USA 2002, 89 min
Five minutes, is that so long? Marnie would like to go five minutes without something embarrassing happening to her. But for the beleaguered heroine of Andrew Bujalskis spot-on exploration of life in the awkward lane, thats just not possible. Friends who dont know when to shut up, jobs that are okay at best, and kisses, both unwelcome and unsent: Marnies endured them all, uncertain but ever hopeful that someday, all the pieces of her life will come together and everything will fit.
At first blush, Funny Ha Ha may seem like a familiar storya twenty-something drifting through her life, suffering from unrequited love and a touch of post-college ennuibut Bujalski has a refreshingly original approach. While other directors would lather on the soporific humor or aim for emotional fireworks, Bujalski lingers on lifes quietly uncomfortable moments, like when you run out of conversation on a date and theres nothing left to do but just look at each other. Its rich material and Bujalski renders each stilted conversation perfectly, with every Um and Ah in exactly the right place. As Marnie, Kate Dollenmayer projects a vulnerability and naturalism that is perfectly in harmony with the cliché-free script. Not to be outdone, Bujalski steps in front of the camera himself to play Mitchell, the nicest guy Marnie will probably never go out with. Hes also one of three nominees in the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards Someone to Watch Award.
Doug Jones, IFP Los Angeles Film Festival