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  • At times the plot slows down to the point of drudgery. The script is not the wittiest or not nearly the most clever by Forsythe standards. Yet, by the end of the film I felt I had seen a truly wonderful little movie--charming, elusive, touching, like the remembrance of a Christmas wish from childhood.

    But, perhaps because we can all too well identify with the loss that Bill Patterson's character is trying to deal with (the best thing that could have happened to him, really) and his catharsis so delicately drawn, that the film is so satisfying. Many of my friends could not recognize its quality. Sad for them. There are great messages here, important ones, not the least of which, but perhaps the most sentimental, and (dare I say?) the true meaning of Christmas: to lose one's life is to find it.

    Bravo, Mr. Forsythe, et al. Bravo, indeed. (Bill Patterson is gold!)
  • Excellent movie - the only sad thing is that it's taken me so long to see it. Quite different from Gregory's Girl: it's probably not quite as charming but I think it's equally quirky and has a better storyline. Great acting as well, while managing to maintain that same freshness that we saw in Gregory's Girl.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When early morning radio host Alan "dicky" Bird's kleptomaniac but spontaneously refreshing girlfriend Maddy dumps him a week before Christmas, not only does she take with her virtually every possession in his flat, but also the intangibles that he had become accustomed to over time: comfort and joy. Alan finds himself rudderless, bored and lonely during that time of year where it's impossible not to be reminded of "tidings of comfort and joy." Left only with his cherished red BMW sports car he drives aimlessly through the streets until one day he makes eye contact with an attractive girl in the back of ice cream van (keep in mind it's December in Scotland) and follows her on a whim. Seeking to change his fate, he approaches the van but when confronted face to face with the girl, can do no better than purchase an ice cream. But fate engages the situation more forcefully, and as Alan is walking back to his BMW, the ice cream van is savagely attacked by masked men with clubs and when one of the terrorists recognizes Alan as "Dicky" the radio host, he is unwittingly enlisted as an interlocker between the two warring ice cream competitors. The music of Dire Straits (Love Over Gold) is cleverly woven throughout the film, at times actually being incorporated into the dialog. An original offbeat comedy – subtle but effectively funny.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Watching a movie like this made me realize all the qualities that the majority of "comedies" coming out of Hollywood lack: real human characters instead of buffoons, whimsy, subtle interactions between people, comedy that comes straight from the characters in the movie rather than some screenwriter's contrivances or slapstick - and all of this without one scatological reference at all. From the bravura opening reminiscent of silent comedy, to the heartfelt closing radio soliliquy, the movie is a gem. The whole film, in its structure, tone, and details, is probably completely foreign to an American audience, yet at the same time, it is totally accessible, because the characters and situations are absolutely universal; this storyline could probably be tweaked slightly and set in any other country.

    Anyone expecting a fast-paced movie will be disappointed: "Comfort and Joy" takes great pleasure in setting up scenes which most other comedies would put on the cutting room floor, but are beneficial in helping us to understand the characters. Like real life, a bunch of unrelated things just happen, one after another. For example: the several scenes with Dickie Bird interacting with the daughters of his married surgeon friend. There's no sly wit, cutting irony, or anything of the sort in this scenes: they are simply there to show how Bird really does out of the bottom of his heart want to help others, and may even feel bittersweet about not having children of his own to take care of. The same goes for his short scene with the bedridden old woman in the hospital. In this way, we understand why he is willing to go to such absurd lengths to find a compromise between two battling ice cream proprietors. In addition, if this were a Hollywood movie, there would be greater concentration on the relationship between Dickie and his girlfriend Maddie - possibly even having a wrap-up in which they get back together, all so producers could pitch this under the "romantic comedy" label. But that would ruin the movie, because this is in essence a character comedy about Dickie and his personal growth.

