Tuesday, September 13, 2011


This documentary drops today on Blu ray and DVD:

CONAN O'BRIEN CAN'T STOP (Dir. Rodman Flender, 2011)

The title shot of this film has Conan O'Brien backstage strumming his guitar framed exactly like Bob Dylan was in the title shot of the 1965 documentary DON'T LOOK BACK. The font is even the same so it appears that director Rodman is attempting to do what D.A. Pennebaker did definitively for Dylan: capture an icon on tour during a pivotal period of transition.

Sadly, this is hardly a definitive or essential piece of work. It's a sloppily assembled, horribly uneven, and only fitfully funny film that jumps around spastically as much as its subject often does during his monologues - only it's less annoying when Conan does it.

I expected so much more from the director of LEPRECHAUN 2!

At the beginning Flender sums up the situation that I'm sure everybody reading this surely knows, so I'll try to keep it brief - after losing his Tonight Show gig on NBC in early 2010, Conan contractually could not appear on television, radio or the internet for 6 months, so he went out on a tour dubbed "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour."

Okay, so that wasn't very brief.

There are a lot of clips of amusing stage antics, and some entertaining excerpts of the stable of songs (mostly rockabilly) played on the tour, but the choppiness of the presentation prevents immersion into the material.

The soundbite nature of the editing makes the interview bits unable to provide much insight. We hear Conan talk about the raw deal he was given (at point he says "sometimes I'm so mad I can't even breathe"), but you're better off with the 60 Minutes interview from last year if you want anything approaching revelations.

Still, Conan is an extremely funny guy so the film can't help have some hilarity - you gotta love a guy who says "it's in God's hands now" after sending a tweet. Sometimes Conan comes off mean with his constant comical verbal abuse of his assistant Sona Movsesian, the school boy punches to the shoulders of staff members, and the merciless ribbing of 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer - but hey, that's just the man's patented attention seeking persona. He acknowledges as much: "I might be a fuckin' genius and I might be the biggest dick ever, I don't know. Or maybe both - that's what Patton was."

It's obvious that Conan is always "on" when he's in front of a camera (I bet a lot of the time off camera too), so its a documentary that will be most enjoyed by hardcore fanatics i.e. Team Coco.

Although CONAN O'BRIEN CAN'T STOP isn't a great documentary, it's a worthwhile Blu ray/DVD because of its abundant special features.

The commentary with Conan, Flender, and the crew is much funnier than the movie (Conan says he wanted the tour's lengthy name to be even longer: "I wanted to call it 'The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour Because of Jay Leno Tour'"), there's a fairly insightful 11 minute interview, and a nice smattering of watchable outtakes which are listed below.

Special Features: Commentary with Director Rodman Flender, Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter, Mike Sweeney and Sona Movsesian, Interview with Conan O'Brien, Interview Outtakes, Additional Scenes.

More Later...

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