Funny Farm (1988)

PG | 99, 101 or 103 mins | Comedy | 3 June 1988

Director:

George Roy Hill

Writer:

Jeffrey Boam

Producer:

Robert L. Crawford

Cinematographer:

Miroslav Ondricek

Editor:

Alan Heim

Production Designer:

Henry Bumstead
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HISTORY

       A 15 Feb 1985 Publishers Weekly news item announced that author Jay Cronley’s 1985 novel, Funny Farm: A Sweeping Epic of the Sticks, had been optioned by Paramount Pictures for $85,000 against a pickup price of $250,000. Seven months later, the 13 Sep 1985 HR reported that Warner Bros. had “snapped up” films rights to the novel. Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that actor Chevy Chase and executive producer Bruce Bodner purchased the property through their company, Cornelius Productions, and developed the screenplay with Jeff Boam as a vehicle to showcase Chase's unique comedy style.
       Although the 9 Jun 1987 HR production chart reported that filming was slated to start in Sep 1987, production notes in AMAPS library files stated that principal photography began early, on 25 Aug 1987. Production shot in New York City for one week before moving to locations in Vermont, including Brownsville, Grafton, Hartland, Pomfret, Springfield, Townshend, and Windsor. Production notes also state that filming took place at Burbank Studiosdios in Burbank, California. A brief in the 2 Dec 1987 DV announced that that filming recently wrapped in Windsor, VT. A 31 Mar 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release mentioned that the film’s budget was $19 million.
       According to the 5 Jun 1988 NYT, maple trees within the common area in Townshend, VT, were covered with “a fire-retardant foam” to give the appearance of snow during production in Nov 1987. However, the foam was toxic to maples and killed the trees. The article noted that location manager David Israel was ... More Less

       A 15 Feb 1985 Publishers Weekly news item announced that author Jay Cronley’s 1985 novel, Funny Farm: A Sweeping Epic of the Sticks, had been optioned by Paramount Pictures for $85,000 against a pickup price of $250,000. Seven months later, the 13 Sep 1985 HR reported that Warner Bros. had “snapped up” films rights to the novel. Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that actor Chevy Chase and executive producer Bruce Bodner purchased the property through their company, Cornelius Productions, and developed the screenplay with Jeff Boam as a vehicle to showcase Chase's unique comedy style.
       Although the 9 Jun 1987 HR production chart reported that filming was slated to start in Sep 1987, production notes in AMAPS library files stated that principal photography began early, on 25 Aug 1987. Production shot in New York City for one week before moving to locations in Vermont, including Brownsville, Grafton, Hartland, Pomfret, Springfield, Townshend, and Windsor. Production notes also state that filming took place at Burbank Studiosdios in Burbank, California. A brief in the 2 Dec 1987 DV announced that that filming recently wrapped in Windsor, VT. A 31 Mar 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release mentioned that the film’s budget was $19 million.
       According to the 5 Jun 1988 NYT, maple trees within the common area in Townshend, VT, were covered with “a fire-retardant foam” to give the appearance of snow during production in Nov 1987. However, the foam was toxic to maples and killed the trees. The article noted that location manager David Israel was surprised by the trees’ reaction, stating “the foam has been used hundreds of times … and it never hurt anything,” and Warner Bros.’s insurance group would cover the costs.
       The film was released 3 Jun 1988. Four days later, LAT stated that the picture took in $5.7 million on 1,557 screens during its opening weekend.
       The picture is the last feature film directed by George Roy Hill.
             Preceding end credits, a voice-over narration by actor Chevy Chase in the role of “Andy Farmer” is heard: “Mayor Barclay ruled that we weren’t liable for the fifteen grand since we never actually sold the house. But we decided to make good on the $50 bonuses, which greatly improved our relationship with the town. Elizabeth meanwhile has had two new books published. And I’ve been working for The Redbud Gazette. As a novelist, I turned out to be a pretty good sportswriter. Before leaving New York, Elizabeth and I thought we knew exactly what we were getting into. Well, we were wrong about almost everything. But the one thing we had right, moving to the country was the best decision we ever made.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1987
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 1988
p. 3, 20.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jun 1988
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jun 1988
Calendar, p. 2.
New York Times
3 Jun 1988
Section C, p. 14.
New York Times
5 Jun 1988
Section A, p. 42.
Publishers Weekly
15 Feb 1985.
---
Variety
1 Jun 1988
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A George Roy Hill Film
A Cornelius-Pan Arts Production
Distributed by Warner Bros., A Warner Communications Company
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, New York
2d asst dir, New York
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit cam
2d unit asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus scoring mixer
Supv mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst ADR ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec visual eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Asst to George Roy Hill
Secy to Chevy Chase
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Animal handler
Unit pub
Extras casting
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod office coord, New York
Loc mgr, New York
Transportation captain, New York
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Funny Farm by Jay Cronley (New York, 1985).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 June 1988
Premiere Information:
Nationwide release: 3 June 1988
Production Date:
25 August--December 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 July 1988
Copyright Number:
PA392722
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
99, 101 or 103
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29138
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, newspaper sportswriter Andy Farmer quits his job to become a novelist. With an advance of $10,000 from his publisher, he and his wife Elizabeth, a former schoolteacher, purchase a farmhouse near the small town of Redbud, Vermont. When they arrive, Andy is almost run over by their drunken mail carrier, and movers arrive late with their furniture. Andy starts his novel, but develops writer’s block. Outside, Elizabeth accidently uncovers the coffin of the previous owner in the backyard garden. Later, Elizabeth goes to an antique store and tearfully confesses to the owner, Mrs. Dinges, that she and Andy have been having bad luck since moving. Meanwhile, Andy goes fishing with some townsfolk. However, he accidentally injures them and is chased off the boat. He continues with his novel, but struggles. Unknown to him, Elizabeth begins writing a children’s book featuring woodland creatures based on the residents of Redbud and sends the story to a publisher. On their wedding anniversary, Andy asks Elizabeth to read the first chapters of his novel, but she finds Andy’s work to be terrible. Later, Elizabeth announces that she sold her children’s book and has a contract to write additional books. Jealous of his wife’s success, Andy stops writing and begins drinking. Later, he receives a visit from Michael Sinclair, an editor from his publisher. Sinclair informs Andy the deadline for his novel has passed, and the advance needs to be returned. However, Andy gives Sinclair a copy of Elizabeth’s newest manuscript, claiming it as his own. After reading it, Sinclair telephones the house to ... +


