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Funny Pages is an earnest ode to the obsessives. It’s also made by one. The film follows a budding cartoonist named Robert, played by Daniel Zolghadri (Eighth Grade), as he shuns his spoiled suburban lifestyle in favor of a more artistic one, which he has, of course, romanticized. But, as luck would have it, Robert does serendipitously stumble upon a possible mentor. Enter Wallace, played by Matthew Maher, a character actor for the ages. Despite this sounding like the plot of any number of coming-of-age films, this is no William Miller-Lester Bangs relationship. Instead, the directorial debut of Owen Kline (The Squid and the Whale) takes more big swings. It’s bookended, for example, by two equally traumatic events that put a fresh spin on the familiar and make it somehow feel both more authentic and more absurd than anything to come before it. And yet Funny Pages is teeming with broad influences and niche references, ranging from The Last American Virgin (1982) and Lilith (1964) to Wallace being a former assistant colorist for Image Comics. Ultimately, Kline’s trick to getting everything to coalesce is commitment—of himself, his passion, and his love—resulting in a distinctly dark comedy that is worth seeing. R, 86 min.
Music Box Theatre, wide release on VOD