Television release poster
|Written by||Larry David
|Directed by||Greg Mottola|
J. B. Smoove
|Theme music composer||Ludovic Bource|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||100 minutes|
|Production company(s)||HBO Films|
Clear History is an American HBO comedy film written by Larry David, Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer, directed by Greg Mottola and starring Larry David, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, Philip Baker Hall, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes, Amy Ryan, Bill Hader and J. B. Smoove. The film was released on August 10, 2013.
In 2003, Nathan Flomm (Larry David) is an opinionated, obnoxious business associate of Will Haney (Jon Hamm), whose company is about to introduce a new electric car. Flomm strenuously objects to the car being named "the Howard" after Haney’s young son, who is himself named after Howard Roark, hero of The Fountainhead. After Flomm accepts a flat buyout severance package to cut ties with the company, he becomes a ridiculed public figure when the Howard is a huge success, costing Flomm what would have been his share — a billion dollars.
Ten years later, Flomm has changed his name to Rolly DaVore and moves to Martha's Vineyard, beginning a new life and making new acquaintances. They include a new best friend (Frank), a now former lover (Wendy), and a local building contractor (Mr. McKenzie).
Frank takes Flomm (a.k.a. Rolly) to a surprise birthday party where he punches Jaspar, the only local African-American, after the latter surprises him at the door during a loud welcome for Rolly by all his friends and acquaintances from the island. Flomm then proceeds to ruin Jaspar's budding romance with Jennifer (Eva Mendes), a formerly-heavyset but now very attractive local woman, after he tells her that she should date other men before settling. Jaspar is enraged and concludes Flomm is a racist. Later, when someone announces that rock band Chicago is returning to the Vineyard, Flomm hears a rumor that Wendy had sex with multiple members of the band after a concert. He is upset that everyone seems to know about this but him.
Haney, now a wealthy car mogul, arrives at the island and begins building an ugly, ostentatious mansion on the site of "Blue Heron," the Stumpo family's original home. Although Flomm is relieved that Haney doesn't recognize him, he does not think he can bear to remain on the island. However, inspired by the movie The Fountainhead, Flomm becomes determined to gain revenge for his lost billion dollars and schemes to blow up Haney's new mansion. Frank introduces him to local explosives expert Joe Stumpo (Michael Keaton), already angry over what happened to his family's property, and Stumpo's friend Rags (Bill Hader). He then persuades McKenzie, who is the construction foreman, to let him be part of the construction crew. He continues to inquire about Wendy's sexual contact with Chicago. Stumpo tells him he will need to get a detonator.
Flomm meets with Tibor, a thuggish Chechen criminal supplying a detonator, and pays him $1000. After their meeting, while driving away, Flomm has a fender bender with Tibor's new car (a Howard). Tibor demands Flomm pay for the damage, for which he will get an estimate. Furious at his romance with Jennifer being ruined, Jaspar discovers Flomm's true identity and tells Flomm that if Jennifer dates another man he will make Flomm's true identity known. Jennifer promptly takes up with Tibor after meeting him at her coffee truck. While on the construction project, Flomm worms his way into a close friendship with Haney's wife, Rhonda, pretending to know about architecture and engineering. Meanwhile, to evade Jaspar's wrath and break up Tibor and Jennifer, Flomm lies to Tibor that Jennifer had performed oral sex on members of the band Chicago (conflating her with Wendy for his own purposes). Flomm mistakes Rhonda's friendliness and attention for her having fallen in love with him, which will now be his revenge, rather than blowing up Haney's new house. During a heated argument with Rhonda over who should move their car, Flomm mistakes the passion for interest in him and kisses her. Rhonda is repulsed, asking: "Are you crazy?"
Flomm proceeds with the plotted destruction of the house, to occur during Chicago's concert performance, when no one will be home. The band tells Flomm that two of them did indeed receive oral sex from Wendy on their previous visit; another recalls having had sex with Roberta Stumpo (a fellow poker buddy and sister of Joe, the explosives expert). Jaspar witnesses Jennifer with Tibor and then informs the local newspaper of Rolly's true identity and many people confront Rolly about this at the concert. Haney turns up at the concert and shocks Flomm by embracing him, saying he's been trying to locate him for years. He wants to pay Flomm the billion dollars, feeling guilty over their falling out. Flomm is elated and attempts to keep Stumpo and Rags from destroying the mansion, which it turns out is being built for the benefit of sick and underprivileged children, but arrives too late. The house explodes just as a bus filled with children arrives.
The three end up serving three years in prison. Bearded and shaggy-haired again after his release, Flomm returns to Martha's Vineyard and reunites with Frank. Flomm runs into Jennifer at a bar (she's heavy again), where a spark develops between them and they decide to go on a date. Flomm, having cleaned up and gotten rid of the beard, is welcomed back warmly by his poker buddies for a game. One friend refers to Haney and Rhonda having gone back to California, where Haney's undisclosed illness, of which Flomm was ignorant, is now in remission, despite Haney's having ended "treatments". Wendy has inherited millions of dollars from the elderly woman ("Tibby") for whom Flomm had been serving as a home assistant for nine years before quitting and recommending Wendy after deciding to leave the island. The friends actually thank Flomm for destroying the mansion as they felt it was obnoxious. They tell Flomm the Chicago concert was great and that everybody had a great time, including the band, as Flomm learns to his horror, Jennifer had actually performed fellatio on three of the band members this time, as Flomm had earlier told Tibor untruthfully.
