HomeNewsOwen Kline's 'Humorous Pages' Follows a Teen Cartoonist

Owen Kline’s ‘Humorous Pages’ Follows a Teen Cartoonist



Tlisted below are pluses and minuses to bringing a brash new imaginative and prescient to filmmaking. On the plus facet, you may give viewers one thing they’ve by no means seen earlier than. On the minus facet, they might be simply as more likely to query whether or not they actually wish to watch it. In writer-director Owen Kline’s modest, assertively offbeat characteristic debut Humorous Pages, a precocious teenage cartoonist drops out of highschool to give attention to his drawing, to which he’s obsessively devoted. He strikes out of his dad and mom’ super-cushy Princeton, New Jersey, house and right into a extremely peculiar roommate scenario in a raveled Trenton basement. The film’s humor is Pixy Stix-dry; there’s little that’s cute or endearing about both the movie general or Kline’s essential character, Robert (Daniel Zolghadri)—and that’s a plus. But Humorous Pages nonetheless feels slight and solely vaguely formed. Nicely-observed particulars are nice, however they’ll solely take you to this point.

A minimum of Robert isn’t your run-of-the-mill disaffected child. Vivid and impressive, he radiates deep disdain for artwork that he thinks is beneath him: he has zero curiosity in superhero comics, as an alternative deriving inspiration and pleasure from Seventies-era underground comics, the outrageously crude but good Tijuana bibles of the Nineteen Thirties, and even the stuff of Twentieth-century childhoods, like Dick Tracy and Scrooge McDuck. His finest good friend, Miles (Miles Emanuel), a lanky, shy, acne-ridden child who radiates light sweetness, shares Robert’s enthusiasms, and may additionally be a little bit bit in love with him.

However Robert appears to be outgrowing every part round him, together with Miles’ friendship. The one grownup he respects, his artwork trainer Mr. Katano (Stephen Adly Guirgis), dies very early within the film, shuffling off this mortal coil in a traditional black-comedy setup. Robert has nothing however contempt for his dad and mom (Josh Pais and Maria Dizzia), seeing them as bourgeois and controlling regardless that it’s clear they’ve given him every part. (Within the film’s most crushing scene, Robert unwraps a comic-related field set his mom has rigorously chosen for him as a Christmas present and remarks that it’s ineffective to him as a result of he has all of the originals; the look on her face tells you each how a lot she loves this child and the way a lot it hurts her that he’s became such a ache within the ass.) The one grownup who appears to grasp him is Cheryl (performed by the fantastic character actor Marcia DeBonis), a public defender who takes on his case when he will get right into a minor scrape with the legislation, regardless of the very fact his dad and mom have employed a elaborate lawyer.

Kicking away from every part that’s snug and secure, and ignoring his dad and mom’ entreaties to remain at school, Robert strikes out on his personal, working part-time at his favourite comic-book retailer and in addition doing a little workplace work for Cheryl. It’s in her workplace that he meets Wallace (Matthew Maher), a loose-cannon oddball who, Robert learns, used to work as an assistant colorist at one of many comic-book publishers he reveres. Wallace is a kind of guys who can barely maintain it collectively, however Robert is dazzled by him, constructing him as much as be a task mannequin in methods the poor man can by no means fulfill. Robert’s understanding of Wallace’s actuality is warped, and he doesn’t have such a terrific grasp on his personal, both. Kline is perceptive sufficient to point out us that if Robert is headed for a fall, he has nobody accountable however himself.

And but, Kline should still be a little bit too sympathetic to his hapless, callow hero. Zolghadri performs Robert as a know-it-all naif, however beneath his cockiness we will nonetheless see cracks of insecurity. It’s simple to really feel one thing for him—he clearly has no concept what he’s doing—however he does start to wear down his welcome as a personality. At one level Robert’s father, having reached the top of his fuse, appends some selection expletives to his evaluation of his son’s revolt: “You’re a spoiled brat, and that’s all that that is.” It’s the film’s hallelujah second. Kline additionally isn’t certain the place to place the digital camera, easy methods to transfer it or the place to let it linger. At one level Robert cruelly takes Miles to job for his zits, lecturing him concerning the greasy meals he insists on consuming. Kline’s digital camera lingers lengthy and shut on Miles’ mottled cheek, as if to ensure we get the purpose.

Learn extra opinions by Stephanie Zacharek

You would argue that Kline is striving to seize the final word actuality. However there’s additionally one thing to be stated for utilizing discretion and a little bit kindness in the way you current your characters. Kline has a present for eccentric comedian touches—there’s a terrific sight gag involving an aquarium fish who’s gone AWOL—and an consciousness of how youthful passions can both blossom into genius or merely create insufferable gasbags whose heads are crammed with trivia of questionable worth. However the way you’re speaking issues simply as a lot as what you’re saying. At one level Miles asks, pleadingly, “Is kind actually extra essential than soul?” It isn’t. However making a form to your concepts by no means hurts—it’s like constructing a little bit home for the soul to dwell in. And that goes for motion pictures, too.

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