Conan O'Brien Can't Stop offers viewers an intimate look into the life of the comedian after his acrimonious departure from NBC. Some of it works, some does not. Let's start with what doesn't work as well. There's so much of Conan making music that it becomes self-indulgent. He obviously wanted to do something different before settling into TBS, but let's face it: However good a musical hobbyist he is, people don't watch him for his guitar playing. He's a comedian, one who excels at taped bits, but his stand-up is also strong, particularly in how he interacts with his audiences. And that's where this doc gets good, albeit occasionally squirm-inducing.
O'Brien's anger at being screwed over by NBC propelled him forward on this tour, but what inspired him to sustain the grueling schedule was his desire, nay, need, to perform. As the days wear on, viewers are drawn into his struggle: He needs to be adored by his fans, but the constant meet-and-greets exhaust him. At first he does not seem cognizant of that paradox, but eventually he gets it. That powerful "ah-ha!" moment of self-realization, coupled with his continued vigor as his fans feed him more and more love, provides the viewer a squirmy experience. It's Conan's private dilemma, but he invites us to watch his petulance, his neediness, and how he uses humor to deflect his anger.
Those of us who like Conan O'Brien--his impishness and self-mockery during taped bits, his intelligence, his camaraderie with the lovable Andy Richter, his voices, how he uses his body while performing, even the fake laugh he deploys with guests--will enjoy this fly-on-the-wall look at him. Unfortunately, the documentary oversells his tour's musical component and he's simply not compelling enough a musician to pull it off. But he is a compelling and talented personality, and the result is a mostly insightful viewing experience.