Humor Me

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Humor Me Movie Poster Image
Swearing, innuendo in predictable but likable dad-son tale.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Warns against using humor as a defense mechanism -- i.e., using it to deflect real conversation or relationships -- but also advocates using a little humor to loosen up and make it easier for people to reach each other. A sub-theme champions the idea of appreciating a task as it's being performed, rather than constantly looking ahead to the finished product.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though the characters are kind, likable, and funny, they're all fairly flawed and not particularly admirable. But over the course of the story, they do learn how to be better people and how to better communicate with one another.

Violence

Arguing. Threat of violence.

Sex

Jokes with heavy sexual innuendo/references. Flirting. An elderly man's naked backside is seen. Brief shower fantasy.

Language

A few uses of "f--k," several uses of "s--t," plus "ass," "d--k," "penis," "masturbating," "balls," and "fellatio." "Bucket heads" is used to describe Koreans.

Consumerism

FaceTime used.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A supporting character says she once abused vodka and cocaine and is now in rehab. Pot smoking. Drinking sake. Glass of wine. Reference to a "drug dealer."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Humor Me is an indie dramedy about a playwright (Jemaine Clement) who's forced to move in with his father (Elliott Gould) and -- naturally -- learns important life lessons along the way. Language is the biggest issue, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," and more. The derogatory word "bucket heads" is also used. You can also expect heavy sexual innuendo and sex-related jokes, as well as flirting, a brief shower fantasy, and an old man's naked backside. A supporting character confesses to abusing cocaine and vodka and is now in rehab. Characters also smoke pot and drink sake, and glasses of wine are shown. There's a threat of violence and some arguing. A woman mentions that she's survived breast cancer. The movie is mildly funny and warmly likable, thanks to a fine cast, and is worth seeing, depending on your fondness (or tolerance) for silly jokes.

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What's the story?

In HUMOR ME, playwright Nate Kroll (Jemaine Clement) has been struggling for four years to follow up his last play. Then his wife (Maria Dizzia) suddenly leaves him, taking their son (Cade Lappin) to live with a billionaire in France. With few options left, Nate moves in with his joke-telling father, Bob (Elliott Gould), in a retirement community. After several unproductive days, Bob tries to get Nate a job, and Nate winds up directing the community's production of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado. During rehearsals, Nate meets piano player Allison (Ingrid Michaelson), and, despite some small dramas among his actresses and some of the other residents, he begins to find a new lease on life. He even starts to figure out why his relationship with his father has deteriorated.

Is it any good?

There's no shortage of movies about male sad-sacks who are stuck in a rut, but this one, though predictable, is mildly funny and warmly likable thanks to fine casting and sympathetic performances. Written and directed by Sam Hoffman, creator of the web series Old Jews Telling Jokes, Humor Me is very much based around the act of joke-telling, complete with a fictional hero, Zimmerman (Joey Slotnick), who only appears in black-and-white "joke" sequences. Nate's father communicates almost entirely in jokes, and it's a joke that breaks his relationship with his son -- as well as jokes that bring them back together.

The very funny Clement is, unexpectedly, cast in a non-funny role; Nate is a suffering straight man who simply takes loads of grief from others. Yet Hoffman is clever enough to surround him with funny people (Annie Potts and Willie C. Carpenter are especially fun), and he never seems too pathetic; rather, he's a great sounding board for some wonderfully silly jokes. Nate is also given weight by his genuinely affectionate and heartbreaking relationship with his young son, with whom he must communicate over FaceTime at 3 a.m. Of course, your ultimate enjoyment of Humor Me will largely depend on your love (or tolerance) for somewhat ridiculous setup-payoff humor. But those who "get it" will be on board.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Humor Me's use of sexual material. How much is genuine attraction, and how much is used for humor? What's the difference? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How is drug use and/or abuse depicted? Does the recovering cocaine abuser seem to be in a good place? What about the pot smoker? Are drugs glamorized? Are there consequences for substance use? Why does that matter?

  • What is the father-son relationship like in this movie? How does it compare to real-life father-son relationships?

  • What place do jokes have in this movie? How can humor be used for good? When are jokes too much?

  • What does Ellis mean when he talks about appreciating the task at hand rather than looking forward to the end product?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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