Laughing Boy is the nickname of perpetual child Cody MacKenzie (Brazil Joseph
Grisaffi III – in his first lead role since appearing in the MC Hammer story)
who is frustrated with his life and is constantly making sometimes-cruel jokes
at all the wrong times.
Attending a party with his wife Judy, Cody antagonizes the assembled crowd
with his antics while some laugh and some are appalled. He constantly jokes
his way through the story with his wife both distraught and entertained at his
behavior. Memories of "One Crazy Summer" appear when the action
is constantly interrupted with animated fantasy sequences. Written and directed
by Grisaffi, there are subtle references to many John Cusack films peppered
throughout—look for the vibrator sneaking across the floor.
The film is filled with a strange type of humor and will not be appreciated
by everyone. The film is filled with tons of pop culture references (a Lite-Brite
under the bed sports SAVE FERRIS) and plenty of odd humor that fans of British
comedy will definitely appreciate. Amid it all, there is a story of friendship
and love that creeps to the surface from time to time.
The performances are stilted at times and production values were something
this film obviously did not have. Combine that with audio that has multiple
levels and spotty editing, the film has the odds against it. Despite all these
facts, it has a simplistic charm that permeates and keeps you watching. Cody
is the one person that often says what's on his mind and his honesty unsettles
Video: The transfer is a full-frame that looks serviceable
but has a few problems. The color is slightly washed and there is a noticeable
grain to the film at all times. Sharpness is slightly off and the overall image
is lacking. Despite these complaints, it doesn't hinder the viewing in
Audio: Being a low budget film, there isn't an amazing
audio track and there really isn't a need for one. The audio has a slight
echo at times in certain vocal parts but it is overall well done mix that is
always audible and won't leave you constantly reaching for the remote.
Extras: For such a small film there is a nice amount of extras.
There is a commentary by Grisaffi, Robin Craig, Tiffany Grant, Sheila Sawyer,
George Douglas Lee, and cinematographer Hassan Nadji. Taped in the home of Grisaffi's
brother, it's a friendly and intimate commentary. The cast and crew continually
cut up and reveal tons of interesting facts. For instance, the actor originally
scheduled to play Sydney Butz died just 3 weeks before shooting and while actress
Robin Craig wore a wig for her big hair, actress Tammy Brown did (as the cast
hilariously points out).
The auditions for the main characters and a few bit parts are included. This
adds about 20-minutes of content, but the auditions vary little from the final
product. Two extended scenes; the Revival and the Castle are included. Quality
on these isn't as good as the final film, but there are a few funny moments.
Animation pencil tests for the skits are included, as well as several storyboards
and photos. Finally, three songs from the film are included in their entirety
and three additional from the same groups are added.
Overall: Laughing Boy is an unconventional film that easily
shows its low budget roots, but is none the worse for it. Apprehensive at first,
I found myself laughing at the jokes and interested in the relationships on
display. That's something that many larger films and respected filmmakers
have a hard time doing, so Grisaffi and crew have done something right. If you
were interested in an amateurish and charming comedy, then Laughing Boy would
be a perfect choice.