Nothing can ruin a friendship quite like success. Folk Hero and Funny Guy the debut film from writer/director Jeff Grace opens in limited release and on-demand this week. Its story of a

Paul (Alex Karpovsky) is a struggling stand up comedian who, after getting dumped by his fiancee, considers giving up on his dreams of becoming a comic and returning to the advertising industry. His good friend Jason (Wyatt Russell) throws a twist into his plans when he invites Paul to open for him on his upcoming folk-rock tour. Jason, a successful musician, feels he is giving his friend a leg up but in Paul’s neuroses he can’t help but see the negative in the whole experience.

Once on the road, Paul and Jason meet Bryn (Meredith Hagner), an aspiring folk singer they see perform at an open mic. In a fit of drunken spontaneity, Jason invites her to join them on tour, driving a wedge between him and Jason both on the level that the tour was supposed to be their male bonding excursion and through the budding love triangle that forms between them.

As the tour goes on, Jason and Paul’s past reveals itself and we learn that despite his enormous success, Jason is not as put-together as he appears. The tour also begins to put their friendship to the test in new and surprising ways.

Folk Hero and Funny Guy is another entry in the bromance/road trip/buddy movie and doesn’t bring a whole lot new to the genre. It does favor introspection over hi-jinks and outward conflict that are the usual tropes of this type of film, but while that is somewhat refreshing it also underscores the need for something in that arena to keep the film moving forward.

Where Folk Hero suffers is in its lack of a real arc for its characters. While the characters do go on a literal journey together, there isn’t much of a figurative journey for either of the two leads. In fact, at point of the film’s resolution, it feels like neither of these men have really grown or change as a result of this road trip.

For a film that’s so heavy on the themes of chasing your dreams, personal growth and introspection, it would be logical to have the characters experience quite a bit of change as a result of their actions. Instead, it seems to be saying that at one point we are who we are and there’s not much any road trip or “life-changing experience” can do to change that.

That’s an interesting theme to explore, but it doesn’t make for a very interesting film. Especially when that concept is essentially played out in real-time in a battle of neuroses that doesn’t really go anywhere.

The strongest aspect of this film, though, is the performances. Wyatt Russell is exactly what you’d expect from a charismatic folk star and Karpovsky is a nebbish wonder as a ball of neuroses. It’s through their performances that this film manages to overcome many of its shortcomings in terms of story arc and invite people into their world in what is ultimately an enjoyable film but one that lacks the real depth it should have.

Kind of like friendship.

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