Wednesday, October 13, 2010
When was the last time you saw a REALLY funny movie? Don’t say The Hangover. If you even think The Hangover then don’t continue reading this. I’d rather you didn’t. Oh, before the Mohawk, I tried to convince myself that it was as laugh-out-loud funny as most everyone claimed just so I could feel connected to the general populace. But screw the masses. I’m done with you and what you think the benchmark of comedy should be. I saw The Hangover over twenty years ago when it was called Bachelor Party, which featured a then rising star Tom Hanks—now that was MUCH FUNNIER.
Excluding a few successes (Meet The Parents, Blades of Glory, Sideways, and a few others that have escaped my porous memory bank) the past ten years have been as sidesplitting as Precious: Based On The Novel Push By… oh, whatever lady! Major hits like Superbad, Juno, Mean Girls, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Tropic Thunder, Old School—or anything else starring Vince Vaughn’s alter ego (the redundant Vince Vaughn)—have barely squeezed out a chuckle if certainly a somnambulant stare from yours truly. The bar of comedy has been so lowered that it’s almost difficult to remember what tickles the funny bone. Witty, wry, clever dialogue has been replaced by smug, brutal tongue-lashings by either precocious teens you’ve never experienced growing up or by loquacious, pop-cultural-referencing hipsters with a penchant for dropping profane zingers. The sophomoric didn’t-take-itself-too-seriously has been supplanted by the sloven, outrageous, everyman-is-a-geek humor of Judd Apatow and his protégés Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. Their collective works are mirth inducing, but they are definitely not the tear-streaming laugh factory some believe them to be. The only ray of light, Ricky Gervais, continues to be eclipsed by those who consider Tina Fey—particularly the members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences—a comedic genius, and the standard by which to follow.
Sorry folks, 30 Rock is as funny as Jimmy Kimmel is entertaining. (Thankfully, in the realm of TV, as we chart a path to this upcoming decade, at least there is Modern Family to lead the way.) Not funny are the plucky, violin musical cues ubiquitous in family comedies staring John Travolta, or the “dope,” radio-friendly movie soundtrack to clunkers like Get Him To The Greek—another snooze-fest. I admire Betty White, but could we do away with the trope of the elderly person smacking wise to the Now Generation’s vernacular (as exemplified in the recent You Again). And while we are on the subject of Betty White—who was recently praised for her appearance on SNL—until Lorne Michaels replaces the entire cast and writers of that show I refuse to tune-in, unless, of course, I need help falling asleep (notwithstanding the two of three Andy Samberg digital shorts which, admittedly, were very funny.)
I long for comedies like The Fortune Cookie, Dr. Strangelove, Bedazzled (with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook), Animal House, Airplane, Caddyshack, Fletch, Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Naked Gun, A Fish Called Wanda, Election, Something About Mary, Swingers (the origination of "Vince Vaughn") and a little seen nineties howler, Flirting With Disaster.
Adam Sandler, whom I refer to as the Grim Reaper of comedy, some how infected the world with an idiot’s laugh during the nineties that continues till today. Life would be so much more pleasant if I found hilarity with the current standard of what comedy has evolved to. Why have I been spared by this malady? Where is that alien pod so I can fall asleep and wake-up with a dopey smile on my face?
I don’t have a lot to be happy about lately: I've discovered gray hair in places I'd rather not mention; I'm realizing my five-year-old is way smarter than me; and my wife thinks I’m lazy, unmotivated, and irresponsible for keeping this Mohawk—especially since I’m still searching for a job. All I needed was a pick-me-up, a laugh, and perhaps Emma Stone’s fetching face to do the trick; so Easy A seemed a no-brainer: it featured sharp, break-out-the-thesaurus inspired dialogue, short skirts, plunging necklines, and an easy-on-the-eyes—though contrived—burlesque musical number. Easy A was a spry, easy-to-consume flick, and totally up my alley.
Unfortunately, I DIDN'T LAUGH!
I did get a good laugh from my wife when I told her I applied for a job at a theater. That was until she realized I was serious.
"Rooster" Clayborne documents his moviegoing experiences here pretty often in The Mohawk Memoirs.