Saturday, August 6, 2011

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Conan O'Brien Can't Stop

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

At first despite being very pumped to watch this, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy it, because it starts slow. I don't think Rodman Flender worked that hard at creating a compelling narrative or pacing the story, so as a result, the establishing of the situation and initial planning stages drone on and fall a bit flat. Fortunately, Conan O'Brien is a compelling and entertaining enough subject that ultimately the quality or lack thereof of the technical storytelling doesn't matter; you're drawn in by O'Brien himself, want to get to know him and his story, and he doesn't disappoint. As a result, Flender really just has to be competent at following O'Brien around with cameras and knowing how to cut a movie--he is proficient in both--and his subject handles the rest. Once O'Brien is out on the road performing and his testimonials begin to reveal more about his psyche, this becomes a very good piece. O'Brien is a fascinating individual, balanced between his love of performing for crowds and intense scrutiny over his work. It's hard to tell how much of his inability to stop (as alluded to in the title) and desire to interact with his public is fueled by work ethic and how much by a sort of addiction. While Flender certainly presents O'Brien in a flattering light that seems genuine, he doesn't lionize him to the point of not showing the more personal moments where he is frustrated by having to meet and greet all his back-up singer's family and friends, an act he seemed completely enthused by in the previous scene. The footage of the actual shows is fun, but I didn't so much care for seeing how the sausage was made in this case; I was far more engaged by Conan himself, his relationships with the people around him--particularly with his young assistant, as they had a natural comic chemistry and she was tremendously endearing--and the rewards as well as the toll this experience handed him. While the stuff with Jack McBrayer is hilarious, the shots of Conan exhausted and alone following a performance are what will stick with me.