SCOTLAND'S local hero Bill Forsyth gives us "Comfort and Joy," an intimate comedy about a dee-jay's run-in with the ice-cream Mafia. It's definitely a film with a sense of Good Humor.
Forsyth is the motion picture industry of Scotland. "Comfort," his fourth film, is like "Gregory's Girl," a serious comedy about growing up. Only this time, the hero's nearer 40 than 14, and it's not getting the girl, but getting over her, that counts.
Scotsman Bill Patterson, with everyman's face and self-effacing wit, plays broadcaster Dicky Bird, the Joy Boy of the "Early Worm Morning" show, radio Glasgow. Stylish Eleanor David is his girlfriend Maddy, a whirlwind of a woman who's breathless, exciting and too quickly, albeit necessarily, written out of Forsyth's script. While Maddy is part of his life -- stringing lights, shoplifting forChristmas or making love -- Bird imagines he is exciting, too. But when she leaves, with all the furniture, he realizes how she filled up his days.
His frighteningly frank best friend (Patrick Malahide) puts it to him when he says of Bird's barren apartment, "Everything here is you." Inspired, if blue, Bird sets about finding a purpose and bumps his beloved BMW into Mr. Bunny's ice-cream van, a renegade in the sweets Cosa Nostra.
The film, a little slow up to here, gathers speed in its spoof of the gangster genre. The ice-cream godfather Mr. McCool and his sons persuade Bird, one of their favorite radio hosts, to speak to Bunny on their behalf. "My father speaks for the whole of the ice-cream family," says McCool Jr. "Ice cream is his life. Mr. Bunny and people like him would deprive him of all this." Bird decides to make a documentary on the ice-cream mob and regains his will to live.
Forsyth's script is inventive and unexpected, set to life's background noise, a drone of timely but inevitably useless information, advertising jingles and ice-cream chimes -- an auditory parody of all those little sounds that make up the Muzak of life.
The point is an ancient, still timely one: that it is more blessed to give than to receive, that we take our greatest joy in the comfort we give to others.
COMFORT AND JOY -- At the Outer Circle.