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DVD Review: ‘Clear History’

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000You might as well call Clear History “The Larry David movie,” because that is what it is. With a couple of slight adjustments, this could be a three-part Curb Your Enthusiasm episode. This is not to say that I did not enjoy it, as I am a huge fan of that show. It is just that the formula is beginning to feel a little familiar. Still, they managed to make a pretty funny HBO movie, which is now being released to DVD.

The story begins with Nathan Flomm (Larry David) at work for an electric car start-up company. Nathan’s boss Will Haney (Jon Hamm) has come up with a sure-fire hit vehicle, but decides to call the car “The Howard.” Nathan is the marketing manager, and is so incensed at this ridiculous name that he quits in a huff. He also gives up his 10% ownership stake.

When The Howard is introduced, it sells in record-breaking numbers. Nathan loses his wife, and most of his hair at this turn of events. He feels so disgraced that he changes his name to Rollo and moves to Martha‘s Vineyard to start over. We catch up to him ten years later, and he looks just like the Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

As in Curb, it is the funny little moments that are the most memorable, and there are plenty of them in Clear History. One recurring bit happens at the local diner, where the silverware is put out on the table surface, not on a napkin. Rollo gives the waitresses plenty of grief over this faux pas.

There is also a hilarious ongoing bit involving the band Chicago. Rumor has it that Rollo’s girlfriend had some backstage “business” with the band when they last played there. As Rollo puts it, “That is a big band! We’re not talking about Simon & Garfunkel here, there must be ten guys in Chicago!” This rumor spreads so far that just about every woman in town is accused of it at one point. Then Chicago show up to play a concert, and are forced to address the burning question.

Rollo is living a relatively happy life in this small town, but his past is about to catch up with him when Will decides to move there. Ever since The Howard blew up in sales there have been news reports about Nathan Flomm, “The man who gave up a billion dollars.”

Since Nathan changed his name and looks nothing like his former self, nobody has made the connection. Will does not even recognize him when he runs into him on the island. Rollo is so bitter about what happened that he schemes with a couple of local yokels to blow up the big mansion Will is building. This leads to a series of mishaps, but in the end it all works out.

As I mentioned earlier, the movie plays out a lot like an extended episode of Curb, and one of the key ingredients of that show is J.B. Smoove. The chemistry between him and David is priceless, and he appears in numerous scenes as Jaspar. The list of guest stars is very impressive, and includes Bill Hader, Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton, and Eva Mendes, among others.

Clear History was written by Larry David, Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer. Fans of Larry David should enjoy it very much, as I did. There are no bonus features on the DVD, and it is set for release on November 5, 2013.

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