Review: ‘Entertainment’ can rub the wrong way, but you can’t help but look


Gregg Turkington in the movie “Entertainment.”

(Magnolia Pictures )

While you wait for the deadpan, Lynchian “Entertainment” to sweep its chunks of despair into a pile of something/anything you can actually relish, it still manages to hold your attention, like a roadside wreck so twisted you marvel more at the physics involved than the human cost. Director Rick Alverson’s intriguing previous film “The Comedy” wasn’t a comedy, intentionally, and “Entertainment” — about a fringe comic’s desolate existence — doesn’t exactly entertain. (You know, deliberately!) Alverson co-wrote it with outré humorists Tim Heidecker (of Tim & Eric infamy) and star Gregg Turkington, whose real-life stand-up persona Neil Hamburger — a walrus insult comedian in a shabby tux — is the main character’s stage alter ego here too.

SIGN UP for the free Indie Focus movies newsletter >>

Their playground is a barren Southwest landscape of prisons, dive bars, cheap motels and ghost towns, with Turkington’s lonely, role-playing purveyor of sick jokes growing increasingly alienated and alienating, as we surf the discomfort of life on the road to nowhere. Pit stops for awkward encounters involve the amusing John C. Reilly as a rancher cousin, Michael Cera as a stranger in a men’s room, and Amy Seimetz as a vengeful audience member. There’s a chic emptiness to “Entertainment,” undoubtedly, and anti-comedy constructs that may rub the wrong way, but there’s also a spiky intelligence at work too, one that engages through the artifice of disengagement and the illusion of “performance.”




Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes.

MPAA rating: Rated R for language, crude sexual material, a disturbing image and brief drug use.

Playing: Cinefamily and on VOD.



Jennifer Lawrence and ‘The Hunger Games’ deserved a better ending than ‘Mockingjay -- Part 2'

The beautiful and thrilling ‘Carol’ belongs among the best movie love stories

Want to live vicariously through Brangelina? They know and give us what we want in ‘By the Sea’

Get our weekly Indie Focus newsletter
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.