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Harmontown (2014) HD online

Harmontown (2014) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Documentary
Original Title: Harmontown
Director: Neil Berkeley
Writers: Neil Berkeley
Released: 2014
Duration: 1h 41min
Video type: Movie
A documentary that follows Dan Harmon on tour for his podcast series after he was fired from Community in 2012.

Videos

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dan Harmon Dan Harmon - Himself
Jeff Bryan Davis Jeff Bryan Davis - Himself (as Jeff B. Davis)
Erin McGathy Erin McGathy - Herself
Spencer Crittenden Spencer Crittenden - Himself
Steve Agee Steve Agee - Himself
Jack Black Jack Black - Himself
Matt Braunger Matt Braunger - Himself
Alison Brie Alison Brie - Herself
Yvette Nicole Brown Yvette Nicole Brown - Herself
Diane Crittenden Diane Crittenden - Herself
Abed Gheith Abed Gheith - Himself
Donald Glover Donald Glover - Himself
Chris Hardwick Chris Hardwick - Himself
Gillian Jacobs Gillian Jacobs - Herself
Ken Jeong Ken Jeong - Himself


Reviews: [11]

  • avatar

    Tinavio

    I adore director Neil Berkeley's previous documentary, 'Beauty is Embarrassing', as much for its subject (artist Wayne White) as for its casual style. It's uncanny that his subject in 'Harmontown', Dan Harmon (creator of TV's 'Community' and writer of Oscar-nominated 'Monster House') is almost, physically and intellectually, Wayne White's Doppelgänger. I'm sorry to say that I largely 'missed the boat' with Harmon's body of work: 'The Sarah Silverman Show' definitely struck me as irreverent and funny but 'Community' always seemed a bit mediocre which, in Harmon's defense, when graded on the network-sitcom curve, I do consider completely watchable and good for a giggle.

    It wasn't until Harmon's erratic work ethic got him fired from both of those creations that he found his own form of therapy in podcasting an unconventional stand-up show containing no jokes, no preparation, and the occasional Dungeon & Dragon session. The documentary follows the show's tour across the US with his cohorts, Spencer Crittenden (the awkward 'Dungeon Master' plucked from the original Los Angeles audience), Jeff Bryan Davis (comedian and TV personality), and, his girlfriend, Erin McGathy (well-known podcaster). Despite his narcissism (which is balanced by a heaping side of self-loathing) and notorious tendencies to sociopathically manipulate those around him, there is a sense from his audience that he is the Jesus of well-intentioned nerdom. I won't say that I'm a complete convert but I will absolutely subscribe to his podcast (also called 'Harmontown'); like the film, it's honest, raw, and pretty darn hilarious.
  • avatar

    Fecage

    You may have to already be invested in Dan Harmon before approaching his documentary Harmontown. I discovered his NBC show Community during the season 3 hiatus and fell head over heels for it watching it about 3 times in a row. Since then I've been in for the ride, if sporadically during seasons 4 and 5. If you're not in the know, Dan Harmon created Community in 2009, a satirical and zany sitcom, and was the showrunner through seasons 1 to 3. He was fired for season 4 while being replaced by the showrunners of Happy Endings, which resulted in a mediocre season, reviled by many fans. It was a messy departure, particularly with spats between Harmon and star Chevy Chase who subsequently left the show.

    In the meanwhile as a form of productive therapy, Harmon created a weekly live show called Harmontown, recorded as a podcast with his friend Jeff B. Davis, a familiar face from Whose Line Is It Anyway. Part standup, part improv (they never prepare, relying on refreshing spontaneity), part chat show, they begin every podcast with saying that they don't know what it is. They don't want any form of structure and each show is unique to its audience. The result is often a reflection upon his own style; gooey, yet raw, juvenile, yet meaningful. He also helped kickstart a new Charlie Kaufman stop motion film Anomalisa, of which I contributed to and am still waiting for. Even though I haven't listened to Harmontown just yet, I'm certainly invested in Harmon's endeavours. Fortunately he was rehired to run Community for season 5 and will do for season 6, though they're moving from NBC to Yahoo.

