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13. CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP

Director: Rodman Flender
Stars: Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter
Through all of last year’s publicized heartbreak over the loss of his The Tonight Show hosting gig, Conan O’Brien appeared to be in good spirits, cracking jokes whenever a microphone was nearby. Dude’s only human, though, so it was understood that, behind closed doors, he was either ramming a butcher knife into pics of Jay Leno or grappling with profound sadness and anger; as filmmaker Rodman Flender’s intimate documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop shows, it was the latter. That’s just one of the many revelations in the year’s most entertaining and revealing documentary to date, an equal parts funny and fascinating look at O’Brien’s emergence from public victim to on-stage redemption recipient.

Flender hangs in the writers’ rooms, backstage areas, and personal quarters throughout O’Brien’s live show tour (The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour), shooting moments of lightheartedness (the playful ways he mocks his loyal assistant) and vulnerability (O’Brien’s growing contempt for never-ending autograph signings and hand-shaking) with unassuming eyes. Bravely, O’Brien grants Flender unrestricted access; as a result, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop presents one of TV’s goofiest and funniest personalities as an attention-craving yet internally conflicted entertainer who had to deal with monstrous disappointment before the public eye. And, yes, there’s even an appearance by the Self-Pleasuring Panda.

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