It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I don't like clowns, never have, never will. For that matter, I was terrified of Santa Claus when I was a kid and was taken to visit him in the department store at Christmastime. Like a lot of small children, I instinctively knew that clowns were not clowns, but adult males dressed up in a weird way for reasons I would rather not know anything about. They pretended they wanted to be my friends, and yet they hid themselves behind bizarre and frightening disguises. They didn't look like fun friends to me.
"Shakes the Clown," which stars the comedian Bobcat Goldthwait as an alcoholic clown, doesn't much like clowns either.
Set in the mythical town of Palukaville, it penetrates the clown underground - a hard-drinking twilight world where clowns never take off their makeup, and sit around bars all day, bitching and moaning about their problems. Shakes, who has not been sober in recent memory, is one of the most troubled clowns, passing out in strange bathrooms and trying to fake his way through kiddie birthday parties while fighting killer hangovers.
Goldthwait, who wrote, directed, and stars, takes this promising idea and doesn't do much with it. There are some very funny lines scattered here and there in the movie, but Goldthwait is better at monologues than dialogue and dramatic situations, and so his characters have a tendency to stay put (often at a bar) while saying their lines. He sets up promising situations, such as the hungover drunk at the children's birthday party, and then doesn't know how to make them build and pay off. The rhythm of the movie settles into cutaways from scenes that aren't going anywhere.