    Just like with the podcast, the documentary begins by saying that it doesn't know what it wants to be. Harmon and director Neil Berkeley chase the story as it comes. If anything, it wants to make you smile. Harmon says this repeatedly, he wants to make people happy and wants to be the reason that people are entertained. Even so, he is not a happy man. Disheartened by having to be torn apart from his passion project (the documentary is set before his return, 3 weeks in 2012 during a rare U.S. tour) and under pressure from networks to write various pilots. As envious and admirable he is, I am glad I'm not him. Subsequently his Harmontown shows are centred around his creative self-deprecation, albeit while surrounded by adoring fans, or nerds as he puts it. That's what Community is and that's what Harmontown is – a gathering of nerds and outcasts opening up where they feel accepted and loved. It's truly cathartic for everyone involved. Not just a therapy for Harmon, but for the audience too and it rubs off.

    Between traditional documenting techniques, the film can't resist 'meta' moments as Community frequently indulges in. It doesn't try to hide the moments that are staged for the camera and they usually leave the outtakes in because they're much more charming. It's more honest to just be honest about the fake parts and that's exactly what Harmon's work tries to point out. There's also lots of candid moments where you can see the crew or the cameraman is getting himself ready during the shot, but it doesn't matter. The documentary does reflect back on Harmon's pre-Community career and has interviews with familiar faces, though they're fleeting. This very loose and aimless style does initially lead to a clumsy feeling doc with an indulgent topic that's difficult to see justified. But it does win you over. It's all about the atmosphere of an affectionate unit trying to figure it all out while giving something back.

    This is best demonstrated by the addition of Spencer Crittenden, a one-time audience member and now frequent contributor and close friend to Dan Harmon. It's a rags-to-the- coat-tails-of-semi-fame story, but a very endearing one, and he's now a fan favourite. Reportedly, there's a cut of the film that's entirely about Spencer. He's a 23 year-old Dungeons and Dragons master with a bone-dry sense of humour. He always gets cheers from the crowd whenever he's brought to the stage and he's a joy to watch being brought into this world so lovingly. Also on the journey is Harmon's girlfriend Erin McGathy, who although a wonderful and cheery person, their relationship suffers under close quarters. The tension in their relationship is explored in an emotionally draining portion of the film, hitting us in the guts right after some of the most uplifting moments.

    The documentary eventually and organically finds its way, even though there's inherently not much at stake. As with most stories, it's about the journey and not the destination. It's an honest representation of a man whose achievements and narcissism are in constant flux with his self-loathing and consequences of his selfishness. Fortunately, the comedy of the Harmontown shows shine through too and it has a delightful irreverence to the humour. Even so, it never shies away from a lot of deep and raw aspects of the human condition and that's what makes it so rewarding. The content does outshine the filmmaking quality here, though it's still quite good. Ultimately, it left me with the same warm fuzzy feelings I get in my belly as when I watch the highs of Community as you watch people here truly connect with each other. Harmon seems to be infectious. A rich, referential and simple storyteller that's never quite finished nor wants to be. Both sweet and sour, Harmontown is the feel good documentary of the year.

    8/10
  • avatar

    Tygokasa

    I caught this movie at SxSW. I had almost no expectations for this movie. I confused Dan Harmon with the guy who created Scrubs and Cougartown. I was wrong Dan Harmon most recently was the creator of Community, one of my favorite TV shows. It's public knowledge that he got fired from Community. What I did not know was that Dan Harmon did a live comedy show with Jeff Davis (of Whose Line is it Anyways). So this documentary is about a 30 show road tour that these guys did across the United States. It turns out that the very "out there" comedy that comes out in Community is the result of very "out there" thinking by Dan Harmon and his comedy show is more of a "watch us have fun" kind of show rather than the traditional stand up comedy where a comedian presents his pre-written bits to the audience. The live show Harmon presents (called Harmontown, also a podcast) is very organic and spontaneous. It was a compelling and entertaining documentary. Worth catching.
  • avatar

