Much darker and quirkier than his previous film, the director of Hear My Song has created a truly marvellous comedy that manages to be a wildly comedic tale about the search for comic invention and a blithely twisted meditation on the nature of its genius.
There are two types of comedians, those who talk funny—stand-ups with great rehearsed routines—and those who are funny, who have 'funny bones', and Tommy, son of a 'king of comedy', fears that he has neither. Fleeing an excruciatingly embarrassing Las Vegas debut (for what is funny that rarely Isn't cruel?) and the shadow of his famous father (played by Jerry Lewis in a caustically self-referential performance), he arrives in Blackpool England, comedy capital of the world (move over Melbourne) intent on buying himself an act. Interviewing an outrageous cavalcade of vaudeville performers, he stumbles upon an eccentric circus family who are from true laughing stock, with a son (the fantastically talented Lee Evans) whose off-beat originality is both burden and blessing.
Awesome in its captivating comic complexities and manic plot machinations, the film walks a tightrope of madcap entertainment and the potentially violent emotions that lie in wait just the other side of slapstick. A brilliant heir to the legacy of Ealing Studios (where it was shot), Funny Bones is old-time burlesque with a decidedly surrealist bent.