Clear History

Movie review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Clear History Movie Poster Image
Salty comedy's selfish, unlikable lead isn't for everyone.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Revenge is a major theme -- along with selfishness and self-absorption -- but the main character pays for his mistakes in the end.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nathan/Rolly is a serially selfish person, with a bluntness that's offensive and occasionally cruel. But he's meant to be a comedic character.


Two characters get in a motorcycle accident, and there's a little blood. There's an explosion, too, but no one gets hurt. Jokes about prison rape.


Sexual humor includes jokes about oral sex (like a running gag about female characters who "blew [the band] Chicago").


Frequent, unbleeped swearing (from "a--hole" and "dick" to "motherf--ker" and "c--ksucker").


Some familiar name brands -- including Enron and Edible Arrangements -- are mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking in bars, mostly in the background.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Clear History is clearly aimed at adults, with subtle humor that's not likely to interest most kids. But if they do watch, they'll hear unbleeped streams of salty language (with words ranging from "motherf--ker" to "c--ksucker") and some sexually charged jokes about blow jobs and prison rape. Violence is limited to an explosion and a minimally bloody motorcycle accident, and characters drink socially in bars.

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What's the story?

A decade after walking away from his job with a visionary carmaker (Jon Hamm) -- and famously losing out on a fortune when his boss's pet project becomes a hit -- Nathan Flomm (Larry David) assumes a new life, and a new identity, living among the locals of Martha's Vineyard. But his attempts to CLEAR HISTORY and start fresh backfire when his former employer and his family show up on the island.

Is it any good?

Knowing and understanding Larry David's trademark sense of humor is a prerequisite to appreciating Clear History. In spite of the all-star cast of supporting actors (including Hamm, Bill Hader, Kate Hudson, and Eva Mendes), it's a comedy that's built around him. But even then, it might not be as hilarious as you're hoping. Not even with the help of an outlandish beard-wig combo that makes the younger Nathan Flomm look like the love child of Jeff Bridges and Bob Odenkirk.

Great expectations aside, Clear History is clever, and it succeeds as an able farce about greed and revenge, in the spirit of the much funnier What About Bob? and Groundhog Day. Is it a comedy classic? Probably not. But for older teens who can appreciate irony, Flomm's foibles make for a functionally funny cautionary tale.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Larry David's unique brand of humor and how, thanks to irony, his characters' otherwise offensive statements can be funny. Does Nathan/Rolly mean to be an awful person, or is he accidentally offensive? Why do we laugh at his blunders, even when they're borderline racist/sexist/etc.?

  • How does Clear History compare with David's other critically acclaimed comedies, Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm? Does the same humor that worked for him on television work in a longer format?

  • Does the film have a message when it comes to revenge? For Nathan/Rolly, does it pay in the end?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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