There’s a good chance you don’t know who Jim Breuer is. He’s Brian, the perpetually high fellow in Half Baked, but most people probably know Breuer for his recurring SNL character, Goat Boy. His IMDB page also tells me he voiced Randal on the short-lived animated version of “Clerks.” If you are a fan of “that guy” actors, Mr. Breuer is surrounded by that mysterious aura, and this stand-up special is a good way to get acquainted with him.
Clocking in at a breezy 71 minutes, Jim Breuer: Let’s Clear The Air is the kind of comedy special Eddie Murphy might have made, had he been far less vulgar and had his career not gone in a downward trajectory once he had kids. Well, Breuer has his own litter and his family takes front and center in much of the stand-up. But first, a word on the DVD menus, which are almost as good as the stand-up itself.
I applaud whoever designed the DVD for including this quite ingenious feature – two vignettes, one of Breuer commenting on the main menu and urging you to play the film (this goes on for a good five minutes and is rarely boring) and another very sweet clip of Breuer attempting to rouse his father from bed. Sure, you can get the same menu treatment on a special edition, double dip, director’s cut, extended unrated anniversary edition DVD, but Breuer comes across as a genuinely charming guy who’s not too bad with impressions.
This charm goes a long way toward establishing the homely feel that persists throughout much of the stand-up. Breuer does throw a few ribald jokes here and there and uses curse words wisely like a good comic should, but overall, this is more of a reflection piece – on his career, on his family and on experiencing fatherhood. It’s a wonder this never gets boring but unfortunately it’s not too memorable either, leaving you with a great opinion of the man but not of his jokes, though many may make you crack a smile.
One thing Breuer knows is imitation and, if he wanted to, he could make his Dave Chappelle his bread and butter. The man has been friends with Chappelle for some time and his stories of their coming up in the comedy ranks are one of the highlights of his set. Another is the story that wraps up the special, a game of hide-and-seek with his daughters that becomes by turns disturbing and hilarious.
Aside from those high points, Breuer is content to let his audience in on his daily family life and new responsibilities as a father. This is not necessarily the best material and the show does slow down a bit under the weight of it but it’s hard not to be drawn to the still sharp-tongued observations Breuer makes, losing none of the edge that made him well known on the stand-up circuit. Let’s Clear The Air may not be his best work or even particularly great stand-up, but it’s not for trying. This one comes recommended for a one-time viewing. Shoul you leave it on your shelf, you may well come back to it again.
DVD Bonus Features
Aside from the aforementioned (and welcome) menu segments, the special features include a short piece on the photo shoot for promotional material for the stand-up special and a five minute fireside chat with Breuer’s father, quite an older man, which is endearing and sporadically funny.
"Jim Breuer: Let's Clear The Air" is on sale July 21, 2009 and is rated NR. Comedy. Directed by Milton Lage. Written by Jim Breur. Starring Jim Breuer.