Comic-al Funny Pages on screen

Jack Rogula, asst. opinions editor

Coming-of-age films have been all the rage this past decade, but rarely do they expand the genre and give it a brand new breath of life. Funny Pages, written, directed, and edited by Owen Kline, is a new coming-of-age film that radically challenges all expectations. With a relatively new and unknown cast, Kline masterfully seats the audience into the life of a high school cartoonist trying to make it big.

The film opens with Robert (Daniel Zolghadri), a high school senior who wishes to be a cartoonist, suffering a traumatic event with the sudden death of his art teacher. This incident causes him to drop out of high school and pursue an independent career in cartooning. Moving to Trenton, New Jersey, Robert is introduced to a wide array of oddball characters – his landlord, his roommate, his coworkers, and most importantly, Wallace (Matthew Maher), a former employee of Image Comics, a popular comic book company. Robert quickly becomes infatuated with Wallace, and hilariously tries multiple times to convince him to be his new mentor.

The nostalgic aesthetic that the film successfully captures is incredible. Shot on gritty and grainy 16mm film, the motion picture feels like a “Golden Age of Cinema” classic, yet rings new in the absurdist tone. The trope of “young boy being thrown into the world” also does not feel stale for a second, and instead is played upon to forever keep the true direction of a mystery.

Funny Pages, when it comes to comedy, hits Every. Single. Beat. Not a single scene ended without drawing from me at least one genuine snicker.

While the film is hilarious, it most definitely is not for everyone. It is sometimes crude and even outright disgusting at times, yet for those willing to brave the horrendous and clammy world, a masterpiece is ready to be discovered.

At the 2022 Cannes film festival, Funny Pages received a three-minute standing ovation, and it is pretty clear why. Pushing the rigid boundaries of comedy, teenage life, and absurdity, it truly shines in its own unique and incredible way. Funny Pages is an absolute must-see for the year, available now on Amazon Video.