When writer/creator Dan Harmon was unceremoniously fired from his hit series “Community” two years ago, he decided to take his “Harmontown” podcast on the road by grabbing his crew (Erin McGathy, Jeff B. Davis, and Spencer Crittenden) and renting a tour bus – all while working on pilots for CBS and Fox.
Thanks to director Neil Berkeley (Beauty Is Embarrassing), we get to see what happened on that tour, and see Dan Harmon in all his glory – warts and all.
The documentary (also named Harmontown) features interviews with close friend and writing colleague Rob Schrab (where they worked together on shows like “The Sarah Silverman Program”) and Silverman herself (where at one point she talks about why she had to fire Harmon from her show) as well as Steve Agee, Chris Hardwick, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and many more. It also reveals footage of Harmon and his friends from as early as 1999, including a segment on the ill-fated “Heat Vision and Jack,” a pilot destined to be a cult hit that was never picked up. And as you’d expect, there’s some great insight into Harmon’s personality by the cast of “Community,” too.
What I truly enjoyed about this film is not only is it a great way for those who aren’t fortunate enough to attend a Harmontown show to get a taste of what goes on, it also put faces to the voices. For example, take Spencer Crittenden. Here’s a guy who’s pretty uncomfortable being around people, but his love for “Community” (and bring the only guy in the audience who played Dungeons & Dragons during the night of a fateful live podcast) goes from “just another face in the crowd” to beloved Dungeon Master of Harmontown. If that wasn’t enough, he also starred in a couple of episodes of “Community” as Annie’s brother, Anthony. That’s pretty friggin’ sweet.
Seeing Harmon at his very best is contrasted with seeing him at his…well, not very best – as when he argues with Harmontown member and his fiance Eric McGathy. The documentary isn’t all about glorifying the man that many see as a genius writer; it’s not afraid to peer into the uncomfortable corners of Harmon’s life, making you realize that even people you may idolize make mistakes and have massive character flaws, too.
Fans of “Community” and Dan Harmon will love this film while those who aren’t as hardcore may still find themselves identifying with some of Harmon’s demons (like problems with being told what to do, which I can personally relate to) and maybe finding themselves walking away with a different outlook and (most likely) a smile in the knowledge they’ve found a kindred spirit in Dan Harmon.
Check out the trailer below:
I loved it, I think you’ll love it, too.
Harmontown is now playing in limited release and is available on VOD, Amazon Prime Video, Xbox Live and iTunes.
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