Aristocrats (2005)  » Movies  »
3.5
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  • I had heard from a friend whose taste I respect that this was a remarkable movie, so I decided to check it out
  • Some of the British comedians didn't particularly understand the joke, and they definitely didn't understand why Americans thought it was funny
  • What I don't like about this movie is that, in order to get to the good stuff, I had to listen to the same danged stupid joke so many times

    • by Diane H
      TRUSTWORTHY

      all reviews
      I had heard from a friend whose taste I respect that this was a remarkable movie, so I decided to check it out. Well, it’s different, I’ll say that.

      This is a movie about a joke — a filthy joke, a single joke, and one told over and over in this film. If you’re easily offended, you really don’t want to see this movie. If you have young children, you really don’t want to let them watch this movie. I don’t feel that I’m giving anything away by explaining the joke — it’s told in the first few minutes of the film.

      Basically, the joke involves a man going into a talent agency to describe his family act. It involves various members of his family. They commit unspeakable acts upon, to, and with each other. The description goes on at (unbearable) length. Finally, the agent asks them what the name of the act is. “The Aristocrats,” they say.

      As


      you can see, this is not a particularly funny joke. It is never told in performances. It is told by comedians, to comedians, and the point is to see just how far they can stretch it out, and just how disgusting they can make it. It’s sort of a competitive thing.

      This movie consists of seeing dozens of comedians (for whom you previously may have felt respect) telling this joke. That means you are hearing this joke over and over and over again.

      Nevertheless, I did sort of like this movie. What I liked about it was hearing the various comedians talking about the joke, about humor, about what makes a joke funny, and about the role of this particular joke in their particular subculture. Some of this was fascinating.

      George Carlin talks at length about humor theory. So does Paul Reiser. Drew Carey didn’t have anything particularly deep to say, but his sheer joy was contagious. So ...


      • was Billy Connelly’s. Some of the British comedians didn’t particularly understand the joke, and they definitely didn’t understand why Americans thought it was funny. The Smothers Brothers told the joke together — Dick didn’t know the joke (Tommy did), but he still responded perfectly to Tommy’s cues. Drew Carey gave a special flourish at the end, and thought everyone did. (No one else did, but several comedians tried it when they heard about it, to hilarious results.)

        The climax of the movie is undoubtedly Gilbert Gottfried’s rendition at a celebrity roast for Hugh Hefner, held shortly after 9/11. The roast had been going very badly — America was not quite ready to laugh again — and several comedians had already bombed, when Gottfried launched into The Joke. The audience, which was largely made up of comedians, knew exactly what joke he was telling, and couldn’t believe he was telling it. Strange as it seems, I now look on

        Gilbert Gottfried as a sort of hero, for making people laugh when it seemed we would never laugh again. (Part of the fun is watching Rob Schneider — who had been an earlier (unsuccessful) comedian at the roast — rolling on the floor, while Hugh Hefner (who is not a comedian) clearly had no idea what was going on.)

        What I don’t like about this movie is that, in order to get to the good stuff, I had to listen to the same danged stupid joke so many times. The film was the brain child of Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) and was directed and edited by Paul Provenza. It could have been an excellent film if it had been edited by someone competent. There is also a bunch of extra material on the DVD, and some of it would seem to be quite good, but I just couldn’t stand to listen to any more retellings of the joke.




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