Shakes the Clown (Blu-ray)

August 18, 2017 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Ever wonder what clowns do when the party’s over and all the kids have been given a balloon animal? Well, if you check out this movie, you’ll see inside the world of some clowns, and what makes them tick. Shakes (Bobcat Goldthwait) is a good natured but alcoholic clown, who stumbles his way into a murder mystery, where he’s been framed as the killer. When the local clown hosted television show needs a new host, all the clowns think they’ll be chosen for the position, but Binky, who the other clowns hate, ends up with the job. Shakes is having more trouble than not getting the job, as his girlfriend is on the verge of leaving him, and his drinking is going out of control. Meanwhile, Binky and his two henchmen attempt to purchase some cocaine from some rodeo clowns, when Binky’s boss discovers his nasty habit. Out of desperation, Binky clubs his boss to death with a bowling pin, and tries to make it appear as though Shakes, who was fired by the dead man earlier, is responsible. Shakes needs to reconcile with his girlfriend, control his alcohol addiction, and clear his name, before his nose honking days are over…for good!

This is a black comedy if there ever was one. Sure, there’s the usual clown antics, but aside from that, we explore the darker, more human side of clowns. Whether it’s feuding with the local mimes or drinking at the local clown bar, these clowns are nothing like the ones kids love, so don’t pick this up for the kiddies. Filled with all sorts of interesting clowns and clown followers, Shakes the Clown is, in my opinion, one of the best clown movies out there. While the cinematography is lacking, you don’t watch a movie like this for the camera work, you watch it for the laughs. I mean, does it really matter where the camera is when some kid pisses on Shakes’ head? As long as we see the urine stream splash on him, it’s all good by me.

The creative force behind this movie is Bobcat Goldthwait, who wrote, starred in, and directed this clown classic. Goldthwait is hilarious as Shakes, bringing an excellent blend of bitterness and charm, which is perfect for this character. While the directing is minimal, Goldthwait (Police Academy 3 & 4, Scrooged) does a very nice acting turn, and the writing is also quite good, with very humorous situations. Julie Brown (the white one) also appears, with a hilarious accent I might add, and she adds some depth to the film, playing Shakes’ love interest, Judy. Brown (Earth Girls Are Easy, Clueless) is a talented comedic actor, and certainly shows her skills here. The supporting cast includes Tom Kenny (Tv’s The Powerpuff Girls), Tim Kazurinski (Neighbors, Hot to Trot), Blake Clark (Ladybugs, The Waterboy), Paul Dooley (Sixteen Candles, Strange Brew), Adam Sandler (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy), Florence Henderson (Tv’s The Brady Bunch), and Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook).

Video: How does it look?

Shakes the Clown is brought to Blu-ray by Mill Creek Entertainment (finally) and sports a fairly good-looking 1.85:1 AVC HD encode. The image is incredible, especially for a low profile film like this, the print is even free from major flecks and grain. With clowns involved, you know the colors are gonna be big and bold, and they are. The hues are vivid and lush, but they never bleed or become oversaturated. The movie uses darker lighting in some scenes, and the transfer comes through there as well. The shadows are layered well, and no detail loss is evident. The disc is free from compression errors as well, aside from some minor moire patterns.

Audio: How does it sound?

A decent DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 surround track is used, and overall, it sounds good. I do think a 5.1 track would have made a serious difference, and given the audio a fuller texture. The most active element is the soundtrack, so surround use is limited, to say the least. Dialogue is the focus, with consistent volume and no problems being overshadowed by the other audio elements.

Supplements: What are the extras?

It would appear that the trailer and talent files from the older DVD are now somewhere in limbo.

  • Audio Commentary – Bobcat Goldthwait and Julie Brown collaborate for a pretty funny commentary track, and each has a front speaker to create a pretty nice-sounding atmosphere.  Some details about the shoot are explained as was the motivation for the film in general. It’s a good track and one that fans will enjoy.

The Bottom Line

This is a pretty polarizing film in the sense that it’ll not be for everyone. That’s ok, those are my favorite kind. I’ve always admired Bobcat Goldthwait for “doing his own thing” and it’s worked for him. Shakes the Clown features some early work from Adam Sandler and a cameo by an uncredited Robin Williams. It’s worth a look, for sure.

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