Vital Signs

Screen – Humor and Intelligence

Comfort and Joy; Written and Directed by Bill Forsyth; a Universal Release.

At one point in Comfort and Joy, Alan Bird, a Glasgow disc jockey/radio per­sonality who immersed himself in a feud between Mr. Bunny and Mr. McCool, two mobile ice cream vend­ing companies, makes an attempt at reconciling the warring parties (remi­niscent of rival Chicago bootleggers of the 1920's) by appealing to a sense of proportion. After all, he points out, the issue is ice cream, which isn't, in the larger context of things, particular­ly important. Instead of making a met­aphysical rebuttal, the ice cream man simply asks Bird what greater contribu­tion a DJ makes to humanity.

Alan Bird eventually discovers that his broadcast antics do make a contri­bution to something beyond advertiser revenues: he meets an elderly woman in a hospital who tells him that he brings a smile into her life everymorn­ing. What more could he desire? Sim­ilarly, ice cream brings joy into peo­ple's lives. It may not be the sort of joy that induces raptures or finds outlet in lyric poetry, but it can provide a mo­ment or two of solace in a world dominated by disaster.

Bill Forsyth's film will never attain the status of a classic–and even Academy Award nomination is doubtful–but like his previous films, Gregory's Girl and Local Hero, it is sufficiently...

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