Crying with Laughter - DVD

Monday, 24 January 2011 17:04

"A bad trip down memory lane" reads the tagline for this new British movie, and it is spot-on. Joey Frisk’s life is already in tatters. Joey (Stephen McCole – Single Father, High Times) is a stand-up comedian with a serious drug problem. He owes his estranged partner and landlord money and his act is becoming more and more strained. Then a face from the past enters the scene, and everything is turned upside down.

Frank Archer (Malcolm Shields – “Death Defying Acts”, Rebus) is a long-forgotten friend from the military boarding school they attended 25 years ago. Frank appears to want to reconnect with Joey, but the comedian is abrasive and dismissive. That does not stop Frank repeatedly asking Joey to attend a school reunion. When Joey finally agrees, he has little idea what he has let himself in for. The winner of BAFTA Scotland’s Best Film of 2009 award, writer/director Justin Molotnikov’s Edinburgh-set drama is based loosely on terrible, real events from Malcolm Shield’s life, and it absolutely pulls no punches.

It often makes for quite uncomfortable viewing; Joey’s comedy act is so offensive and disrespectful to those around him; he lives like a pig, drinks heavily and snorts coke habitually; and consequently presents the worst possible role model for his young daughter (Olivia McEwan) when it is his turn to take care of her. I cannot reveal the primary reason for this discomfort though, as that would be a massive spoiler. Suffice to say that in Joey and Frank’s past lurks some very dark and distressing memories, and Frank’s ultimate way of dealing with them is highly disturbing.

The structure of the film is interesting, in that we catch glimpses of forthcoming events through snippets of Joey’s stand-up act before that happen. The acting is superb, and it is a credit to McCole that we end up rooting for Joey despite his immense list of character flaws.

Shields imbues Frank with just the right combination of friendliness, mysteriousness and menace, keeping us guessing about to his true intentions. The supporting characters such as Joey’s caring but fed up Ex (Jo Hartley), his frustrated landlord (Paul McCole) and his accommodating manageress (Laura Keenan) are all believable and flesh out this biting human drama brilliantly.

The special features on the discs are very comprehensive. The first disc has a commentary track featuring the director, producer and key cast members. The second includes the following items:

  • “Making of...” documentary (12 mins)
  • “Becoming Joey Frisk” - short documentary (19 mins)
  • “The Inspiration behind Crying with Laughter” - a round table discussion between the director and cast (27 mins)
  • Edinburgh Festival launch party comedy gig with Stephen McCole (5 mins)
  • Comedy sets
  • Eight Deleted Scenes

You also get, for real, ‘Joey Frisk’s Notebook’ - a booklet of jokes.

All told, these extras add quite a bit of value to the package, and provide some very insightful and personal details on the background of the film and its production.

“Crying With Laughter” (2009) is out now, courtesy of Britfilms TV. The main feature has a running time of 93 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and the two-disc package retails for £16.99, or less from

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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