“Clear History” Review: Larry David's Latest is Pretty Good

BySasha Patkin

While there may not be a new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” yet on the horizon, fans of Larry David can get excited about one thing – Clear History, a feature-length film premiering this Saturday, August 10th at 9 pm on HBO.

David, also known for his role as the co-creator of Seinfeld, drafted the 30-page outline for the movie along with Curb veterans and magistrates of mirth Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel. David described to the actors the general arc of the movie but did not detail any dialogue, leaving the star-studded cast to improvise – including names like Jon Hamm, Bill Hader, Philip Baker Hall, Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton, Danny McBridge, Eva Mendes, Amy Ryan, and J.B Smoove.

David plays Nathan Flomm – a Silicon Valley marketing executive role loosely inspired by Ronald Wayne, and hisdecision in the 1970s to sell his 10-percent share in Apple. Though wearing an impressive wig that makes him look like a cross between a Geico caveman and The Dude in "The Big Lebowski," David’s true character shines through. Through a tendency to be a little too honest, he burns bridges with his boss after a disagreement over the name “Howard” for the company’s new electric car model (“It's like naming a restaurant hepatitis!”), and then becomes publically humiliated as the company goes on to see outrageous success, and attempts to restart his life in disguise as “Rolly DaVore” on Martha’s Vineyard – only to find out 10 years later that his former boss has moved in to the neighborhood.

Directed by Superbad’s Greg Mottola, the whole adventure combines David’s characteristic detours into nitpicky kvetches about the cleanliness of silverware at the local diner and low-lying electrical sockets (“What are they, like genitals? We have to hide them?”) with an underlying ethical spin on the consequences on greed and revenge.

While the premise boarders on formulaic, however, David’s unique brand of humor, along with the breath of spontaneity of every improvised scene, ensures that the movie as a whole sparkles wittily. Larry David plays Larry David, and the movie as a whole feels a bit like an overlong episode of Curb, but, for many, that’s hardly criticism at all.