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Funny Bones: The Underrated Cult Classic of the Comedy World

What makes a good comedy? It may be hard to pinpoint, but one thing is for sure: Funny Bones is a must-see movie for those who enjoy an intelligent, humorous storytelling style.

Directed by Peter Chelsom, Funny Bones is a British American comedy that was released in 1995, and even though it may not be a classic, Funny Bones has gained cult status over the years due to its unique premise, talented cast, and the fascinating use of the intricate art of physical comedy.

Synopsis

Funny Bones revolves around Tommy Fawkes (Oliver Platt), a failed comedian from America whose father, George Fawkes (Jerry Lewis), was a comedy legend who, after a disastrous appearance in Vegas, left Tommy and emigrated to the UK. Tommy follows in his father’s footsteps, believing that becoming famous will fix the shortcomings of his own career.

Unable to get anyone interested in his stale comedic material, Tommy goes to Blackpool, England, in the search for inspiration. Instead, he discovers that his father is still revered for his work in the cabaret clubs of Blackpool and tries to curry favor with his estranged father to get his big break.

But things start to take a different turn when Tommy is introduced to his father’s former partner, Jack Parker (Lee Evans), who is now a solo performer but still carries a torch for Fawkes senior. Parker is kind of a wild card – manic, unhinged and socially awkward, but undeniably talented.

Tommy and Parker become friends, but a dangerous sense of rivalry begins to brew between them, as they try to outdo each other, and win over the crowds with their unique styles of comedy. As the picture unfolds, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell whether it’s a comedy or a tragedy, as it takes the audience along on a roller coaster of emotions.

Cast and Performance

Funny Bones manages to be touching, inspiring, and hilarious, thanks to the unique chemistry between the cast and the performers’ performances. Oliver Platt, mostly known for playing character parts, is an unexpected lead, but he brings an earnestness to the role of Tommy, making him a likeable protagonist.

Jerry Lewis delivers one of his most complex performances as the washed-up comedian trying to rebuild his career. But without a doubt, the standout performance is Lee Evans, a physical actor whose manic style and balletic movements leave a mark on every scene he appears in.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Funny Bones is a film that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated, as it boasts an excellent cast, clever writing, and beautiful direction. It’s a rare kind of comedy, one that balances the whimsical and the serious in equal measures, making it a timeless classic that you will remember for years to come.

So, if you are looking for a movie that will lift your spirits and entertain you all the way through, then Funny Bones is the right pick for you.

Plot

The plot of Funny Bones is multi-faceted and interwoven, and it deftly balances the worlds of comedy and drama. The story dives into questions of fame, family relationships, and what it means to be a successful comedian.

As mentioned in the synopsis, the movie follows the journey of Tommy Fawkes, a struggling comedian trying to make it big in the world of comedy. His journey is one that many artists can relate to – the desire to live up to the legacy of his father, to make his mark in a competitive industry, and the frustration of feeling overlooked and unappreciated.

The movie portrays the struggles of the artist’s life with honesty and vulnerability, and it succeeds in making the audience empathize with Tommy’s situation. One of the most compelling aspects of Funny Bones is the relationship between Tommy and his father.

The two have been estranged for years, and yet the shadow of George Fawkes looms large over Tommy’s life. He feels the constant pressure of living up to his father’s legacy and of trying to prove himself worthy of the same level of respect and success.

But as the story unfolds, we realize that it wasn’t always easy for George either- despite his career accomplishments, his personal life was a mess, and he too struggled with feeling like he wasn’t enough.

Moreover, the scenes between Tommy and his father are some of the most poignant in the movie.

Jerry Lewis delivers a standout performance as George Fawkes- a gruff, larger-than-life personality who is both beloved and reviled by those who knew him. Lewis puts in an incredible performance that highlights the complexities of his character – the emotional walls he has put up, the mistakes he has made, and the deep love he feels for his son.

The movie also touches upon the subject of physical comedy. The city of Blackpool, where the story takes place, has a rich tradition of cabaret-style entertainment, and physical comedy is an integral part of that tradition.

The movie emphasizes this aspect of comedy through the character of Jack Parker, played brilliantly by Lee Evans. Parker is a virtuoso at physical comedy, and he shows Tommy how to incorporate clowning and physical pratfalls into his act.

