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Running Funny - independent film DVD / comedy DVD / drama DVD review
RUNNING FUNNY Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Featuring: Gene Gallerano, Maximilian Osinski, Louis Zorich, Bob Jeurgens
Director: Anthony Grippa   Distributor: Lifesize Entertainment
DVD release: 13 January 2009   Runtime: 80 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo - English), Commentary, Short Film, Photo Gallery, Trailer

Running Funny plays to the strengths of a low budget independent film: since there is no budget, there is no need for special effects, large sets or a cast of thousands and all focus is instead on the writing and acting. While not all aspects of the film work, it gets the "big things" right and emerges as a humorous and sometimes quite moving character study of two young men and their relationship with their older landlord. It is an entertaining little gem I would recommend for fans of independent films.

The plot is quite simple: two friends, Mike (Maximilian Osinski) and Eddie (Gene Gallerano) are fresh out of college and, like many a new college grad, flat broke. Though they both dream big and (especially Eddie) think it's just a matter of time before they are corporate NYC big shots, they need a place to stay now. Eddie finds a "garage apartment" (90% garage, 10% apartment) on the cheap from an elderly blind man named Stan (Louis Zorich). The two young men set up shop in the garage and wait for the job offers to roll in - and wait, and wait. Both are facing the hard truth about making it in the real world outside of college. However, while Eddie becomes more and more bitter, Mike and old Stan gradually develop a relationship that both men learn they desperately need.

Not all of the aspects of the film work. Some dramatic moments seem forced and not very believable (a key decision Mike makes near the end of the film seems irrational and silly to me, and I actually supported Eddie when he became angry with Mike - which I do not believe was the film's intention). Second, a joke where Mike and Eddie try to fake having a hold button by using a towel and Pez dispenser not only doesn't work the first time, but is repeated more than once. Finally, it's clear while watching this film that it was a play first - and while I enjoyed the film, I strongly suspect Running Funny might have more impact on stage than on screen.

Still, Running Funny works overall. I cared about all three of the main characters. The creators "know" these characters and make them not one-dimensional, but fleshed out and all-too-human. I could especially identify with Mike and Eddie and know what they are going through. Like Eddie, I sometimes wanted to start flying before I could even crawl. I was guilty at times, like Eddie, of expecting success to fall right into my lap ("I've sent out 334 resumes and have gotten exactly one phone call," he frets to Mike at one point).

Although there are hints that he actually might have a gift for it, Eddie is horrified at the thought that he might follow in his father's footsteps - as a professional clown (the opening shots of the film show Eddie applying and removing clown face paint, as if trying to face his possible future). As for Mike, his ambitions and potential were cruelly thrown off track by an incident when he was a teen. His first homerun in baseball was ruined because people laughed at him for "running funny" around the bases. The derision wounded him and caused him to quit baseball (and the film hints he might have had potential to be good at the game). They both have obstacles to overcome: Eddie must be more realistic and better prepared for the future, while Mike must not let old wounds from the past hold him back.

Without giving it away, I must add that I was satisfied with the film's conclusion. There but contrived resolution, no deux ex machine or melodrama to give the film a pat, but perhaps unrealistic resolution. The film is not so much about what happens to Mike and Eddie, but what they do. At this moment in there lives (where we have all been), there are many roads open to the young men, but it is so hard to decide on the right one to take. The ending at leaves gives me hope that both are on the right track.
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reviewed by Trent Daniel
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