 'The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour', during the time he was banned from appearing on TV by NBC (after his dispute with scheduling). The film appears to be a pretty open and honest examination of all the drama O'Brien was caught up in, showing him often not in the most flattering light. It's funny, due to O'Brien and others usual comedic banter, but at the same time a serious look at that stage in the comedic talk show host's life. It works on some levels and not so much on others due to some mediocre directing and editing in my opinion. It was directed by Rodman Flender, who has a great deal of experience directing television and B horror films (like 'LEPRECHAUN 2'). I think in the hands of another director the film could have been a much more efficient and entertaining documentary.
The movie begins by explaining what happened to Conan and his 'TONIGHT SHOW' gig with NBC and how he got banned from performing on TV for six months. It then gives us behind the scenes footage of Conan and his crew coming up with the tour idea, selling it, coming up with material for it and then doing the tour itself. We get several scenes of Conan interacting with his TV crew, primarily his personal assistant, as well as celebrity friends of his (who continue to drop by his show). The movie leads all the way up to the end of the tour and Conan beginning his new late-night talk show at TBS.
The movie does seem to be very honest and genuine, with Conan appearing as a bit of a self centered dick throughout. He had just lost his dream job (of hosting 'THE TONIGHT SHOW'), so it is understandable, but still this may throw off a lot of his hardcore fans. His personal assistant seems to get the most of his emotional abuse and the film does a good job of allowing the viewer to relate and sympathize with her (as well as Conan himself) at times. The film does drag a little sometimes as well with the general narrative often feeling slow paced and unenthusiastic. Still the film has plenty of laughs and it does give a good look at that time in the popular comedian's life. It also does a good job of presenting him as just an average guy: not always trying to be funny and often getting frustrated and being mean to those around him as a result. It's not a perfect film but it does serve it's purpose well.
Watch our review show 'MOVIE TALK' at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s7ci6l5gkI
In 2009, Conan O'Brien replaces Jay Leno as the host of the Tonight Show. Seven months later, he is let go and Leno returns. NBC pays him a large payout but he is forbidden from TV, radio and the internet for 6 months. He decides to put on a live variety show across US and Canada, The Legally Prohibited Tour, with his TV cohorts. This is mostly behind-the-scene footage. In that way, this is not really a concert film. This is a slice of his work life. One gets to see his work process. It's fascinating for fans but also an insight into the comedy process for non-fans. I'm a big fan and this is lots of fun. His bit with Jack McBrayer is hilarious and also ends with something interesting. It also shows Conan to be human with anger, doubts and working it all out.
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