Culture / Film

‘Funny Pages’ is dank and grotty and we’d love to see it

funny pages

The kind of adjectives wafting around Owen Kline's dark comedy Funny Pages would be a turn off in any other circumstance. "Scuffy" one reviewer wrote, "grotty" said another. The Guardian's own assessment dubbed it "a film so malodorous and barely house-trained that one is half-tempted to prop it outside by the bins". But it appears this is essential to the movie's magic. The one fact that all reviews of Funny Pages agree on, besides the squalid state of Robert's flatshare, is that the film is a gem. For those who are yet to sit down and press play, we're priming you with everything you should know about Funny Pages, below.

What is Funny Pages about?

Like most films A24 aligns itself with, Funny Pages is an offbeat comedy that follows 18-year-old Robert on his quest to become a comic book artist. Shot on Super 16mm, the film is lo-fi and deliciously nostalgic, nailing the 90s middle class suburban New Jersey aesthetic to a T. When Robert's mentor tragically dies, the teenager announces to his well-meaning, loving parents that he's leaving home to live in an underground den to embrace the life of a comic artist.

Along the way he discovers a new mentor in the comic artist Wallace Schearer, played brilliantly by Matthew Maher, who in Robert's eyes is a genius gone to seed. To everyone else, including Robert's parents, he's to be avoided, a misanthrope that you wouldn't want your impressionable teenager to hang around. To those who know of Owen Kline's relationship with the Safdie brothers and Noah Baumbach, you'll recognise their influence stitched into the tapestry of Funny Pages.

Who is involved?

Perhaps, the best thing about the film is Kline's choice to assemble a cast of painfully ordinary-looking actors. A decision which bolsters the grimy feel and does justice to the world it seeks to represent. Robert is played by Daniel Zolghadri, who you may recognise from Eighth Grade. Maria Dizzia and Josh Pais act as Robert's parents, and Miles Emanuel is Robert's school friend Miles Kiersh. Matthew Maher is colourist Wallace, and together with Fred Hechinger, Andrew Milonakis, Mitchell Wenig and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, Kline has pulled off a refreshing lineup of faces.

Is there a release date?

Although Funny Pages premiered in Australia at the 2022 Melbourne International Film Festival, we don't have an official release date yet. Watch this space.

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