Funny Pages (2022) Movie Review – A brilliantly funny coming-of-age story

A brilliantly funny coming-of-age story

Owen Kline’s debut feature tells the story of a young man named Robert (Daniel Zolghardi), a teenage cartoonist who is less into the superhero world of Marvel and DC and more into the works of the underground comic book artists whose works are decidedly more adult in nature with their sexual explicitness and subversive themes.

Robert’s parents want him to go to college but this wannabe graphic artist rebels against their desires. He is intent on following his dreams, which he does by creating his own comic books while balancing his passion with his high school education, a part-time job at a comic book store, and working at a DA’s office where he does clerical work for a lawyer who offers him legal assistance in the film.

At the beginning of the movie, we see Robert with his art tutor, Mr. Katano (Stephen Adly Guirgis), who inspires him to follow his creative passions. His teacher has a treasure trove of comic books, most of which are X-rated, with graphic depictions of sex that are funny to look at but decidedly not for all tastes. Robert is fascinated by these (as most teenage boys would be) but it’s the art form that has gone into these comic books and not the pornographic pictures that turn him on!

Robert goes on quite a strange journey in the film. After a rather odd encounter with his tutor that ends in tragedy, he falls out with his parents and moves into a squalid apartment that is run by a seedy landlord named Barry. He is forced to share this decrepit living space with the apartment owner as well as an odd chap named Steven who watches old movies on a laptop together with Barry and masturbates with him while looking at Robert’s collection of explicit comic books.

Robert meets another unusual guy, a man named Wallace (Matthew Maher), who comes to his second place of work for legal counsel because of an altercation he had with a local pharmacist. This balding, wide-eyed man is decidedly unpleasant, but Robert is drawn to him when he realizes he once worked as an assistant colourist for Image Comics, a company that the teen is particularly fond of.

After discovering Wallace’s ‘secret’ identity, he seeks the man out and asks him to give him drawing lessons, but the former artist, whose personality is decidedly prickly, doesn’t appreciate Robert’s hounding of him, at least at first. The two do start to bond eventually, much to the dismay of Robert’s parents who are less than happy when their son invites this unstable cartoonist over for a hilariously eventful Christmas dinner.

Their odd couple relationship has consequences that we won’t mention here but needless to say, Robert’s life is upended when Wallace starts to behave in ways that are as odd as his unusual persona.

Funny Pages is both a fine coming-of-age story and a very amusing comedy that, with its pastel-coloured aesthetic and strange-looking cast of characters, could have come straight from the pages of a comic book. It’s one of the funniest movies I have seen in quite some time, thanks to the sharp writing and acting talents of the cast who manage to raise big laughs by honing in on their character’s eccentricities.

You will need to tune into the movie’s quirkiness and comic-book feel to get the most out of it as this is less a movie with a well-constructed narrative and more a series of bizarre events that, while sequential, are intended to raise laughs rather than offer any sense of deep meaning.

But if you are able to immerse yourself into the strange, albeit semi-realistic world that Robert inhabits, then you will definitely have a good time with this one. It slipped under the radar a little on its release, kind of like the comic books that our teenage protagonist has been inspired by, but it’s worth seeking out, as this is an underrated gem that shouldn’t be kept underground!

Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!









  • Verdict - 8/10

Leave a comment