Well, come on up to Redbud;
We would love to have you here.
A life out in the country’s good
For those who persevere.

Just look at Andy Farmer,
Why, when he moved here at first,
He very nearly went insane
Before things got their worst.

If he can handle country life,
Then anybody can.
Just know that moves here rarely go
According to the plan.

Rating: PG (for some language and slapstick)
Another film beloved of my VC and liked by me, Funny Farm features Chevy Chase doing what Chevy Chase does best: getting in over his head. In this case, he’s Andy Farmer, a writer planning his first novel and wishing to get away from it all in the country with his wife Elizabeth (Madolyn Smith). With similarities to Baby Boom and Newhart, the film upholds the view that Vermont must be full of eccentrics, though in this case some are a bit more mean-spirited and vindictive.

While Andy and his wife desperately try to relax and squeeze enjoyment from small-town life, everything—literally everything—goes wrong. Furniture moving, fishing, gardening, placing a phone call, writing his ingenious novel, even getting mail—everything has unfortunate, humorous outcomes, the kind of mishaps that make you laugh even as you feel sorry for the poor saps being tormented. All these problems naturally take a toll on their marriage, particularly when Andy’s wife reads his masterpiece. One of the greatest fears of all authors is being told that their work stinks, and as much as Andy overreacts, I can say from personal experience that he’s at least somewhat believable. (I love how his wife complains that his manuscript has too many flashbacks, flash forwards, and even a flash sideways. He could have written Lost!) By the time they’ve had enough of Vermont, they’re ready to do anything to escape, and the plot they hatch with the entire town is hilarious.

I wouldn’t say Funny Farm is one of the greatest comedies, but it has its fair share of visual humor and crack-up moments, which get funnier as they pile onto each other. Some actually manage to be educational. For instance, if you move to Vermont, never buy an untrained dog. Never chop down road signs. Never write books inspired by real people and then kill them off. If you don’t know what a menu item is, ask first, especially for something as enigmatic as Lamb Fries. Never gild the lily. In fact, according to this and other movies, perhaps it would be best to just not move to Vermont at all, if you value your sanity.

Best line: (a young vandal, after cutting down an important traffic sign) “Think we should put this back?”   (another boy) “What are you, nuts? This sign is mint. There’s not a bullet hole in it!”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2015 S. G. Liput

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