By Felix Vasquez Jr. | October 2, 2006

“Freedom State” is not just a commentary on life, but a demonstration of the very loose definition of the word normal. What’s normal? How do we define such a word? And can we exemplify normal through others? Is monotony normal? Is working normal? Or is the man rambling to himself on the street corner normal?

Normal is basically what works for us, and when we choose to be crazy to escape normality, that in turn, is normality for us. But our main character Krystal is stuck in her own mind, attempting to escape normality, yet seeking to be insane only to get stuck back into a perception of normality. Krystal is a person who has tried one view of normal, and when she can’t achieve that, she explores the opposite of normality.

“Freedom State” demonstrates that normality, much like beauty, is all in the eye of the beholder. Krystal deems crazy as normal, and normal as just plain crazy, so she seeks pure insanity, and finds a purpose within it. Hoback’s film is a mix of Gondry and “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in which the insane inherit the Earth and seek to find survivors when they wake up to the apocalypse.

The problem with that is there was no apocalypse. No end of the world. And now the small group, who has escaped their mental institution, seeks to create their own democracy, find “the end” since the world has ended, and seek survivors to aide in their battles and attempted rebuilding of their civilization. As much as Hoback attempts to inject slight human drama, “Freedom State” is really much of a comedy, and a very funny one at that.

And that’s helped by the top notch acting by the entire cast, including Megan Murphy who is, in many instances, laugh out loud funny, because her character is so intent on being taken seriously, and acting dignified that she draws laughter. Instructing the “survivors” to wear body armor, musing on her desperation for personal space, and her declaration that she is the president make her a wonderful tragic character. Murphy’s character steals the show.

When she wants to be humorous, she can steal scenes, and when she wants to be tragic, she’s a rather sad portrait of the suburban housewife driven to the brink of madness by monotony. The rest of the film features the “survivors” attempts to live through a magnetic storm, a band of post-apocalyptic pirates, and their inadvertent kidnapping of a little girl they believe is one of the few survivors.

Hoback’s film about people seeking a purpose in life and then accidentally finding one thanks to a big misunderstanding is a gem. It’s funny, smart, and wonderfully acted. But just be sure to wear your armor. You have to have armor.

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