Funny Farm (film)
Theatrical release poster by Steven Chorney
|Directed by||George Roy Hill|
|Produced by||Robert L. Crawford|
|Written by||Jay Cronley (book, Funny Farm)
Jeffrey Boam (screenplay)
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein|
|Edited by||Alan Heim|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Funny Farm is a 1988 American comedy film starring Chevy Chase and Madolyn Smith. The film was adapted from a 1985 comedic novel of the same name by Jay Cronley. The movie was filmed on location in Vermont, mostly in Townshend, Vermont. It was the final film directed by George Roy Hill.
Andy Farmer (Chase) is a New York City sports writer who moves with his wife, Elizabeth (Smith) to the seemingly charming town of Redbud, Vermont, so he can write a novel. They do not get along well with the residents, and other quirks arise such as being given exorbitant funeral bills for a long-dead man buried on their land years before they acquired the house. Marital troubles soon arise from the quirkiness of Redbud as well as the fact that Elizabeth was critical of Andy's manuscript, while secretly getting her ideas for children's books published. They soon decide to divorce and sell their home. To expedite the sale, the Farmers offer the town's residents a $15,000 donation to Redbud, and $50 cash each if they help make a good impression on their prospective home buyers. To that end, the citizens remake Redbud into a perfect Norman Rockwell-style town. Their charade dazzles a pair of prospective buyers, who make the Farmers an offer on the house; however, Andy declines to sell, realizing that he genuinely enjoys small-town living. He and Elizabeth decide to stay together in Redbud, much to the chagrin of the locals, who are now angry that they lost their promised money. Though the mayor does not hold the Farmers liable for the $15,000, as the sale of their house did not occur, Andy decides to pay everyone in Redbud their $50, which helps improve his standing among the townspeople. The film ends with Andy taking a job as a sports writer for the Redbud newspaper, and Elizabeth, now pregnant with their first child, having written multiple children's stories.
- Chevy Chase as Andy Farmer
- Madolyn Smith as Elizabeth Farmer
- Kevin O'Morrison as Sheriff Ledbetter
- Mike Starr and Glenn Plummer as Crocker and Mickey
- Joseph Maher as Michael Sinclair, the publisher
- Bill Fagerbakke and Nicholas Wyman as Lon and Dirk Criterion
- William Newman as Gus Lotterhand
The film was mostly shot in Southeastern Vermont, including the towns of Townshend, Windsor, Grafton, and Hartland, Vermont using locals as extras. The Townshend Common today has an unusual souvenir from the production of Funny Farm: to make the trees on the Common look as if it was mid-autumn, the film crew dyed the leaves, which killed all of the trees, except for one in the middle of the Common. Today, the ring of newly planted trees around the edge of the Common are significantly shorter than the much larger one that survived the filming of Funny Farm.
Funny Farm has received mixed to positive reviews at the time of its release. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 67%, based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 5.2/10. However, film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel were strong champions of the film, praising it on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Ebert described the film as a "small miracle," while Siskel called it "the best film Chase has made" and compared it to the films of Preston Sturges.
- Canby, Vincent (1988-06-03). "Funny Farm". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
- MICHAEL WILMINGTON (1988-06-03). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Funny Farm' Needs More Cultivation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
- "Variety Reviews - Funny Farm - Film Reviews - - Review by Variety Staff". Variety.com. 1987-12-31. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
- "Funny Farm". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "Funny Farm :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 1988-06-03. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
- "Chevy Mettle - Chicago Tribune". articles.chicagotribune.com. 1988-06-12. Retrieved 2012-10-22.