DVD Review: Bob Funk (2009)

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"You just have no chemistry for business, Bob," Mrs. Funk-- the CEO of Funk Foam and Futon-- (Grace Zibriskie) informs her Vice President of Sales (Michael Leydon Campbell) in writer/director Craig Carlisle's independent dramedy based on his play Bob Funk in Therapy.

The fact that her employee also happens to be her son makes it an inconvenient but nonetheless obvious truth for viewers from the moment we first become acquainted with the personality of Campbell's titular misogynistic, barfly cad who takes out his frustration in failing to sell futons to college bound students who want a real bed by telling them that he wanted a wife who didn't sleep with other men but you don't always get what you want.

Obviously in addition to not finding a faithful wife, the divorced Bob Funk is a man who has not gotten the memo that the job title of sales is also supposed to involve a certain degree of "customer service" as well. So the misanthropic man who's definitely in more than a just a "funk" who likewise would be the first to tell you he's "not a people person" works on those skills the only way he knows how by leveling "buy you a drink?" offers at random women for one night stands.

Having only unpacked the essential bed he needs for his real "job" and with the requirement of a toilet to puke in the next morning in his depressingly minimalist cardboard box filled apartment-- Bob primarily sets up shop on the corner stool of his local bar sometimes not bothering to change clothes from one day that bleeds into the next. However, a ray of hope appears into his bleak existence with the arrival of the lovably clumsy, adorable, and fresh faced Ms. Thorne (Rachael Leigh Cook).

Just seconds after settling into her new cubicle at Funk Foam and Futon, Bob appears like a shark ready to move in for the kill-- and tries bait her with his title and a lascivious double-entendre filled offer to show her "the ins and outs" of the work over dinner-- before his mom arrives and forces him to apologize for harassment which inevitably escalates into a double-entendre free, far lewder form of harassment.

Now Bob discovers that the only way to keep a job at the company (and throughout the film he's fired, re-hired and amusingly demoted to custodial work as a night janitor) is to agree to his mother's terms to see a female psychiatrist, report directly to Ms. Thorne, and pull himself together.

The likable supporting cast includes Nadia Dajani, Alex Desert, Stephen Root, Eddie Jemison, Lucy Davis and even a thankless cameo by Oscar nominated Gone Baby Gone star and Office scene-stealer Amy Ryan as a sexually aggressive bar patron who refuses Bob's come-ons until she must admit that he may be an a**hole but at least he's a "charismatic a**hole."

And needless to say the supporting players ensure that the movie speeds along affably enough but our utter repulsion of Campbell's main character makes it rough going for nearly the first hour until he finally realizes that he needs to give up the drink and the meaningless flings that go along with it.

Once he begins to make an active change to do so-- intriguingly not pulling us into the repetition of A.A. meetings or on and off the wagon melodrama to its credit-- Funk as a character and a film becomes much more enjoyable.

And although it's strangely labeled a romantic comedy due to his increasing attraction to and flirtation with Ms. Thorne and the poorly designed box cover that makes it look like some cheesy frat-boy battle of the sexes-- the family dynamic between his tough-minded mother and brother suffering a marital rough patch helps humanize Campbell's character.

Additionally it gives the actor much more to work with other than the Mamet-like, "You want to know what it is, I'll tell you what it is," stagey monologues he delivers in the first half of the film to anyone willing to listen before he lashes out his frustration regarding whatever minuscule problem is ailing him that second.

Still, it's uneven overall because-- no matter how it's handled-- it's hard to find humor in alcoholism and appalling behavior despite his self-pitying announcement that's also used as a tagline of "welcome to my decline."

Despite this, it's a worthwhile rental as Bob Funk is ultimately redeemed as an ensemble piece where the supporting cast (especially Cook) are able to help augment the theatrical yet extremely well written script from reveling in that decline. For without these ingredients-- the film from Magnolia Pictures may have threatened to fall apart like one of the many items Cook's daffy Jean Arthur-like screwball character manages to destroy throughout the course of Carlisle's misguided yet surprisingly entertaining Funk.