24 year old Marnie is, quite simply, a mess.
A college graduate, Marnie is still living the life of an unfocused
freshman dormie, partying by night, crashing wherever she may land,
jumping from one menial job to the other, and having no direction
whatsoever in her life. (Sounds exactly like a 40 year old I know!)
Adding fuel to the fire is her one talent - looking for Mr. Right but
always finding Mr. Wrong. Our first image of her is she walks in to what
looks like a cramped back room of an underground radio station. Harsh
lighting, a myriad of some rather unusual sketches and pictures on one
wall, with stacks of what appears to be cassettes or movies on the
other, and a less then hygienically friendly man greet her. Marnie wants
a tattoo. Only problem is Marnie is drunk - and even admits to it.
Luckily for her, after what could be deemed an almost brotherly
inquisition about getting tattooed while under the influence, the tattoo
artist has the good sense to ! send her on her way, with no tattoo. This
- in a nutshell - is Marnie.
"Funny Ha Ha" follows Marnie as
she goes from one misdirected, misguided adventure to another seemingly
without a care in the world, crossing paths with various and sundry
machinations and men - all of whom seem to fall in love with her but for
the one she wants (Isn't this the way it always is?) - and from whom she
will reap any benefit she can.
A former animator for director Richard
Linklater, Kate Dollenmayer, is perfect as Marnie. With just the right
amount of righteous indignation covering her like a threadbare sweater,
Dollenmayer manipulates the underlying insecurities and awkwardness of
Marnie to her advantage, letting just enough slip through the cracks,
making it almost impossible to resist her wielding ways to "get
by" in her 20-something way of life. Dollenmayer's r interactions
with fellow non-professionals is appealing and likeable and never more so
than with friend Mitchell, played by director Andrew Bujalski himself.
Mark Herlehy is especially appealing with his performance as tattoo
artist Grady, finding a nice balance between a rather grubby appearance
and a sincere heart. And Christian Rudder's Alex hits reality on the
head with a right-on delivery of his on-again/off-again romantic
Andrew Bujalski, doing double duty as
Director and Writer, does both quite well, making the most of a limited
budget and basic technical facilities to give a raw edginess, baseness
and overall setting to the film that captures the essence of Marnie to a
tee. Dialogue, which is a bit unpolished, at times gives a sense of
"forced casualness" but for the most part succeeds brilliantly
in getting across the point of "ohmigod she is so lame!",
further giving credence to the reality of the situation and the
characters, leaving one with the feeling that the cameras were running
but no one knew they were there. In keeping with life itself, some
scenes play on what feels to be a bit too long while others a bit too
short, but Bujalski maintains a relaxed pacing throughout, which goes
far in conveying the "slacker" mode of the film. And as for
the ending......without being a spoiler, while abruptly surprising, it
speaks volumes about life. Realistic dialogue, believable situations and
characters and the sheer natural likeability of Kate Dollenmayer make
"Funny Ha Ha" a charmingly irresistible little comedy with a
documentary-like flare that will remind us all of the little bit of
"been there, done that" within each of us.
Kate Dollenmayer: Marnie Christian
Rudder: Alex Mark Herlehy: Grady Andrew Bujalski: Mitchell
Written and directed by Andrew Bujalski.