An electric car sets the comedic ball rolling in Larry David’s latest opus for HBO, “Clear History.” Premiering August 10, the movie is cut from the same improvisational cloth as David’s series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and casts him as a very similar character: opinionated, inappropriate and unable to correct his mistakes without making them worse. It all starts with a doozy: David’s Nathan Flomm quits Electron Motors — giving up his 10% share in company stock — because he thinks Howard is a stupid name for a new electric car. Of course, the plug-in car becomes a huge success, and Flomm is left ridiculed, broke, and bitter.
The movie co-stars an A-list cast including Jon Hamm (pictured with Larry David in a beard), Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton, Bill Hader, Eva Mendes, Danny McBride and in an unbilled but memorable turn as a Chechen thug, Liev Schreiber. Resembling a cross between a Smart Car and a PT Cruiser, the brightly colored Howard EVs are ubiquitous.
“There were different stages of how well they worked and what they did. We had four ‘hero’ Howards and we would repaint them sometimes, depending on what we needed them to do in the shot,” says director Greg Mottola, explaining that they were built on the base of an electric GEM car, “a utility vehicle you might see a groundskeeper driving, and we added parts on top of it. That was best solution for the money we could spend. We wanted it to be a little dorky, a little square. The idea of the car is it’s supposed to be a low price point and run forever, and we decided it should be fairly ugly.” The light-up H logo, Mottola’s idea, was designed “to give it one little bit of splashiness.”
The Howards were far from roadworthy, however. “There are shots in the movie where a door is about to fall off,” reveals Mottola. "They all fell apart. We saved a few in case we had to reshoot and we did do some reshoots so I’m glad we did. I think the rest have been dismantled. A couple are somewhere, but I don’t think they’ll end up in the Smithsonian,” he says. “I wanted to do a smash-up derby with them, but they wouldn’t let me.