Friday, November 2, 2007

Funny Farm

Funny Farm; Comedy, USA, 1988; D: George Roy Hill, S: Chevy Chase, Madolyn Smith Osborne, Kevin O'Morrison, Joseph Maher, Jack Gilpin, Mike Starr, Glenn Plummer, Caris Corfman

Writer Andy feels trapped in New York, so he one day simply decides to move with his wife Elizabeth to a farm in a small town, to write his new novel in peace. But the idyllic countryside is quickly disrupted: they have strange village folks, an unbearable postman, discover a corpse in their yard while their dog is too lazy to do anything. On top of that, Elizabeth admits she doesn't like Andy's new novel, so he simply steals her manuscript for a children's book. In order to save their marriage, they decide to sell their house, but in the end change their mind and decide to stay anyway.

Director George Roy Hill gained considerable fame with famous films like "Sting" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", yet his last film, the comedy of absurd "Funny Farm", where he teamed up the only time with comedian Chevy Chase, didn't catch him in best shape, even though he directed some moments better than some other mediocre director would have. And a lot of credit goes to the story based on the humorous novel by the talented Jay Cronley. It's a light, thin, simple, but fun comedy about life in the countryside that doesn't have much to offer, but luckily there are indeed a few excellent gags present, enough for an honest laugh, like the lake where the main protagonist Andy is fishing and only manages to catch a snake (!), two ducks who always submerge bellow water when they hear the mailman's car or the best joke, a dog so lazy that Andy has to take a stick and remove his tale from the cabin fire. The problem is that the characters are well developed yet not particularly interesting, while the story's last 20 minutes are rather standard, just your run-of-the-mill happy ending. The authors of some sitcoms would have probably bitten all of their fingernails from jealousy for such juicy gags, except that they would have filmed the whole story in just 20 minutes. "Funny Farm" isn't a revolutionary film, but it offers Chase in best shape and is a "guilty pleasure" for a lot of the things it tried.


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