Forgotten Friday Flick – “Shakes The Clown” + Blu-ray Review!

Killing two comedy birds with one massive dissection stone, it’s time once again for a past picture and Blu-ray combo review all in the name of a hidden gem – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick! Long before such fine works as World’s Greatest Dad (proudly on my top ten list that year!) and God Bless America, actor turned writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait debuted with this nasty nifty little ditty that exposed the underground arena of clown culture.  And thanks to the good people over at Mill Creek Entertainment who have just released a 25th Anniversary Edition of said film, we’re gonna cover both the Blu-ray and the film Forgotten Friday Flick style all in one cool comprehensive column.  So join friends Binky, Peppy, HoHo, Dink, Owen Cheese and various milkman scum as we head into the intoxicating world of…Shakes The Clown!  


There are some films that are indisputably bad, while there are others that are so savory they’re critic proof.  Then there are irreverent bold flicks with balls like Bobcat Goldthwait’s Shakes The Clown, which can be argued either way depending on the viewer’s personal taste.  It’s a cinematic style and stance Goldthwait has always taken as a filmmaker and the highly memorable and manic Shakes The Clown marks his first foray into such tasty territory.

Shakes is a clown with serious problems. He’s a raging alcoholic, cheats on his girlfriend Judy, is constantly messing up at work and now has just lost a kiddie-hosting job to arch rival Binky. But now Shakes has been framed for murder and it’s up to the half-in-the-bag clown to get sober, hit up his friends and seek out the truth to clear his good name.

The above is admittedly a lame encapsulation that’s only slightly better than the one in the in actual film, but Shakes The Clown doesn’t work because of a stellar single story arc.  The film is so chocked full of memorable movie moments of all shapes and sizes that it all but makes up for a flick that appears to defy description.  There are great quotes (‘You clowns are on dope!’), great rivalries (clowns vs. mimes – run!) and great musical choices (the NRBQ Me And The Boys sequence is tasty!) that show the seriously skilled dark comedy prowess potential ala debut director Bobcat Goldthwait.  It’s definitely an ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ approach to black humor and Goldthwait is the perfect terse taskmaster.

Of course most of the character humor lands because of his colorful cast and Shakes The Clown has a top-notch gang of misfits.  Bobcat as the sinful Shakes, Julie Brown as his hapless gal pal (complete with a hilarious lisp!), an early Adam Sandler and Blake Clark as his dim drinking buddies Stenchy and Dink, a pre-Spongebob Tom Kenny as the bile inducing bad guy Binky plus the comedic stylings of Kathy Griffin (her peach flan is a must taste!), the late great Robin Williams (mime extraordinaire!), Tim Kazurinsky (it’s a Police Academy reunion!), Florence Henderson (yup – you read that right!), Sydney Lassick (his Peppy the Clown is a bitter bastard…and dog lover!) and stealing every damn scene she’s in the sassy and super sick LaWanda Page.  (I can’t even quote her funny lines – they’re too damn dirty!)

The merits of Shakes The Clown have been debated over the years with the film being called everything from ‘garbage’ to ‘the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies’ and thoughts on the meanings behind the film range from simply bashing clowns to a biting commentary on the stand-up community.  Not matter what your thoughts and feelings there’s just no denying that when it comes to thought provoking black comedy nobody does it better than Bobcat.  Throwing his famed but tired single screaming persona out the door, Goldthwait proved with Shakes the Clown that as a bucking-the-system filmmaker he had much more to say.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: While not as grainy as the VHS copies that used to float around, this one doesn’t exactly have HD quality picture.  (aka good but not great!)

Depth: No extra spacing beyond what was originally there.

Black Levels: Not a lot of darks and black colors here – Shakes The Clown is fittingly bright.

Color Reproduction: The colors are the best thing visually about the film!

Flesh Tones: Sometimes you can see the alcoholic sweat – yuck!

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Formats(s): English LPCM 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: When the songs kick in there’s some crispness!

Low Frequency Extension: Not much low wise – everything is pretty high.

Surround Sound Presentation: If you’re looking for surround from Shakes The Clown you have way too much time on your hands!

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone (except Julie Brown with the lisp/accent!) can be heard crystal clear!


Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director/Actor Bobcat Goldthwait, Actress Julie Brown and Actor Tom Kenny – The only extra here is thankfully a five-star affair of amazing comedic proportions with the three leads waxing nostalgic about making the flick.  Covered?  Dog dongs, Florence Henderson’s boob hickey request, takes of clown controversy, the sauciness of LaWanda Page (she once beat a man with a barstool for heckling her!), Robin Williams and premiere walk-outs.  Also Bobcat gets candid to boot on his thoughts (he admits being angry at the time!), inspirations (the opening scene was a rip on Blue Velvet!) and secrets (that’s his daughter running through the sprinkler!) about the film – this is one kick ass listen!


So while this the Blu-ray isn’t going to win awards for crisp sound and picture quality that mirrors the works of Christopher Nolan (would you want it to?!), Goldthwait’s debut flick is five-star (according to me!) and the solo commentary track satisfies all extras cravings in a single sitting – a steal for the price kiddies!


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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