Vancouver Just For Laughs Film Festival: ‘Sorry for Your Loss’ Lost Me

Movies that don’t evoke a strong reaction are the hardest for me to write about, but they are not the ones I like to write about least. The ones I like to write about the least are the ones I don’t like at all. It sucks to watch something that many people have put a ton of work into and come away knowing that you’re going to have to tell people you can’t recommend seeing that work.

Unfortunately, that is what I have to do right now. Sorry For Your Loss is not a good movie.

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Justin Bartha plays Ken, a new father who heads to his hometown for his estranged father’s funeral. Ken’s father left when he was young, and by all accounts never came back to Ken’s life in any meaningful way. While he’s at the funeral, he meets Jeff (Bruce Greenwood), a hard-drinking, mildly racist, old school misogynist and his Dad’s best friend.

This is where things basically go wrong.

Bruce Greenwood is a great actor, but Jeff is a terrible character. Almost everything he says or does is played for laughs, but nothing he says or does is actually funny. Instead, most of it is the type of stuff that your least favourite uncle would say after one Jack and Coke to many at thanksgiving, embarrassing you and maybe the whole family. That might have worked once upon a time, and you almost have to admire Greenwood for fully buying in with his performance, but it ultimately doesn’t work now.

Justin Bartha is a funny actor, and he has the timing to be funny, but Ken is such a sad sack that his sarcasm isn’t funny it’s just kind of… sad. There’s no other real way to put it; he’s too sad to be funny. It’s one thing to be mildly self-loathing and to couch that anxiety in humour. Ken just feels exhausted and bitter.

It’s a shame, too, because you can see potential in writer/director Collin Friesen’s script (the scenes between Ken and his wife, played by Inbar Lavi, feel very true to me), but in the end, it feels like he couldn’t decide between making a dark comedy or a heartfelt, sad man comes to terms with his father’s death story, then tried to do both and missed both times.

The end result is, unfortunately, boring and unfunny.