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Funny Bones (1995, Jerry Lewis, Oliver Platt)

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Peter Chelsom’s follow-up to Hear My Song takes a much darker tone, despite being set in the world of comics and comedy. It opens in Las Vegas, where Tommy Fawkes (Oliver Platt) is about to get his big break in front of a crowd that includes his father, the successful comedian George Fawkes (Jerry Lewis).

But when Dad comes up on stage to introduce his son and in doing so, doesn’t only steal the show but his son’s best gags, Tommy heads to Blackpool, where he was brought up and his father first had success, to try and re-invent himself.

Holding open auditions in the search for fresh material, he comes across the Parker family, Bruno (Freddie Davies), Thomas (George Carl) and the young Jack (Lee Evans in his film debut) and realises that not only did his father steal their act but Jack’s mother Katie (Leslie Caron) is also part of a deeper mystery…

Chelsom throws in a criminal subplot involving severed feet, drugs and Oliver Reed but the film belongs to the principles, with Evans outstanding as the comic genius whose act borders on the psychopathic and who harbours a dark secret while Davies and Carl prove that age can indeed improve comedic talent. The ending is savage but compassionate and Chelsom’s ability to maintain tension throughout the film by just offering the odd clue here and there makes for compulsive viewing.

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production details
USA | 128 minutes | 1995

Director: Peter Chelsom
Writers: Peter Chelsom, Peter Flannery

cast
Jerry Lewis as George Fawkes
Oliver Platt as Tommy Fawkes
Lee Evans as Jack Parker
Leslie Caron as Katie Parker
Richard Griffiths as Jim Minty
Sadie Corre as Poodle Woman
Oliver Reed as Dolly Hopkins
George Carl as Thomas Parker
Freddie Davies as Bruno Parker
Ian McNeice as Stanley Sharkey
Christopher Greet as Lawrence Berger
Peter Gunn as Nicky
Gavin Millar as Steve Campbell
William Hootkins as Al
Terence Rigby as Billy Man
Ruta Lee as Laura Fawkes
Peter Pamela Rose as Jenny
Ticky Holgado as Battiston
Olivier Py as Barre
Mouss as Poquelin
Peter McNamara as Canavan
Richard Platt as Bellows
François Domange as Pirard
Harold Nicholas as Himself
George Khan as Francesco
Phil Atkinson as Policeman
Nicholas Coppin as Policeman
Tony Barton as Comedian
Ruth Kettlewell as Camilla Powell
George Raistrick as Club Owner
Fred Evans as Mr Pearce
Andy Rashleigh as Reporter
Tony Peers as Reporter
Rusty Goffe as Bagpipe Playing Dwarf
Fred Cox as Cox Twin
Frank Cox as Cox Twin
Anthony Irvine as Iceman
Eileen Bell as Doggydou
Benji Ming as Plastic Cup Smasher
Peter Martin as Skipper

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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