Community creator Dan Harmon is one of those dangerous talents that mama always warned you about. He’s clearly a funny man and maybe even a bit of a genius. However, he’s also incredibly self-destructive in ways that doesn’t exactly define a good person. If you heard about his public scruff up with Chevy Chase and how he was subsequently fired from the show he created, you’ll have a rough idea. What you might not know is how that fight went public was through his uncomfortably confessional podcast. For years Harmon has been getting on stage with a few friends to tell embarrassing, funny, abrasive, depressing, and above all honest stories. That kind of honesty and Hollywood bubble celebrity don’t always mix well and so it led to Harmon waking up last year without a job, but with an army of podcast followers. So he went on tour, brought some cameras along with him and that’s more or less the movie Harmontown.
Director Neil Berkeley follows around Harmon and his podcast-mates to capture some impressively candid footage. Throughout we’re also treated to interviews with Harmon’s famous friends and collaborators about his uniquely abrasive ways, as well as sweet footage showing the army of freaks and geeks who Harmon has amassed through the podcast and has given a little joy and self-confidence to. All of that is wonderful and the documentary is certainly fascinating, funny, and touching. The unfortunate problem with the movie is ultimately that it plays exclusively to those who like Harmon already and he’s a pretty divisive figure (hey, just because you know you’re an asshole doesn’t mean that you’re not an asshole). You’ll either love Harmon for his flaws or hate him for them and Harmontown will split audiences. Approach with caution if you’re not already a Harmon convert, otherwise dive right in. (Phil Brown)
Friday, April 25, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 11:59pm
Sunday, April 27, Hart House Theatre, 3:15pm
Thursday, May 1, Burwash Quad at Victoria College, FREE OUTDOOR SCREENING, 9:00pm