"The Show Must Go On"
What You Need To Know:
Much of the performance footage is fun and funny to watch. O’Brien cuts loose leading some musical numbers with his TV show’s band. Backstage, O’Brien is shown to be a caring husband and father, sad to be away from his family. He even accepts a prayer from some concerned Christians. However, he gets testy and mean-spirited at times, especially when the pressures of his career increase. Also, there’s some strong foul language. So, extreme caution is advised for CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP.
(Ro, B, CC, LLL, S, N, A, M) Light Romantic worldview where TV talk show host Conan O’Brien fights for his right to perform comedy on his terms following an epic backstage battle in which he was ousted from “The Tonight Show” by Jay Leno, with a positive portrayal of him as a family man and a scene in which he accepts and prays along with the heartfelt prayer of a carload of Christian fans, but this is offset by seeing O’Brien backstage and uncensored, swearing both in comic expression and in frustration over the career situation he’s struggling through and his occasionally mean-spirited sense of humor; at least 45 obscenities (including many “f” words) and three GDs; no violence; some sexual innuendo in use of some obscene language but no sex scenes; upper male nudity when O’Brien takes off his shirt backstage while relaxing or changing costumes; alcohol use in backstage scenes; no smoking or drug references; and, O’Brien verbally swipes at his writing staff during meetings on occasion and uses mean-spirited humor against a visiting sitcom actor, teasing him to a point in which it becomes obvious the man is genuinely emotionally hurt, but Conan never apologizes.
CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP is an intriguing but sometimes slow-paced behind the scenes look at the comedic talk show host’s reaction to losing THE TONIGHT SHOW, amid alleged underhanded dealings by NBC and Jay Leno. The movie follows his decision to break away from his roots as a television comedian and reinvent himself in live shows in towns and cities across the nation, since his TV contracts bar him from being on television for several months before he can start his new show. O’Brien reportedly agreed to be shown warts and all with this movie, so it’s a bit jarring to hear the normally jovial comic swearing sometimes and getting testy or egotistical with others about his career situation.
The documentary also follows the creative process in writing and designing the show, as well as the enormous effort involved in producing and staging it in a different locale nearly every night. It also features plenty of intriguing footage of backstage life once the tour gets underway, showing how a famous celebrity like O’Brien is swarmed with nearly constant requests for his time and energy and how he can wind up feeling exploited. At one point, O’Brien is revealed to have a comedic cruel streak, when he mocks 30 ROCK sitcom star Jack McBrayer during a backstage visit, to the point of making McBrayer look emotionally shocked.
Much of the performance footage is fun and funny to watch, however. O’Brien cuts loose with his dream of being a musician and leads his touring band in several songs per night. The movie, however, also shows the stress and emotional strain he feels being away from his wife and two young children for days or weeks at a time, revealing him to be what seems to be a genuinely caring father and husband. Most impressively, in one scene, O’Brien allows a carload of Christian fans to pray in-depth and sincerely over him, and he clearly accepts the prayer’s quiet powers.
Overall, CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP is mostly for diehard Conan fans, as only a true devotee could be interested enough to immerse themselves in his world for 90 minutes. Even so, it’s still an entertaining ride at many moments, with the main production criticism stemming from the fact that it feels claustrophobic and repetitive in some sequences, especially when O’Brien discusses career matters. There’s also plenty of strong foul language, including more than a few “f” words, so extreme caution is advised for CONAN O’BRIE3N CAN’T STOP.