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FUNNY PAGES (2022, USA) – 7/10

The young American filmmaker Owen Kline (son of the famous American actor Kevin Kline and the actress Phoebe Cates whom we remember as a teenage star from the eighties) shot an unusual and bizarre, even somewhat nostalgic coming-of-age black comedy, which he presented at the Cannes festival. Young Kline made his acting debut as a boy in the humorous drama “The Squid and the Whale” by Noah Baumbach before devoting himself to other activities, and at the age of 30 he made his debut in a feature film. One of those activities was drawing caricatures and comics, and the main character of this eccentric film shot in a way that looks like an American indie from the nineties is also a young and talented comic artist.

Robert (Daniel Zolghadri) is a high school student who dreams of becoming a comic book artist and has decided to sacrifice everything for that. His obvious stylistic role model is the legendary comic artist Robert Crumb, and Robert’s comics are anything but children’s, and he is obviously talented and capable of quickly drawing caricatures of the people around him. After the tragic death of his mentor, Robert will leave school and try to establish himself as a cartoonist, to the horror of his parents. He will move into a basement apartment in Trenton with two, to put it mildly, bizarre and eccentric roommates, and will soon befriend Wallace (Matthew Maher), a psychotic weirdo who once did some support work for Robert’s favorite publishing house. Although it is obvious that Wallace is a complete lunatic, Robert will see in him an opportunity to enter the serious world of comics, and this silly, fun and twisted black comedy will unfold in a completely unexpected way.

Kline should be given credit at the same time, but also asked where he managed to find all these characters that almost look like some kind of caricatures. Practically all but one character, except for Robert’s parents, in “Funny Pages” are real weirdos, and the naive, stubborn and spoiled teenager will eventually realize that the world doesn’t exactly work the way he imagined. Kline did a good job because “Funny Pages”, unlike many films with a similar coming-of-age theme, avoids falling into sentimentality and pathos. There is some almost boyish playfulness, naivety and some situations in this film that can be almost warning, but Kline does not cross the line of good taste. All the craziness that we will see here is actually an indication of how far Robert has really gone and what he is ready for in order to achieve his mission.