    The tone of this movie is perfect, from veteran Chris Menges' gloomy cinematography, to Mark Knopfler's moody musical score. I must mention that I have never seen any of Bill Forsyth's other movies. They may be stylistically very different from this one, possibly more pungeant - I'm not sure - but people seem to look unfavorably upon this one in comparison to the others. In my opinion, this movie stands superbly on its own. Yes, it is simple, but the best comedic material is always simple: like Dickie's solution for the warring families, the movie is ingenious in its utter simplicity. Two scenes in particular are priceless: the scene showing how the ice cream truck music is produced, and the look on actor Bill Patterson's face when a psychiatrist asks him if he and his girlfriend had any unusual sexual practices. You don't find acting much better than Patterson's in this movie.
  • I was looking through movie titles with David O'Hara and found this title, then found the video in a second hand store.I was so glad to get my hands on this movie.

    I loved that the plot line was NOT one of those "guy lost girl, guy does everything to get girl back" type of thing. What a breath of fresh air! It was a movie about a "real" person, the whole aspect of his life; his flaws, his character, his relationships with those around him and even his strengths.

    This movie is a feel good movie no matter what the year it was made in, It's a good laugh as well. Hollywood should definitely take a look backward sometime and follow the example of this story line! If you want a good movie that even the kids could watch with you, this is the one!
  • "Comfort and Joy" is a deceptive film. It begins as a story about those dim, lonely days following a break-up, and turns into a fantastical tale of the dark underworld behind ice cream vendor territorial disputes (!). Yeah, that's what I thought too. How could this work, and who writes this stuff? Bill Forsyth was an exceedingly strange filmmaker. He made movies often thinly disguised as comedy, but with a heart of deep alienation and loneliness. This film, in fact, could almost be a distorted mirror of more nihilistic loner films like "Taxi Driver".

    There are passages in "Comfort and Joy" which are utterly dreamlike. The cinematography takes over in nighttime scenes, all deep focus and glowing orbs of unfocused light. Chris Menges photographs his images with a wonderfully real sense. It's this feeling which makes the film true bordering on painful. Bill Paterson (as Alan Bird) enters into this world like someone who'd been sleepwalking. He's subtle, silent, often bemused. He's like a lesson on how to create a character, in the purest sense.

    I must say that "Comfort and Joy" is a very specific sort of film. And a very good one, I think. But there's a large portion which depends directly on mood. It's very possible to not enjoy it. But it is real, and that in itself is a wondrous achievement.
  • A truly great comedy that was never going to take Hollywood by storm, but may well take you by surprise, with it's clever sense of humour, coupled with Bill Paterson's marvellous acting skills.

    A story for those of you with a sweet tooth, about two rival ice cream companies in Glasgow, fighting over a secret recipe!

    Bill Paterson plays a local DJ, he has the secret. So it's up to him to make sure that the wrong people don't get there greedy little hands on it!

    A film, well worth watching, for many reasons, just keep in mind that you'll probably want to keep it, once you do! More proof that, while Hollywood will always be home to the blockbuster, we, on this side of the pond, can still make great films, from the heart, rather than the wallet!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At a recent (February 2001) showing of this film in the home city in which it was made (Glasgow, Scotland). Bill Patterson spoke to the audience about the film, and explained that a scene was removed from the film before it went into distribution that, in his view, pulled the disparate strands of the film together. Its absence meant that the film had two plots that never connected - his lack of love life due to 'Maddie' walking out on him, and the solution to the warring Ice Cream owners.

    The missing scene - intended to be placed before the final radio studio shots of Dicky Bird explaining to listeners that it was only he that was in the radio station at Christmas - featured the girl from the Ice Cream van (Clare Grogan) discussing whether they should enter into a partnership themselves for the unique confection (Hot Ice Cream). The absence certainly simplified the storyline, but left Dicky love-less. Whether Dicky or the girl entered into the relationship was never revealed but the potential for them to 'get it together' made you wish it did.
  • UACW30 July 2002
    Anything Bill Forsyth does is worth collecting. You will like some movies more than others, but they're all gems - the antithesis of the Hollywood movie that has to come out of the screen and grab you, yank you. This is film making about people; this is a movie about the human spirit; there are elements of Fawlty Towers in here, the way certain plot elements gradually collide; viewers across the pond may feel bored, expecting something to 'happen' in the sense they are used to; but Forsyth is the best there is for the human soul.

