Film-Forward Review: [THE ARISTOCRATS]

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Comedienne Phyllis Diller
Photo: THINKFilm

Directed by: Paul Provenza.
Produced by: Peter Adam Golden.
Director of Photography: Paul Provenza, et al.
Edited by: Emery Emery & Paul Provenza.
Music by: Gary Stockdale.
Released by: THINKFilm.
Country of Origin: USA. 86 min. Not Rated.
With: George Carlin, Drew Carey, Phyllis Diller, Judy Gold, Whoopi Goldberg, Eric Idle, Bill Maher, Chris Rock, Bob Saget, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart & Robin Williams.

Based on a mediocre, but revered insider joke within the entertainment industry, this drawn-out film is not for the prim and proper. The f- and c-word, incest, bestiality and violence: You'll hear it all in comedians Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette's shamelessly dirty documentary, where they ask 100 well-known comedians to share their version.

The premise is this: a man, his family and their dog walk into a talent agent's office to sell their act. The agent asks the husband to describe it in detail. What follows is each comic's own creation; some go on for hours with images and acts beyond the imagination. But the punch line is always the same. The agent asks the husband what he and his family call themselves. The aristocrats, he responds. You're not missing anything; it's not an inherently funny joke. Its magic instead lies in the creative freedom it allows. As one comic says, "the journey is the fun." The joke also functions much like a fraternity's secret handshake - comics pass it down to each other and bond backstage by sharing their own warped variations.

Every comedian in the film is amused and amusing, but Bob Saget stands out with his filthy version. Fans of the '80s TV sitcom Full House will never see Danny Tanner, the sweet, sentimental dad played by Saget, the same after this. You'll also laugh out loud when Billy the Mime "tells" his variation in public by cheerily simulating unspeakable sex acts. Other high-profile comics/actors let loose and are at their goofiest and most relaxed as Provenza films them on the beach, in the bathroom, or in their backyards. The Aristocrats is funny, in a very, very sick way. You'll be disturbed, but the enthusiasm is infectious and you can't help but laugh along with the comics. Deborah Lynn Blumberg
July 29, 2005



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