Welcome to a story of fame, tragedy and comedy, in the well titled film Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop. In the film it would appear that comedy his like oxygen to him and as he says many times, applause is what brings him to life. There’s nothing more tragic then losing ones success in a heart beat. Welcome to Hollywood, the city that if you sleep, someone else will do you job for you and for less money. And even more to the point, welcome to trying to be a comedian in Hollywood. Where everyone always wants you to be entertaining, where you never get to stop for a moment, where if you’re not “on” the lights go off. Filmmaker Rodman Flender was able to get himself in the midst of the drama to expose the story of Conan O’Brien’s journey from failure to rebirth, and prove that in fact, he could not be stopped.

The Plot:

A documentary on Conan O’Brien’s comedy tour of the U.S. and Canada after leaving his post at “The Tonight Show” and severing his relationship with NBC.

The Players:

  • Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Rodman Flender
  • Star: Conan O’Brien with Andy Richter, Jim Carrey, Jack McBrayer and Stephen Colbert

The Good:

  • Brutal Honesty: Often the funniest people in the world come with some of the most tragic stories, so the fact that Flender was able to get one of the most successful comedians on film in the midst of everything falling apart around him is quite extraordinary. The film is not always nice to Conan and shows him in a variety of lights, which allows you to see the “real” Conan and really understand the horrible situation he’s in and how it effected him.
  • The Life: Yes, Conan gets paid A LOT of money to do what he does, and he got paid millions upon millions when he was fired from “The Tonight Show” and replaced by Jay Leno, BUT that doesn’t mean he didn’t work his ass off to get that job, to only have it pulled away from him. It’s quite obvious that it wasn’t about the money, it was about his pride and the fact that he felt betrayed. He’s not the only man who has gone through this, in fact almost anyone who has ever risked anything big on a job knows that this feeling is like. The director did a fantastic job of capturing the wide range of emotions that Conan went through when losing his success.
  • Conan: Though he’s mean to his staff (in sometimes humorous ways), pushes everyone around, and at times appears nearly cruel, the film clearly shows that no one works harder than he does on his projects — and he knows it. All of it. He knows he’s a bastard and he knows that he can’t stop. No matter how hard he works other people he’s always working that much harder. It’s hard not to respect the guy even when he’s being a total asshole — especially because he’s the first admit it.
  • Humor/Drama: The film does a great job at balancing the humor that naturally oozes from Conan and the drama of his situation. Though you’ll be chuckling the whole way through, the film has a lot of heart that helps you connect to it on a deeper level.

The Overall:

The film shows Conan’s life during his time on the road and does a great job of it. It’s not necessarily awe-inspiring in any way, but it is a well made documentary that is surprisingly poignant. There are a lot of people out there that can relate to being laid off (though not with the same size check in their pockets) and know the struggles his self-esteems is going through. The film is a very interesting look at both a man in crisis and a comedian trying to stay in top in the entertainment business when everything seems to trying to bring him down.

Rating: 7.5/10

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is out on June 24th.