MOVIE REVIEW: “Funny Farm” stars Chevy Chase (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Caddyshack), Madolyn Smith Osborne (Urban Cowboy, All of Me), Kevin O’Morrison (Sleepless in Seattle, Dear Ruth), Joseph Maher (In & Out, Sister Act), Jack Gilpin (Adventureland, 21), Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3, Lincoln), Alice Drummond (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Ghostbusters ), Brad Sullivan (Slap Shoot, The Untouchables ), Nesbitt Blaisdell (Frequency, The Mothman Prophecies), William Newman (For Love of the Game, Mrs. Doubtfire), Glenn Plummer (Gifted, City of Lies), and Mike Starr (Dumb and Dumber, Ed Wood). It is directed by George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting), with the screenplay being written by Jeffrey Boam (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Dead Zone).
Based on a book, a writer (Chase) takes his wife (Osborne) out to the countryside to pen his latest novel, only to realize that the town they moved to is wildly strange.
Why not throw in a random Chevy Chase comedy for the month? No matter what role this man plays, I don’t think he’ll ever not be Clark Griswold in my eyes.
“Funny Farm” is one of your whacky 80’s comedies with physical humor and wild shenanigans galore. Chase is in his prime, domineering the comical landscape of a weird town with locals that’ll leave an impression. I enjoy oddball town flicks. They showcase fun characters that make for fun situations. And the town of Redbud is no exception. Everyone is kooky, and it’s in seeing Chase and his on-screen wife Madolyn Smith react to these people that makes it worthwhile. Well that, and the quarreling between themselves.
Chase plays a writer who up and leaves the city to write a book in the country. This hit home for me, as the process of him writing and the “finished” work is something I deal with on a regular basis (though mine is with screenwriting). I enjoyed watching his antics as he garnered a few goods laughs out of me (particularly the snake lunging at him out of the pond). The whole thing was rather humorous, but I will say that this sort of comedy is relegated to a specific audience. I watched it with my brother (who’s ten years younger than me) and he hardly chuckled. The look on his face was more so puzzlement than amusement. And I think that’s the downside to the comedy genre: humor tastes change over time.
Is this the best Chevy has to offer? No. It’s a cool set-up with plenty of comedic pay-offs to keep you engaged. It’s not rolling-on-the-floor funny, but it has charm. The biggest contribution is the two leads in Chase and Smith, with the backdrop of this wacky town serving as the gel. However, as time passes, the story can wane.
I enjoyed seeing the destruction of Chase and Smith’s marriage, but as we approached the third act, I became quite confused. Without giving much away, there’s business to tend to with their house that I didn’t understand about, given how one of them clearly had intentions of using it. This change of direction in the narrative felt more out of left field, and even though it was funny, I didn’t find it meshing with the overall story all too well.
Suffice to say, “Funny Farm” is an entertaining flick. It has enough humor to keep you engaged, and the town is a lot of fun. Chase does a great job (as do the other actors), and I would certainly not mind seeing it again. Though I don’t the comedy appealing to younger audiences, it’s a harmless 80’s silly movie that could be fun for the family. If you find yourself interested, give it a go. FINAL SCORE: 81%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: