Review by James Lindorf
Walter Campbell (Matthew Glave, The Wedding Singer) is the aging former star of a Hercules and Xena knockoff show, currently making a living on the convention circuit. Between conventions, Walter balances his time between his 24-year-old girlfriend and his estranged adult daughter, Nic (Jana Winternitz, White Orchid). In an attempt to reconnect he invites himself to crash her vacation in Big Sur, but his intrusion works to her benefit when her friend Kim’s (Emily Bett Rickards, “Arrow”) car breaks down. When the two bond in an unexpected way it could ruin not only the trip but the lives of their loved ones. Funny Story was Directed by Michael Gallagher who also co-wrote with Steve Greene and co-produced with Jana Winternitz, Michael Wormser. Funny Story will be released in select theaters and On Demand May 24th and has a runtime of 85 minutes.
The film starts off by introducing its three leading players Walter, Nic, and Kimberly. The relationships between the trio as well as their personal struggles, set the stage for every bit of joy and conflict in the movie. Initially, an odd couple road trip movie, Funny Story evolves into a gender and queer positive tale of self-destruction. For a lower budget film with no big Hollywood names to succeed, most of the weight will be on the shoulder of its performers. Luckily for Gallagher, his casting director, Joseph Linn, hit a home run with the three central characters.
Rickards plays Kim in a way that leaves you hating her actions, but because she is also grieving and lost, you still root for her. Kim runs the gamut of emotions throughout the movie. She puts on a tough front in most cases, but you can see the two times that she is actually happy and not pretending for someone else. Glave’s Walter is the comedic heart of the film, he is snarky and full of quips making him hard not to like. However, watching him self-sabotage and treating his fans better than his family is frustrating. Winternitz’s Nic is still hurt by her father’s past transgressions, but she is a sweet person at her core who wants everyone to be happy and to get along. Though she is typically loving in nature, that doesn’t prevent her from the occasional violent outburst.
Funny Story has plenty of funny moments, and it is kept fresh by having the jokes come from many different sources, including severe awkwardness in one scene. Most of the humor is front-loaded, and the second half is filled with tension and plenty of second-hand embarrassment. Funny Story like a lot of films, struggles with its ending. While what Gallagher and Greene came up with is plausible, it left me wanting more. Even that wasn’t enough to put a damper on a fun and successful film. I enjoyed it for its sense of humor and loved it for its honest approach to women and their sexuality.