(Viewed on 5/25/11)

As a rule, I despise “mumblecore" films, but I that’s not to say I hate independent films that came before Funny Ha Ha that are light on plot and heavy on rambling dialogue.  Return of the Seacaucus 7 was a film I watched this year that I really enjoyed, and would have been classified as “mumblecore” had it been made in the 2000s.  I love most Cassavetes’s films.  According to the tenants of naturalism and character-driven plots, I should LOVE mumblecore.  It’s just that the films I’ve seen that belong to the mumblecore movement are terribly written and boring.  The Puffy Chair was unwatchable.  Nights and Weekends was just ok.  The most recent mumblecore films look better, but they’re nothing like Funny Ha Ha.  Cyrus isn’t mumblecore, but it’s made by mumblecore filmmakers so it’s classified as such, and it was decent.  I’m very curious about Tiny Furniture.

So it was with great reluctance that I watched Funny Ha Ha at the insistence of Craig Larry Massie.  He said our friendship was hanging in the balance, so of course I relented.  I did not hate Funny Ha Ha.  Andrew Bujalski (writer and director) played a character so awkward to watch that my insides hurt.  I dated several of that guy in high school.  But Funny Ha Ha is remarkable for more than that, and it made me understand why it got noticed by critics.  It’s about nothing very interesting, there’s no dramatic tension, virtually nothing is at stake, but it’s well-acted, well-written, and perfectly timed.  This was no hap-hazard endeavor.  Bujalski set out to make a completely true-to-life film, and most personal dramas of our lives are boring and awkward and not special.  The manipulation required to get the viewer invested is where it’s value lies.