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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 4/19/00

Shakes the Clown
1991 (2000) - Columbia TriStar

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Shakes the Clown Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B+/C

Specs and Features

87 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, cast and crew bios, theatrical trailers for Shakes the Clown and Big Daddy, film-themed menus, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English and Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"The Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies." - The Boston Globe

I love clowns. They utterly terrify me, but I love them. Hey, for me... the surlier the better. It’s funny, but one time I was looking through The Internet Movie Database for clown movies and when I pulled up Shakes the Clown I started reading everything on the screen. The film is funny enough even without this entry on the site: if you scroll down to the bottom of the main screen, you'll see an area that suggests other films if you liked this one. The only recommended title: The Butcher Boy. Now that's frickin' funny.

Shakes (Bob Goldthwait) is an alcoholic. It's effecting every aspect of his life. His lisping/bowling girlfriend (Julie Brown) is all messed up about it and leaves him, his job is in jeopardy and his friends (Blake Clark and Adam Sandler) are not always there. What's a guy to do? Don't answer yet, because here's the best part: this film takes place in a sort of alternate reality where most everybody is a clown of some sort. Shakes and his friends are all party clowns. Sure they're cussing, smoking, fighting and er, lovin' clowns, but they are most certainly clowns. They hang at their favorite bar, they drink and converse and on their days out, they beat up mimes. It’s just your average day in Palukaville. When Shakes wakes up from one of his binges and discovers that he murdered his boss, all hell breaks loose. But did he kill his boss? Well, no... but that’s a funny story that I'll leave you to discover.

Written and directed by Goldthwait, Shakes the Clown is an epic if there ever was one. There's enough stuff going in this film for just about everyone's taste. There's a love story, some character study, a murder mystery and more laughs than you can shake a balloon animal at. If you like dark, toilet bowl humor, then this is gonna be right up your alley.

On DVD, this is a keeper. Columbia, as usual, presents this in a nice anamorphic widescreen, preserving the bold dark colors and keeping the blacks very solid (for the most part). There is some residual grain, but for a small budget film this is to be expected. This is in no way a flawed transfer. The sound is also pretty good. It’s a Dolby Digital 2-channel stereo mix and it works. No one is going to expect full-blown 5.1 for this, but what you get is nice. There are a few trailers, cast and crew bios and there are some production notes in the liner insert.

Shakes the Clown will make you laugh. He will make you cry. He will make you wish that you too might be able to throw yourself into the gutter fully clad in wacky colors and face make-up. Okay, he won’t do that. But he will make you laugh and that should count for something. Now will somebody PLEASE get me a copy of Killer Klowns from Outer Space on DVD? I’ll produce the damn thing myself - just show me who has the rights.

Todd Doogan
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