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Review: 'Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape' puts affable comedian on the big screen

Review: 'Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape' puts affable comedian on the big screen
Comedian Jim Gaffigan performs in the stand-up comedy film "Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape." (Comedy Dynamics)

“Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape” is a filmed version of the actor-comedian’s sixth stand-up special, recorded live last October at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston.

And by “filmed,” I mean that director Jeannie Gaffigan, who co-wrote the quite funny material with husband Jim, simply aimed her cameras at the stage and captured the comic’s routine head on: no audience reaction shots, no Jim entering the theatre and greeting his fans, no backstage banter. It’s just Jim, his microphone and an unused stool.

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That doesn’t make Gaffigan’s 67-minute set any less enjoyable, but it does remove the urgency for big-screen viewing, despite the film’s 10-city theatrical opening (concurrent with video on demand).

Gaffigan, as he often does in his TV and movie appearances, proves a droll, likable, self-effacing presence with a decidedly straight white male viewpoint. He’s also a startlingly family-friendly comedian, eschewing bad language and raunch (with only sporadic dips into the mildly biological) as he moves from topic to topic: his wife’s successful brain surgery, their five kids, travels to China and Japan, diet and exercise (or the lack thereof), dentistry, massages and so on.

He effectively keeps his storytelling organic while also cleverly echoing previous joke threads. And if the show’s hilarious first half gives way to a more modestly amusing second part, “Noble Ape” remains good, clean, relatable fun.

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‘Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape’

Not rated.

Running time: 1 hour, 7 minutes.

Playing: Starts July 13, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD

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