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Conan O'Brien Can't Stop [Blu-ray]
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Even if Conan O'Brien were "Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television"--the official name of the 2010 tour featured in the documentary Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, he'd happily be a scofflaw. Longtime TV director Rodman Flender (Ugly Betty) captures both O'Brien's spontaneous humor in his standup comic tour around the United States, but also his rage. O'Brien briefly replaced Jay Leno as host of NBC's The Tonight Show, but ratings for the show plummeted. So NBC dropped O'Brien, and O'Brien got his revenge by selling out shows in 32 cities, featuring equal parts standup, monologue, and screed against NBC. "If there's ever been a time in my life when I could say 'the hell with it,' it would be now," O'Brien says early in the film, setting up his rage as well as finding a pretty good outlet for it. Those who wonder if there's a healthy--or even unhealthy--dose of anger behind most standup comics will see the answer in a largely unguarded O'Brien, captured with raw honesty by Flender, in Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. O'Brien is also joined at various points of the tour by Jim Carrey, Andy Richter, Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes (who gets an earful), Eddie Vedder, and others. And O'Brien does manage to be pretty funny, mostly in off-the cuff moments. But Conan O'Brien Can't Stop is notable mostly for O'Brien's willingness to be shown as the pot lid is starting to blow off the boiling pan. And that makes for incredibly gripping viewing. --A.T. Hurley
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This documentary received rave reviews when it debuted at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and it's easy to see why. "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" is a fantastic, engaging film about an extremely driven man at a crossroads in his professional life.
Apart from a couple of questions posed to Conan throughout the film, there is no audio commentary/voice-over from Rodman Flender. The footage speaks for itself, and the camera-work is intimate without feeling invasive. The film includes some footage of the actual tour performances, but the vast majority of the documentary is focused behind-the-scenes, and takes us on a complete journey of the tour: from the first tweet announcing the release of tickets to the final show in Atlanta. Along the way, we see Conan perform at every opportunity, even on his days off. We see a man unable to resist meeting and entertaining his fans even when he seems at times to barely have the energy to stand up. We see his interactions with his staff and crew, including sidekick Andy Richter (their genuine friendship over and above their comedic rapport is abundantly clear). The film also includes some heart-warming moments with Conan's family.
All in all, for 89 minutes, this film showcases the real life of a talented, intense performer and man, including the ups and downs and the hilarity and the tired crankiness. A very entertaining, honest and eye-opening film.
The tour moments are fun, especially the backstage bits. During the Radio City Music Hall show, we see Conan, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert backstage preparing their skit a mere 9 minutes before they go onstage and perform it. We really see the creativity that went into this tour and they pulled it off nicely. There are moments after the shows where he complains about not wanting to meet fans, but he does it anyways. He definitely shows much appreciation for them and all of their support.
We get to see a darker side of Conan in the film. At one point, he teases Jack McBrayer, calling him a hick and even making up a song on the spot that's very dark, yet I found myself laughing. Who wouldn't be able to go into a darker place after losing one of the biggest television shows of all time? Honestly the film made me love Conan even more. Even though he does act somewhat mean at times, his amazing team still sticks with him. He has such a wonderful group of people supporting him. There are some really nice moments of him with long time friend and sidekick, Andy Richter. You can really tell that they will always be there for each other. Also I have to give credit to Sona Movsesian, Conan's assistant, who handles him well at some pretty rough times.
I think documentaries about entertainers are always great to see. You get to see much more of them than you do on tv or on stage. This is one of the best I've ever seen and I'm not just saying this because I'm a Conan fanatic, but this film is very well made. We get to see moments of Conan that we normally don't get to and it's fascinating to watch. The film gets dark at times, but for the most part, it's hilarious. The film is a must see for Conan fans and it's the year's absolute best film. I don't think there will be a more honest, funny and entertaining film this year. Go Team Coco.