FilmIFFBoston 2016

IFFBoston Review: ‘Folk Hero & Funny Guy’ is Funny and Strictly Generic

Samuel Kaufman ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Wyatt Russel, Meredith Hagner, and Alex Karpovsky in Folk Hero and Funny Guy. Photo Credit: Spitfire Studios.

Folk Hero & Funny Guy won’t go down in anyone’s book as a great film. On the other hand, you would be hard pressed to find someone to hate it. It is simply fine. One of those movies where using the phrase “a pretty good flick” to describe it would be accurate. Folk Hero & Funny Guy is a light, amusing “bromance” road trip movie.

The film was started on Kickstarter, and is the directorial debut of actor Jeff Grace. It follows Paul (Alex Karpovsky), a failing stand-up comedian in the midst of a — for lack of a better term — quarter-life crisis. Paul’s friend Jason (Wyatt Russell), on the other hand, is a successful folk-rock musician who is looking for a change of pace by going on a solo, acoustic tour- smaller, more intimate crowds and all. After a night of drinking and catching up, Jason invites Paul to be the opening act on his new tour in order to get Paul out of the house and out of his rut. After much convincing, Paul eventually accepts. Think if Father John Misty went on tour, and his opening act was your sort of funny friend. What follows is a pretty typical road trip movie, complete with hijinks, misadventures, and montages.

Folk Hero & Funny Guy is by no means formulaic, but just happens to fall into a pre-established genre. The concept itself is an interesting one, the ending is deserved (if wildly predictable), and in between there is enough chemistry, good folk music, and comedy to keep you engaged. While Karpovsky and Russell do a fine job, the real show-stealer is Meredith Hagner, playing Bryn, a small town folk singer who the duo meets on the first night of the tour, and whom Jason drunkenly invites to join them on the rest of the exploits. Hagner brings her A-game here, adding heart and realism to a part which is essentially a plot device for Paul and Jason to have a falling out. The soundtrack is another strong point, featuring songs written by folk singer Adam Ezra, as well as some of the cast members.

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Alex Karpovsky and Wyatt Russel in Folk Hero and Funny Guy. Photo Credit: Spitfire Studios.

With a film centering on music and comedy, the performance scenes are crucial to get right, and Folk Hero & Funny Guy does not disappoint. Instead of pre-recording singing or comedy and mixing it with post-recorded laughter or applause, Jeff Grace opted to record all of the singing, comedy and crowds live, which adds a realistic and intimate feeling to those scenes. Additionally, the performers feel natural on stage, with Karpovsky nailing the energy and timing of an observational comic, and Russell and Hagner looking and sounding great.

Where the film falls short is in some of the minor technical aspects. Things like the cinematography, editing, and sound mixing are all acceptable, if a tad pedestrian. There are some glaring continuity errors, a few questionable actors in small roles, and two distractingly bad CGI shots. Nothing is a deal breaker, but it’s harder to get engrossed in the story when the film is constantly reminding you what it is — a low-budget directorial debut, that stretches itself a little too thin and occasionally shows its seams.

Folk Hero & Funny Guy will never have you gripping the edge of your seat in suspense, peeing yourself laughing, or reaching for the tissues. It isn’t the kind of movie that will change your life, or even really your week. But if you have 88 minutes to kill and are looking for something pretty good that will keep you amused while you’re watching it, you could do far worse than Folk Hero & Funny Guy.

The Independent Film Festival Boston runs through May 4th. Visit iffboston.org for more information.

Overall Grade: B-

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