Evans’ performance should be commended as he effortlessly shifts his body through different planes, conveying everything from extreme joy to deep sadness.

The film also makes use of clever devices like flashbacks – the story often shifts back and forth in time, giving us glimpses of Tommy’s past and George’s heyday.

These flashbacks serve to add depth to the characters and to flesh out the relationships between them. In conclusion, the plot of Funny Bones is a rich tapestry of emotions, and the movie succeeds in balancing the comedic with the dramatic.

The story takes us on a journey through the ups and downs of the lives of comedians, their failings, their love of the craft and their ultimate desire to make people laugh. The movie is an observation of the power of comedy to heal wounds, build bridges and connect people.

It’s a story of love and friendship and an ode to the art of physical comedy. Anyone who loves great storytelling with elements of humor and drama would undoubtedly enjoy this movie.

Production

Funny Bones is a movie that excels in all aspects of production – from the direction to the cinematography to the set design. The filmmakers exhibit a keen eye for detail and have crafted a movie that immerses the viewers in the world of Blackpool’s cabaret entertainment.

Director Peter Chelsom combines different elements from different genres in this movie, taking inspiration from classic comedies, musicals, and noir films. But his greatest asset as a filmmaker is his ability to balance moments of comedy with more poignant scenes that deal with serious themes.

The movie’s pacing is excellent, and Chelsom knows precisely when to shift between the light and the dark. Another major aspect of the movie’s production is its fantastic score composed by John Altman.

The score gives the movie a distinct feel and complements the characters’ emotions perfectly. Altman incorporates different musical styles, ranging from jazz to classical and pop, to create a score that is both fun and classically inspired.

The cinematography is another area where this movie excels. John de Borman’s camera work is top-notch, capturing the different aspects of Blackpool- from the neon-lit streets to the seaside town’s unique architecture and distinctive landscapes.

He also uses different shooting techniques that are tailor-made to various scenes in the movie. The centerpiece of the film is a breathtaking tracking shot that starts with Tommy’s arrival in Blackpool and leads him through the winding streets to the Winter Gardens Theatre.

The camera movement is so fluid that it gives the impression that we ourselves are walking through the town.

The set design is also top-notch, recreating the different vaudeville and cabaret settings that serve as the backdrop for the movie’s story.

The set design succeeds in creating a real sense of space and place: the Winter Garden Theatre, where Tommy eventually performs, is an elaborate recreation of a traditional music hall. Finally, the movie has an exceptional cast, who bring the story to life with great performances.

The actors inhabit their characters, and their interactions feel natural and authentic. Oliver Platt infuses Tommy Fawkes with an affable charm that makes us root for him from the beginning.

Jerry Lewis turns in one of his best performances in years as George Fawkes, while Lee Evans almost steals the show with his performance as Jack Parker. Overall, Funny Bones excels in all aspects of production.

The different elements come together seamlessly to create a wholly immersive movie experience that offers great insight into the world of cabaret entertainment and the mythos surrounding the art of comedy. The film is a feast for the eyes and ears, with a rich and layered story and a cast of legendary performers who bring humor and humanity to their roles.

Whether you are a fan of physical comedy, classic musicals, or intricate storytelling, Funny Bones is a movie that is sure to captivate and entertain you.

Release

Funny Bones was released in 1995 and received mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Though it never found a wide audience, the film did develop a small but dedicated following, many of whom consider it an underrated classic.

Some critics praised the film’s direction, writing, and performances, while others felt that the movie was uneven and struggled to balance its comedic and dramatic elements. However, over the years, more and more viewers have come to appreciate the film’s unique charm and intricate storytelling style.

Despite its mixed reception, the movie was a significant milestone for its director, Peter Chelsom, who had just made his feature film debut. Chelsom went on to direct several successful movies over the years, including Serendipity and Shall We Dance?, showing that Funny Bones was a significant stepping stone in his career.

Moreover, Funny Bones’s legacy is also one of inspiring the next generation of comedy filmmakers. The film’s style, mixing elements of classic comedy with more contemporary elements, has influenced the works of a slew of burgeoning filmmakers and series creators since its release.