    See it - and collect it.
  • This film's main plot ingredient is ice cream...but until it gets there (10 - 20 minutes in), it's surprisingly bland for a Bill Forsyth movie. Nevertheless, if you can make it through that beginning, you're in for a treat...maybe not on the order of a pint of Ben and Jerry's, but at least a fudgsicle from the corner mini-mart. It's also an unsung Christmas movie, good to check out if you're tired of seeing It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story over and over. Cheerio, folks!
  • A slight tale from Bill Forsyth and bizarrely inspired by actual Ice Cream wars that took place in Glasgow in the 1980s. This is more an absurdist comedy drama whereas the real events were more sinister.

    Bill Paterson is the early morning DJ 'Dicky' Bird left rudderless when his suddenly girlfriend leaves him and taking most of his possessions with her.

    Dicky's remaining pride and joy is a red sports BMW and his witty one liners for his radio show. While following an attractive girl in an ice cream van he suddenly finds himself middle of an ice cream van war. He soon winds up become an intermediary between the warring parties as his local fame is recognized.

    His radio boss meanwhile thinks Dicky is going nuts with the breakdown of his relationship and the ice cream feud takes it toll.

    Dicky may have an answer as soon as you can shout 'Baked Alaska' and maybe he can turn his life around as well.

    Bill Patterson hits the right tone as the radio presenter missing his shoplifting Ex. It would had been easy to make his character bitter or a smarmy smart Alec.

    The ice cream feud looks sinister but soon settles down as they banter over Kunzle cake. However the film needs more than this for its heart and soul and Forsyth just could not provide anything more substantial. It is good fun but that is all.
  • It's instructive to look at Bill Forsyth's mid-Eighties comedy in light of the Alan Partridge cycle of television shows, in which Steve Coogan portrayed a monstrously egotistical radio presenter completely unaware of the fact that everyone hates him, and would rather see him off the airwaves as soon as possible. Likewise Bill Paterson's "Dickie" (actually Alan) Bird comes across as someone so wrapped up in his radio persona that he cannot see what's happening around him. In the ersatz world of jingles, pop music, and inane chatter, he is a big star; to everyone else he is nothing but a pain. It's thus hardly surprising that his long-time girlfriend Maddy (Eleanor David) chooses to move out.

    Set around Christmastime in the center of Glasgow, COMFORT AND JOY looks as if it might be a highly ironic title for a film whose central character cannot find inner peace, and who becomes unwittingly involved in a turf war between rival ice cream sellers. What makes Bill Forsyth's film so endearing is the way he shows so many people making mountains out of emotional and personal windmills. Glasgow is sufficiently big to accommodate both the McCool cartel led by the Mafia-style boss (Roberto Bernardi), as well as the more fly-by- night outfit led by Trevor (Alex Norton). It is simply pride - as well as other issues - that prevents them from arriving at a deal.

    As the action unfolds, however, so Alan/Dickie undergoes something of a change of character. He finds out that he can make things happen - not by trying to sustain his arrogant radio persona, but rather treating people on their own terms. He manages to find a particularly satisfying resolution to bring the two sides in the ice cream war together, leaving him ready and willing to face the world with renewed vigor. He might be on his own on Christmas Day, but he understands the importance now of maintaining relationships, both personal and public.

    Shot in muddy color in perhaps the most anti-Thatcherite of cities, COMFORT AND JOY offers a glimpse of life beyond the mid-1980s illusion of prosperity and individual self-improvement. People struggle to survive in this city in whatever way they can, even if it means selling ice cream for a living. Their world deserves to be recognized, even though very different from English life at the same time.

    The film is replete with memorable cameos, from Scottish actor Rikki Fulton's Hilary - Alan's smooth-talking boss who thinks his star employee has gone barking mad - to C. P. (aka Clare) Grogan's stellar turn as Charlotte. COMFORT AND JOY might be a film with a morally soft center, but it manages to make some acute social observations along the way.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was curious to finally see something by the small cult legend Bill Forsyth (won a BBC / Kermode award for his entire oeuvre, no less), but this was a small disappointment.

