Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
Back in 2012, director Mikkel Nørgaard blew the roof off theaters with KLOWN, an absolutely filthy, inappropriate, and uproarious Danish raunch-com about two immature men and an underage kid on a weekend trip filled with debauchery. Hijjinks and hilarity of the best kind ensued – so much so, it left most of us (myself included) with our sides split and tears of joy streaming down our faces. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the sequel, KLOWN FOREVER, which ranks on the polar opposite side of the scale. Not only did the filmmakers forget who these characters are, their “nothing is sacred” mentality has morphed, curdling into something much more mean-spirited and duplicitous. It’s a most disappointing sequel for a series that showed so much potential.
It’s been five years since Frank Hvam (playing a fictionalized version of himself) and his best friend Casper Christensen (also playing a fictionalized version of himself) got into some pretty memorable sexploits. But in that time, the dynamic duo has fractured a bit – their lives following different paths. Frank has become a straight-laced family man with loving wife Mia (Mia Lyhne) and their two young children. Casper, however, is still caught in a stage of arrested development, sending Frank dick pics and banging Frank’s nanny. Things really change when Frank reads that Casper is moving to Los Angeles. Yearning to rekindle their friendship, and feeling shoved out of his home life, Frank abandons his family to visit Casper in la la land. But what he finds there isn’t at all what he (or the audience, for that matter) expected.
KLOWN FOREVER is extremely problematic in a quite a few ways. The narrative isn’t at all what fans of the franchise would’ve hoped to have seen. For what should’ve been CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM meets BORAT and THE TRIP TO ITALY, we get a sweet albeit fairly rote story about male camaraderie, replete with a reveal straight out of a romcom. It would’ve been great to see the pair patch things up over the course of a road trip across America instead of staying put in one city. They also ignore many opportunities to do a few things – whether that be satirizing the LA lifestyle, or even just exploring the town and its melting pot culture for some prime fish-out-of-water laughs. There’s inherent comedy in seeing Adam Levine be a guest of honor at a douchey LA party, but avenues are left unexploited there as well. In KLOWN, the audience would laugh at how the filmmakers would set up and build the jokes, so when it came time for the payoff, we’d already be doubled-over in fits of laughter thanks to the foreplay. Here, there are none of those moments. Gone is the scandalous irreverence from the humor.
Perhaps the film’s biggest problem is how it treats its characters. These guys are no longer the endearing asshats they used to be – they are full blown assholes. In the original, they were self-destructive losers, a la SEINFELD or CURB, where they would mostly be passive participants in the zany world around them when it would spiral out of control. Now they are almost exclusively in control of the direct and selfish actions causing the consequences. Their actions are lascivious and impact others tremendously. Characters seems to be aware their actions will hurt others and yet they do them anyways. Frank accusing Casper’s Navajo housemaid of scalping him is flat out racist and not in the least bit funny. Frank sleeps with Casper’s daughter Cille (Simon Calling), who’s underage (he can’t remember how old his bestie’s daughter is?!). Similar to the stupid shenanigans that take place in the ENTOURAGE movie, no one knows how the female body works when it comes to Cille’s pregnancy scare. Tip: you can’t tell you’re pregnant two days after you’ve had sex. Casper’s retaliation (cough, cough, condomless sex with Frank’s unsuspecting wife), along with Frank’s complicity (he blindfoldes Mia), is revolting, because it’s rapey.
Listen, it’s not that this film isn’t well-made – the director manages to point and shoot efficiently. Editing keeps things brisk and crisp. Performances are fine. Celebrity cameos (like Isla Fisher and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) aren’t obtrusive. And callbacks to the supporting characters from the original (like Mia’s mom, who now sports an eye patch, and Mia’s nephew, who’s now a mature young adult) are okay, if not expected. Nevertheless, despite its attractive polish, narratively this a failure.
KLOWN FOREVER open in theaters and is available on VOD on September 2.