The film’s vivid depiction of Blackpool’s cabaret scene also inspired a new generation of performers to explore the art of physical comedy. A generation of comedians, clowns, and acrobats have cited the movie as a significant influence on their work- a reminder of the power of cinematic storytelling to have a lasting effect on other art forms.

While it is true that Funny Bones may not have achieved the same level of success as other comedies of its time, it has cemented its place in the canon of cult comedy films of the 1990s. It remains a cult favorite amongst those who appreciate the film’s bold and irreverent approach to the art of physical humor.

After decades of being difficult to find, the movie garnered a small resurgence in popularity following a 2017 Blu-ray release – making the movie available to a whole new generation of viewers. The release offered fans of the film a chance to see the movie in a higher quality format, and it highlighted the attention to detail that went into the film’s production.

In conclusion, while it may not have received the commercial or critical success it deserved upon its release, Funny Bones remains a standout comedy/drama that has aged well, appreciated even more now than it was twenty-five years ago. Its complex storytelling, captivating direction, and excellent performances continue to win fans around the world, cementing it as a cult classic and a masterclass in comedy filmmaking.

Soundtrack

One of the most striking aspects of Funny Bones is its soundtrack, which includes a variety of musical styles ranging from jazz to classical and pop. The music plays an essential role in setting the tone for the movie, enhancing the scenes’ emotional resonance and adding to the overall atmosphere.

The soundtrack was composed by John Altman, a British musician who has worked in the film industry for many years. Altman’s background in jazz and classical music is evident in the score, which blends different styles effortlessly throughout the movie.

The score includes a range of instruments, including piano, strings, brass, and percussion, which are used to create a unique and eclectic sound. The music is both playful and sophisticated, matching the movie’s tone perfectly and adding to its overall charm.

One of the most memorable pieces in the score is “Jack Parker’s Theme,” which plays during scenes that feature Parker’s physical comedy. The theme is whimsical and joyful, perfectly capturing the spirit of Parker’s performances and adding to the film’s comedic beats.

Another standout piece is “The Winter Gardens,” which takes inspiration from classic vaudeville and cabaret music. The piece is lively and upbeat, showcasing Altman’s ability to create music that complements the film’s setting perfectly.

The soundtrack also includes several pop songs from the 1960s, including a cover of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Gloria Gaynor. The inclusion of these songs adds a nostalgic and romantic element to the movie, softening the more dramatic scenes and adding to the film’s overall appeal.

The music works seamlessly with the visuals, and the two elements enhance each other, creating a cohesive and immersive experience for the audience. The film’s memorable score is testament to Altman’s talent as a composer and highlights the importance of the music in the film – as much a character as the setting and the cast themselves.

In conclusion, Funny Bones’s soundtrack is a testament to the importance of music in film, and John Altman’s score is a significant part of the movie’s charm. The music blends different styles effortlessly and adds another layer to the already complex and multifaceted movie.

Every piece, every note, has a purpose, and when coupled with the equally impressive visuals, creates a movie that is both entertaining and soulful. The soundtrack adds to the overall tone of the film, capturing the essence of the story’s characters and the settings they live and work in.

Overall, the music is a vital element that gives Funny Bones its unique flavor and helps it stand out as an exceptional comedy/drama movie. In summary, Funny Bones is a unique and often overlooked comedy/drama that has won over audiences with its blend of humor, pathos, and exceptional performances.

The film’s direction, production, and soundtrack are all standout elements that have contributed to its cult classic status. Whether you are a fan of physical comedy or classic cinematography, Funny Bones is a must-see movie that will resonate with you long after the credits have rolled.

FAQs:

Q: What is Funny Bones about? A: Funny Bones is a British American comedy/drama that centers on a failed comedian who tries to follow in the footsteps of his estranged father, a cabaret legend.

Q: Who stars in the movie? A: The movie stars Oliver Platt, Jerry Lewis, Richard Griffiths, and Lee Evans.

Q: What is the movie’s production like? A: The movie’s direction, production, and soundtrack are all standout elements that have contributed to its cult classic status.

Q: When was the movie released? A: Funny Bones was released in 1995.

Q: Why is the movie significant? A: The film is significant for its unique storytelling style, exceptional performances, and the impact it has had on the comedy and movie industries.

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