Funny Ha Ha (Bujalski, 2002)

Andrew Bujalski writes, directs, edits and co-stars in this sometimes charming, always awkward comedy about a girl searching for a purpose and companionship during a post collegiate malaise. Marnie aimlessly walks the streets, runs into friends, eats dinner, drinks too much, and looks for solace in the all the wrong people. Marnie’s plight stems from her doubt in positive relationship, but she tries to make connections, sometimes failing, other times succeeding. Fulfillment is always one step ahead of her.

Marnie’s conversations with various people range from uneasy to hilariously muddled. These kids can’t express themselves, but they seem to realize the need to. Miscommunications abound but there is a glimmer of hope for Marnie as she realizes there’s more to life than reliving old college experiences. While watching, I thought of a better film concerning similar subject matter called Kicking and Screaming (not that shitty Will Ferrell movie) directed by Noah Baumbach. Granted, Kicking and Screaming represents a different generational attitude, but it still has a distinct storytelling structure paralleling the dynamic shift in circumstance surrounding those character’s panic.

Funny Ha Ha aimlessly wonders around structure as characters meander back and forth without any substantial story backing up their actions. While that may be the intention, it feels amateurish as a film production. Mise-en-scene, sound, and cinematography all come across flat and uninspired and no matter how good the writing and acting, it’s hard to dismiss this fact.

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