Film Review: Ego an Arduous Carousel in Documentary ‘Harmontown’

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CHICAGO - Dan Harmon does not look very good in his documentary “Harmontown,” which is probably why he agreed to the project. The creator of NBC’s cult comedy “Community” is presented wantonly in this documentation of his tour across America to interact with his fans through live recordings of his podcast “Harmontown.” Director Neil Berkeley (2012’s “Beauty is Embarrassing”) has created a different yet lacking type of tour film, as it whittles a revered showman to a representation of his polarizing elements; of the self-loathing narcissism that defines Harmon. Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

The spectacle of Berkeley’s film is Harmon’s podcast, which aside from Harmon’s GoPro & mirror confessions, provides a physical representation of what being inside Harmon’s head is like. As Harmon comes to comedic life by sauntering onstage to be his unapologetic self for an enthused crowd, he interacts with co-host (and actor) Jeff B. Davis, who makes Harmon look like a walking dive bar with health code violations. With gelled hair and constantly sharp outfits, Jeff fulfills the TV show creator’s business side, the aspects that led Harmon to create a popular non-cable comedy show post-“The Office,” and continue to garner a fan base. By no coincidence, Jeff provides the podcast recordings with its scant sense of order; he’s not the one who drinks as much as he may want to on stage, that’s Harmon’s job.

The other half of Harmon that identifies with the social outcasts in his cult-like crowd is represented by sidekick Spencer Crittenden. As the legend goes, Spencer went to a “Harmontown” recording one night with simple interest in playing his beloved “Dungeons & Dragons” with Harmon and crew; since then he has become dungeon master to this beloved reoccurring event, which finds Spencer with the same on-stage visibility as Harmon. When Spencer walks on stage to become dungeon master for the role-playing game, he often gets as much applause as Harmon, if not more.

“Harmontown” opens at Chicago’s Music Box on October 31, with two Q&A sessions with Dan Harmon and a live podcast recording scheduled on November 1. Featuring Dan Harmon, Jeff B. Davis, Spencer Crittenden, Erin McGathy, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Donald Glover, and Jim Rash. A documentary directed by Neil Berkeley. Not Rated.

StarContinue reading for Nick Allen’s full review of “Harmontown”

Photo credit: The Orchard

StarContinue reading for Nick Allen’s full review of “Harmontown”

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