Writers: Larry David, Alec Berg, David Mandel, & Jeff Schaffer
Love Seinfeld, love Curb Your Enthusiasm, and love Larry David. His first movie Sour Grapes that he made between Seinfeld and Curb was pretty awful but hey you can’t win them all. Clear History he is only one of four writers and Greg Mottola of Superbad and Adventureland fame directed so I guess it isn’t totally on his shoulders but it is very much in the Curb Your Enthusiasm style.
The easiest criticism of this would be that it feels like some left over Curb type story lines that he somehow couldn’t fit in the show so he put them into this movie. I see that. I don’t think David is playing his Curb character so that puts the scenarios in a different light but the nature of the comedy I guess the comparison can’t be helped. Much like Curb apparently the writing of this is basically detailed outlines while the actors improvise the dialogue within the outlines.
The story stars David as Nathan Flomm a marketing expert who has a 10% stake in an electric car company about to roll out its revolutionary first product. When the company CEO Will (Jon Hamm) unveils the name of the car as The Howard Nathan gets his money back and bails on the company. The car goes on to become a massive success and Nathan looks like the biggest fool of all time having lost out on billions.
Jump forward 10 years and Nathan is now Rolly, older and with a totally different look, living in Martha’s Vineyard. No one knows he is Nathan and living his life in happy anonymity. He seems to be over his big mistake he made until Will and his wife Rhonda (Kate Hudson) move to the vineyard reigniting all of his anger at what had happened. Amazingly Will doesn’t recognize Rolly as Nathan, due to him having no hair and beard that he had 10 years earlier. Thus begins Nathan’s path of revenge. Lots of characters and awkward misunderstandings ensue in fantastic David fashion.
While this certainly looks like a higher budget than a standard Curb episode it still looks like it doesn’t really fit on the big screen so as an HBO movie it works. It never reaches the hilarious heights of Curb but there are certainly some laughs to have. The cast is full of names but they are mainly supporting roles that don’t really get much to do except play mostly straight to Nathan.
Funny, but not really hilarious, Clear History is good if you are already in tune with David’s sense of humor. The cast is good enough and David is doing his usual type of comedy. Good but not great.