Clear History sure is, if more amusing than actually funny. Its intermittent focus is by nature of a purposely skeletal script to allow a wide berth for Curb-style improv; the feature length just magnifies those inherent faults.
In 2003, marketing exec Nathan Flomm (David, sporting a downright biblical beard) gives up his 10-percent stake in up-and-comer Electron Motors after CEO Will Haney (Jon Hamm, TV’s Mad Men) decides to name its flagship electric car after his own son, Howard. Naturally, the Howard is an unqualified smash, making Nathan a man who inadvertently gave up a billion dollars.
Losing his job, wife and home, Nathan gives himself a new identity (and much-needed shave) on Martha’s Vineyard. Ten years later, his decade-festering scab reopens when Will builds a palatial estate there with his trophy wife (Kate Hudson, The Killer Inside Me). Nathan plots an act of Ayn Rand-worthy revenge, but really spends more time spouting his OCD opinions on subjects of such minute importance, from the level of electrical outlets and smudges on diner silverware to fellatio with members of Chicago (the band, not the city).
Fans who love Curb are apt to like Clear History, packed as it is with supporting turns from Eva Mendes, Amy Ryan, Bill Hader, Liev Schreiber and, most notably, a near-unrecognizable Michael Keaton (come back!). One thing I was sure to recognize: how much the movie resembles David’s one and only directorial effort, 1998’s so-so Sour Grapes, which also dealt with wrasslin’ over riches. —Rod Lott
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