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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 32.98%
Average: 8.51%
Pretty Bad: 7.45%
Total Crap: 3.19%

11 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Aristocrats, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"If you love the craftsmanship of comedy, you'll love this movie. Period."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: This is a movie in which over 100 famous comedians tell the exact same joke. Sounds pretty tiresome, doesn't it? Nope! Not when you have comedians this creative and a joke this malleable! A huge pat on the back to Mr. Paul Provenza for delivering what's not only one of the most hilarious documentaries I've ever seen, but a film that perfectly illustrates the creativity and craftsmanship found within the world's finest comedic artists.

Let's get one thing straight right out of the gate: The Aristocrats is raunchy. Hoo boy is it ever. It's vulgar and profane and unapologetically dirty. There's stuff here that would cause Redd Foxx and Buddy Hackett to turn red with embarrassment. But there's a good reason for all the stunningly potty-mouthed material: The Aristocrats is about the art of making people laugh, of taking a painfully old joke and infusing it with your own specific style. Some comedians would go in a PG-13 direction; others dive right on into the triple-X pool. And who are we to judge how an artist creates his work?

"The Aristocrats" is the punch line to a joke told only in private, by comedians to comedians. It's the comic's equivalent of an athlete's workout regiment. It stretches the muscles and tests the limits. It can be short and sweet or it can be endlessly nasty. This is a movie that doesn't just revel in one dirty joke; it's an artful and irreverent love letter to the fine art of laughmaking. And if you've ever dropped to the floor in peals of helpless laughter from a particular piece of stand-up material, if you've ever gone to see Steve Martin's latest movie ONLY out of appreciation for all the chuckles he's doled out over the years, if you feel a real warmth and affection for your very favorite comedians - then I suspect that you'll find a whole lot to appreciate in The Aristocrats.

It wouldn't be very difficult for me to type out the whole massive list of comedians who participate in this blissfully fun film, but why even bother? The Aristocrats is absolutely overstuffed with funny folks, some of whom you love and adore, others you might never have heard of. Yet, somehow, every single participant manages to bring a new dose of insight...while telling the same joke! Think about that. If I proposed a 90-minute documentary in which 100 singers cover the same song, we'd most likely fall asleep within 21 minutes. Yet The Aristocrats breezes along flawlessly, and when it was all over I found myself craving a feature-length "deleted scenes" segment!

What I found particularly satisfying about The Aristocrats is the way in which in allows the "character actor comedians" to shine as brightly as immortals like Robin Williams and George Carlin. I've always known that Harry Shearer, Martin Mull, Michael McKean, Larry Miller, Kevin Pollak, Hank Azaria, Fred Willard and Taylor Negron were drop-dead funny guys, and it's great to see them earning some of this movie's biggest laughs. (Note: Sarah Silverman is officially this planet's funniest female.) You'll get to see sides of Jon Stewart and Bob Saget that you've never seen this movie wrings some real laughs from a MIME and from Carrot Top! That alone should earn The Aristocrats an Oscar Nomination.

The fine art of comedy has always been a true passion of mine. My three-week college stint at open-mike night was more than enough to tell me that I simply didn't have the talent for the game, but I do consider myself a passionate and educated aficionado of the comedic arts. So believe me when I tell you that "The Aristocrats" is not just a collection of dirty jokes. It's probably the most astute and insightful look at comedy that I've ever seen. And dear sweet lord is it FUNNY.

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originally posted: 01/30/05 07:53:09
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. For more in the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Deep Focus Film Fest For more in the 2005 Deep Focus Film Fest series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/19/11 Magic A great dissection on what makes a joke funny. Even if it's as crude as the Aristocrats. 4 stars
7/02/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess You know your a sick fuck when child-rape puts you in stitches 5 stars
8/24/06 AnnieG Not for the faint-of-heart (and avoid eating while you watch), but an amazing film. 4 stars
5/15/06 Jen Awesome. A great movie. 5 stars
4/17/06 Michael Garbage All The Way. Very Disappointing 1 stars
4/16/06 millersxing A crash course in scatological humor; come armed with a funny bone. 5 stars
3/04/06 Indrid Cold Original and good for a laugh or three. Don't watch with grandparents or children! 4 stars
3/02/06 Phil M. Aficionado Amusing and outside the box;wears out its welcome by the end;be in a mood to be grossed out 3 stars
2/08/06 bitch fuck you janet fucking prude bitch 5 stars
12/17/05 Marty Hilarious, smart and fearless. A new form of documentary. 5 stars
11/30/05 joey squids it was great...sarah silverman just jumped out of my ass! 5 stars
10/11/05 the untrained eye Not as funny as those who've seen it would like those who haven't believe 3 stars
9/14/05 Marty Funniest, smartes movie I've seen in ages. 5 stars
9/12/05 janet nave This film was so offensive and stupid that I left--UGH 1 stars
9/11/05 ajay it got a little slow at times, but there were tons of laughs. 4 stars
9/07/05 guy funny if you're still 13 2 stars
9/06/05 Martin Totaly disgusting and vulgar piece of crap 1 stars
8/30/05 Ayatolla of Rockinrolla The funniest movie I've seen in a while. Cartman RULES 5 stars
8/29/05 bullit16 Production values are lacking, but it's wet-your-pants funny 4 stars
8/23/05 bizenya great if you're interested in comedy as an art form. 4 stars
8/21/05 walter it's just hilarious and brilliant. period. 5 stars
4/16/05 Simon This is GENIUS. Funny as hell and even smarter than that. 5 stars
2/21/05 fiona just lovely... 5 stars
2/17/05 Jen SO GREAT. Awesome job by Provenza & Emery. 5 stars
2/02/05 Tammera Mack great movie 5 stars
2/01/05 Gladys Paradowski This is hilarious. Such a contrast to today's special effects monstrosities. 5 stars
2/01/05 Emery Emery I'm Biased. I edited the thing. 5 stars
1/30/05 Casey Tells good 4 stars
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  29-Jul-2005 (NR)
  DVD: 24-Jan-2005



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