It also offers up a smorgasbord of some of today's top comic stars who get to let loose on camera, say things they've never said publicly before and make jokes on subjects about which no one ever cracks wise. Make no mistake, "The Aristocrats" is not for those of tender sensibilities; it's not interested in reaching wide audiences. The film is a timely reminder, instead, that from the days of Lenny Bruce on, the best comedians have always been interested in pushing the envelope. In this case, they go much further, shredding the thing and scattering its pieces to the wind.
Ironically, for a movie created around a joke, the quip in question is hardly a sidesplitter or even that amusing. It's what goes between its set-up and punchline that makes for the laughter. Though it goes on a shade too long, "The Aristocrats" is an intelligent, compelling deconstruction of humor -- a serious examination of the funny bone that's pretty uproarious in its own right. Featuring George Carlin, Chris Rock, Paul Reiser, Robin Williams and Steven Wright. Directed by Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Produced by Peter Adam Golden. A Thinkfilm release. Documentary. Not yet rated. Running time: 89 min