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THE ARISTOCRATS

2005, dir. Paul Provenza
92 min, Not Rated.
Starring: A bunch of funny people. And Carrot Top. Oh, and Princess Leia too, for whatever reason.

Review by Noel Wood

So a comedian walks in to a movie producer's office for a pitch meeting. He says "I've got a really great idea for a documentary, and I'd like for you to produce it." The producer shakes his head and turns the comedian away, saying "Sorry, I don't produce documentaries. They're too risky."

The comedian stands firm with the producer. "Look, you've got to hear my idea. I'll just take up a few minutes of your time." The producer eases back in his chair and says "Okay, you got my ear, but make it quick."

If for some reason you don't 'get' this review, it's a positive one. Go see the movie and you'll understand.

The comedian begins talking about an old vaudeville joke that comics have passed down for ages. The joke begins and ends with the same general idea each time it's told, but can be altered in any way the comic sees fit. The idea is to take the joke and make it as vulgar and disgusting as possible, and in some cases, to stretch it out as long as they can. The punchline to said joke is only funny because it really isn't.

The comic then talks of getting together one hundred of the funniest men and women in the biz and having them tell their own variation of the joke in front of a camera. He also explains that these comedians will tell their own version of the joke's history.

The comedian mentions comedians as legendary as George Carlin and Don Rickles working bluer than even they have been known to in the past. He mentions Drew Carey and Bob Saget, guys with a tendency to get nasty when they're not on their family-friendly ABC Sitcoms. He mentions comics like Judy Gold and Emo Phillips, who have never said an offensive word on stage in their careers, getting in on the act.

The comedian throws out the names of dozens of other comedians giving their own side-splitting takes on the joke. Names as diverse as Hank Azaria, Lewis Black, David Brenner, Billy Connolly, Andy Dick, Phyllis Diller, Allan Havey, Eric Idle, Eddie Izzard, Cathy Ladman, Richard Lewis, Bill Maher, Howie Mandel, Larry Miller, Martin Mull, Taylor Negron, Kevin Pollak, Andy Richter, Jeffrey Ross, Sarah Silverman, The Smothers Brothers, Jon Stewart, Fred Willard, Robin Williams, and Steven Wright are tossed in to the mix.

The comic next mentions throwing in some clever bits like a performance of the joke by a mime and by the animated Eric Cartman of South Park fame. He also mentions getting the staff of The Onion to put together a mock-up of a newsroom trying to perfect the joke. He mentioned that one comic would even act out the joke with a card trick that would actually elicit applause from the movie theater.

The comedian talks of splicing these bits of footage together in a rapid-fire pace, keeping certain themes and ideas flowing throughout the film. This, he says, will keep the joke fresh and maximize the laughs-per-minute volume as much as possible. He mentions capping the whole thing off by telling the tale of comedian Gilbert Gottfried ripping in to his own hilarious rendition of the joke at a roast for Hugh Hefner which managed to get a whole audience full of comics reeling with laughter.

Finally, the comedian states, the film will be topped off by a practically silent yet hilarious walk-on by the legendary Tim Conway.

For the longest time, the producer just sits in silence. Finally, he manages, "That's a hell of a movie idea. What do you call it?"

And the comedian says, "The Aristocrats!"

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All Material Copyright 1998-2006 Movie Criticism for the Retarded.

For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.


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