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The Comedy (2012)



Average Rating: 3.7/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 11

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 4,160

My Rating

Movie Info

On the cusp of inheriting his father's estate, Swanson (Tim Heidecker, "Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!") is a man with unlimited options. An aging hipster in Brooklyn, he spends his days in aimless recreation with like-minded friends ("Tim & Eric" co-star Eric Wareheim, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy and comedian Gregg Turkington a.k.a."Neil Hamburger") in games of comic irreverence and mock sincerity. As Swanson grows restless of the safety a sheltered life offers him, he tests the



Mar 26, 2013

Tribeca Film - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (30) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (16) | DVD (1)

The longest and dreariest 94 minutes I've spent on a movie this year.

December 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

None of this is necessarily funny. That's the extent of the irony here.

December 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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The joke, I guess, is that there's nothing funny about "The Comedy."

November 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
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A mean-spirited piece of mumblecore that tries to provoke you, but only succeeds in boring you.

November 22, 2012 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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A character study that tries to make the revolting compelling.

November 16, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If you can discern any critical distance or interesting perspective here, or even a good reason to spend 90 minutes in such company, I'm afraid the joke is on you.

November 15, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As a portrait of a generation that's almost collectively sociopathic, this is frightening. For the right audience it's also damn funny. If I wasn't so emotionally stunted and able to enjoy things unironically I'd say I loved it.

November 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Quickflix

While this could have been the perfect portrait of a certain kind of idiot, the baroque cruelties and tonal monotony go too far.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

An essential portrait of a generation of people laughing so hard that they've forgotten the joke is on them.

April 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

This is a lacerating portrait of the sort of narcissistic self-loathing that has kept educated, economically comfortable young people from achieving their true potential, from Benjamin Braddock to Hannah Horvath.

January 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Champions what it appears to mock and indicts what it appears to glorify.

January 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Willamette Week
Willamette Week

[A] relentlessly aimless, abrasive stab at black humor.

December 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

All this is credible enough until Swanson exits the airtight bubble of his peers to bully New York City at large.

November 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Pushing the boundaries of taste isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the film is so busy daring its audience to hurl insults that it forgets to simply be funny.

November 22, 2012 Full Review Source:

A billion times better than Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie.

November 21, 2012 Full Review Source: RedEye

It's a long, painful sit that claws at interpretational ambition, but only nails the rare moment of enlightenment, wasting 90 minutes of screentime to acquire about 15 minutes worth of substance.

November 15, 2012 Full Review Source:

The Comedy may not aspire to be the portrait of a generation, but it certainly offers a scary dissection of a faux-careless Brooklynite sensibility that threatens to be the undoing of everyone involved.

November 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Audience Reviews for The Comedy

After watching The Comedy, I'm sort of perplexed at the idea that I liked the movie. To be honest, I couldn't give you a real reason why either. As a character study, it works to a degree, but it is sort of aimless. As far as plot, none. The whole production is done in the quietest and most depressing manner possible. I'd even go as far as to classify it as a dull movie. Yet, I still liked it. 

A 35 year old hipster, who is on the verge of inheriting his dying father's estate spends his days on his boat or galavanting through downtown acting like he works at places he doesn't. His nights are mostly spent with his equally depressing and boring hipster friends who share in weird conversations with each other and drink. That's the basis of the story to the film, and most of the time a lot less than that is going on. 

The Comedy is offbeat and weird to be sure, but that is a big reason why I like it, I think. I love movies that desire to be something completely different and don't care how it's going to play to a large audience. This is completely different and it will never appeal to a large crowd, but there is an audience for it. 

By the way, The Comedy isn't really a comedy. You'd be hard pressed to throw this into any genre other than the broad Independent film genre. As far as a recommendation goes for this film; I would never give anyone the idea that they would certainly enjoy it. Odds are most won't be able to sit through it and those that do will wonder why they did. For those out there like me though that have a taste for these type of movies, it's worth a look.
April 15, 2013
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

While I may regret saying this at some future point in my life, I saw a lot of myself in Swanson, the protagonist of this film who, day by day, is trudging through a malaise. Not so much the naked debauchery, but definitely the desire to withdraw oneself from feeling.

Many people see this film as a critique of hipster culture. Exposing the popular fallacy of believing that it is better to be above it all. To make a life of understanding the way the game is played, but just choosing not to play. There is definitely some of that peppered in this film, but what I really latched on to was the character study; one of a man who is obviously capable of empathy and understanding, but seldom exercises either mental process.

At first it appears he feels nothing. Sitting beside the bed, concerned little with the cancer that is languidly eating away bit by bit at the man who he calls father, he probes the doctor about prolapsed anuses. Watching his sister-in-law frantically pace before his eyes, he assumes the role of a southern plantation owner, cracking wise about the good crop of slaves he now has in his possession. Yet, aided by a surprisingly subtle but strong performance by absurdist comedian Tim Heidecker, one can see that he isn't incapable of feeling. He simply prefers disaffection. After all, the world can some easily overwhelm you with emotion, so I understand the desire to want to control the sentiment of the room by creating one yourself.

