teal and orange, I settled in for what I hoped would be a hilarious combination of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure meets The Hangover. I mean, the flick's got a great setup and John Cusack going for it - this should kick some funnybone ass.
Well, the movie is... ok.
And that's the problem.
So many of these comedies start with a good premise, some gifted actors and then they kinda go soft. They hit you with a good line here, a promising development there, and then right when you're ready for the big laugh... they let up on the gas.
Let me be frank for a moment here. Comedy shares a lot with Horror and Porn. It's all about timing, tension and release.
It's really not rocket science. Please, just give me some wacky characters, an engaging plot, but most of all...
MAKE IT FUNNY - AND DON'T LET UP!!!
Every scene should be mined for it's comic gold. I'm tired of comedies that have a funny first act, then midway through the 2nd act switch gears and take on the story structure of a romance, or a buddy movie, or an adventure, or a sports drama and stop being funny. Dammit, I paid my 10 bucks for a comedy - get back in there, re-write that script and put some funny shit in there!
Instead of trying to ramp up the excitement of the 2nd act with a chase scene, or trying to score the girl, or win the big game, screenwriters should be writing ever funnier scenarios with bigger comic payoffs.
It's not that you can't have a funny movie with an intricate plot - The Hangover did a great job of balancing plot twists with comic jabs. On the small screen, Larry David is brilliant at writing twists and turns that eventually crash into each other - whether it be Sienfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm.
And the all-time master of creating unbearable tension with baroque plot lines is certainly John Cleese and the brilliant Fawlty Towers.
As well as maintaining a steady stream of jokes, a great comedy film should pull no punches - it should not only leave your face sore from laughing, it should also make you uncomfortable by highlighting those very things that society would rather we left alone.
- drug addiction
Life of Brian:
- religion and religious dogma
- bodily fluids
- the handicapped ... or is that the disabled?
- the mentally retarded (no, I can't say that - it's now "individual with an intellectual disability")
You see how uncomfortable that was just for me to write those last two sentences and for you to read them - that uncomfortable place is where great comedy lives. It's not about making fun of people who are disabled, or people who have suffered from racial, religious or sexual bigotry, but exposing those issues and examining why they make us squirm.
It's impossible to write great comedy if you're worried about what the P.C. police will say. If you're not in danger of pissing someone off then you're not going far enough.
Can you imagine John Hughes making Sixteen Candles if he had to run it by a committee to make sure no one would be offended? I mean, there's no way he would have written Long Duck Dong if he was trying to please everyone.
So all you Hollywood screenwriters, I beg of you to write movies with wall-to-wall comic hijinks, with a comedic tone that stays consistent throughout and that also pushes the envelope of what is considered "good taste".
Or just sit back and watch: