CLOWN HUNT offers more gags and pratfalls than story and characters, the latter of which are pretty much ciphers, though one hunter (played by the film's writer/director/co-producer) appears more sensitive than the others (even offering the politically-correct observation that "they really don't like to be referred to as 'clowns' anymore; they would prefer to be called 'laugh-makers'"). In a clever riff on the notion of intolerance, he turns out to be a closeted clown himself (he retires to his tent each night to don clown makeup). When he finally "comes out" as a clown, the nonplussed expressions on the faces of his heretofore unsuspecting backwoods buddies speak volumes.
It being basically a one-joke movie, CLOWN HUNT's entertainment value comes from the variations that branch off from said joke. Some are clever ("I was readin' Big Shoes Big Guns the other day..."; or the clowns dying in character, complete with comical feet in the air for their death throes), some are tasteless (such as Albino Willy placing a shovel under a hunter who's defecating into a hole, resulting in the drunken man's confusion when he finishes and finds nothing there), and some are tastelessly funny (when one clown becomes so frightened by the sound of a gun going off, he drops a load of jelly bean scat before running away). How much a viewer will enjoy this film stems from how one reacts to the various gags that come fast and furious throughout the 70-minute running time.
Writer-director Barry Tubb foregoes any exploration into what kind of a society evolved (or de-volved) into hunting clowns, nor are there any explanations as to why clowns seem to behave like herd animals (given that they are indeed just people in make-up and oversized shoes, as demonstrated by the closeted clown hunter in the group). Consequently, Tubb sacrifices myriad opportunities for social or political satire, focusing instead on a stream of sight (and sound) gags (yes, there are fart jokes) that tend to become both puerile and repetitious over time. And Tubb obviously had difficulty coming up with a suitable ending for his Bozo opus. The climax begins well enough via an amusing, small-scale Road Warrior homage (as the few remaining hunters, driving an odd assortment of vehicles, try to run Albino Willy, riding an ATV decked out with a giant clown head[!], to ground), but deteriorates into the firing of a giant rocket-missile (complete with clown nose) and a nonsensical final shot of Willy's white wig floating in New York Harbor(?!). CLOWN HUNT might have done better as a concise comic short or even a faux trailer. As is, it comes dangerously close to wearing out its big-nosed welcome.
Director-producer-screenwriter-actor Barry Tubb forged a career appearing in supporting roles on television in the 1980s in such series as Hill Street Blues and the Lonesome Dove telefilms, and movies such as MASK (1985) and TOP GUN (1986). Becoming disenchanted with Tinseltown, however, he worked on Broadway and then moved to France in the '90s, appearing there in a Wild West show (born and raised in Texas, Tubb was a champion bull rider at age 15). He eventually turned to the production side of filmmaking near the end of the decade, helping BLOOD TRAIL (1997) and GRAND CHAMPION (2002) before tackling the trials and tribulations of red noses and oversized shoes with CLOWN HUNT Said Tubb, "I wanted to make my own movies because Hollywood just wasn't cutting it for me. The movies I was reading weren't as good as the stories I knew growing up."
While a tale of "clown hunting" may not qualify as a "good" story (and certainly wasn't something Tubb "knew growing up"), it at least makes for an intermittently amusing one that comes off as a unique pie in the face to Connell's concept. – Bryan Senn
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