Cry Funny Happy

Director: Sam Neave
Screenwriters: Sam Neave

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


The quality of improvised work is naturally dependent on the degree of excellence of its actors. So good, I'm happy to say, is the ensemble cast of Cry Funny Happy that this story of 30-somethings (maybe late 20s) faced with turning points in their lives is a sterling example of how compelling improvised work can be. As director Sam Neave's notes reveal, there was, in fact, never a full shooting script, and the troupe worked collaboratively, individually, and in small groups to fashion the characters and plot lines of this genuinely engaging portrayal.

The story is structured around six characters, most of whom have known each other previously, who gather for a thirtieth birthday party. Faced with the transitions that affect one at that generally significant point in growing up, i.e., careers, relationships, a newfound sense of identity, the characters of Cry Funny Happy are set for a tumultuous 24 hours.

Simultaneously realistic and theatrical, Cry Funny Happy is, as its title suggests, emotionally flamboyant. But the skills of its creators make it capable of moving from the familiar, at times even mundane, to a resounding dramatic catharsis, one that stays with you well after the curtains close.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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