Combustible Celluloid
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With: Alex Karpovsky, Wyatt Russell, Meredith Hagner, Michael Ian Black, Hannah Simone, Heather Morris, Melanie Lynskey, David Cross, Sarah Arnold, Alex McKenna, Rachel Staman, Thida Penn, Jessica Megan Rivera, Todd Berger, Blaise Miller, Kevin M. Brennann, Mike C. Manning
Written by: Jeff Grace
Directed by: Jeff Grace
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 88
Date: 05/12/2017

Folk Hero & Funny Guy (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Venter Stage

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by Jeff Grace, this laid-back, bittersweet comedy at first seems a little formulaic, but as it goes along it proves less reliant on dumb situations than on interesting characters.

In Folk Hero & Funny Guy, Paul (Alex Karpovsky) has just suffered a terrible breakup, his standup comedy career is going nowhere, and he's beginning to think that maybe he should go back into ad copywriting. Meanwhile his old friend, the mellow, bearded Jason (Wyatt Russell), has become a successful folk rock singer and is preparing to go on a tour of various, small, east coast clubs. On a whim, Jason asks Paul to come along and be his opening act.

Trouble begins when they meet Bryn (Meredith Hagner), an up-and-coming singer whom Paul falls for and whom Jason wants to perform with. As the tour goes on, little truths come out, such as Jason's pining for a lost love (Melanie Lynskey), and Paul's refusal to update his material, using experiences from his own life, causing more arguing. Can their friendship survive?

There are hundreds of movies about an uptight character and a carefree character that get together and teach each other lessons, but Folk Hero & Funny Guy mostly overcomes that limitation. The Paul character can be a little hard to take as he continually performs the same dismal, dated joke (about Evite), time after time, without ever realizing that it's bombing; it makes the character seem a little dimmer than he really is.

Wyatt Russell, the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, proves he has inherited his parents' star power, and makes a most appealing and believable singing star. He makes it look effortless; it's easy to believe that just about anyone would willingly go along on his half-baked tour.

All together, the two leads, as well as the Bryn character, seem to click on levels that involve real emotions and real reactions. If the movie gives the impression that it's going to be uproariously funny, it's not, but it's still quite engaging.

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