I was skeptical that I’d like Funny Ha Ha (2002) when it started. Right out of the gate it’s got Slacker knock off written all over it as we see 20 somethings meandering around, getting into half drunken, inarticulate conversations about boys and other late night meaningless conversations, all filmed with a super low budget aesthetic. But, surprisingly, I was quickly drawn into this film and by the end found it very charming.
Writer/director/actor Andrew Bujalski’s debut film really doesn’t have a story. It just follows the 23-year-old Marny (Kate Dollenmayer) as she drifts from temp job to temp job, has a variety of confusing encounters with boys and tries to improve her life. That’s it. Funny Ha Ha is Marny sitting around talking with friends at parties, her apartment or the temp jobs so don’t expect more action than that.
That was enough story for me. Bujalski’s characters are exasperating, awkward, confused about their future and put out by life—sort of how you are supposed to be at 23. At least that’s how I was at 23. I had no clue just what in the world was going to happen to me in the future and that is both exciting and frustrating as you are living it. Funny Ha Ha drowns itself in that early 20s malaise that effects some of us.
Another reason I was charmed by Funny Ha Ha, is the great, natural performance of Dollenmayer as Marny. I’m not sure if Dollenmayer was acting or just sort of playing herself but she’s great in this. If she wasn’t so believable (and cute) as the confused Marny, the film wouldn’t have been as enjoyable to me.
I have a feeling Funny Ha Ha is either one you really like or can’t stand. It’s just not a sit on the fence kind of movie. I liked it. I liked it a lot. I even enjoyed the painful, awkward moments, because that’s what I felt like when I was in my early 20s.