    spark

    An intimate behind-the-scenes documentary covering Dan Harmon (creator of Community, co-creator of Rick and Morty) and his short tour of seat-of-the-pants live podcasts in the winter of 2012. It dangles precariously between worshiping the man (via dozens of high-profile testimonials) and vilifying him (the same talking heads almost unanimously have a bad story to tell about his self-destructive nature) which makes for a difficult, conflicted narrative. Especially as he seems to have no interest in seriously changing his ways, even after breaking down and confessing to his many sins. Harmon's connection with his audience, and with his small cast of cobbled-together costars, is special and real, the kind of rapport that thousands of wannabe cult productions chase to their last breath. Maybe his shortcomings as a human fuel that fire in ways that a more composed creative wouldn't, but it still begs a question: how much more prolific could this guy be if he'd ever get his act together? Even his most passionate fans seem to realize that he can be a real dick at times, most notably when he airs the dirty laundry of a late-night fight with his long-suffering girlfriend right there on one show. The same fans who lined up at the door to hear what he'll do or say next agree almost unanimously that he was in the wrong, leaving him to awkwardly eat a little crow. The documentary itself is a bit long, especially in getting to a conclusion, but otherwise does a nice job of mixing laugh-out-loud moments from the stage with heartfelt confessions and closed-door implosions away from the public eye. Great if you're already a fan, but a little narrow and long-winded if you're not.
  • avatar

    Darkraven

    A documentary that follows Dan Harmon on tour for his podcast series after he was fired from "Community" in 2012.

    Dan Harmon was born in Milwaukee and graduated from Brown Deer High School in Brown Deer, a suburb of Milwaukee. He also attended Marquette University and Glendale Community College, later using his experiences at the community college to form the basis of the show "Community". Harmon was a member of ComedySportz Milwaukee and also (alongside Rob Schrab) a member of the sketch troupe The Dead Alewives.

    Why do I provide this biography of Harmon's early life? Because as a Wisconsin native, this intrigues me and makes me wonder how much of what Harmon has experienced translates to his writing, and how much of that retains a Wisconsin flavor. Indeed, with both Dead Alewives and "Community", he has referenced Dungeons and Dragons, another Wisconsin creation.

    After watching this documentary, I hope everyone watches the pilot for "Heat Vision and Jack". If you have never seen it ,you need to. And if you have, it has probably been a while and time for a review.
  • avatar

    Madi

    This is a weird one... I haven't written many IMDb reviews but felt compelled to have a go for this one, which I suppose says something good about this movie (I wouldn't feel compelled by a generic YA sci-fi flick or cliché-driven rom-com).

    The short version is that there are brief hints of something really interesting here, but for the most part, it's pretty flat.

    The main problem, I think, is that the tour and podcast (the plot is Harmon going on tour cross-country to record episodes of his podcast, Harmontown) aren't what's interesting about Harmon. This guy 1) made the most expensive pilot in TV history which didn't get picked up but has a cult following 2) got fired from the Sarah Silverman Show for saying horrible things to her and 3) created a network sitcom, got fired from it and then re-hired back to it a year later. All of these things are really intriguing and would make pretty fascinating documentary material. Unfortunately, they're only touched on here for about 2-3 minutes each.

    Instead this doc is all about his podcast. To the point where this film feels like more of a promotional advertisement for that rather than a straight-forward documentary. And considering Harmon and his production company produced and released this doc, there's probably a high degree of truth to that. The words "creative" and "genius" get thrown around a lot, and they really play up the gushing fans.

