By Darin Skaggs
Dan Harmon is a strange figure. He is known for his temper. He is known for his excessive drinking. He is known for his piss poor attitude. He is mostly known as the creator of the hit sitcom Community. After season three he was fired from the show and somehow, someway hired back for season five. Neil Berkeley’s Harmontown is all about that time in between where Dan Harmon takes his Dungeons and Dragons podcast, also called Harmontown, on a cross country tour which comes out surprisingly moving and generally positive about the human race.
Harmontown is about humans. There are a lot of talking heads of fans thanking Dan Harmon for creating the Harmontown podcast and Community because both spoke so much to them and let them feel less lonely. This may be why Harmon’s head is so big, but the film does not lose focus on the fact that multiple people’s life were changed due to his work of art. They focus on how entertainment can be respected and speak to people in a way that is respectable even with Harmon’s foul mouth fun on stage and his weird television show.
For most documentaries there is a ton of information about Dan Harmon’s current life as well as information from his past. We learn what his friends think of him, what it is like to be his girlfriend and at times what it is like to not be his friend. Overall it does not seem to be that great. He is told to be controlling, rude and also a near genius. They praise his writing and ideas then complain about who he is when not doing that, but no one is harder on Dan Harmon than Dan Harmon. He makes speeches to his audience that he is a monster, he tells the camera how he treats his loved ones when they cannot and can give himself the highest acclaim out of anyone. He has a theatrical sense, always proclaims what he is thinking, even when he is not on a stage. His head is bloated, his liver is shot and his mind is full. He is an overdramatic fool, which makes him, sometimes, even more human than the best of us.
Dan Harmon is such a big personality that others could get lost in the shuffle and sadly some do. The host of every live event is Jeff B. Davis who comes out off a mystery of who he really is and sadly Harmon’s girlfriend Erin McGathy just comes off rude and pitiful, which might be a trait for dating Dan Harmon because he is such a passive aggressive guy and could slowly bring you to that point. The one other who really does not get lost in the shuffle of it all is Spencer Crittenden. He is the team’s Dungeon master, lives with his mother and looks like the ideal nerd. He is not though, he is cool and confident. He was not this way before entering the cool cast of Harmontown characters. Interviews with his mother, and him for that matter, claim he is super shy, awkward and not with many friends. One day he went to one show, approached Harmon and asked to be the group’s Dungeon Master and from that moment was in the group. People come up to Spencer in the film and say “Hello” and at first Spencer is shy and just says “Hi” back and signs an autograph or takes a picture. Later in the tour he starts talking more and being more confident. Just another way entertainment has brought all these people together.
Harmontown seems to be about a podcast about Dungeons and Dragons going from city to city, but that is not even close to what it is about. It is all about how we can relate as humans, even if one of us is not the best we could be.