Cast: Benjamin Radford, D.B. Lambert
Director: Michael Beach Nichols
I will be the first one to admit that I had no idea what “Wrinkles the Clown” was before watching this movie. Apparently some guy in Florida dresses up as a clown for money and parents hire him to scare their misbehaving kids. I have no idea how this came to be, but it’s somehow the strangest yet most Florida thing that could happen. I can’t imagine how any of this came to be, and as a result we get a documentary that’s almost as strange as it’s subject matter. Wrinkles the Clown tries to be creative and interesting, but it ends up falling flat as it tries to do too many things in a short 75 minute runtime.
The film follows “Wrinkles the Clown” (Lambert), an elderly man in Naples, Florida who spends his retirement dressing up as a clown to scare children. While this may seem like an odd yet straightforward way to spend his time, Wrinkles the Clown goes into the depths of the character. From his origins, to his internet fame, to the love and hate he gets on a daily basis from kids around the country, Wrinkles the Clown takes as deep of a dive as you can for a movie that’s only 75 minutes long. Having no background into this phenomenon before watching this movie, my main takeaway from this movie is that a character like this only works because kids are young and impressionable. There’s no real depth or interest in this character other than the surface of what we saw here, and to a degree that creates a problem where you can’t get into specifics about anything new or exciting. For context, instead of last year’s travesty that was the Slenderman movie, I wish they had made a documentary on the creation of that monster and the real murders that were done in the name of it. That seems like a much more captivating subject matter instead of some ridiculous man in a clown suit in Florida. With a movie about the rise of an internet phenomenon, you may be able to understand that this won’t have the widest audience out there. Those who are interested will probably be too young to watch this, so it kind of defeats itself before you even see a frame of this movie. I don’t know who thought this movie was a good idea, but since everyone involved in this seems to be a smaller name, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the case of a few people having an idea and just running with it with very little risk associated. It’s not a terrible documentary, it just doesn’t ever feel like something I can enjoy or learn something interesting from. It’s a solid attempt if you’ve never made a documentary before, but when the intention is to teach us something, your subject matter should be something worth studying. When I look back at the other documentaries that performed well this year, all of them deal with a subject or theme that goes deeper than what Wrinkles the Clown can offer and focus more on something that has an impact on society.
Overall, Wrinkles the Clown is actually a borderline good documentary for what it deals with, but at the same time it’s tough to create a documentary on something where the audience is so limited. There’s definitely something to be learned about the expansion of internet folklore and the impact it has on our society, but I have a hard time feeling that anyone would really get hooked to this if it didn’t come off the heels of two very successful It movies.
Overall Score: 5.5/10