    Though the film tries to tell a sympathetic, small and humorous story, it does not fully accomplish to do so. Yes, it is small up to a point, but with the two rivaling gangs included, there is an obvious attempt at a bigger story, even if it tries to downplay this with some easy, silly twists. The humour was much hit and miss, wherein the more subtle things worked a lot better than the bigger 'ice cream war' developments.

    Bill Paterson and the rest of the cast mostly do a decent job, but on the whole they can not save the so-so script from falling further apart toward the end.

    5 out of 10.
  • I watched this after I saw Local Hero. I love both films for the sly humor and understated plot with the ice cream trucks. I still chirp, "Hello, folks!" When I hear any ice cream truck. It sticks with you.
  • JohnHowardReid29 January 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    A movie so rich in wit, originality and expertise – at least for its first half – that it's hard to know where to start with this review. This movie's keen observation and startling sense of realism, its rich characterizations and, above all, its quirky sense of humor with ingenious twists of comedy and clever running gags – all of which are so adroitly acted, and directed with such a fine balance as to make even the most ignorant patron acutely aware that he/she is in the presence of top-rated craftsmanship.

    This is a movie where the narrative flow and selected incidents are so finely judged and juxtaposed that the movie could never succeed on TV where that flow was constantly interrupted by commercial breaks. True, the last half of the movie tends to be less ingenious and original. But there is no mistaking our sympathy and continued interest in the central character, so well played by Bill Paterson.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Being a lifelong Glaswegian, I have a natural interest in pretty much all of Bill Forsyth's early works, centring as they often do on my home-town. Re-viewing, after many years, this successor to the commercially successful "Local Hero", this was the director's last UK-based movie before his short-lived, relatively unsuccessful tenure in Hollywood. It boldly retracts from the "Hollywood-aspirant" feature that was "Local Hero" and returns him to the mean streets of Glasgow in an altogether more sombre affair, redolent as much as anything of his off-beat debut "That Sinking Feeling".

    Nevertheless, I can well remember the buzz around town as his first four movies were released to immediate critical and later commercial success and even though this particular movie has not surprisingly dated somewhat, it still entertains and is interesting, if nothing else, for the likes of myself to forever pause the action and screw my eyes up to try and identify some usually since-changed background location.

    The film is dated not only by the story-line itself, surrounding a then topical turf-war over ice-cream van routes (which in real life turned very nasty indeed, with as I recall, fatalities as gangland criminals muscled in on each other's territories,) but by the use of for example 80's rock band Dire Straits' music as the soundtrack, the thinly-disguised reference to the then very popular local independent station Radio Clyde 261, the now quite different Glasgow cityscape (apart from the motorway route into the city centre over the Kingston Bridge, which is pretty much unchanged), but above all Forsyth's quirky humour was by now palling with over-familiarity and forced-ness.

    The story, while based on fact, perhaps overreaches itself by placing as its central protagonist, the early morning Metro DJ Alan "Dicky" Bird, who single-handedly tackles the ice-cream war and eventually comes up with a somewhat facile solution, at odds, as I said earlier, with the real-life outcome of the actual events in the mid-80's. Half examination of the emotional make-up of this jilted DJ and half documentary on the events of the ice-cream war itself, the whole is about as unconvincing as the idea of an ice-cream fritter.

    Yes, there is some clever, typically amusing Forsyth-ian dialogue, particularly in Bird's "foody"-description of his and Maddy's relationship, culminating in the well-remembered line that "we went together like chocolate mousse", but the film is a little too long, is guilty of over and under-seriousness by turns and is not helped by poor acting by the assembled troupe, with the honourable exception of the ever-reliable Bill Paterson, thankfully in the central role. The rest of the cast is a motley selection of Forsyth regulars and bigger-name Scots like Rikki Fulton and Patrick Malahide, none of whom manage to convince they're real-life characters at all.

