You keep waiting for The Clapper to do something more than merely exist. Here is a movie with a good cast and a decent premise, and it doesn’t seem particularly interested in doing anything more than doing the bare minimum to move the plot forward. Given that writer-director Dito Montiel also wrote the book on which the film is based, one rightfully should expect more.
That premise follows Eddie Krumble (Ed Helms), a professional “clapper” for infomercials. He sits in the crowd, applauds or laughs when required, and sometimes even asks a question about the product being advertised. It’s not a great job, but he’s a man with few ambitions. He goes to work, hangs out with Chris (Tracy Morgan), and flirts with the girl at the gas station, Judy (Amanda Seyfried). That’s enough for him.
It’s not enough for us, though. A character without much ambition is boring—unless that’s the point, and it’s not here—and Eddie is ultimately pretty dull. His “clapper” status gets discovered by a late-night host (Russell Peters) and that gives him a bit of fame. He doesn’t want the fame but does enjoy the money, although it poses risks he doesn’t foresee, like manufactured tension with his gas station crush.
Really, there’s no reason that The Clapper shouldn’t all work out. It’s the type of movie whose only conflicts come because people aren’t given an opportunity—of their own volition or otherwise—to explain themselves. We know that, eventually, they will. And that’ll solve everything.
A movie like The Clapper needs to give us more depth into its characters in order to be successful. It offers very little. We find out that Judy has goals but they don’t matter to us and we have little idea as to why those, specifically, matter to her. Eddie is boring. Everybody else exists to propel the plot, not to even closely resemble real people. The acting isn’t bad but it becomes inconsequential when we can’t muster up any level of care toward the production. It could have worked as a social satire about fame but is completely devoid of laughs or insight.
The Clapper is a bad movie that, much like its protagonist, has no ambition beyond existing and getting by. It eventually reaches its conclusion and we are thankful for that; it’s a dull experience that offers almost nothing of value to the audience. It’s only somewhat tolerable because it has good actors playing roles so thin that they could conceivably pull them off in their sleep.
Conclusion: The Clapper is missing the jokes, smarts, or depth to be any good.
Recommendation: Your time is better spent watching infomercial .gifs of people overreacting to non-problems than watching The Clapper.