    In fact, that's the other off-putting thing about this doc. The running theme here is that Harmon created a sitcom about "misfits" and now these "social outcasts" and "nerds" (the film's terms, used repeatedly throughout) are all brought together by Harmon. They just keep returning to this same point. Harmon often says it himself, directly to the camera. The film presents it all like this amazing, touching cultural phenomena where Harmon unites a generation and brings these people hope. They keep cutting to still shots of the fans' faces (who he even calls "Har-minions") as if this is really profound. It's really forced, and some heavy-handed piano cues laid over otherwise utterly unaffecting moments certainly don't help. Plus, if I were one of those fans, I think I'd find the portrayal insulting. Maybe they don't all see themselves as desperate weirdos in need of an idol, but functional adults who just thought his show would be funny?

    The one other thing this film tries to force is the idea that the "real hero" of this documentary is the Dungeons and Dragons fan they have on tour with them. He's a 20-something guy who showed up ("out of his mom's basement") to one of their shows. He loved D&D so much, they brought him along on the tour so they could play; and his story is clearly meant to mirror the fans'; he's a social misfit outcast who comes to the show and is given hope and meaning. He's presented as the lovable darling of the film (he's the only person in this doc where we also see his home life, etc), but really you just want to cut away from this kid and get back to the star, Harmon, who's funny (when he's not incoherently drunk), tragic, and has the good stories.

    And when they do get back to Harmon, there are interesting moments. Besides the missed opportunities mentioned above, there are scenes where he fights with his girlfriend (who would've made a much better "heart" of the film than that D&D guy), an inside glimpse of editing the podcast to remove the "shame-based" moments, or phone calls with network executives about script rewrites, all of which will make you sit up and pay attention again. More of that! But there's actually very little.

    It's like Wild Man Blues. Remember that documentary about Woody Allen made in the 90s - but he would only consent to the documentary if it was exclusively about his music? So they never talk about his films or his fascinating career. They don't dare bring up his controversial relationships with Mia Farrow, her adopted daughter or the abuse charges against him. They just follow him around on his tour, filming him play clarinet with his buddies. The whole movie is this bizarre "elephant in the room" scenario where no one is allowed to discuss any of what everyone really cares about. ...Eventually, years later, a "real" documentary of Woody Allen and his works was released, and now Wild Man Blues is just an obscure little footnote (it's never even been released on DVD), strangled at birth by the subjects' controlling ego.

    I think this film is a similar footnote. It's 90 minutes of "subscribe to my podcast; I'm king of the nerds!" and frustrating cutaways from the few real moments. Maybe ten years later, a production company that isn't owned by Harmon will come along and make a second film of the interesting stuff. Or not. I mean, I've seen a couple episodes of Community and his shelved pilot (the novelty of the premise is amusing at first but wears off long before it's over - can't imagine how he thought it could last for a whole series). This guy isn't on the level of Woody Allen. He is a watchable person, and I'd return for a film about his bouncing around LA, hired and fired from various TV shows, and how that effects his personal life. But I can't really recommend Harmontown unless you have the patience to sift through a lot of marketing propaganda for a few tiny morsels. I mean, I don't know - how did you feel about Wild Man Blues?

    P.s. - All the big name stars you see on the poster, like Jack Black and Ben Stiller? They're all in this for about 30 seconds apiece. So if you're watching this for them, you're going to be disappointed.
  • avatar

    Foginn

    Like most of us, I learned about Dan Harmon through Community. Which, I learned early on, was based on his own experience at community college. Jeff, in particular, was based on him. Not that Dan's handsome, or a lawyer... but a jerk who only sees people as instruments to get what he wants. And then he tries to change. Jeff actually does change. And Dan?

    Well, Dan is still profoundly egocentric. In his year being fired from Community he started a podcast, in which ostensibly people have a chance to interact with him and become part of the show. In practice, he often turns the attention back to himself within three sentences.

    This documentary, produced by Harmon's own production company, is also called Harmontown, and is therefore also very much about Dan Harmon. There are attempts to shift the focus to breakout star Spencer Crittenden, but while Spencer's story certainly is interesting, Dan's exhibitionism steals the spotlight over and over again.

