We all know him. The morbidly interesting guy who takes the every-day bullshit he deals with and sort of attempts to transform it into comedy for others. Unable to truly open up about his personal drama in order to be successful at this, Paul Scott (Alex Karpovsky) is a familiar character with an opportunity to change his life for the better and not taking it.
Jeff Grace’s feature debut Folk Hero and Funny Guy premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this past Sunday. Tribeca’s films are known and expected to behold a portrait of creative vision in film; unique perspectives on original stories told in a distinctive style that are always comforting, knowing that true filmic innovation still has a place to thrive. For Folk Hero however, it was hardly atypical. It’s reminiscent of those lovable road movies, like one of Karpovsky’s own, Red Flag, that have similar themes of seeking inspiration and breaking out of one’s comfort zone. Meredith Hagner gives a cool performance as Bryn, the local singer-songwriter who joins the boys on tour and becomes a true test to their friendship.
A temp worker who swims in the juvenile angst of his own misfortune, dumped by his beautiful fiance who seeks a more stable and fulfilling life, Paul is given the opportunity to find himself and explore the beautiful US of A with his longtime pal; simple-minded, sexy, blonde, moderately successful folk-rock musician, Jason Black (Wyatt Russell). Paul is brought on tour as a stand-up comic to open up each of Jason’s shows. He ditches his office job and goes with every intention of both finding a crowd that would laugh at his bad E-vite joke, and figuring out how he’s going to make it back to the top…not that he was ever at the top. The overwhelming urge to yell at him to “STFU” about that pathetic joke that no one will laugh at became redundant…however self-reflective. How often do we make excuses for rudimentary behavior so we can justify never having to change? Change is scary. It’s also necessary.
Although Jason seems like the air-headed rocker dude who just lives his life night by night, he almost ends up having a real depth to him. The engaged woman that he was apparently in love with sat him down and broke the truth; “You are only good for one night.” That could have a harsh affect on anyone, but it looks like Jason got out his sorry emotions in about 11 seconds, then went right back to being good for one night. Within those 11 seconds however, he was able to insult Bryn and piss off Paul to the point that Paul finally found some new material for his comedy. This of course, muddled together with realizing the extent of one’s potential, is what ultimately brought everyone to where they were meant to be.
Despite a few dull moments of predictability, Folk Hero and Funny Guy offers inspiring bites for those who could relate to Paul’s limbo state between wanting to thrive creatively, not giving a damn about boring responsibilities like his buddy Jason, and having to buckle down and get the dreaded 9-5. It’s a coming of age movie…for grown ups. “Desire, Hope, Hunger and Freedom” are what drives the three of them to take on the dive bars of America. It’s enough to kick your ass down to self-doubt and sorrow. It’s also enough to fulfill your life more than you could ever expect.
The music throughout the movie, written by Adam Ezra, was a beautiful soundtrack to the simplicity and charm that was nicely executed by both Hagner and Russell. I didn’t expect his voice to sound as raw and sexy as it did. But the rough depth in his voice mixed with the warm and toasty sound of Hagner’s created a lovely duality that the film encapsulated.
Written by Annie Paul