Slamdance 2018: Funny Story REVIEW

Emily Bett Rickards in Funny Story

Cultured Vultures spoilers

Arrow’s Emily Bett Rickards delivers the performance of a lifetime in Funny Story. The film, directed by Michael Gallagher, premiered this weekend at the Slamdance Film Festival.

Walter Campbell (Matthew Glave) is all set to dump his much-younger girlfriend, Lucy, until she drops the bomb that she’s pregnant with his child. This sets Walter off into a mid-life crisis of his own as he tries to figure out how to tell his daughter, Nic (Jana Winternitz, who doubles as a producer), the news. Ever since he left her mother, the two have not been on the best of terms and Walter figures that the best way to do so is to tell her himself in person at Big Sur.

Meanwhile, Kim (Rickards) is dealing with her own issues following the death of her estranged mom from breast cancer. On the way back from the funeral, her car hits the end of the line and who else does she hitch a ride with on the way back but Walter. The two of them bond on the way back, including a one-night stand following a karaoke night.

It’s not until they arrive in Big Sur that Walter finds out that his daughter is in a relationship with another woman and it’s the day before her wedding. Walter takes it much better than many parents would, even as he finds the words in telling her that he accepts her for who she is. Ultimately, he tells her that he’s “cool with it”, but being the typical guy, he just has to ask who the guy is in the relationship. As easy as it is to accept that his daughter is a lesbian, Walter struggles to tell her about Lucy’s pregnancy.

The script, co-written by Gallagher and Steve Greene, is able to find a nice mixture of comedy, drama, and memorable characters that you can’t help but enjoy. It’s also one that brings representation on the screen for lesbians and bisexuals alike. It’s important that they get it right in order to do justice by the LGBTQ community. What was just as important was getting the coming out scene right. Ask anyone who is LGBTQIA and they will tell you how terrifying it can be to come out to one’s family and Funny Story gets it right, but not without some humor at Walter’s expense.

What is truly impressive is that the production only took 15 days to complete from start to finish and get some next-level performances while doing so.

The other thing that’s important in Funny Story is its strong ensemble of female characters. There are very few men in this film. Matthew Glave is one of them but Emily Bett Rickards owns the screen nearly as much as he does. Being a series regular on a television series means that there’s not much time to take on other roles but Rickards takes her acting to the next level in the film.

The film also includes some memorable turns from Nikki Limo, Lily Holleman, Jessica Diggins, Aschleigh Jensen, Jacob Wysocki, Pete Gardner, and Reginald VelJohnson.

With memorable performances, Funny Story is a dramedy that will appeal to those in the LGBTQ community.

An official selection of the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival, Funny Story premieres on January 21, 2018.

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