MOVIE: BEING FRANK
STARRING: JIM GAFFIGAN; ANNA GUNN; SAMANTHA MATHIS; LOGAN MILLER
DIRECTED BY: MIRANDA BAILEY
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Being Frank scratched an emotional itch that I didn't think needed scratching. There's a slapstick nature in the plot, starring Jim Gaffigan as Frank, a man who's been living a lie and balancing two families at the same time. Yet, underneath the perceived silliness of the situation, finding out exactly how one man could possibly achieve this emotional juggling act, is a blunt and honest look at the family dynamic. It is a comedic reminder of how the parents we look up to are secretly just flawed people. Miranda Bailey directs, in what is an often funny, sometimes heartfelt movie, that audiences will enjoy no matter what family they see it with.
Philip is the black sheep of his family. Frank does not have much confidence in him that he will make anything of himself. The matriarch of the family is Laura (Anna Gunn), keeping this a sturdy home, while Frank is busy at the condiment factory, often traveling to “Japan”. The other person Frank is married to is Bonnie (Samantha Mathis) and this is his ideal marriage, where Frank gets to be a youthful spirit, and his two other children are not as much of a disappointment as Philip. It's a nice double life Frank has going, until Philip sneaks away for a weekend with friends, and stumbles upon his dad with an entirely different life. What is unexpected is that Frank and Philip will bond to keep the lie alive, which is headed for a crash and burn.
When it comes to leading men, the last person we might think of is Jim Gaffigan, but the comedian seems to be cracking out of his shell with each film he makes. His portrayal of Frank is spot on in the balance of being a dirtbag and a flawed human being. On top of his work as the character, he also brings to the table a type of comedy that is hilarious and reminiscent of actors such as Steve Martin or John Candy. When the screenplay from Glen Lakin inches closer to Frank's double life completely tearing apart, the darker secrets of all surrounding characters begin to reveal themselves. Philip (played with stressed ease by Logan Miller) witnesses that his father is not who he has said he was, a sobering experience for any child, but also something that not enough children learn early on. It's not a bad message to tell our kids that dad is not superman.
On top of the sharp and a throwback sitcom-style of a narrative, the direction from Miranda Bailey is both bright and never afraid to slow the comedy down. I was encouraged by the moments of bonding between Philip and Frank, which has an emphasis on letting our children choose the lives they want, something more men need to hear. The messages of lying to our families is obviously not the point of Being Frank, but opening our eyes into the humanity of others. If we take anything away from Being Frank, it should be plenty of laughs, and a new understanding of what those we love can be capable of.
I know that's what I took from Being Frank. I talked about that emotional itch that I didn't know I needed to scratch. It's no mystery to my readers that I have no relationship with my own father, someone who is a highly flawed person. That is a thought that I have always kept in the back of my head, especially when it comes to my own self worth, and raising my son. I just know that I will be there for my son more than my own father ever was for me. Just because someone that happens to be your father is a shithead doesn't mean I will be one, or my son will be one. I can't change who people are. I just know that he will always be my father. That's not lying to myself, that's just Being Frank.
BEING FRANK is playing in select Chicago theaters this weekend!
Written by: Leo Brady