A guy walks into the office of a talent agent, and says, "Hey...my family and I have this great act that'd be perfect for your show!"  The agent says, "Sorry...we don't do family acts", to which the desperate man replies, "Wait a minute...this is really special, give me just 5 minutes and we'll show you!"  So he brings in his wife, 2 kids, and dog in.  They take off their clothes, have sex with each other in every way imaginable while shitting, pissing, bleeding, spitting, burping, farting, and (insert 5-100 more "offensive" acts that comes to mind here) and the man than says, "Ta-dahhhhh!"  The stunned agent asks, "Great act! What do you call it?" To which the man exclaims..."THE ARISTOCRATS".

According to the Paul Provenza/Penn Jillette produced documentary, The Aristocrats is a time-honored "secret handshake" among comedians for decades to enjoy amongst themselves.  A joke with a basic framework beginning and ending that lets the teller go nuts and come up with the most foul and shocking stuff they can think of.  The thought of 100 of the world's greatest comedians having a crack at this joke seems like a great idea on paper, but in execution, it ends up being a sloppily edited tiresome bore.  A film like Jackass, Something About Mary, or even American Pie can use gross-out humor with smashing results, but watching this who's who of comedy tell the same fucking and shitting joke over and over again is a chore for even the most die-hard fans of raciness to endure.

Ultimately, the joke is not offensive at all.  It's offensive to line up such a once in a lifetime collection of the world's funniest people, and get so little from it.

The joke, which by design isn't really even supposed to be funny, is overly discussed and dissected by the crew that goes far beyond the 10-15 minutes it should take, stretching it into an hour and a half yawn-fest.  And Provenza's direction is maddening, choosing to cut from comedian to comedian in a rapid fire manner that brings to mind those vapid quasi celebrities talking about how cool stuff from the 80s was on those horrible VH1 retro-shows.

It would have been more daring, perhaps to simply let each comedian tell the joke from beginning to end, but edited in this fashion, with some of the guests doing little more than giggle about what a crappy joke it is, makes it a big letdown.

I've got a pretty sick sense of humor, and I didn't laugh a single time while watching it.  It's sad because with the exception of Carrot Top, I truly enjoy nearly everyone featured in this film.  Aside from a couple kind of funny moments from Sarah Silverman, Gilbert Gottfried, and Bob Saget (who manages to besmirch the kids from Full House in his segment) it's head-shakingly dull. 

The DVD, which comes out from Lion's Gate Home Entertainment on January 24th, has some extras that might please folks who saw it in the theater and enjoyed it. Including a collection of comedians actually telling the whole joke, but the rest is still pretty bush league.  A section featuring the winning entries from amateur submissions is truly horrible, and an out of place tribute to Johnny Carson seems more pandering than actually heartfelt.

A lot of people really love this movie, so maybe it's just not my thing.  But I can't recommend it.

But for those of you who really enjoyed it, let me just add this closing comment.



-Robert Berry



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