Film Review: Bob Funk

A solid cast helps this quirky little comedy of existential angst.

Craig Carlisle’s first indie feature, Bob Funk, harkens back to the kind of movie more popular in the 1970s mainstream—aimless, oddball, and filled with great character actors. Though it never fully comes alive, Bob Funk possesses a quiet charm.

In Carlisle’s story, based on his play Bob Funk in Therapy, Bob Funk (Michael Leydon Campbell) has been living up (or is it down?) to his name. He has just been through a rocky divorce and is now drinking excessively and goofing off on the job—as the assistant to his own mother (Grace Zabriskie) at the Funk Foam and Futon Company.

Enter Miss Thorne (Rachael Leigh Cook), a beautiful but klutzy new executive at the firm. Bob tries aggressively to win her over, which causes his mother to fire him for sexual harassment. In order to rejoin the company (as a janitor!), Bob is forced to see a psychiatrist, report to his new boss (Miss Horne), and stop drinking. Will Bob make it and get out of his funk or go completely “under the volcano”?

Remember Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? or any ’70s film where the leading character ends up on a psychiatrist’s couch? For the most part, that is the kind of movie Bob Funk emulates. Aside from this plot device, Craig Carlisle’s film also boasts a flaky tone and pleasant spirit (more so than the recent Choke, which follows another unpleasant protagonist through a seriocomic adventure).

Had Carlisle found a more dynamic and charismatic leading man than Campbell, Bob Funk would have been much more arresting—which is too bad, because all the other casting is perfect. Zabriskie, currently seen on HBO’s “Big Love,” nearly steals the show as Funk’s domineering boss-mom. Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, “The Office”) shows a zesty side as a sharp-tongued barfly. Terri Mann is likeable as Bob’s therapist. And best of all, Cook shines as the clumsy but bright (and not ditzy) heroine. A throwback to the underrated Paula Prentiss, Cook exhibits real star quality.

The production credits are above average and the score includes a nice use of Duke Ellington standards. Bob Funk might just lift you out of a funk.