Let’s clear a few things up about “Clear History.”
Why? Because you’re no doubt seeing all the billboards and other ads featuring the normally bald and clean-shaven Larry David costumed for this movie in long hair and beard (and without glasses too). And you may be asking yourself, perhaps in a Seinfeldian tone: What is the deal with that?
Well, we’re going to tell you, right here, in this preview of “Clear History,” which is the new made-for-HBO movie, written by and starring Larry David, that premieres Saturday night (Aug. 10) at 9/8c on HBO.
Here now: The answers to your questions:
What does the title “Clear History” mean anyway? It’s a play on the “clear history” function on personal computers with which you can erase your Internet browsing history – removing cookies and the like. But the movie, “Clear History,” is not about computers at all. In the movie, it’s the David character, Nathan Flomm, who feels a need to escape from his past – to clear his own history, so to speak – by leaving California, cutting his hair, shaving his beard and wearing glasses, and moving east to Martha’s Vineyard.
What’s it about? Well, this Flomm guy was the head of marketing for an electric-car company run by a visionary inventor named Will Haney (Jon Hamm), and Flomm was therefore well-positioned to make a fortune when the electric car became a hit. But in customary Larry David fashion, Nathan has a falling-out with Haney before the fortune is realized, and sells his 10 percent stake in the company back to Haney – denying himself millions of dollars. This is why he reinvents himself, because his missing out on a fortune became huge news and he became nationally famous or, more to the point, infamous.
What happens next? We will not spoil that by telling you any more about the plot.
Who’s in it? The high quality of the cast David assembled for this movie is one of its most pleasurable surprises (we know this because we watched the movie on a DVD provided by HBO). They include David and Hamm, of course, and also Kate Hudson, Danny McBride (of HBO’s “Eastbound and Down”), Eva Mendes, Amy Ryan, JB Smoove, Bill Hader, Michael Keaton (who’s hilariously unrecognizable at first as a local character with a screw loose and an axe to grind), Liev Schreiber, Philip Baker Hall and the pop group Chicago (why are they in the movie? Watch it and find out).
Any “Seinfeld” connections? We put this question out there because this has long been a private parlor game for us when we watch “Curb Your Enthusiasm” – identifying ideas or subjects that were previously seen on “Seinfeld.” We won’t spoil your fun by mentioning any we may have picked up when we watched “Clear History,” but Philip Baker Hall is at least one connection to “Seinfeld” – he played the stern library detective named Bookman in the “Seinfeld” episode called “The Library” in 1991.
Is “Clear History” at all like “Curb Your Enthusiasm”? Are you kidding? The whole thing plays like a two-hour “Curb” with Larry/Nathan getting in trivial scrapes all over the place. One example we don’t mind revealing: Nathan irritates a diner owner when he complains that the eatery’s staff never place a napkin beneath the fork, spoon and butter knife when they set their tables. Also much like “Curb”: All of David’s scenes with JB Smoove – they’re just like the hilarious exchanges they improvised on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Should you watch “Clear History”? Of course you should, especially if you’re a fan of the David comedy brand. Our advice: Don’t miss it.