Customer Review

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For worlds I'd not replace, 10 Oct 2008
This review is from: Funny Face [DVD] (DVD)
Audrey Hepburn as a dowdy, shy little bookworm obsessed with philosophy to the point of excluding all else? Say it's not so.

But such is the legendary actress' role at the start of "Funny Face," an endearingly frothy little musical that spends equal time exploring the nightlife of 1950s Paris and a sparkly, sunny version of the fashion industry. Hepburn and Fred Astaire are the ones who really make the story shine, with plenty of song-and-dance numbers and a quirky, slightly sardonic little romance. It's never a deep story, but it's always a charming one.

Dissatisfied with the latest edition of Quality fashion magazine, publisher/editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) decides to splash the world with the Next Big Trend: think pink. Cue musical number.

She also decides to add an intellectual bent to the fashion world ("Marion, dear, what are you reading?" "Minute Men from Mars!"), and temporarily takes over a boho bookstore for a suitable backdrop, much to the dismay of the owner Jo (Hepburn). Photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) is struck by Jo's earnestness and unique "funny face," and convinces Maggie to make her their new star model -- supposedly a woman who embodies intellect as well as chic fashion.

Jo doesn't like fashion ("It is chichi, and an unrealistic approach to self-impressions as well as economics!") agrees because she wants to meet her favorite philosopher in Paris, and immerse herself into the bohemian nightlife. But she's slowly growing to love her modeling career -- and Dick as well. But when Jo encounters the eminent Professor Flostre, her budding relationship with Dick is disrupted -- can fashion and philosophy find true love, or are their differences too much?

"Funny Face" is loosely based on an old stage musical -- and by "loosely based," I mean they borrowed a few songs from it and crafted a whole new plot. Fortunately this doesn't keep the movie from being vastly entertaining -- it's a big frothy creampuff of a musical, where you can guess the ending and all the plot twists far in advance, but somehow it just doesn't matter because it's such fun, and the romance is so sweet despite Astaire and Hepburn's chasmic age gap.

Part of the movie's charm is the glamourized views of Paris -- it's all romantic hotels, dramatic photo shoots ("Take the picture, TAKE THE PICTURE!"), idyllic wedding chapels and quirky little nightclubs. And it has a lot of dry humour ("Every girl on every page of Quality has grace, elegance, and pizzazz. Now what's wrong with bringing out a girl who has character, spirit, and intelligence?" "That certainly would be novel in a fashion magazine") and not-so-subtle spoofery of the pretentions both of bohemians and of the fashion elite. And boy is that fun.

It's also graced with a bunch of delightful musical numbers -- the over-the-top "Think Pink," the sweet "'s Wonderful," the adorably quirky titular song, and the exuberant "Bonjour Paris!" Hepburn in particular shines in two of these numbers -- she sings a fragile little ballad called "How Long Has This Been Going On?" in the ruined bookshop, and does a wildly kooky "Basal Metabolism" dance number in a bohemian bistro -- it's incredibly different from everything else in the movie.

In fact, Hepburn shines in pretty much every part of this movie, and while playing a character that could have easily been annoying -- earnest, naive, rather snobbish, and idealiastically devoted to any and all "isms" -- while Astaire serves as a counterbalance, playing a photographer who is just jaded enough to see the absurdity all around him. And Thompson is a real scene-stealer as the fashion queen who seems to think that Quality Magazine keeps the whole modern world afloat.

"Funny Face" is indeed funny. It's also sweet, charming, romantic, and "'s wonderful" -- a cute little musical filled with stunningly gorgeous clothes and a bit of wicked satire. Definitely worth checking out.
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