- Larry David as Nathan Flomm, a disgraced former marketing executive, now living alone under the name Rolly DaVore
- Bill Hader as Rags, Stumpo's friend and henchman
- Philip Baker Hall as McKenzie, a foreman
- Jon Hamm as Will Haney, Flomm's former boss
- Kate Hudson as Rhonda Haney, Will's wife
- Michael Keaton as Joe Stumpo, a quarry operator
- Danny McBride as Frank, Flomm's best friend
- Eva Mendes as Jennifer
- Amy Ryan as Wendy, Flomm's ex-girlfriend
- J. B. Smoove as Jaspar
- Liev Schreiber as Tibor
- Amy Landecker as Nathan's wife
- Marianne Leone Cooper as Joyce
- Mary Klug as Tibby
- Christian Mallen as Howard, Will Haney's son
- Brendan Meehan as Young Howard, Will Haney's son.
- Patty Ross as Gladys
- Marianne Leone as Joyce
- Dorothy Dwyer as Roberta Stumpo, female poker buddy
- Mike Cerrone as poker buddy
- Lenny Clarke as poker buddy
- Peter Farrelly as poker buddy
- Jimmy Tingle as poker buddy
- Frank L. Ridley as detective
Members of the rock band Chicago appear as themselves.
The film began principal photography in July 2012. The film was shot on location in the Massachusetts towns of Topsfield, Essex, North Andover, and Beverly, including the North Shore Music Theatre. Around 300 full-time workers were needed on-set. Filming wrapped in November 2012. The film was released on August 10, 2013 on HBO.
Clear History has received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 52% based on 21 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. Another review aggregation website Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 69 based on 17 reviews.
Linda Stasi of the New York Post gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Clear History is so funny it made me want to order up some Palestinian chicken." Brian Lowry of Variety gave the film a negative review, saying "It's hard to fault HBO for letting him indulge in this flight of fancy, particularly given all the marquee names he attracts. Still, without an ability to focus those appetites, Clear History yields the occasional chuckle, but somewhat curbed enthusiasm." David Hiltbrand of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film a negative review, saying "Despite a number of funny lines sprinkled through the script, this History isn't very memorable." Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe gave the film a negative review, saying "Even if you do like David’s shtick, as I do, you have no business here. The movie plays out something like an extra-long but subpar episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Many fans are hungering for a new season of "Curb," which last aired in 2011. Don’t expect "Clear History" to fill the void." Allison Keene of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying "With its seaside setting and lighthearted fun, Clear History is a kind of pleasant, late-summer gazpacho, enjoyed to the sounds of Chicago and debates about whether there is a racial preference between black and white dwarves. That last part should prove that while Larry David might look and feel a little different in this project, he could never be mistaken, like Flomm is, for anyone else."
Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, saying "If it doesn't have quite the compressed power of a "Curb" episode, it's in part because we know Larry David in a way that we don't know Nathan Flomm (who may strike us here as a man doing an imitation of Larry David). Still, the comic TV movie has become a rare thing (if you factor out the Lifetime and Hallmark rom-coms); its return is welcome." Robert Bianco of USA Today gave the film a negative review, saying "If you're a fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm, think of this as an extended version of Curb. If you're not, History will not convert you." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post gave the film a positive review, saying "It has a nice, confident and well-edited breeze to it (including a lot of jokes about the band Chicago), with a fun cast that includes standout riffs from Michael Keaton, Danny McBride and Eva Mendes." Laura Bennett of The New Republic gave the film a negative review, saying "Clear History was improvised from 35 pages of script. "You are such an asshole!", one Vineyard resident tells Flomm, which is the movie's main revelation." David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It will take only a few minutes of Clear History... not only to "forgive" David for repeating himself but to thank him for reminding us why we miss Curb Your Enthusiasm and hope it comes back soon."
Clear History was released on DVD and Blu-ray, on November 5, 2013.
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- "Making ‘Clear History’ in the North region". The Boston Globe. October 11, 2012. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
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- "Clear History". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- "Clear History - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. 2013-08-05. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Stasi, Linda (2013-07-31). "'Clear History' has a funny bone to pick". NYPOST.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Goldblatt, Daniel (2013-08-07). ""Clear History" Review HBO". Variety. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- David Hiltbrand, Inquirer TV Critic (2012-10-22). "Weekend cable lineup includes a new comedy, royal court and crime". Philly.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Gilbert, Matthew. "‘Clear History’: Larry David’s overwhelming Larry Davidness". Boston.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Keene, Allison (2011-11-17). "Clear History: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Lloyd, Robert (2013-08-10). "Review: Larry David's 'Clear History' showcases some 'Curb' control". latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Robert Bianco, USA TODAY (2013-08-09). "Weekend TV: "Clear History"". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 2013-08-14.
- Hank Stuever (2013-08-09). "HBO's 'Clear History': Larry David, slightly restrained". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-08-14.
- Bennett, Laura. "'Clear History' Review: Larry David Plays Himself, Again". New Republic. Retrieved 2013-08-14.
- David Wiegand (2013-08-07). "'Clear History' review: Larry David plays to type". SFGate. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "Clear History Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2013-08-18.