A comic book story millions of miles from the Marvelverse – The Irish Times

funny pages

Director: Owen Klin

Certificate: 16

Gender: The comedy

Featuring: Daniel Zolghadri, Matthew Maher, Miles Emanuel, Maria Dizzia, Josh Pais

Operating time: 1h27

Produced by trending entities A24 and the Safdie Brothers, this biting New Jersey-winning comedy and Cannes Film Festival favorite is all about the underground comix underground. Lots of other nice people – including Andy Milonakis and Louise Lasser – appear on the sidelines.

Writer-director Owen Kline, son of Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline, strikes a pleasantly discordant tone, one that hasn’t sounded since Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb.

Kline’s Crumb-adjacent world centers on Robert Bleichner (Zolghadri, who made such a memorable creep in eighth grade), a high school student and aspiring cartoonist, who, in the first of many uncomfortable sequences, is mentored by a school teacher. totally inappropriate art. named Mr. Katano (Stephen Adly Guirgis).

Prepare to falter.

Somehow, after ostensibly turning his back on his parents and his middle-class Princeton upbringing, Robert finds even worse role models than his art teacher.

We won’t spoil his quirky, ill-chosen housemates in the seediest apartment – avert your eyes from the fish tank! — never engaged on the big screen. But his cult hero Wallace (an amazing Matthew Maher), a color-splitter for Image’s favorite cult comic, is a level above. Or maybe below.

An obnoxious sociopath who can’t visit a drug store without incident, Wallace’s appearances make Borat’s squeaky comedy or most things Todd Solondz dream up seem relatively benign.

Adding to the drama, almost anyone in this movie could start a fight in an empty room.

More impressively, Kline has captured – and partially engineered – a comic book subculture, nestled in a period-defying space between GenX and contemporary discontents, a place that couldn’t be further from the Marvelverse. You can almost smell the wetness and acne, captured in beautifully grainy 16mm by Sean Price Williams and Hunter Zimny. Girlfriends, suffice it to say, neither troubles nor las Funny Pages.

Robert, who is as mean to his buddies as he is to his parents, makes for a compelling character study, brilliantly done by Zolghadri. Every decision he makes, from dropping out of high school to orchestrating the most awful Christmas ever, is hilarious.

What an auspicious start for Kline and what a great showcase for all other parties.

Daniel K. Denny