Elliott Gould & Jemaine Clement Headline This Amusing Comedy
Humor Me is safe, predictable comedy that somehow still manages to endear itself with audiences going down a well-trodden path. The cast’s sympathetic performances, led by Elliott Gould and Jemaine Clement, make up for the uninspired storytelling and occasionally lame gags.
Tackling the father-son dynamic for humor and emotional catharsis, director Sam Hoffman’s movie is an easygoing riff on life at a sedate retirement community and the struggles of a middle-aged playwright with writer’s block. His directorial debut is a warm, amusing comedy filled with some laughs. Humor Me isn’t going to take home any awards for originality, this is a wry production aimed at lightly mocking the geriatric set. There are only so many constipation jokes that one movie needs. To its credit, the movie overcomes these limitations with a few truly lol moments.
The stellar cast surrounding leads Elliott Gould and Jemaine Clement include two-time Emmy winner Bebe Neuwirth, Annie Potts, and singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson. Hot off a career-making turn in FX’s Legion last year, Jemaine Clement turns a one-note character as written into a complex, multifaceted person. It’s a credit to his talent that his protagonist ends up being so likable. Clement is the real heart of this comedy, playing a middle-aged father adrift in life that has suddenly lost his career and family. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a character like this but Clement’s off-kilter nuances give it extra life.
Clement is the real heart of this comedy
Clement is the real heart of this comedy
New York playwright Nate Kroll (Jemaine Clement) is struggling to finish a new play when his wife (Maria Dizzia) leaves him for a French billionaire. She takes their young son along with her, leaving Nate alone and broke. Nate begrudgingly moves in with his widowed father, Bob (Elliott Gould). Bob lives in Cranberry Bog, a New Jersey retirement community. Bob is a relaxed, laid-back retiree prone to cracking jokes.
Bob and Nate have difficulties getting along, especially over unresolved issues involving Nate’s deceased mother. Bob papers over the problems with the corny jokes he likes telling. Thinking his son could benefit from some discipline and tough love, Bob sends Nate to work for Ellis (Willie Carpenter), a strict ex-Marine who runs janitorial operations at the community.
In the course of working at the retirement community, Nate stumbles on the Cranberry Bog Players, a senior citizen theater troupe attempting to mount a musical. Seeing an opportunity to use his skills as a playwright, Nate agrees to help them. One of the ladies involved in the musical, Dee (Annie Potts), is trying to set him up with her daughter, Allison (Ingrid Michaelson). Another senior citizen in the musical wants the much younger Nate all to herself.
There’s nothing surprising about Humor Me. The movie’s humor and characters all play their expected parts, except maybe Bob’s wildly inappropriate jokes that frame the movie and break-up the narrative. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everyone involved perfectly fits their roles.
There may be one too many jokes at the expense of senior citizens, but Humor Me nicely develops Nate’s character without forgetting it’s meant to be funny entertainment. This isn’t the type of movie that will hit a homerun with critics but there is a definite market for its light touch and amusing moments.
There is nothing you can complain about in Humor Me’s excellent Blu-ray presentation. Shot on the Alexa digital camera, the pristine 1080P video has perfect contrast and solid definition. This is crisp Hi-Def picture quality with razor-sharp clarity.
It’s not the over-driven demo material seen in action blockbusters but has impressive consistency. Fine flesh-tones, clean black levels and zero extraneous processing, Humor Me looks great for a comedy.
The 1.85:1 presentation is encoded in high-bitrate AVC on a BD-50. The compression flawlessly translates the movie’s 2K digital intermediate. The transfer doesn’t introduce any problems of its own. Shout Factory has done top-notch work bringing this movie to home video.
Humor Me’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack doesn’t have sweeping audio design or impressive sonics. The lossless audio has crystal-clear, intelligible dialogue with a gentle score. The dialogue-driven comedy has a mild surround presence largely intended for musical ambience.
A few directional cues leak into the movie’s soundstage. Since singer Ingrid Michaelson acts in the film, a couple of her songs appear in the soundtrack. This is a serviceable, but largely limited, surround mix for what is mostly a laid-back comedy.
Optional English subtitles appear in a white font. A secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is included that sounds largely identical in fidelity and impact to the surround option.
Audio Commentary With Director Sam Hoffman and Producer Courtney Potts – An annoyingly positive, lightweight discussion that isn’t worth hearing beyond the opening act. The largely scene-specific chat rarely offers penetrating insight into the movie, mostly showering praise on anyone and everything connected to the production.
Deleted Scenes (05:15 in HD) – These obligatory deleted scenes have one interesting moment in them.
Theatrical Trailer (01:45 in HD)
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A decent comedy set in a retirement community with Elliott Gould and Jemaine Clement leading the way.
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