Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

7 Jul

Title: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Rodman Flender
Writer: 
Starring: 
Conan O’Brien
MPAA Rating: 
R, language
Runtime: 
89 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
77%

 

If you know me then you might just know that I love Conan O’Brien, I think he is one of the funniest guys in show business and I really felt for him when that whole NBC/Jay Leno debacle went down and he was pretty much forced to step down from his position as host of The Tonight Show, a dream gig of his for his entire life which he held on to for just over half a year after debates about time slot and ratings and money ended up with him drawing a very ungraceful short stick from NBC.

We all know what’s happened since, Mr. O’Brien is now the host of his new late night talk show, Conan, over at TBS and Jay Leno, who I didn’t care for before and I dislike now, is back over on NBC doing The Tonight Show as though he never left. But what we didn’t really know is what happened during the time when Mr. O’Brien delivered that now-famous “If you work hard, and you’re kind to people, amazing things will happen” speech at the end of his final show as the host of The Tonight Show, and when he sat down as the host of his new talk show some ten months later. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is the documentary that will illuminate us as to what exactly went down in those months when contractual clauses prevented him from being on television again until the end of the year, and we will find out that he really can’t be stopped.

In theory what this documentary looks at is the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour” Conan embarked on and which saw him do 42 shows in 30 cities in that hiatus between shows in which he wasn’t allowed to be on TV. And as hilarious as the looks at that tour might be, what this documentary actually shows us is a man that has this manic goofball personna ready for us night and night out, and that in reality is actually a bit like that, but is also a sincerely loving person, much like we saw when he gave that emotional farewell speech at the end of his NBC tenure. And it’s that love, for his work, his fans and, especially, those who work with him, that makes this a fascinating look at the months in this man’s life after he received one terribly harsh and ungraceful blow from the company that had nurtured him from the start, giving him opportunities to get from the bottom to the very top only to unceremoniously dump him once he got up there.

Director Rodman Flender makes Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop be much more than the concert movie many were expecting it to be, and even though the material from the actual tour we get is pretty awesome, we are far more interested in what goes on behind it, those many candid moments the camera manages to catch that show the writing and rehearsal process and everything behind and beyond that, it’s truly something special to witness. And it’s a praise to Mr. Flender that his camera was as unobtrusive as it proved to be, yes there are indeed times in which you can tell Mr. O’Brien is putting up an act for us during the behind-the-scenes stuff much like does when he walks on stage, but there are also times, particularly as the tour drags on, when you can tell this is him at his most human and vulnerable, and some fascinating moments come out of those scenes, as he becomes getting more and more exasperated with the daily occurrences of this gig of his.

And I really did love this documentary, partially because I love Mr. O’Brien, because if you’re not a fan of his then this one will prove to be only mildly-interesting, but mostly because here you can tell the extent to which Mr. O’Brien himself loves us, his fans, back. He can’t stop because he’s always trying to be perfect and give back to us as much love as we have given him, especially during the hard time he went through when pretty much everyone jumped to his defense after the bad treatment he was given, A-list celebrities included. And it’s awesome to see the progression of him as the tour goes on, as he realizes that this environment is a far more pure experience of the business he’s in than his talk shows could ever be, but at the same time realizing that it’s such a volatile experience that two months were more than enough to drain him emotionally and physically, and that’s why the controlled set-ups of television were better for him to get to us every day of the week.

In the end, what you get from watching Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is a look at why this man said what he said during that final speech he gave on The Tonight Show. “If you work hard, and you’re kind to people, amazing things will happen” may sound like a very generic thing to say under such situations, but just one view at this documentary and you’ll instantly know that this guy is talking from experience. No one works harder than he does to please us, nobody goes as out of his way as he does to be kind to us, his fans, and he really deserves all the amazing things that came and are still coming his way.

Grade: B+

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