Thursday, January 25, 2018

Funny Story (Slamdance 2018) - Movie Review

The Movie: Funny Story

The Director: Michael J. Gallagher

The Cast: Matthew Glave, Emily Bett Rickards, Jana Winternitz, Nikki Limo, Lily Holleman, Jessica Diggins, Pete Gardner, Reginald VelJohnson

The Story: A tragic comedy about a well-intentioned father who inadvertently wreaks havoc on the life of his estranged daughter.

The Review:
For his latest feature film, Michael J. Gallagher takes a look at how our culture is turning a corner from outdated ways of thinking to new, more progressive beliefs and he uses his main character, an aging actor played by Matthew Glave, as the tipping point of this transition. His somewhat estranged daughter reveals early on that she is gay and is about to get married but this revelation is nothing compared to a couple secrets he is in turn preparing to reveal.

There wasn't as much comedy as I thought there might be considering the title although, in its place, is a very emotional and engaging story that Gallagher expertly pieces together. The laughs we do get are very genuine and provide a nice balance for all of the heavy stuff we get to dig in to. Each of the three primary characters deal with a lot of loss and this common struggle is most noticeable in how it comes from different angles and affects people in different ways.

The strength of the movie for me was the work put in by the primary cast members and especially Matthew Glave who was just perfect for this role. His character's claim to fame was having the lead role in a cult classic fantasy TV show that gave him an unending supply of fame and adoration which is quite appropriate since Glave himself has appeared on so many shows over the years including Stargate SG-1, ER, and Agents of Shield. You may actually recognize him as Drew Barrymore's fiance in The Wedding Singer, Mr. Glenn Gulia.

Emily Bett Rickards, who plays Walter's daughter's girlfriend, is also no stranger to television as she has played a large role in the success of the CW Network's DC slate of shows over the last several years. The work she does in this film is really impressive and her honesty with this character gave me a sense that it was a very important role for her to play. I would say her character has the most to deal with emotionally from beginning to end and she handles it all quite beautifully.

The Verdict:
Funny Story is a very solid effort from a director who has the world in front of him. Definitely a must see film thanks to a couple stellar performances and a story that crashes through stereotypes, deals with some pretty heavy family issues, and turns a dysfunctional mess into something we can all use to gain a little perspective on our own perceptions.

I also have to mention that Reginald VelJohnson also makes an appearance in this film and it was really cool to see him back on the big screen. If you don't know who he is, VelJohnson was the one and only Sergeant Al Powell from Die Hard.

Funny Story is an official selection of the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival presented by DGA. coverage of the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival presented by DGA.

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