Best movie of this year hands down!
The Worst Film Ever
Great Film overall
An old-fashioned movie made with new-fashioned finesse.
Like most of us, I learned about Dan Harmon through Community. Which, I learned early on, was based on his own experience at community college. Jeff, in particular, was based on him. Not that Dan's handsome, or a lawyer... but a jerk who only sees people as instruments to get what he wants. And then he tries to change. Jeff actually does change. And Dan?Well, Dan is still profoundly egocentric. In his year being fired from Community he started a podcast, in which ostensibly people have a chance to interact with him and become part of the show. In practice, he often turns the attention back to himself within three sentences.This documentary, produced by Harmon's own production company, is also called Harmontown, and is therefore also very much about Dan Harmon. There are attempts to shift the focus to breakout star Spencer Crittenden, but while Spencer's story certainly is interesting, Dan's exhibitionism steals the spotlight over and over again.As it should. Because the intriguing thing is that the "therapy" that this podcast and tour admittedly is, ultimately works. Dan makes a couple of mistakes along the tour (drinking too much moonshine, cursing at his girlfriend), talks about them on stage, and moves beyond them. And comes to the realization that "being egocentric is OK, if you want to be the person that makes other people happy". It's a small step, but a step towards knowing who he is, and seeing a way to improve that.The most profound scene comes when he decides to work on the network notes for a pilot with Erin. The network was puzzled by a guy in the script saying "The corporate people can never have creativity, but they'll have everything else". What's everything else? They brainstorm over that. Then there's a moment at the end where the guy sings a song, which turns the perspective around for (I think) his daughter. Why? Erin. "She needs to say something to him." Dan "Yeah". Erin "She says "so you can have your integrity, and they can have everything else"". Dan looks at her. Looks at the camera "So he'll change". Looks around "that means he'll change".I'm typing this up from memory, but that's basically what it boils down to. It's an absurdly beautiful moment where you see their relationship moving past their hangups about themselves and each other, and their art flow together, as just has to happen for two people who are so self-reflective in their work. The fact that the main character is a standin for Dan is so obvious it doesn't even need to be stated. He is and will remain at the core of his work. But he still might change.So is it a well made documentary? Yes. Is the subject matter examined well? Yes. Is it worth seeing? If you listen to Harmontown, absolutely. If you're only a fan of Community, try the podcast first. If the podcast doesn't do it for you, the film will only repel you further. If you're into none of it, but like character study documentaries, then I would suggest you watch it as well.
A documentary that follows Dan Harmon on tour for his podcast series after he was fired from "Community" in 2012.Dan Harmon was born in Milwaukee and graduated from Brown Deer High School in Brown Deer, a suburb of Milwaukee. He also attended Marquette University and Glendale Community College, later using his experiences at the community college to form the basis of the show "Community". Harmon was a member of ComedySportz Milwaukee and also (alongside Rob Schrab) a member of the sketch troupe The Dead Alewives.Why do I provide this biography of Harmon's early life? Because as a Wisconsin native, this intrigues me and makes me wonder how much of what Harmon has experienced translates to his writing, and how much of that retains a Wisconsin flavor. Indeed, with both Dead Alewives and "Community", he has referenced Dungeons and Dragons, another Wisconsin creation.After watching this documentary, I hope everyone watches the pilot for "Heat Vision and Jack". If you have never seen it ,you need to. And if you have, it has probably been a while and time for a review.
Well, first of all, it might be a good thing to know a little bit about Dan Harmon before watching this documentary. It's not like he has a simple personality and I think if you know about his work, you'll like it better. But it's obvious.Anyway, to me this documentary is more about Dan Harmon "in depression mode" than Dan Harmon "genius creator". Sure, we see a glimpse of his work and we actually see him "in action " as the Mayor of his own insane self destructive city, but really, he is awesome. We see the impact he can have on people and that's pretty much what he works for anyway. To help those who feel like him or have their own struggles to deal with.He's an a**hole but he knows it, he loves his wife yet he can't help to be a real peen, but I really like the guy. And I loved this documentary.
I adore director Neil Berkeley's previous documentary, 'Beauty is Embarrassing', as much for its subject (artist Wayne White) as for its casual style. It's uncanny that his subject in 'Harmontown', Dan Harmon (creator of TV's 'Community' and writer of Oscar-nominated 'Monster House') is almost, physically and intellectually, Wayne White's Doppelgänger. I'm sorry to say that I largely 'missed the boat' with Harmon's body of work: 'The Sarah Silverman Show' definitely struck me as irreverent and funny but 'Community' always seemed a bit mediocre which, in Harmon's defense, when graded on the network-sitcom curve, I do consider completely watchable and good for a giggle.It wasn't until Harmon's erratic work ethic got him fired from both of those creations that he found his own form of therapy in podcasting an unconventional stand-up show containing no jokes, no preparation, and the occasional Dungeon & Dragon session. The documentary follows the show's tour across the US with his cohorts, Spencer Crittenden (the awkward 'Dungeon Master' plucked from the original Los Angeles audience), Jeff Bryan Davis (comedian and TV personality), and, his girlfriend, Erin McGathy (well-known podcaster). Despite his narcissism (which is balanced by a heaping side of self-loathing) and notorious tendencies to sociopathically manipulate those around him, there is a sense from his audience that he is the Jesus of well-intentioned nerdom. I won't say that I'm a complete convert but I will absolutely subscribe to his podcast (also called 'Harmontown'); like the film, it's honest, raw, and pretty darn hilarious.