Directed by Rodman Flender
Expectations: High, I love Conan.
I’ve been a Conan fan for years. I remember staying up much too late nearly every night when I was in high school to watch his show. He represented a brand of comedy not found in any other late night show and I absolutely loved it. Older people thought he was dumb and it made him that much cooler. Conan was willing to go the extra mile, pushing himself and the Late Night team to create some of the funniest bits I’ve ever seen on TV. Conan achieved mythic status long ago as a favorite of mine, so when there’s a documentary capturing a bit of his post-Tonight Show tour, you can bet I’m finsta watch it.
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is an absorbing documentary in that, like Conan, it’s more about entertaining the audience than providing a deconstruction of the man. Viewers do gain insight into some of what makes Conan Conan, but it never goes too deep. It’s a road movie, a document of the tour, so it feels closer to a music documentary than anything else. Thankfully I enjoy both road movies and the performing arts, so Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is right up my alley. It never stops being thoroughly entertaining, much in the same way that Conan can’t ever seem to say no to anyone or anything.
Where the film falls a bit short is in its shallowness. While the film can’t stop entertaining its viewers, there isn’t a lot of meaty documenting going on. As this isn’t an Obama campaign trail doc, this lack of depth makes sense, but it does hold back the film from being as powerful as it might have been. That really wasn’t the plan here though, so it’s somewhat unfair to hold these ideals over the filmmaker’s heads. It just feels a little too cotton-candy for me to completely sign off on it, and I say this from a position of supreme enjoyment of the film. You definitely get shades of depth here and there which reveal the type of character Conan possesses, such as when Conan plays with his kids, or when he interacts with barbed insult jokes aimed directly at his tireless staff, but it’s just not enough to call this intellectually compelling.
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop isn’t going to light the world on fire, and I can’t see anyone who isn’t already a fan enjoying it, but it is one hell of a good time. It moves quickly and is edited together rather well, as Conan and the rest of the gang put on a clever show based around a tumultuous, bitter situation. The movie serves as a great document of the times as any good documentary should, showing glimpses of Conan that a TV or live audience will never see, and for that, it is absolutely required viewing for any big Conan fan.