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Funny Ha Ha (2003)

Cast: Kate Dollenmayer, Christian Rudder, Myles Paige, more...
Director: Andrew Bujalski
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Wellspring
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Running Time: 90 min.
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American independent filmmaker Andrew Bujalski makes his feature debut as a writer/director with the microbudgeted Funny Ha Ha. Shot on-location in Boston on 16 mm film, the movie is predominately cast with unprofessional actors engaging in realistic discourse. Main character Marnie is played by first-time actress Kate Dollenmayer, a student at CalArts who previously worked on Richard Linklater's Waking Life. Marnie goes about her everyday life with a conflicted love for her friend Alex (Christian Rudder) and a dispassionate attitude toward her job as a temp office worker. While at work she meets the nervous Mitchell, played by the director. Funny Ha Ha was shown at the 2003 IFP Los Angeles Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Exclusive Interview

If Hannah Eaves had to be interrupted during her talk with Andrew Bujalski about Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation, she couldn't have asked for a more appropriate disruption. Full article >>

GreenCine Member Reviews

This movie requires patience and sympathy. by raphaelc August 16, 2005 - 2:36 PM PDT
14 out of 14 members found this review helpful
I left this movie saying, "GodDAMN that movie sucked."

The friend who saw it with me was even less enamored with it. As we talked, I found myself taking a devil's advocate position, just for the sake of discussion, but slowly I realized that maybe I didn't hate this movie as much as I thought.

There is barely a plot. No narrative question to keep you engaged. It reminds me of 70's and early 80's indie flicks (Stranger Than Paradise comes to mind). Instead of creating suspense by showing a clear desire or goal that drives the main character, the audience is subjected to watching the characters go about their lives without any device that creates suspense. That narrative question is not "What's going to happen next?" but "Why are the characters doing *that*?" It's much harder to make a movie of this type that is still interesting, as it requires an extraordinary ability for subtle storytelling. And Bujalski doesn't have that skill yet.

Upon reflection, however, there are a lot of things that Bujalski gets right. Several critics have complained of the inarticulate, unintersting, mopey characters who stagger through post-college life without any real direction. They hate the movie because they hate the characters. I really disliked most of the main characters. But I realized that the characters were perfect representations of many people who I know in real life (most of whom I also dislike). Like it or not, there is a large portion of the population who, through a mix of privilege, stupidity and sheltered upgringing, really are THAT annoying and incapable of articulating even basic ideas and emotions. This movie does a *stellar* job of putting this type of person on the screen.

What's more, the three main characters (Marnie, Alex, and Mitchell) are three variations on the inarticulate-bumbling-hipster-slacker-loser-mope who each deal (or not) with the challenges of living their lives in slightly different ways. It's interesting, after watching the movie, to think back on how each of those characters behaved throughout the movie, and to realize that the one who seems most like a loser (Mitchell) probably has the most redeeming qualities out of all of them.

As a character study of certain types of twentysomethings, this is actually a fairly successful and skillfully made movie. But the movie is not for everyone. First, it takes a lot of patience to watch. Second, viewers probably need to know a person or two who is like the characters in the movie. Lastly, and most importantly, viewers need to suspend their annoyance with (and perhaps downright hatred of) the characters and really examine them with a sympathetic eye, because these film portraits are very true to life.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.32)
56 Votes
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Reviewed on Show Me Your Titles film podcast
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