Genre: Comedy / Horror
IMDB Rating: 4.6 / 10
Oh, the 90s. It was a glorious time where all the clothes were too baggy, cellphones were the size of a reasonable backpack, and (as this movie testifies to) a teenage girl could easily be mistaken for a man in his mid-40s. This is the era that birthed Funny Man. Combine that with the fact that it’s a British production and you know you’re in for a helluva ride. A somewhat uneven, disjointed and unnecessarily off-the-fourth-wall ride, but a ride nonetheless.
It’s a story as old as time itself. In a world dominated by so much palm print it could only have been stolen from the set of The Golden Girls once the show wrapped, Max Taylor finds himself gambling with people who might not seem the friendliest, but who would undoubtedly come in handy if you ever needed to hide the bodies of the family you just murdered. In this gambling game that escalated rather quickly, Max went from making some decent cash to winning a rather lavish mansion in an undisclosed part of Britain. He decides to move his family in as soon as possible, upon which he and his wife partake in a cocaine binge that single-handedly kept the Columbian economy afloat for several fiscal periods.
But life can’t just be all opulence and cocaine binges. These old houses always have something wrong with them – a leaky pipe, creaky floors, a porthole to a demonic jester’s village, you know? Every day problems. Forgetting to lay bait stations for the jester as one would for a cockroach infestation, the Funny Man goes on a rampage through the house, killing Max’s wife and two kids and leaving Max alone with nothing more than a slippery slide loaded with yet more cocaine and a one-way ticket to madness.
Not one to be left out of all the family fun, Max’s brother (whose name I didn’t catch throughout the movie’s entire duration) is coming to spend some quality time with his kin. He arrives with a rather miscreant bunch of people, including a would-be member of The Supremes and Velma Dinkley after she fell on hard times. Pseudo-Supreme has a bad feeling about the place and, after injecting heroin into her hand in an attempt to commune with the spirits and partaking in a bout of rather fierce yodelling, sets out to banish the Funny Man to the hell from whence he came. Along the way the group will reminisce over lost opportunities, duck hunts that went awry, and experience all that Club Sexy, the Brigadoon of strip clubs, has to offer.
It was the 90s, so you have to be prepared to let some things slide. I imagine that, in its day, this movie looked spectacular. Well, perhaps ‘spectacular’ is too strong a word, but it would certainly have been more than passable. Everything you see is a little bit shiny and a little bit too plastic to completely buy in to what you’re watching, but that does provide the movie with a slightly camp feel that’s a delight all in its own. On the upside, because it’s from the 90s, you aren’t inundated with unnecessary CG, and when something blows up it really blows up, so it does have that in its favour.
What does become more than a little annoying is the Funny Man constantly talking to the camera. I’m all for a little off-the-fourth-wall action and a movie having a bit of fun at its own expense, but it happens so much in this film that it becomes quite jarring and makes the already-implausible action seem that little bit more disjointed.
That aside, and allowing for the rather campy aesthetic, points have to be given for the sheer outlandish ways that the Funny Man does away with his victims. From a mad soccer goalie to the use of a car battery far outside what its warranty will cover to a murder most foul at the end of a stripper heel, Funny Man certainly does have its fun moments.
Whelming. Neither under- nor over-, just whelming. It may not be an accepted English word, but I do believe it to be an entirely valid emotion. This movie had so many things going for it, and about 60% of the time it manages to pull it off. It’s the other 40% of the time that it becomes problematic. It doesn’t do anything terribly wrong, it just doesn’t always get it entirely right either.
The other problem is the story line. Now, as one who revels in atrociously made horror and sci-fi films I’d be the first to admit that you don’t need a strong story to make a decently (and unintentionally) funny film, but there has to at least be a semblance of a plot that the movie can hold on to. If Funny Man had one, then I must have missed it. It just felt that we moved from one ridiculous murder to the next without any real purpose. Not that the murders weren’t entertaining in and of themselves, but I never really got the sense of what it was all in aid of, which makes the end product mildly amusing but ultimately pointless.
To finish off, I’ll put it this way: I wouldn’t rush out to buy Funny Man just on its own, but if you were planning a light marathon of quirky horror films then this would be a good one to insert in the middle of the festivities to allow yourself a little breather.
My Final Rating: 5 / 10
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