‘Funny Pages’ Offers a Hilariously Refreshing Take on the Young Aspiring Artist

Writer-director Owen Kline reveals the chaotic passions of an aspiring cartoonist.

A24

By Will DiGravio · Published on August twenty fourth, 2022

Writer-directorOwen Kline’sdebut characteristic, Funny Pages, is a lot like the comics to which the movie’s title refers. It is hilarious and foolish in all the greatest methods, however sincerity sneaks its approach into a few key scenes. There is the compulsory, over-the-top humor, the type that typically appears like an excessive amount of however is to be anticipated in a movie about two younger boys attempting to interrupt their approach into the comedian business. The narrative is wanting at occasions, however identical to the humorous pages of your native paper, everybody will discover one thing to take pleasure in on this 90-minute story about a passionate, entitled younger artist attempting to make one thing occur.

The movie stars Daniel Zolghadri as Robert, a cartoonist who drops out of highschool to pursue his alt-comic desires. He has no concept how to do that, however he figures his uncooked expertise is sufficient to justify leaving his soft household dwelling in Princeton, New Jersey, for a shared boiler room house in the state’s capitol, Trenton. After all, how else is he to acquire the edge he feels he wants? Once there, he takes a job as an assistant to a public defender, Cheryl (Marcia DeBonis). Through the new gig, he meets Wallace (Matthew Maher), a man with a brief fuse who allegedly assaulted a Rite Aid pharmacist and as soon as labored in the comedian e book business.

Robert doesn’t depart all the pieces from his Princeton life behind. He retains his job at the native comedian bookstore, the place he banters with the store’s regulars, exhibits off his personal expertise, and soaks in that which got here earlier than him. There can be his greatest good friend Miles (Miles Emanuel), who’s extra subdued however simply as captivated with comics. When Robert sees Miles’ personal drawings, he turns into territorial and imply. One of the most refreshing issues about Funny Pagesis how the movie avoids getting misplaced in the genius (imagined or in any other case) of its protagonist. Robert has expertise. A traumatic occasion at the movie’s outset explains a few of his habits, however he may be a actual jerk too. The movie leans into this messiness, resulting in moments that elicit cringe, empathy, and a snigger unexpectedly.

The comedian store brings a few of Funny Pages‘ greatest moments. Kline exhibits either side of the nerd: the imply snob and the insightful connoisseur, revealing the fantastic thing about the sketch by way of the eyes of those that revere it above all else. Robert considers himself and his work to be radical, identical to his heroes. His foremost drawback is that he’s not a radical and does not likely perceive what it means to be one. Zolghadri finds the good stability between a contemptible wealthy child and a real dream-chaser. Many will relate to the particular model of suburban angst Robert experiences. His frustration and capriciousness are all born out of a actual love for what he does and a pair of fogeys who attempt to help him in all the fallacious methods.

Blinded by ardour, Robert begins “rebelling” in opposition to everybody and all the pieces, resulting in a sequence of hectic, violent incidents. Viewers won’t be shocked to study that the Safdie Brothersare two of the movie’s producers. There is a velocity and precision toFunny Pages that matches the brothers’ personal type of filmmaking, though Kline pairs such moments with softer scenes. In one in every of the movie’s greatest, Robert bonds together with his eccentric, a lot older roommates, Barry (Michael Townsend Wright) and Steven (Cleveland Thomas Jr.), over their shared love of comics and common tradition. In their real pleasure, one sees the justification for Robert’s obsession. It is when Kline reveals the tenderness baked into the chaos that Funny Pagesis at its greatest.

Comics are the solely lens by way of which Robert is ready to see folks, and it’s not till Robert learns of Wallace’s previous occupation that he begins to deal with him with any curiosity. Sensing Robert’s entitlement and desperation, Wallace agrees to mentor him for a payment and a favor. Zolghadri and Maher play off each other to nice impact, and Maher, particularly, provides a nice efficiency leaving some viewers wishing for extra time with him on display. Robert, the wealthy child, is determined for any reward and perception, whereas Wallace, a working-class, explosive man dealing with prison costs, cares not about Robert’s emotions or ego. He provides trustworthy suggestions, knowledgeable by his anger at the world and his personal perceived mistreatment. Wallace is definitely edgy, typically in the fallacious methods, however not by some alternative or aspiration like Robert.

The closing components of Funny Pages concern the class dynamics that underpin the creation of a lot artwork. Rich folks like Zolghadri can resolve to stay a rugged life, role-playing poverty till they “make it.” Wallace, against this, has no such luxurious. Kline, himself the son of two well-known actors, clearly has a lot to say about privilege, artwork, and the blind wishes of the aspiring artist. But by the time he begins unpacking the unhappy and true humor of this actuality, the movie is at its finish. The closing act is each the movie’s most attention-grabbing one and the one which leaves the viewer most wanting. Here’s hoping he continues to unpack these themes in no matter comes subsequent.


Funny Pages debuts in theaters and on-demand from August 26, 2022

Related Topics: A24, Comedy

Will DiGravio is a Brooklyn-based critic, researcher, and video essayist, who has been a contributor at Film School Rejects since 2018. Follow and/or unfollow him on Twitter @willdigravio.

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