Cast: Matthew Glave, Emily Bett Richards, Jana Winternitz, Nikki Limo
Director: Michael J. Gallagher
Well you’d think based on the title of the movie that Funny Story would at the very least be a funny movie. Funny Story is funny in an almost ironic way as its jokes revolve almost exclusively around the destruction of one man’s relationship with the rest of his family. If you like jokes that can be summarized as, “ha ha look at this man alienate his daughter again, what an idiot.” then Funny Story is the right movie for you. While there are a few genuinely funny moments scattered over the course of the quick 87 minute runtime, Funny Story can’t capitalize on them and create a fully realized movie that embraces the anti-humor and absurdity of its situation.
The film follows Walter Campbell (Glave), an actor who was on a famous cheesy television show in the 1980s who has distanced himself from his family due to his selfish actions. After getting his young girlfriend pregnant, he uses this time to reconnect with his daughter Nic (Winternitz) and mend any issues they’ve had in the past. While Walter is naturally well-intended with his actions, he finds this path to more difficult than anticipated and struggles with the temptations of his past and how they relate to his current predicament. The easiest to summarize this movie is it’s essentially a feature-length episode of Bojack Horseman without any central moment that we can point of as funny. Sure some of the situations are funny based exclusively on how ridiculous they are, but as a whole the majority of the movie exists based on humor that’s mean-spirited. I believe humor traditionally needs to come at the expense of someone else, but it only works if they’re in on the joke and that’s not the case. The film gets by on a couple of solid one-liners and awkward moments, but it isn’t enough to turn an ok movie in a great movie. It’s humor based on the arrogance and greed of a celebrity, which can be fun in context, but wear thin even though the movie has a pretty short runtime. I understand that this is an independent movie and I’ll give it a pass for trying something new, but Gallagher might want to go back and rethink what he’s planning to do in his future projects. He clearly has talent because some of his jokes are legitimately funny, but they’re offset by some moments that come across more as cruel rather than their intended awkward or embarrassing tone. I don’t know a whole lot about Gallagher or his background, but if he sticks with directing comedies down the line it may be time to re-evaluate which jokes hit and which ones can be re-worked in other movies. I’m not used to seeing Glave in a leading role as he predominantly plays minor or supporting characters, but he does a good job of handling the pressure of the role and keeping the movie afloat for as long as it needs to for the point to get across and the jokes to land.
Overall, Funny Story isn’t a bad movie, it just isn’t a great movie. I’m not 100% sure what could’ve been done to fix this movie, but I think the awkwardness and confusion associated with it could’ve made for a fun, short independent movie. Maybe I was just anticipating something funnier with the title of the movie being Funny Story, but in this case funny means awkward, unsettling, and borderline cruel at times. I understand the intent behind a movie like this, but Funny Story doesn’t fully capitalize on its premise or create something truly spectacular.
Overall Score: 6.5/10