Review: Bob Funk
PLOT: Bob Funk is not a happy man. He drinks all the time and everybody knows it, and he can’t seem to keep a real relationship together. Working at his mother’s store along with his brother, he seems to have no idea what to do with his life. And when a pretty new hire shows up, he makes an unprofessional attempt to ask her out. Things soon go bad to worse as his drinking and his one night stands affects him and he starts to lose control. After making some bad decisions, he is forced to undergo therapy by his mother. Soon, he begins to find a balance in the way he lives his life.
Bob Funk has no order or control in his life. He drinks too much and the only relationships he can handle are the one night stand variety. He is clueless as to who he is and what he needs out of life. Sadly, the movie about him feels a bit clueless as to what it is really trying to say. This disjointed comedy drama spends the first fifty minutes chugging along showing us what a rotten person Bob is. Although we are reminded throughout that he is a supposed charmer who is still an asshole, I found it hard to feel much of anything for him. Michael Leydon Campbell as Bob takes a little bit to warm up to. But truth be told, once the first half of the film ends, I feel that his story really began to take some shape. And really, so did Campbell’s performance. There is a wonderful scene where his mother (Grace Zabriskie) tells him what really happened to his father. Both actors handle the material so well, that I really wished the film would’ve had this sweetness throughout. And as the story slowly progresses, every once in a while it gets serious and frankly, I cared a little bit.
When we meet Bob for the first time, he is working at the family business, “Funk Foam and Futon” as the VP of sales. But it is clear he hates his job and truly hates his life. He father died when he was young, and his wife left him for someone else. So Bob finds comfort in spending evenings in a local bar and bringing home an assortment of women, including a not so nice stunner played by Amy Ryan. But as he begins to drink before work and lose his appetite to keep his job, he is constantly demoted by his mother… come on, that is utterly depressing. Finally, he ends up working as the janitor. All the while, he is developing some kind of relationship with a pretty new hire named Miss Throne (Rachel Leigh Cook). She is clumsy and awkward but still very beautiful and kind. And even though she seems a bit on edge with Bob, the two share a connection whether they know it or not. But as his life begins to fall apart, he is forced by his mother to see a therapist. And not terribly unpredictably, he starts to find that he can live his life and actually be happy.
The problem with BOB FUNK is that I had a hard time really believing in this character. The script by Craig Carlisle (who also directed) feels as if it may have been his own personal therapy. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, actually it is far from it. But the problem is that very few of these conversations felt truthful. They were sometimes witty, oftentimes clichéd, but they never really felt real. It attempts to cover too much ground and it feels like it wants to be too many ideas all in one. And because of this, the film suffers. While I did warm up to the last half of the film a bit, it sort of felt like reading somebody’s personal blog. Half thoughts and ideas spread out for all the world to see, but not really any insight into this menagerie of characters. At one point Bob has to explain to Miss Thorne that he has told a joke. Her reply was much like what I felt, “I know, I just didn’t laugh.” she tells him. And no, I didn’t really laugh at the humor here either, because it was obvious and felt at odds with what could’ve been the heart of the film.
Now I will say that I was impressed with many of the performances here. Rachel Leigh Cook is truly adorable as the love interest. And Amy Ryan seems to be one of the best actresses working right now, including her unforgettable work in GONE BABY GONE, she is really terrific here also as a fellow patron at the local bar. While I couldn’t really connect to Mr. Campbell in the title role, I did appreciate what he had to offer. And as I said, his dramatic moments really helped me to slightly relate to his “Bob“. Not to say that he is not funny, but I really didn’t find the comedy very smart, it just seemed smug and much too impressed with itself. So while I think he handled the comedic moments fine, it was the serious moments with those around him that felt much more real than the forced humor. There really was promise here but it is only hinted at, and it never really reaches its goal. With all the elements that are so clumsily handled here, it would have been an interesting notion to see this story stretched out into a more comprehensible series on Showtime. But as a just shy of two hour film, Bob Funk can’t seem to manage the many thoughts and consequences expressed throughout in a satisfying way.
My rating 3.5/10 -- JimmyO