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She's Funny That Way is the Marmite of Movies

In April 2015 Peter Bogdanovich released what would be his last work, the screwball comedy She’s Funny That Way. The movie recounts a Hollywood actress’ (Imogen Poots) rise to fame and is full of intricacies and ridiculous coincidences.

By Nadia Ferraris, Third Year, Sociology and Social Policy

In April 2015, Peter Bogdanovich released what would be his last work, the screwball comedy She’s Funny That Way. Oddly, it is as though Bogdanovich knew this would be his last film; he hints at another admired director’s last work by originally titling the movie Squirrel To The Nuts, an iconic quote from Lubitsch's Cluny Brown (1946).

Courtesy of IMDB

The movie, co-written with his ex-wife Louise Stratten and inspired by Bogdanovich’s experience talking to escorts in Singapore for research on a different project, is comparable to a funny one-liner inscribed on a tombstone. The plot of this film could easily have been written by an ancient Greek comedy playwright because of its intricacies and ridiculous coincidences.

In short, it recounts a Hollywood actress’ (Imogen Poots) rise to fame. Going back to the days of her being a call girl, she recalls her first audition for a part directed by a man (Owen Wilson) she had slept with the previous night, who then offered her $30,000 to give up her job as a call girl and pursue her dreams. Unfortunately, this audition took place with the director’s wife (Kathryn Hahn), who was also appearing in the play.

Courtesy of IMDB

Many of the characters, like Judge Pendergast (Austin Pendleton) and co-director Joshua (Will Forte) are brought into the plot by an untrained therapist (Jennifer Aniston) named Jane who is covering her mother’s absence.

Jennifer Aniston is outstanding in her performance as this narcissistic therapist. She does the most hilarious portrayal of this character possible. Without her, the movie would have lost its comedic appeal.

Her character is not only brilliant in her own right, but she also toys with the other characters pushing them to change their identities or make terrible decisions, thickening the plot like an evil puppet master.

Jennifer Aniston as Jane in She's Funny That Way (2015) // Courtesy of IMDB

The reader should be warned, though, that the beginning is slow-paced and requires patience. Furthermore, if you are not familiar with screwball comedies, it could feel like a plot with no dramatic climax and just a series of scenes with small, tense moments one after the other. This may leave the viewer frustrated, waiting the entire movie for a grand plot twist which never occurs.

Initially, this seemed to be a negative of the film, but actually, I don’t really think it is. In fact, if you watch it, keeping its genre in mind, it’s a brilliant ‘oath’ to classic screwball comedies, such as Howard Hawks’ ‘Ball of Fire.’ It gives the viewers a taste of a genre which became almost extinct after the 1930s, with a twist of modern film to it.

I’ve read reviews saying it’s a ‘waste of time’ and, to be honest, I agree. In fact, I think that is what screwball comedies are designed to be - absolute nonsensical wastes of time. If you are hoping to get something constructive out of She’s Funny That Way, don’t watch it. If you do watch it, watch it for fun and with a bit of red wine in your system to help embrace the hilariousness of the clichés.

Courtesy of IMDB

Finally, we must discuss the elephant in the room: Quentin Tarantino’s surprise entrance as the main character’s new boyfriend at the end of the film. Yes, Tarantino not only can’t stay out of his own movies, but he likes to appear in his old pals’ ones as well, and this moment tops the film off with the most perfect screwball comedy ending, whether you are a lover of the genre or not.

Featured image: IMDB

Did you love or hate She's Funny That Way?