Funny Pages; Grade: B
Funny Pages tells a story about a seventeen year old boy named Robert (Daniel Zolghadri), whom is hoping to become a cartoonist someday, as his speciality is graphic underground comics in which feature graphic nudity. After the passing of Robert’s teacher whom was a firm believer of his work, Robert decided to drop out of high school and move out of his parents home. Robert found himself a place in Trenton, New Jersey, where he’ll be staying in a overly heated basement along with two other roommates. As Robert works at the comic shop and along with his new job over at the law firm, Robert will be acquainted by a man named Wallace (Matthew Maher) whom used to work in the comic industry over at Image Comics, as Robert hopes to gain an drawing lesson from Wallace.
The Cinematography looked absolutely great, as it mimics the likes of an 80’s horror noir kind of film. I felt this particular choice in visual presentation was much fitting, considering the setting of the film was taken place in New Jersey which isn’t the most welcoming brightest place around. The visuals especially excelled when Robert was in that crappy basement he lived with two strange roommates, as the idea of living in an overly heated and most certainly uncleanliness place looked extremely horrifying which is why this visual presentation is much fitting.
The cast all around was solid as a whole, there really isn’t a dull character in this film as living in a place like this… You’ll come across some interesting characters. Daniel Zolghadri playing Robert had a pretty good performance, truly captured the essence of this wonderfully imaginative teenager whom is completely naive on the idea that he can handle life outside his parents home, without a high school education or a plan on how he’ll become a successful artist. Daniel displays that care free yet fun charisma, as an up and coming artist needs to have, as he was extremely likable and entertaining to watch. I really enjoyed this character, he honestly reminded me A LOT like my best friend Mihran, whom both shared similar mannerisms as being creative yet having a solid sense of humor as well.
Matthew Maher playing Wallace… This guy was flat out entertaining, as his mannerisms and hairstyle reminded me a lot of my Uncle Eddie. His whole behavioral issue shtick delivered several laugh out moments from the moment this character was introduced, as watching this emotionally unstable guy was just intriguing yet hilarious to watch. I feel one thing this film did much different with this character that can come across as a flaw, is not following the whole developing a mutual relationship, to where one finds out they’re used as a jokingly muse… The person gets offended. I felt that trope could’ve been displayed here, as I like and appreciate the turn of direction, that when the subtle reveal was made at the end, it wasn’t captivated by the same repetitive trope we see time and time again.
Of course my anticipation of this film was solely based around the fact this was an A24 film, I didn’t know anything about this film nor watch any trailers… Thank God I didn’t, the trailer gives away too much. From the bizarre yet delightful opening, as it’s visually captured as this older looking film, followed by being produced by The Safdie Brothers… I felt I was in for a satisfying treat. Which in end result: This was a satisfying film to watch, as I can myself revisiting in the near future.
This dark naive coming of age story, is a story in which I can see many people can honestly relate to in some regard, especially if you want to be an artist, model, or want to get into the entertainment industry. You get to that age where you feel you got life figured out, that you no longer need to attend school as it feels like a waste of time for you, as you’re ready to set sail on going forward putting your time and effort on your career path. I can relate with Robert as when I was in a vulnerable state of mind like Robert is, I thought of dropping out of high school and go pursue my career path instead. The idea of it all sounds exciting, you feel motivated with a lot of adrenaline that you feel you can do it. But then when you face the hard hitting truth of reality… You realize the lifestyle you would be living temporarily is HORRID, with immense challenges. This film can really be used as a life saver for many teenagers closing in on high school, feeling they got it all figured out and the world is in their hands, when in reality they have LONGS WAYS to go and need to finish the basics of having a high school degree.
The film excels on being a fairly paced story, while also producing quality comedy material as well. Watching Robert go through this process, meeting some unfamiliar characters, and being in such uncomfortable circumstances… It’s fairly entertaining and satisfying to watch. Like pretty much every single character is interesting to watch, whether they’re the simple minded people like Robert’s parents or the Lawyer Robert works for, or the MANY weird individuals we see in this film especially in random locations… It’s just oddly satisfying, as they’re all fascinating to watch.
The comedy material of this film ROCKS! The best thing about the comedic sequences is it’ll stay with your mind for a long time, as the moments are truly memorable in shock value, are unsettling, and of course capturing the complete bizarre emotionally unstable nature of these beings. That’s really the beauty within these dump small town like places: Expect some weird people, experiencing weird experiences you wouldn’t find in city life, as someone whom lived in Buffalo I actually know what it’s like to be around people like this.
I do have a couple flaws with Funny Pages. The length of the film: It’s too short. I felt another twenty-thirty minutes needed to be made, I mean how does one not want more when the environment and story is extremely investing?! You gotta have MORE and this film needed more time I feel. I felt some sequences ran on a bit longer than they should have. They’ll be a moment here and there where the scene just runs on a bit long, which for an hour and twenty something minute film you want to continue on a consistent pace so everything is well developed.
I feel Funny Pages had the potential to be a classic tier film, it has the elements in which can produce a classic quality film. Unfortunately: It doesn’t quite hit that pinnacle I was hoping it would achieve, but it’s still a film in which brings a fair amount of joy and likeness, where you can certainly come back to it from time to time, which that is a massive achievement for a debut regardless.
Overall, Funny Pages was a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, worth the $6.99 rental price and most certainly worth the price of admission if it’s playing in a theater near you. -Mitch Smietana