    It is a real shame that Forsyth ended up writing himself into a stylistic dead-end with his "Scottish" films, in fact arguably he never bettered his very amusing debut-feature "That Sinking Feeling". Although he has more recently returned to his native land with two fairly unsuccessful features (including a pointless sequel to "Gregory's Girl"), nevertheless those first four movies, including "Comfort and Joy", even if one of the weaker entrants, were part of the growing up in Glasgow experience of the late 70's and early 80's. Even if looking back at them now shows too clearly perhaps their failings, it was different then and it's hardly Forsyth's fault that times and tastes have moved on and passed him by in the meantime.
  • I would give this movie less stars, if it were possible. I will never forget my parents forcing my brother and I to see this piece of nonsensical drivel for my brother's 11th birthday. It's the only time I have ever felt sorry for him. Siskel and Ebert both gave it "Thumbs up" and it was in limited run at the fine arts theater next to the Chicago Symphony Hall. This means we actually had to TRAVEL to see this waste of time. We sat through it and heard the nuns behind us complain about it. You know you are in trouble when nuns are complaining. It made no sense whatsoever to us. We never cared about any of the characters, so we didn't care who won or not. My brother was so disappointed that his birthday was wasted. My parents felt so bad about making us see this movie. I tried watching it about 15 years ago when it was on cable. I couldn't sit through it. It was worse than I had remembered. Absolutely awful. The only reason to watch this movie is for your "Bad movie night: international version." There is absolutely NO Comfort or Joy in this film.
  • Brian Leonard from Williamsport, PA says "This film's main plot ingredient is ice cream...but until it gets there (10 - 20 minutes in), it's surprisingly bland for a Bill Forsyth movie." Not Forsyth's best, but still a charmer, 5 January 1999 8/10 I couldn't disagree more. The most interesting dialogue by far is the female/male "dialogue" when the main character Alan "Dicky" Bird's "bird" is flying from their little nest.

    He had imagined that Maddy, this gorgeous "femme fatale" character who had temporarily alighted and attached herself upon his life was somehow a "permanent" fixture but this had been pure illusion on his part.

    When the alighted bird had grown bored with his little nest she flew, first mentally and in an unforgettable scene, she upped and left physically, as precipitously, no doubt, as she had arrived.

    Such is the way with many a woman of today, even more likely a behaviour if she has beauty.

    The male character is disorientated by this sudden event and at first responds as if he cannot really believe it is happening. When it dawns on him that this "bad dream" really is for real he then gets into a "Why?" and then is dragged into a "what is whose", then on into the downward spiral the full wonderful inversion on just who is behaving badly.

    Needless to say that, irrespective of actual behaviour, the "culprit" just has to be the male: verbally the male comes off not just worse but, as usual, worsted.

    No matter how outrageously a woman behaves she is quite capable of a neat verbal inversion and in this case the Maddy character plays a blinder with some classic and deftly delivered put downs.

    Playing the hurt and victimised party who is able to sync and think herself into responding into the role of the one who has been hard done by and is merely responding, in a perfectly natural defensive manner, to untoward male behaviour.

    Thus a precipitous dumping of her partner is seen by her as something that was his fault: he hadn't the emotional intelligence to see what she was going through so somehow he is to blame.

    She is only saving herself and not acting in a selfish and narcissistic manner; of course not; she's a woman.

    A trip down to the delicatessen of male/female battle lines, those (mostly) unarmed combats, those misunderstandings of the parallel universe which male and female find themselves in each knowing they are right.

    The Maddy leaving scene is a classic little vignette of the warfare-welfare nuclear reaction that out of control damaging "free radical" behaviour can have on our nervous system, the males especially.

    Personally I don't think the woman finds much happiness in this ultimately destructive "free radical" approach to life either, atomistic egoism is never much of match for complementary synchronizing and symbiosis……well if you can find it.

    This is the equivalent to the search for the "Holy Grail" these days perhaps, well in terms of finding and keeping anyway. It's more easily lost than found due to the antagonism that overrides and eventually buries, in many cases, the synchronizing that relationships are meant to provide each partner.