When, in early 2010, Conan O'Brien broke up with NBC in an angry showdown after two decades of going steady with the network, the former Tonight Show host was legally barred from appearing on TV for six months. And lo, the applause-hungry, Harvard-educated, really-pissed-off comic and his team responded with the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour, a vanity roadshow filled with music, comedy bits, and still-simmering bitterness delivered live to O'Brien's ''Team Coco'' fan base in 32 cities in this great, Jay Leno-watching nation of ours.
Under the circumstances, it's a good thing director Rodman Flender was on the tour bus to make Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, an unexpectedly revealing, disconcerting documentary that benefits from the filmmaker's unmediated approach, his home-movie- quality visual style, and his controlled use of on-the-fly moments. This movie isn't just for wearers of Team Coco T-shirts, and, to its odd credit, it won't change any minds, either pro-Coco or anti-. Behold O'Brien being kvetchy, self-pitying, snappish, demanding, exhausted, haunted, and not very funny in other words, being a real, vulnerable person who happens to be a rich, famous TV star mourning the loss of his dream job. A–