Directed by Michael J. Gallagher, Funny Story is the story of a conceited actor on a road trip with his semi-estranged daughter’s special friend up to Big Sur. I’m keeping it vague here because there are some twists and turns I don’t want to give away that authentically had me surprised. The movie takes some really unexpected turns and keeps things interesting. Funny Story has an incredibly dry sense of humor that the actors execute perfectly. I was really sucked in by everything that was happening on screen between the characters, they all play off each other quite nicely. Unfortunately, the film falls apart at a certain point and delivers an incredibly dissatisfying climax that sours the experience overall.
“…trying to help his daughter or bring everyone down to his level of misery and personal failure.”
Matthew Glave is wonderful as Walter. Walter is a bit of a selfish tool and that is established during the very first scene. We see his desire to be a better person, and the script really plays with the question of whether or not he’s making decisions based on actually trying to help his daughter or bring everyone down to his level of misery and personal failure. I like to think it’s the former, but thankfully it’s all very ambiguous and it works. Emily Bett Rickards as Kim is introduced as a cold and distant asshole with a massive chip on her shoulder. As the movie advances, we learn more about who she is, and she becomes a more nuanced and layered character. The movie really centers on these two characters, their similarities, and their conflict. The rest of the cast is fine, but these two make the film. Jana Winternitz plays Walter’s daughter, Nic. She has some of the most dramatic moments of the film and she handles them well enough. I felt her character came off a little pompous and unlikable, and I think the story should have explored her relationship with Walter a little more. I feel like they hardly interacted, and I was very interested in what kind of a relationship they had. Lilly Holleman as Moon is definitely the funniest character in the movie, and somehow she’s at her best when she’s in the background not speaking any lines.
Funny Story is a comedy with a terribly tragic edge. I’m not speaking of the plot exclusively. There’s plenty of tragedy involved for the characters, I’m more so speaking in terms of how sad it is that the film kind of falls apart during its climax. Funny Story is one of those movies I found myself really getting into, the characters and the plot was really engaging and I was enjoying the way everything was unfolding and then it ends in an incredibly unsatisfying way complete with an out of nowhere cameo from Carl Winslow himself, actor Reginald VelJohnson. The ending set itself up for so much potential drama, so much potential comedy of errors, or maybe a mixture of the two and instead it all just sort of peters out. Finale aside, the movie is definitely worth checking out for its strong performances and surprising story.
Funny Story (2018) Directed by: Michael J. Gallagher. Written by: Michael J. Gallagher and Steve Greene. Starring: Matthew Glave, Emily Bett Rickards, Nikki Limo, Daiyse Tutor, Jana Winternitz, Lilly Holleman.
8 out of 10