Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Comedy Movies - time to take off the kid gloves!

I just recently saw Hot Tub Time Machine...

 ...yeah, that Hot Tub Time Machine, and trying my best to ignore the wash of 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...


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.
Flowery Twats

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.

- pedophelia
 Joey, you ever watch gladiator movies?

- drug addiction
 Looks like I picked the wrong time to quit sniffing glue!

- or even a gay man's point of view
This? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl

Life of Brian:
- religion and religious dogma
Always look on the bright side of life...

The Producers:
-Nazi Germany
Springtime for Hitler...

Blazing Saddles:
- racism
 Hold it! Next man makes a move, the n!&&*% gets it! 

There's Something About Mary:
- masturbation
 Is it the frank or the beans? 

- 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.

Oh sexy American girlfriennnnnnnnnddddd!

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:


  1. reading Marx Bros. biographies, it becomes clear that when the ticket sales of their earlier, more bizarre comedies went south, it was Irving Thalberg who came up with comedy with romance so that there was something for the ladies, as well as using the romance as the big block in the middle third so that comedy could ensue in the final act to solve the problem. Night at the Opera is that to a tee. The formula was not to make people laugh all the way through.

    And the Python doc makes it very clear how much work it took to make Holy Grail the masterpiece it is now. They really didn't know what they were doing... and yet it sure looked like they did.

  2. Really? You thought HTTM had a good premise? I could smell the manure just from reading the title. Cusack hasn't made a decent movie in years, and none of the other "stars" of this movie are actually bankable names. I'll pass, thanks.

  3. Well, of course when I say it had a good premise I only mean it was a good setup for a comedy that could allow for many potentially funny situations.

    Just because it's a low-brow setup doesn't necessarily preclude it from being an intelligent and effective comedy.

    However in this case, the jokes never got much further than its title.

  4. I'll take your analysis of HTTM under advisement. I still want to see it because the premise hearkened back to a better comedy movie time. I agree that most comedies pull their punches now. To add insult to injury, they then immediately explain the joke they just told...is the average IQ in America that low? (rhetorical of course.) I'll have to check out Fawlty Towers.

  5. check out this weird link, can't figure out wtf it's leading to but i love the jorgen leth clip:


  6. Watched "Couples Retreat" last night on DVD - really bad. And once again, it was bad because the writers stopped writing jokes half-way through the movie.

    Favreau and Vaughn, the next time you have issues with your significant others, do us all a favor, work it out behind closed doors and spare us the movie!

    And of course in the end, all the characters return to their wives and restore traditional domestic sexual relationships. Yawn.

  7. ahmen to that! I haven't seen this movie and not sure I'm going to. Love the part about how comedy is like horror and porn... great analogy couldn't agree more. Seriously these comedy movies need to just make it more funny!

  8. comedy movies are the best ones because its just not only for the entertainment of the people but also it is good for health.
    i will be not able to comment on your post if i had not watched the several comedy movies through Comedy Movies

  9. Great movie. Lots of good comedies found right there. Interesting to see the film. Thank u...


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