Funny Pages (2022)


A teenaged underground cartoonist (Daniel Zolghadri) seeks the company of bizarre, questionable characters in the hopes it might inspire his work. He shuns his parents and moves in with a couple of middle-aged men who watch old cartoons in a sweltering basement together. He argues with a doting coworker (Miles Emanuel) at the comic book store, and tries to make a paranoid schizophrenic who worked for Image Comics many years ago (Matthew Maher) into his mentor. Giving all these characters too much credit, the cartoonist winds up in over his head with much weirdness. And then the movie ends.

If writer/director Owen Kline was trying to make this kid’s life look like an actual underground comic, then on that note, Kline succeeds. The ensemble of caricatured faces, intense closeups of zitty faces, buck teeth, and other anomalies hit that point pretty hard. The film feels fresh and sardonically funny for most of its runtime and young Zolghadri gives a solid leading performance. But what does it all mean? Where is this story going? The plot comes to a head when Zolghadri invites a couple of odd friends over to his parents’ place for Christmas. But just as the film feels like it’s entering act three, it instead ends abruptly, without much of a clue on how to interpret what we’ve just experienced.

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