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Originally published Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 3:02 PM

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Be warned: ‘The Comedy’ stinks | Movie review

“The Comedy,” directed by Rick Alverson and starring Tim Heidecker, starts out with a group of drunken men pouring beer down each other’s underpants and goes downhill from there, warns Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald. It’s playing at SIFF Film Center.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review

1 stars “The Comedy,” with Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Gregg Turkington, James Murphy. Directed by Rick Alverson, from a screenplay by Alverson, Robert Donne and Colm O’Leary. 94 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. SIFF Film Center.

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Looking for something funny? Avoid the indie non-comedy “The Comedy,” the longest and dreariest 94 minutes I’ve spent on a movie this year. It is, I think, intended to be a satire — a comment on materialism and on not-quite-young people who know nothing but entitlement, shocking us to make a point. Instead, it’s just irritating and endless, like a drunk who sidles up to you and won’t go away.

Swanson (Tim Heidecker, looking vaguely like a blanker Zach Galifianakis here) is a Brooklyn guy, maybe in his 30s, with nothing to do but hang out with other Brooklyn guys and make trouble. His wealthy father is dying, but Swanson doesn’t talk about that; his life has no purpose, but he doesn’t talk about that either. Instead, he wanders around deliberately offending people: making racial jokes in a Harlem bar; defending Hitler at a party; telling a woman that he’s a convicted rapist; making goofy noises and blowing out candles in a church. Swanson’s a lost soul, but it’s impossible to care about his predicament. Heidecker and director Rick Alverson present it all with a studied deadpan, never letting us understand anything about the character — except that we can’t stand him.

On and on “The Comedy” goes, with its gritty interiors and close-up camera and faceless parade of characters, showing us more and more examples of Swanson being a jerk, without ever really going anywhere until it’s much too late. Watching it, you think about actual comedy, about genuine smiles (which virtually no character does in this movie), about how some movies can fascinate us with unlikable characters while others just annoy. “The Comedy” starts out with a group of drunken, anonymous men pouring beer down each other’s underpants, and it goes downhill from there. You have been warned.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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