By Steve V. Rodriguez @progressivepuls
Often when I hear that a film is a ‘road trip film’ I’m a little leery about the cliche aspect of the film and the secondary nature of the storyline, but both story and road trip genre deliver in “Folk Hero & Funny Guy”. Writer/Director, Jeff Grace makes his feature directorial debut in this amusing, hilarious and touching film that was apparently loosely based on his own life. “Girls” favorite and underdog, Alex Karpovsky plays Paul who is down on his luck having broken up with his beautiful girlfriend and is striking out at the comedy club, which is his true passion. With outdated material, who wouldn’t agree with the lack of laughter especially with material that starts out with “Hey, you guys all know what Evite is, right….?”. Down and out on his luck, his longtime best friend, Jason (Wyatt Russell) decides to lift his friend’s spirit and encourage him to come out on the road with him as Jason embarks on an east coast music tour with his successful fan base. Along the way they meet Bryn (Meredith Hagner) who is a fan of Jason’s music and a singer/musician herself. Paul thinks he has good chemistry with Bryn, but it’s Jason who invites her to join the tour/road trip which shakes up the guy’s friendship.
“Folk Hero & Funny Guy” is filled with quick and hilarious dialogue, bro humor and sensitive situations that can arise between friends when life is shifting direction from the known past. The title was extracted from the dialogue when Jason and Paul are on the road likening their life to something Springsteen would have come up with since he loved to tell stories on tour that preceded his next song. Music helps propel this narrative as Grace enlisted the music of his friend, singer/songwriter Adam Ezra. Ezra wrote many of the tracks for the film, but it’s Russell and Hagner that fill up another section of the soundtrack writing lyrics they perform live on film to give the indie film an authentic charm. Neither of the stars are full time singers, but both stepped up to the plate and shine with their vocal ability and deliverance.
It was that intricate layering of casting that was needed to make this film. At the Tribeca Film Festival, where the film debuted, Grace shared that he looked to his favorite filmmakers, the Cohen brothers and their casting director, Ellen Chenoweth. Chenoweth kindly declined, but enlisted her associate, Susanne Scheel to take on the casting director duties.
With a compelling story, great performances and music to back it up, “Folk Hero & Funny Guy” is a keeper! Film is slated for a May, 2017 release.