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The Aristocrats

Paul Provenza

The Aristocrats
By now, you're sure to know that this is the filthiest movie of the year: nearly 100 top comics tell the ancient vaudeville joke dedicated to excrement, incest and God knows what else. What they don't tell you, however, is that almost none of the comedians are really performing the joke at the top of their game. Though there's much talk of how every comedian does their own John Coltrane riff, thus revealing much about their psychological make-up, the casual atmosphere of this documentary does in half of the retellings with snickering and sloppy delivery. Though Sarah Silverman manages to kill with her reading and Gilbert Gottfried has a great clip from a Friar's Roast, the rest is a group of insiders fumbling over their delivery or interjecting with vague comments that don't exactly illuminate as much as horn in on the main event. After a while, the uninspired retelling of various obscene acts starts to wear on you (especially as nobody seems to think the punch line is funny), and the best parts are the digressions to other dirty jokes. Perhaps Martin Mull's missionary joke isn't brilliant, but after the clumsy repetition of one acknowledged bad joke it sounds hilarious by comparison. If you want to hear some thoroughly corrosive remarks on a family act in crisis, you've found your movie, but others should be warned that it's not so much funny as assaulting. Extras include a sharp, on-issue commentary with director Paul Provenza and co-creator Penn Jillette, an "Aristocrats do the Aristocrats" highlight reel, reams of extra footage of the comics doing their thing, a Johnny Carson tribute clip, and winners of a comedy contest that accompanied the theatrical release. (Th!nk)
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