Larry David is always hailed as a genius when it comes to television: Seinfeld and the later, filthier Curb Your Enthusiasm are universally beloved TV series of such incisive power that it’s hard not to feel like you’re living the shows yourself (except you aren’t as financially comfortable as the characters). So why does David’s 1998 movie, Sour Grapes, have a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes—consigned, at best, to cult favorite status? Guarantee you it’s funnier than the last ten comedies you shelled out $14 bucks to see on the big screen.
The same could be said for Clear History, which isn’t even coming to a theater near you. The HBO film premiered quietly on Saturday night, ahead of Breaking Bad season premiere hoopla and whatever the hell ridiculous thing happened on Dexter. And it is truly, devastatingly hilarious. With a cast that includes Michael Keaton as a grizzled, bomb-happy New Englander named Joe Stumpo, not to mention the band Chicago, on hand to wistfully recall groupie sex, how could it get any better?
Clear History, written by David along with Seinfeld and Curb vets Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel, turns the usual revenge narrative on its head: the original offense is all the Curb-like protagonist’s fault, and the scheme he hatches ten years later is perfectly ill-conceived, practically designed to backfire. Setting the story in Martha’s Vineyard is a great move—where coincidence in New York or L.A. can stretch credulity, the pettiness and nosiness of a small island community make every confrontation all too plausible. David’s comedic chemistry with Jon Hamm, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride and Eve Mendes alike is outstanding.
Look, I’m not sure how to get Clear History if you don’t have premium cable—probably pirate it, since they won’t allow you to buy just an HBO GO streaming package. But figure out something, for god’s sake, because it’s raining like a bastard today and you don’t really want to see that Ashton Kutcher movie about Steve Jobs, do you? Okay, just checking.