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I Used to Be Funny movie review (2024)

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I Used to Be Funny movie review (2024)

Written and directed by Pankiw, Sam’s story weaves between her present emotional turmoil and the outgoing version of herself who’s funny and caring. Pankiw carefully constructs her narrative, doling out just enough morsels of information to keep the audience intrigued in the mystery without getting in its characters’ way. We see Sam and Brooke grow close then apart in Pankiw’s fractured timeline, which lends further meaning to each previous interaction when seen together. Their shared moments together are the highlight of “I Used to Be Funny,” so the contrasts in their dynamic before and after an unspoken incident make the loss of their camaraderie feel even more pronounced. 

Pankiw’s movie does more than just follow the adventures of a babysitter/stand-up comedian and her young but troubled charge. It soon becomes an exploration of trauma and its effect on one’s creativity and their relationships. As this mystery seeps into every aspect of Sam’s life, like water flooding a home, it leaves behind both visible and invisible damage in its wake. The violence she experiences ripples out to affect those she cares for in unintentional ways. Pankiw explores the issue of Sam’s words being used against her, with her own jokes becoming weapons against their creator in a court, a reminder that the conversations sparked by #MeToo are still far from over. In trying to reclaim her own narrative, Sam must work even harder to hold onto her comedic self and the relationships that matter most to her lest they too are destroyed. 

To bring Sam’s arc to life, Sennott essentially plays two characters, one before and one after the event. In one portion of the movie, she’s bright, energetic, and unafraid to deliver raunchy punchlines onstage or argue over Team Jacob or Edward to make a teenager smile. In the other half of the movie, Sennot looks worn down by the world; her shoulders are shrugged as if to protect herself, and she walks the apartment like a ghost of the outgoing personality we see in brief flashbacks. Although her previous roles in movies like “Shiva Baby,” “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” and “Bottoms” showcased her comedic chops, Sennott proves herself every bit as sharp as a dramatic actress. 

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