12 user 17 critic

Punching the Clown (2009)

Winner of the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival, this realistic comedy tells the story of Henry Phillips, a hapless modern day troubadour who grinds his way through the ... See full summary »


Gregori Viens
1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Phillips ... Henry Phillips
Ellen Ratner Ellen Ratner ... Ellen Pinsky
Wade Kelley Wade Kelley ... Captain Chaotic
Matthew Walker Matthew Walker ... Matt Phillips (as Matt Walker)
Audrey Siegel Audrey Siegel ... Becca
Guilford Adams ... Fabian Mann
Mik Scriba ... Joel
Evan Arnold ... Don Chase
Mark Cohen ... Stupid Joe
Derek Waters ... Dave the Intern
Michelle Anne Johnson ... Jane Crown Jones
Chris Fairbanks ... Daniel
Conrad Angel Corral ... Mitchell
Beth Kennedy ... Booker
Eddie Pepitone ... Eddie


Winner of the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival, this realistic comedy tells the story of Henry Phillips, a hapless modern day troubadour who grinds his way through the heartland, living out of his car and singing his twisted satirical songs to anyone who will listen. After a booking mishap involving a Christian fund raiser, he decides he's hit rock bottom. Seeking to shake things up, he moves to L.A. where his luck changes overnight. Thanks less to his inept manager than to a wild case of mistaken identity, he falls backwards into a string of packed gigs, a record deal and even the promise of love. But he who lives by the whimsy of show business dies by it, and reality hits him like a fist in the face: an innocent miscommunication over a bagel brands him a neo-Nazi in the world of tabloid journalism. Luckily, somewhere between rock bottom and nowhere lies the perfect terrain for his dark and hilarious songs.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

22 October 2010 (USA) See more »


Box Office


$140,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Viens Films See more »
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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Stupid Joe: [singing] Nothing I can do , I totally ripped a big faartt...
See more »


Followed by Punching Henry (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

A film about a comic that's actually funny
25 February 2011 | by DuanepalSee all my reviews

Here's a good one for you, if you want something new. Punching the Clown. Yes, the title means what you think it means, but that's not what the film is about... Well, yes, it IS about a clown of sorts (a comic) that rolls with the punches... but nothing immature here. Trust me, I know immature!

Anyway, I loved it. My favorite characters apart from Henry Phillips were his useless but loving manager (Ellen Ratner, she reminded me of my mom... Bonus: she does the commentary track with the director and the star. There are some very funny deleted scenes too.), his amazing failed actor brother (Matt Walker) and the extremely realistic record company guy (Guilford Adams). There are plenty of other great characters. Most of them are surprisingly true to life.

Without giving too much away, it's about a singer/comic who decides to move to LA because his luck dried up singing at one too many pizza joints on the road. In Hollywood, he gets a record deal a little too quickly, and then... life happens. The plot is fun (though not 100% fresh) but the way it plays out is about as fresh as anything I've seen on a screen, big or small. Henry's songs are hilarious, which is refreshing. Kind of like a young Tom Waits.

The movie is expertly directed, avoiding cliché's, keeping the story moving the entire time. It will suck you in. It won the audience award at the Slamdance film festival and a bunch of other awards, and I can see why. It's got a high rating (rotten tomatoes). It's got my vote too.

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