Folk Hero & Funny Guy
Disappointingly generic buddy road movie
Writer-director Jeff Grace’s feature debut is as middling and generic as its title suggests, an Apatow-esque comedy-drama that lets down its largely talented cast by frequently misjudging its characters. Alex Karpovsky (Girls, Inside Llewyn Davis) and Wyatt Russell (son of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, who you might recognise as that annoying gamer in the Black Mirror virtual-reality episode Playtest) star as the funny guy, Paul, and the folk hero, Jason, respectively.
Paul is a struggling stand-up comic who carries a notebook with him onstage even though he’s been “reworking” the same passé, cringe-worthy material for years. His old friend Jason is a successful folk-rock musician who can sell out arenas but still has the kind of hipster cachet that enables him to hang out in bars relatively unscathed.
While Paul is acerbic, hypercritical, self-conscious and generally miserable (you know, a comedian), Jason is an easy-going partier who attracts women almost as easily as his feet repel shoes. When Jason decides to embark on an acoustic solo tour, he convinces Paul to come along as his opening act in order to get his “mojo” back. Instead, Paul routinely bombs onstage when not stressing over his crush on Jason’s other opening act, the winsome, honey-voiced singer-songwriter Bryn (Meredith Hagner).
The fabulously dour and deadpan Karpovsky is a unique and engaging screen presence, and it’s great to see him in a rare leading role. But he feels de-fanged in this film, and Paul’s self-awareness seems to come and go in order to suit the whims of the script (Why, for instance, would he object to Jason treating Bryn like “property” and in the next breath complain about getting his “sloppy seconds”?). There are a few genuinely funny moments (the standout being a supremely awkward attempted ménage a trois featuring a selfie stick), but ultimately the film is too bland to leave much of an impression, like Jason’s well-crafted yet innocuous music.
Folk Hero & Funny Guy is a bromance between two bros who should either never have been friends in the first place, or would have at least grown apart in the real world. But rather than delving too deeply into the complicated notion of the dissolution of friendships amidst personal evolution, it offers rote resolution that seems wholly unearned.
Follow Michelle Devereaux on Twitter at @mldevereaux