Throwback Thirty – Funny Farm (1988)

funny-farm15_star_rating_system_2_stars As I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes have a problem with my blog schedule. Tonight I had the deepest desire to rewatch Doctor Strange but couldn’t do it. Instead of settling down to indulge my post-Infinity War increased love of Benedict Cumberbatch after a tough day at work, I have had to force myself to watch an 80s Chevy Chase comedy that I never really needed or wanted to watch. I realise that the only person who is forcing me to do this is myself but once I’ve committed I’m hardly going to back out. I’ll just have to leave the good Doctor for another day. I know Chevy Chase was one of the big stars of the 80s but I never really cared about him. There are certain films starring him that I love but that’s mostly because of the other people in them. I enjoyed Community but Pierce could have been played by anyone and I would have loved it as much. It’s not that I had any strong negative feelings about him but I had other favourite films of the era. Maybe it’s an age thing or a British thing? Or maybe it was just my family? Whatever the reason, I’ve never felt the whole Chevy Chase excitement that some people get. Still, I planned to use my TBT posts to discover more films from the year I was born so maybe this is the one to turn me into a real Chevy fan?

Funny Farm is a film all about the old cliché of city dwellers moving to the country hoping for an idyllic life. Andy Farmer (Chevy Chase) is a New York City sports writer who dreams of writing a novel. To enable his writing, he moves with his wife, Elizabeth (Madolyn Smith) to the town of Redbud. Their new home seems perfect at first and the pair rejoice in living so close to nature. Over time they realise that the town is far from the charming image of small-town life that they had hoped. They fail to get on with their neighbours and they find it difficult adjusting to the new rules. The couple quickly find their marriage crumbling and prepare to divorce. Can they persuade the town to act “normal” so they can sell the dream to another unsuspecting couple?

I have to suspect that the name Funny Farm is something of a misnomer as I failed to find a single thing funny. Well, maybe that was a bit harsh but there was certainly nothing within this film that felt very fresh or interesting. The jokes were all ones you’d seen countless times before in the fish out of water, city slicker meets the countryside kind of way. It’s not that the film is terrible but it fails to get anything beyond “meh”. It could just be that I was so exhausted after work but I definitely nodded off a few times during this film. It can only suggest that there wasn’t enough here to keep me awake, which is never a good sign.

Certainly, Chevy Chase does his best to keep things going and puts everything into his performance. It’s just that the substance just isn’t there. The narrative is dull and the jokes never quite land. The stereotypes of rural folk just are just uninspiring and irritating. We’ve seen these characters a thousand times before and we’ve definitely seen them written better. Maybe The League of Gentlemen has ruined me for all dark portrayals of country people. No creepy and weird farmer can ever compare to the local people of Royston Vasey, after all.

But, if I’m being honest, Funny Farm‘s only real crime is not being a very funny comedy. It’s a fairly safe and charming film about a married couple. The cast do a good enough job with a mediocre script and there is enough energy to keep everything going to the inevitable and twee ending. Yes, there are better films of this type out there but there are also worse. And that’s all I can really say about Funny Farm. Well, except for the fact that it’s not even set on a fucking farm. Seriously, what’s with this name?

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