Cannes Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘The Clapper’

An attempt at an awkward situational comedy.


Eddie Crumble casually strolls the streets as he makes his morning walk to work. The fictional, cartoonish background changes quite smoothly, transitioning into pastel-colored depictions of a grand city. Yet, Eddie is not a cartoon. His surroundings look something from a graphic novel, but Eddie himself is out of place. This opening scene gives viewers a glimpse into the mundane life of Eddie Crumble—a life that is filled with a monotonous job, few friends, and a quaint apartment in the heart of Los Angeles. Whilst most people living in Los Angeles seek the fast-paced life found within the film industry, Eddie is perfectly content being anonymous.

The audience watches as Eddie (Ed Helms), a forty something year old man, navigates his life as a ‘clapper.’ Eddie, along with his best friend (Tracy Morgan), are the official audience members of various commercials. He sits in the audience, donning a new costume each day, and claps at the appropriate moments. His routine never falters. Eddie’s life seems like it would get tiring after some time. But, Eddie becomes a ‘somebody’ once a late night talk show host notices Eddie’s appearance in multiple infomercials. The search is on to find the infamous ‘clapper,’ but Eddie does not want to be found. Eddie prefers his lost and found box of a life, tucked away for the world to forget and ignore. Eddie’s attempt to avoid an attention-filled life becomes turbulent, affecting both his personal and professional life. His friends and potential girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried) become intertwined in his quest to remain hidden, to keep private the once unknown name of Eddie Crumble.

The premise of the film seemed interesting, as the film focuses upon the consequences of undesired fame. Eddie does not want to be in the limelight. His shyness wraps himself like a cocoon and this caterpillar is not ready for metamorphosis. The film does not shy away from capitalizing upon its awkwardness, but it does so in an uninteresting manner. Films like Juno and Superbad have catapulted socially awkward humor to the forefront of comedies, but this film falls flat in doing so. The jokes are expected and familiar, leaving the audience embarrassed for those telling them. The timing of the jokes is often ten seconds too late, leaving a train-wreck of misfit jokes to linger around the audience. By the mid-point of the film, the unoriginality of these conversations becomes blatant, like a stain upon a white t-shirt. These stained jokes tarnish the quality of the film’s plot, distracting the audience from Eddie’s life crisis.

However, the film’s humor is not the sole black sheep. The rough editing of a few long scenes left me dazed and confused. Eddie and his girlfriend are on their first date, enjoying a ‘romantic’ meal inside of a fast-food restaurant. Rather than the camera focusing upon one person for a short while, and then cutting to the other person, the camera quickly flips back and forth between the couple. For every line of dialogue, the camera focuses upon that person. So, if the person solely says a few words, the camera is cutting quite closely. These choppy transitions during the conversation were distracting and mind-numbing. I began to focus on the camera angles more than the actual dialogue, which left me further puzzled.

Many of the shots of the film focused on the background noise alongside the forefront dialogue. The shots were incredibly wide, which made me question the validity of the scenes. The Los Angeles highways were irrelevant to conversations, so the looming background became a distraction rather than a scenic background. If the shots were better-angled or closer up, I would have focused more upon the words being said rather than the pedestrians walking through the local gas station. These background interactions proved unrelated to the plot line, so I remain confused as to the purpose of various scenes.

The Clapper’s intentions were pure, but seemed to be misguided in its quest to humor the audience. I was too often distracted by careless edits and rough transitions to listen to Eddie Crumble’s disorienting life crisis. Whilst Ed Helms and Amanda Seyfried performed their roles well, the screenwriting was such that it simply did not matter. It is difficult to turn poorly written material into an entertaining film, regardless of how superb the cast is. I hope that this film is a bump in the road for the main ensemble of the film, for I cannot imagine this film doing well at the box office. I advise saving ten dollars for a film ticket and seeing another film. You’ll thank me later for doing so.

Director: Dito Montiel

Writer: Dito Montiel

Producer: John M. Bennett, Michael Bien, Ray Bouderau, Maurice Fadida

Main Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Leah Remini, Ed Helms

Running Time: 89 minutes