Humor Me – Los Angeles Film Festival 2017
Adam reviews Humor Me directed by Sam Hoffman starring Jemaine Clement, Elliott Gould and Ingrid Michaelson which premiered at Los Angeles Film Festival 2017.
Humor Me is the type of comedic drama or dramatic comedy (take your pick) that audiences delight in. Sincere, funny and emotionally satisfying, this film about a man coming of age at the beginning of mid-life. Rather than trading on gross out gags, Humor Me relies on the charms of its stars, great funny writing and a low-key charm that has become a rare commodity in today’s market place of four quadrant comedies.
Clement plays Nate Kroll, an out of work, out of home, out of family, out of luck playwright forced to live with his dad, Bob (Gould), in an expansive retirement community. The film is light on plot and heavy on character. It recalls the works of early-era Paul Masursky or Hal Ashby in the way that, though plotless, the film’s characters carry the weight of the film through to its end. Nate and Bob are at odds with one another over a great many things. The beauty comes in how Clement and Gould play father and son. Clement seems at every turn to be exacurbated by his father’s constant joke telling. Gould is masterful playing Bob, trying to communicate with his son the only way he knows how — through humor. The film does not devolve into histrionics. Though emotions do at times run high, it’s within reason and never melodramatic.
The film plays out as an ensemble piece, giving some choice roles to the supporting cast. Ingrid Michaelson kills as Allison Nate’s fellow comrade in life rebuilding. Clement and Michaelson have great chemistry together that isn’t over played. Like most of the film, it’s a low-key affair with Michaelson deftly avoiding most of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” tropes that come with this type of role. Priscilla Lopez, Le Clanche du Rand and Annie Potts play the trifecta of women that Nate eventually helps to put on a version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Each of these actresses is given some great moments of in-fighting and insight. As is Willie C. Carpenter as the grounds keeper/resident and unintended rival to Nate for Helen’s affections, which does lead to a great chase scene between the two.
Ultimately, the film belongs to Clement and Gould as father and son. The success of the film is built around their relationship. It succeeds in creating a great character-based comedy, and many will delight in its charms.