    As it should. Because the intriguing thing is that the "therapy" that this podcast and tour admittedly is, ultimately works. Dan makes a couple of mistakes along the tour (drinking too much moonshine, cursing at his girlfriend), talks about them on stage, and moves beyond them. And comes to the realization that "being egocentric is OK, if you want to be the person that makes other people happy". It's a small step, but a step towards knowing who he is, and seeing a way to improve that.

    The most profound scene comes when he decides to work on the network notes for a pilot with Erin. The network was puzzled by a guy in the script saying "The corporate people can never have creativity, but they'll have everything else". What's everything else? They brainstorm over that. Then there's a moment at the end where the guy sings a song, which turns the perspective around for (I think) his daughter. Why? Erin. "She needs to say something to him." Dan "Yeah". Erin "She says "so you can have your integrity, and they can have everything else"". Dan looks at her. Looks at the camera "So he'll change". Looks around "that means he'll change".

    I'm typing this up from memory, but that's basically what it boils down to. It's an absurdly beautiful moment where you see their relationship moving past their hangups about themselves and each other, and their art flow together, as just has to happen for two people who are so self-reflective in their work. The fact that the main character is a standin for Dan is so obvious it doesn't even need to be stated. He is and will remain at the core of his work. But he still might change.

    So is it a well made documentary? Yes. Is the subject matter examined well? Yes. Is it worth seeing? If you listen to Harmontown, absolutely. If you're only a fan of Community, try the podcast first. If the podcast doesn't do it for you, the film will only repel you further. If you're into none of it, but like character study documentaries, then I would suggest you watch it as well.
  • avatar

    Laizel

    Well, first of all, it might be a good thing to know a little bit about Dan Harmon before watching this documentary. It's not like he has a simple personality and I think if you know about his work, you'll like it better. But it's obvious.

    Anyway, to me this documentary is more about Dan Harmon "in depression mode" than Dan Harmon "genius creator". Sure, we see a glimpse of his work and we actually see him "in action " as the Mayor of his own insane self destructive city, but really, he is awesome.

    We see the impact he can have on people and that's pretty much what he works for anyway. To help those who feel like him or have their own struggles to deal with.

    He's an a**hole but he knows it, he loves his wife yet he can't help to be a real peen, but I really like the guy. And I loved this documentary.
  • avatar

    Kigul

    This is probably something that every huge Community fan is going to want to see. Sadly, it's not a documentary on Community itself, and I wish it had more to do in this. Still, this is pretty much everything one would expect from Dan Harmon, what he's like, his strategy, his goals. It's not a great film by any means, and for a documentary it's sort of aimless, but it's fun for the most part. It's interesting to really see the good in everyone even when it shows scenes that show Harmon being a jerk. This is probably going to feel like essential viewing for many, and in some ways it just may be. This is recommended, with reservations
  • avatar

    Orll

    I loved community and Dan Harmon before watching this.. and don't take my rating the wrong way i loved this documentary but Dan Harmon i just a whiny bitch, this documentary shows how he creates all of his own problems and whines about them..and the people that look up to him are people with real problems. I don't see how any network would ever work with him again after seeing this..

    what a sad waste of a brilliant mind.. he could do a lot of good for a lot of people that look up to him.. but i think its evident he's too narcissistic and selfish to ever be someone who really makes people happy like he says in this documentary.. it fells more like the tour is for himself not the fans..
  • avatar

    Scream_I LOVE YOU

    Documentary charting a 2012 podcasting tour undertaken by Dan Harman, the showrunner of cult sitcom hit Community, following his sacking from the show, a show he created.

    I wish I hadn't watched this as I now dislike Community and Harman less than prior to watching. He's a horrible man, a drunk and a bully and, frankly, the series of Community he didn't work on is at least as good as, if not better than, the series' that preceded and proceeded it. Fair play for allowing the film to be warts'n'all.

    Very noble.

    But that doesn't make Harman any less of a jerk.