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'Vulgar' is every moviegoer's nightmare: floppy shoes, a big red nose and gratuitous violence

By Richard von Busack

Vulgar is your basic rape/revenge movie starring a clown. Brian O'Halloran ("Dante" in Clerks) plays Will Carlson, who works under the name "Flappy the Clown" to not much success; the landlord nags him and his mom hates him. In a burst of poor judgment, Will decides to work nights as "Vulgar," a transvestite clown for bachelor parties.

On his first gig, he's gang raped by an inbred family of Jersey trash (Jerry Lewkowitz, Ethan Suplee and Matthew Maher). "Now, the shame!" says the ringleader pappy, ready to penetrate. But what's shame to a clown? After he's recovered from this ordeal, Flappy hits the big time as a kid's-show host on television. But his rise to fame is overshadowed when he is blackmailed by his assailants, who have a videotape of the assault.

This maudlin piece by debuting director Bryan Johnson shows the problem of mocking a clown: at some point, you're mocking with him, not at him. Johnson has picked up executive producer Kevin Smith's worst habit of extreme talkiness, but he has his own bad habits: never finding a mood, indulging the actors and not figuring out a way to keep Jason Mewes onscreen for longer than a tiny cameo. This is sub-Troma stuff; it might be popular at movie night in San Quentin.


Vulgar (R; 87 min.), directed and written by Bryan Johnson, photographed by David Klein and starring Brian O'Halloran, Jerry Lewkowitz, Ethan Suplee and Matthew Maher. Opened May 3 at the Lumiere in San Francisco.


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Web extra to the May 2-8, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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