‘Humor Me’ Is Warm, Witty Response to Dark Times

Light family comedies seem to have completely faded from the mainstream cineplex.

On the rare occasions they are released, they’re made by a committee to offend the fewest people. The end result is bland and typically a box office dud. They commit the cardinal sin of not being entertaining.

That makes the breath of fresh air that writer/director Sam Hoffman brings with “Humor Me” all the more wonderful.

Successful playwright Nate Kroll (Jemaine Clement, “Flight of the Conchords”) has been blocked on his latest production, gets fired by his agent and his wife leaves him with their son for a holiday abroad with a billionaire.

Left homeless and without inspiration, Nate has only one rock-bottom option: crashing with his dad (Elliot Gould) in a senior living neighborhood. Father Bob tells gloriously cheesy vaudeville jokes that Nate finds grating. Faced with no better choices, Nate has to figure his life out and dig himself out the hole that is his life.

Let there be no doubt, “Humor Me” isn’t a life-changing experience. It is, however, a beautiful look at family life under less than ideal circumstances. The difference between this film and the Lifetime Channel version that probably came to mind when reading the above summary is a sure hand in execution of the material and the caliber of talent on display.

If there’s a downside to “Humor Me,” it’s that Clement’s American accent is shaky here at best. It pulls the viewer out of the story occasionally, but his performance otherwise more than makes up for it. Clement balances his character’s roles of the put upon son who hasn’t made good and a man just trying to figure out life perfectly.

Gould is an old pro who’s obviously having a blast here. The air of a gleeful schoolboy he gives off while telling the various jokes around poor schlub Zimmerman will make the viewer giddy. The jokes are fantastically funny, too.

While these two actors are the anchors of the film, the ridiculous supporting cast fills out the rest of the picture nicely.  When you have such talented actors like Ingrid Michaelson, Willie C. Carpenter, Annie Potts and Bebe Neuwirth for added color, you’re in for a kaleidoscope of fun.

It’s a treat to find a film like “Humor Me” playing prestigious film festivals. Sometimes art lovers need a good laugh,too. “Humor Me” fills that void in modern American cinema.

“Humor Me” will screen at the Denver Film Festival at 3:45 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Sie Film Center.

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