27 July 2015 | Red-125
Would be better if it were funnier
"Are You Joking?" (2014) was directed by Jake Wilson. (The film is also known as "You Must be Joking.")
The film stars Sas Goldberg as Barb Schwartz. By Barb's standards, her life is really messed up. I have to point out that she's healthy, slender, has a decent job, and an apartment on Roosevelt Island. However, she's unmarried, a paralegal rather than a lawyer, and the Chief Paralegal doesn't like her. According to the film's publicity, "she ended up in a life that kinda . . . sucks." That's only true if you accept the Manhattan/Westchester normative. However, you have to accept the premise that her life kinda sucks, or the film won't work at all.
Billy Morrison, a friend from her childhood, reenters her life. (Morrison is played by director Jake Wilson.) He becomes her Gay Best Friend. She invites him to escort her to her family home for Thanksgiving. (Why she would do that is hard to fathom, because he's portrayed as clearly gay, but we have to suspend disbelief.)
How can Barb break out of her life that kinda sucks? She takes an improvisation class, and she finds she has talent. Barb really does have a gift for improvisation, and for stand-up comedy. That's a clever plot twist, and I wish we could have seen more of her work. Still, Sas Goldberg saves the picture by her comedy routines, and that's what kept me from rating the film lower. Actually, I kinda . . . liked it.
We saw this movie at Rochester's Dryden Theatre, as part of the highly commendable Rochester International Film Festival. (The tie-in is that Barb is Jewish.) The film will work very well on the small screen.