SENSE OF HUMOR – SLIFF Review
Here’s an unusual movie mash-up from French Canadian writer/director Emile Gaudreaullt: a thriller set in the world of stand-up comedy. Films have been made about traveling comedians, spewing jokes while bathed in a bright spotlight against (usually) a bare, brick wall starting with LENNY through PUNCHLINE and the recent SLEEPWALK WITH ME. These guys have their bad gigs, but nothing like what happens to Luc (Louis Jose’-Houde) and Marco (Benoit Briere). First off, they really don’t care much for each other. Luc is a dry, cerebral, observational humorist who considers Marco a hack who relies too much on wacky props and costumes, bits stolen from the internet, and phony sentimentality. But what really irks Luc is the fact that audiences adore Marco. How did these two get paired up for a tour of small Canadian clubs? As part of his routine, Marco singles out a fellow from the audience as a “stooge” to be the butt of pre-written insults and jabs. At one of their stops, a bored Luc joins him in verbally pummeling a shy, somber guy named Roger (Michel Cote). But what the two comics don’t know (but was revealed in the film’s opening) is that the meek Roger, who’s bad-mouthed by his elderly ill-tempered Dad at home and teased at his job as a short-order cook, has a hobby. He’s a serial killer who’s turned the barn of the remote family farm into a torture chamber for his ‘guests”. After that night’s show, the comics retire to their dingy motel rooms and wake up in a cage at Roger’s barn. In tracking to calm him down, the two get Roger to reveal his hidden desire. He wants to be funny, so he can impress the pretty waitress at work. Luc and Marco must try to work together and turn the serious Roger into the life of the party during their evening while attempting to escape their cage while their captor’s at his day job. The three main principals turn in very funny performances and are well served by the actors playing Roger’s co-workers, Marco’s depressed wife, and Luc’s way-too-in-touch-with-her-feelings sister. There’s a great balance between the verbal sparring off the mis-matched comics on the road and the wild slapstick scenes as they try to gain their freedom. This is a very entertaining blend of genres that balances the chills and laughs.
SENSE OF HUMOR screens as part of the 21st Annual Whitaker Saint Louis International Film Festival on Wednesday, November 14 at 7 PM and Friday, November 16 at 9:30 PM at the Plaza Frontenac Cinemas