A close friend of mine is always trying to introduce me to stuff on YouTube that he claims is “funny.” More times than naught, I wind up hating whatever it is he has felt compelled to torment me with — and it’s easy to see why some of these things are on YouTube, as opposed to television or any sort of “real” media: they’re completely mindless, thoroughly annoying, and utterly lacking in any sort of value — comical or otherwise — whatsoever (mind you, this is coming from the same guy who has a video of himself singing “Thunderball” at a karaoke bar on the famous post-your-own-damn-video website!).
But not all of YouTube’s auteurs (if I dare call them that) are without merit. Lena Dunham — who is often compared to a young Woody Allen — attracted a great deal of praise with her own comedic YouTube videos, which lead to a career in filmmaking. Tiny Furniture, a feature-length 2010 film, finds the young comedienne writing and directing herself in a tale of a rather neurotic and self-absorbed college grad who returns to Tribeca, Manhattan to live with her mother and younger sister (played respectively by Lena’s own real-life mum and sis, Laurie Simmons and Grace Dunham).
While Tiny Furniture is basically part of the mumblecore genre (wherein people just sit around talking about their lives), the fact that it relies on an actual script (such films generally do not rely on such novelties) sets it apart from its brethren. For my money, however, that’s about all that sets it apart: Tiny Furniture is a ho-hum film that centers on an obnoxious protagonist with no life and the many other unlikable people around her who are all too wrapped up in their own useless lives to pay any notice to hers. It’s a lot like going through high school again, really.