There are a lot of parallels to the television show Louie. It has the capacity to make you laugh at the absurdity of it all one second, while leaving you speechless with grief the next. It is a recipe that doesn't sit well with many. But for those who were looking for this particular dish, even if as a whole it isn't perfect, the ingredients are a pleasure to take in.
March 11, 2013
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Didn't know I would like this movie as much as I did. It shows something you don't usually see in movies. The main character pushes as many boundaries as he can. Despite the title, it's not a comedy. Though, I did laugh a couple times. It's a dark movie with a true meaning. Overall- It's a love it or hate it movie, and I loved it.
December 1, 2012
Chris Miele

Super Reviewer

Suffice to say, "The Comedy" is not a comedy (even though it does contain laughs) nor is it necessarily about comedians. Spearheaded by a shockingly inspired performance from Tim Heidecker, what Rick Alverson's quietly brilliant film is, is in fact about pointlessness, indifference and mocking sincerity. Sounds riveting right? Well, it a very experimental way. "The Comedy" is deep and poignant and fascinatingly layered with subtle jabs at society, as well as those who have so much in life, that they have become bored with everyday existence.

Opening with a sequence involving male nudity that is so awkward it may cause some viewers to say to themselves "what did I get myself into?", "The Comedy" follows a man named Swanson (Heidecker) who is seemingly unfazed by his father's impending death. Instead of a real job, he spends his days hanging out with his buddies, engrossed in inane verbal and physical (and sometimes sociopathic) games of one-upmanship. From impersonating store clerks and gardeners, to making the most inappropriate jokes during the most depressing and even life threatening moments, to degrading others in public in order to fulfill some kind of personal enjoyment, as this film progresses the activities of each of these men (including Swanson) become progressively offensive in order to maintain a sort of continuous high. And while this could be the plot to any crude Danny McBride piece of trash, it is Alverson's ultra serious tone, along with the fact that he throws these would be offensive but clownish comedic characters into a real world where people die, have disorders and are struggling to feed their families, which allows "The Comedy" to rise above the "crudeness for the sake of being crude" films of today.

As much as I enjoyed "The Comedy", this is one movie that will assuredly come under heavy scrutiny from a majority (that's right, I said majority) of movie going audiences, because, for one, while there is a subtle story arc here, this film is not pushed along by heavy conflict. And secondly, many unfamiliar with Heidecker's form of comedy will undoubtedly be turned off by the amount of absurdist drama which is played out by a group, whom on the surface seem too spoiled and flippant to care about. In short, even those who loved the terribly long "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" or are fans of their show and have been eagerly awaiting more of the same skit driven comedy, may find "The Comedy" a bit too tonally heavy or obscure to take (and that is truly saying something).

Side Note: Some have said that the Tim Hiedecker's style of comedy is a form of avant-garde comedy or apart of the anti-comedy movement. Meaning, that much of his shtick consists of making his audiences (television or otherwise) highly uncomfortable, to the point where they either laugh at his awkwardness or dismiss his actions as strange. And while Hiedecker's awkward style of comedy is featured prominently here, his performance is anything but comedic. In fact, he gives a quite emotionally dramatic performance in a movie that, if it were a straight forward comedy, would have seen Zach Galifianakis in the starring role. Thankfully, this is not the case because Hiedecker's performance is absolutely magnificent (and dare I say award worthy?) in this role that was obviously tailored specifically for him.

Final Thought: I will reiterate, and I can't say this enough, how "The Comedy" is not for everybody; especially if you are expecting a comedy. To some audiences this is all going to seem as an exercise in pathetic nature and nonsensical mannerisms, but rest assured that there is something happening here on a very highly conceptual level that is not only meant to make viewers uncomfortable, and cringe and laugh at the most inappropriate things, as well as think these characters are pathetic while at the same time feel sorry for them, but is also a subtly laced work of a very skilled writer, whose entire point seems to be an analysis/criticism of the reaction of "normal people" to those who wish to push the limits of comedy. Not since Lars von Trier's "The Idiots" have I witnessed a movie that was this skillfully successful in demonstrating the complex struggles of a generation built on a doctrine of nihilistic irreverence. In short, if you chose to see "The Comedy", you will either absolutely love it or absolutely hate it.

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
November 13, 2012
Markus Emilio Robinson
Markus Robinson

Super Reviewer

    1. Swanson: I had a great day! I went to the shopping mall.
    – Submitted by Chris P (17 months ago)
    1. Swanson: Hitler had... Hitler had horrible indigestion.
    – Submitted by Matt H (17 months ago)
    1. Swanson: Why don't you fuckers have satellite radio in this cab? You pay so much fucking money for these cabs you should have the option to listen to whatever kind of music you want.
    – Submitted by John F (17 months ago)
View all quotes (3)

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