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TV Waffle - Clear History

A marketing man adopts a new identity after making the biggest mistake of his life.

Directed by: Greg Mottola
Starring: Kate Hudson, Eva Mendes, Jon Hamm, Larry David, Bill Hader, Michael Keaton, Philip Baker Hall, Danny McBride, Amy Ryan, JB Smoove

After falling out with his business partner, Nathan (David) takes back his 10% stake in an electric car company. The "Howard", the model of car whose name led to the falling out between Nathan and Will (Hamm), goes on to become the biggest selling car in America. Having lost out on millions, Nathan becomes a figure of national ridicule and, after losing his wife and house, decides to change his identity and heads to Martha's Vineyard to begin a new life. Ten years later, Nathan is finally content, until Will arrives in town with his young wife (Hudson).
I came round to the charms of Larry David late, having never been convinced by the 'Seinfeld' phenomenon. His mediocre 1998 comedy 'Sour Grapes' certainly didn't win me over either. Then, in 2000, came 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'. I ignored the show in its first season, turned off by the harsh video aesthetic (ah, the old days when TV shows didn't resemble wedding videos). When I eventually managed to convince myself to sit through a full episode, I was instantly hooked and 'Curb' quickly became my favorite show of the 21st century. Since the end of the show's eight season back in 2011, David fans have been waiting impatiently for more material. So arrives 'Clear History'.
Along with David, the script was written by Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer. The latter trio are responsible for such comedy misfires as 'The Dictator', 'Bruno' and 'Eurotrip', but, in its comic tone, this is very much a David production. Essentially, David has taken the premise of 'Sour Grapes' and tweaked it slightly so it resembles a feature length episode of 'Curb', albeit a somewhat weaker one. The character of Nathan is really just David's 'Curb' persona, while JB Smoove may as well be playing Leon, his much loved comic creation from the show.
One of the strengths of 'Curb' is that it's a sit-com that places as much importance on the situation as the comedy. Structurally, it's in a class of its own, weaving enough sub-plots into a single episode to fill an entire season of a lesser show. A plot point will be introduced early on, only for you to forget it until BAM!, David springs it back on you for a final twist at the episode's conclusion. He employs this technique for 'Clear History', although the extended running time means sub-plots are referred back to a little more than they need to be (a running joke involving the rock group 'Chicago' runs its course halfway through the film but keeps cropping up, right until the film's climax). 
While structurally, the film can't compare to 'Curb', and doesn't have its great cast of supporting characters, it possesses enough laugh-out-loud moments to satisfy fans of David. It's great to have him back on our screens but what annoys me, and I suspect all 'Curb' fans, is that an entire season of the show could probably have been put out in the same amount of time David spent making a feature length TV movie. Still, I'll take what David I can get and, while 'Clear History' isn't great David, it is pretty good David. 
Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Eric Hillis