With its black-and-white titles and jazzy opening score, “Funny Story” begins like a Woody Allen film, but this dark comedy soon distances itself from that auteur. Well, other than the fact that it’s about an aging man who sleeps with a much younger woman. But after that nod — and an extended homage to Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” in both style and substance — director Michael Gallagher largely forges his own path in this story about bad choices and forgiving those who make them, including ourselves.
Walter (Matthew Glave) is coasting on the fame of starring in a cult TV show and dating a woman who is about his daughter’s age. After his messy divorce from her mother, he gets the chance to reconnect with daughter Nic (Jana Winternitz) and agrees to drive her friend Kim (Emily Bett Rickards) from Los Angeles to Big Sur, where they’ll join his daughter on vacation.
During a stopover, tequila shots get the better of the reluctant road trippers, and they spend the night together. An awkward situation gets more complicated when they arrive and Walter discovers that Kim and Nic are more than just friends.
Co-written by Gallagher and Steve Greene, “Funny Story” is only mildly humorous, but it’s watchable thanks to Glave’s game performance that makes him likable despite his foibles. The film’s broad generalizations about lesbians could have used less stereotyping, but this is a moderately funny comedy that believes the best of its flawed, very human characters.
Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes
Playing: Starts May 24, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also on VOD