Let’s be clear on this. There’s a reason this film is called “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”, rather than “Conan O’Brien Doesn’t Want To Stop” or “Conan O’Brien Would Really Prefer Not To Stop, If It’s Alright With You”. Not only does the chosen title roll off the tongue rather better, but it’s also absolutely, awe-inspiringly true.
This documentary received rave reviews when it debuted at the South by Southwest Film Festival, and it’s easy to see why. “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” is a fantastic, engaging film about an extremely driven man at a crossroads in his professional life.
Apart from a couple of questions posed to Conan throughout the film, there is no audio commentary/voice-over from Rodman Flender. The footage speaks for itself, and the camera-work is intimate without feeling invasive. The film includes some footage of the actual tour performances, but the vast majority of the documentary is focused behind-the-scenes, and takes us on a complete journey of the tour: from the first tweet announcing the release of tickets to the final show in Atlanta. Along the way, we see Conan perform at every opportunity, even on his days off. We see a man unable to resist meeting and entertaining his fans even when he seems at times to barely have the energy to stand up. We see his interactions with his staff and crew, including sidekick Andy Richter (their genuine friendship over and above their comedic rapport is abundantly clear). The film also includes some heart-warming moments with Conan’s family.
All in all, for 89 minutes, this film showcases the real life of a talented, intense performer and man, including the ups and downs and the hilarity and the tired crankiness. A very entertaining, honest and eye-opening film.
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What seems to be a simple documentary following Conan O’Brien on his live tour, is also an exhausting roller-coaster ride of hilarity, melancholy, anger, arrogance, farce and gratefulness. Hilarity in the constant ways Conan tries (and succeeds) to entertain everyone around him. Melancholy and anger in seeing Conan fight with his emotions of having to cope with a broken dream of hosting The Tonight Show, with both morose moments and slapstick jabs to the people that let him down. Arrogance in his “Mean Conan”-persona to the people closest to him, and in trying to cope with the many demands of fans. Farce, in the moments where things boil over and Conan truly can’t stop talking, singing, being courteous to everyone around him. Gratefulness, in the fact that he keeps on keeping on, because he knows that people care and want to live up to their expectations. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is truly the perfect title to this documentary, but you only really understand that after watching it.
Ever since middle school, I have been a huge fan of Conan O’Brien. I would only watch his show on Fridays or over school breaks because if I got caught being up so late, I’d get in trouble. But when he started on The Tonight Show, I stayed up late and watched it anyways no matter the day. So I was watching every night as the battle for The Tonight Show unfolded and, like many, I gave all of my support to him. So after leaving the Tonight Show, he planned a 32-city live tour, which is what the film focuses on.
The tour moments are fun, especially the backstage bits. During the Radio City Music Hall show, we see Conan, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert backstage preparing their skit a mere 9 minutes before they go onstage and perform it. We really see the creativity that went into this tour and they pulled it off nicely. There are moments after the shows where he complains about not wanting to meet fans, but he does it anyways. He definitely shows much appreciation for them and all of their support.
We get to see a darker side of Conan in the film. At one point, he teases Jack McBrayer, calling him a hick and even making up a song on the spot that’s very dark, yet I found myself laughing. Who wouldn’t be able to go into a darker place after losing one of the biggest television shows of all time? Honestly the film made me love Conan even more. Even though he does act somewhat mean at times, his amazing team still sticks with him. He has such a wonderful group of people supporting him. There are some really nice moments of him with long time friend and sidekick, Andy Richter. You can really tell that they will always be there for each other. Also I have to give credit to Sona Movsesian, Conan’s assistant, who handles him well at some pretty rough times.
I think documentaries about entertainers are always great to see. You get to see much more of them than you do on tv or on stage. This is one of the best I’ve ever seen and I’m not just saying this because I’m a Conan fanatic, but this film is very well made. We get to see moments of Conan that we normally don’t get to and it’s fascinating to watch. The film gets dark at times, but for the most part, it’s hilarious. The film is a must see for Conan fans and it’s the year’s absolute best film. I don’t think there will be a more honest, funny and entertaining film this year. Go Team Coco.