248) Shakes the Clown (1991) Dir: Bobcat Goldthwait Date Released: March 1992 Date Seen: August 11th, 2009 Rating: 3.25/5
There's definitely a case to be made in favor of canonizing Shakes the Clown, Bobcat Goldthwait's acerbic directorial debut, as a minor cult classic; I just don't if I have the stomach to do it. The film is drenched in such a miserable, self-pitying stupor that its almost impossible to admire its barbed humor the first time around.
Goldthwait, who also writes and stars in the film, plays Shakes, the ultimate bozo loser. He's great at what he does but he gets less respect than Rodney Dangerfield and hence drinks that much more than the fish-eyed patron saint of schlemiels. As a cocky but depressed SOB with a sense of entitlement and little to no self-respect, Shakes' confidence is eventually only restored after his agent is murdered, his car blows up, his girlfriend is kidnapped and he forces himself to sober up. The scene where Shakes terrorizes a kid's party while struggling to stay sober is indicative of how Goldthwait's manic energy teeters between queasy misanthropy and spazzily confrontational tirades. That's comedy in Shakes' world, not the pretentious, pseudo-intellectual "art" of mimes but the crude and effective yuks of some poor louse wearing a bad wig and polka dot pants. Man, Goldthwait must really have been in his happy place when he made this one.