In New York City, newspaper sportswriter Andy Farmer quits his job to become a novelist. With an advance of $10,000 from his publisher, he and his wife Elizabeth, a former schoolteacher, purchase a farmhouse near the small town of Redbud, Vermont. When they arrive, Andy is almost run over by their drunken mail carrier, and movers arrive late with their furniture. Andy starts his novel, but develops writer’s block. Outside, Elizabeth accidently uncovers the coffin of the previous owner in the backyard garden. Later, Elizabeth goes to an antique store and tearfully confesses to the owner, Mrs. Dinges, that she and Andy have been having bad luck since moving. Meanwhile, Andy goes fishing with some townsfolk. However, he accidentally injures them and is chased off the boat. He continues with his novel, but struggles. Unknown to him, Elizabeth begins writing a children’s book featuring woodland creatures based on the residents of Redbud and sends the story to a publisher. On their wedding anniversary, Andy asks Elizabeth to read the first chapters of his novel, but she finds Andy’s work to be terrible. Later, Elizabeth announces that she sold her children’s book and has a contract to write additional books. Jealous of his wife’s success, Andy stops writing and begins drinking. Later, he receives a visit from Michael Sinclair, an editor from his publisher. Sinclair informs Andy the deadline for his novel has passed, and the advance needs to be returned. However, Andy gives Sinclair a copy of Elizabeth’s newest manuscript, claiming it as his own. After reading it, Sinclair telephones the house to tell Andy the manuscript is wonderful, but Elizabeth answers. Realizing Andy stole her work, she demands a divorce. Wanting to sell the house and move out as quickly as possible, Andy and Elizabeth offer to pay the town of Redbud $15,000 if it can be made to look like a Norman Rockwell illustration to entice prospective buyers, plus a $50 bonus to each of the townsfolk. With the residents’ participation, Andy and Elizabeth welcome Bud and Betsy Culbertson to look at the house. Impressed by the idyllic look of Redbud, the Culbertsons make an offer, but Andy and Elizabeth come to realize they still love each other and reject the Culbertsons’s offer. The citizens demand the promised money, but Mayor Barclay rules that as the house did not sell, the Farmers are not liable for the $15,000. However, Andy and Elizabeth decide to pay the $50 bonuses. Later, Andy is hired as the sportswriter for the town’s local newspaper, The Redbud Gazette, while Elizabeth, pregnant with their first child, becomes a successful children’s book author. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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