Donald Glover is very funny as Troy Barnes on NBC’s “Community,” but despite a rap name coined via the Wu-Tang Name Generator, his music as Childish Gambino revealed a surprisingly serious and artful side to the comedian. After posting a one-minute “internet version” of a new short film a couple of weeks ago, the 24-minute “Director’s Cut” of “Clapping for the Wrong Reasons” was posted on YouTube yesterday and boy-howdy is it a weird one.
The short film stars and was written by Glover and features an odd and disparate cast, including MCs Trinidad James and Chance the Rapper, adult film star Abella Anderson, electronic music luminary Flying Lotus, and Danielle Fishel, best known for her once and future role as Topanga in “Boy Meets World.”
There’s no real plot to speak of, as it basically just follows a day in the life of young people hanging around a mansion, making music, telling stories and participating in random activities like push-up contests, karate practice, and epic Connect Four battles. And while there’s certainly some funny moments, the overall vibe is surprisingly melancholy and decidedly strange (without spoiling it here, there’s at least one scene that wouldn’t feel out of place in a David Lynch film).
It would be a stretch to call “Clapping for the Wrong Reasons” truly great, or even good; as made clear by the title, there’s more than a slight stink of pretentiousness to the whole thing, which could be summarized as “Ennui: The Movie.” But it is at least interesting and distinct. Between this, a new album, and his recently announced show on FX, Glover’s restless creative fire continues to burn brightly and produce unexpected results.