Harmontown certainly succeeds as a profile of Dan Harmon’s Harmontown podcast, and yet it’s just as clear that the movie, which runs a palpably overlong 101 minutes, boasts few attributes designed to appeal to newcomers of Harmon’s offbeat world – with filmmaker Neil Berkeley either unable or unwilling to wholeheartedly crawl under the skin of his prickly subject. (The most obvious example of this involves Harmon’s firing by boss Sarah Silverman, with Berkeley exploring the dismissal from every angle except that of Harmon’s.) Berkeley’s surface-level approach – eg there’s plenty of talk about a disastrous Phoenix show, but where’s the accompanying footage? – ensures that Harmontown, for the most part, feels like a promotional video commissioned by Harmon himself, as the film’s repetitive atmosphere grows more and more exasperating as time slowly progresses. It’s clear, then, that the film is at its best when focuses on the happenings in between the many, many podcast recordings, with the ongoing emphasis on Harmon’s relationship with his longtime girlfriend, Erin McGathy, certainly standing as a highlight in the proceedings (ie such moments add much-needed bursts of emotion to a film that’s otherwise rather stale). And while the movie does improve somewhat as it passes the one-hour mark – Berkeley finally begins exploring Harmon’s inner psyche – Harmontown far too often comes off as a self-congratulatory puff piece geared towards Harmon’s apparent multitude of followers.
** out of ****