If you live in Australia, Carl Barron feels like he has been around forever. His comedy doesn’t try to be philosophical, it doesn’t have any themes. He is just a funny bastard who can make you laugh just by how he pronounces a word. He is an expert at what I think they call ‘observational comedy’; stuff anyone, anywhere can enjoy. A comparison could be made to George Carlin’s earlier, less political observational humour. Just funny things that we all think about from time to time, no matter who we are or where we come from.
So we take a consistently funny-man, shove him into a movie, and BAM! It’ll be hit, right?
Lets get the worst news out-of-the-way, shall we? This is a rom-com, an extremely predictable one for the most part. There is one slight spanner thrown into the works where the girl he has met has a secret, and is essentially using it to her advantage. But it doesn’t have the desired impact on how the relationship forms, and doesn’t save the film from following almost all the stereotypes.
Now the fact it is a rom-com will scare many away without a second thought, and I’m sure it has done so, considering the FOUR other people in the cinema with me. Personally, rom-coms usually make me want to remove my eyeballs with a plastic spoon. But that is just me, something about my personality makes romantic films one of the few types of films that I do not enjoy. Perhaps I am just a lonely, miserable bastard! Hell, I only need one hand to count the romantic films I have enjoyed. But as someone constantly trying to push my cinematic boundaries, always trying to find new elements of cinema that I might enjoy (in all honesty I’d be studying film if I could), I gave this one a shot. I’m glad I did, as I did enjoy this.
The film’s strongest point is its depiction of a comedian’s life beyond the stage. Yes, this isn’t an original idea – but the key word here is comedian. If there are other films like this please let me know, but I don’t know of any others that show you what it is like to be comedian – to be loved by so many people, but on a deeper level, loved by no one. He can make people laugh, but he can’t connect with the people who he entertains, or any person for that matter. I certainly felt like I was watching myself at points, which added personal appeal for me. Another great achievement this movie manages to pull off is the subtle changes to Barron’s persona and the comedy of ‘Manny Lewis’. Manny is a little less easy-going, a little more serious than Carl himself, and the same can be said for the bits of Manny’s comedy that are sprinkled throughout the movie. While slightly different from what he normally does, it is still Barron at heart, and all five people in the cinema with me were laughing constantly. This is a funny movie.
If you like awkwardness in comedy (which seems to be popular ever since The Office) this excels in that department also, as Manny almost consistently says the wrong thing and stumbles across his words. The same can be said for the girl he meets, who seems to be in a tough situation herself. Watching him tell himself in the mirror before a date “For once, in your life, don’t act like a dickhead!!” again reminded me so much of myself… just, you know, minus the being a famous comedian part. As I said, I think that is why I managed to connect with a type of film I would normally despise. That and its Carl fucking Barron on-screen.
I know I go on about this, but hopefully, somehow, someway, some day, the right person will read what I have to say about how we support our own cinema. The Infinite Man got attention on the festival circuit, yet it barely screened here – in the bloody state it was filmed in. The same can be said for The Rover, each of these two films screened for a month here and were then gone. Despite being filmed in this state. With Manny Lewis it is even more ridiculous, as this movie was released on March the 26th. I saw the final screening the Wednesday just past, April 1st. Which means this film screened for one week, at only two cinemas. I continue to be disgusted with how business always rules and even home-grown films get no recognition, promotion, and if you don’t act fast the film will be gone from the screens. I’ll end the rant there, sorry for that.
IN A NUTSHELL?
I am desperately trying to find a reason why this film deserves more than 60 percent, but I can’t think of one. Remove Carl Barron, remove his slightly altered comedy bits, and all that you are left with is a conventional, by-the-numbers, trying nothing new rom-com that would have left me with severed eyeballs. Would this have worked had I not known Carl Barron? Hopefully this movie finds distribution overseas and I can see other reactions from around the world and find an answer to that question. Though I gotta say, I think he should stick to stand-up, he is fucking hysterical!
Unless you do enjoy conventional rom-coms, in which case I’d definitely recommend this, I highly recommend his DVD “A One Ended Stick” which will have you laughing much more than this movie will. But the movie is pretty damned funny it itself, and my eyeballs are still in-tact. Barron is such a likeable guy that its impossible to hate on the man. I just prefer his stand-up.
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