— by CHRIS HYATT —
I may seem like a serious guy, but I appreciate a good comedy flick from time to time. I’ve seen every movie Mel Brooks ever made, minus “Young Frankenstein.” I’ve farted in your general direction with the Monty Python crew, and the very last time I played beer pong at my neighbors’ house, I sang every last word of “Scotty Doesn’t Know” — and I’m not a singer.
However, maybe it’s just me, but the latest bunch of neo-“American Pie” indie comedy films are just not funny.
Take “The Hangover,” for instance. Four buddies getting drunk for a bachelor party in Vegas, then waking up with no earthly recollection of what happened. Yeah, I’ve seen this movie. I saw it about 12 years ago when it was called “Very Bad Things.” There are few differences between the two. Mike Tyson knocking a guy out in the former and a guy accidentally knocking a hooker out, come to find out that he killed her in the latter. Peter Berg helmed “Very Bad Things” and for being a dark comedy, it was pretty funny, whereas Todd Phillips had to rely on locked up wildlife and the same Asian man gag John Hughes, rest his soul, used to great effect in “Sixteen Candles.” “Very Bad Things” had a great cast. “The Hangover” were a bunch of pedantic faces.
And then there’s Judd Apatow. This man has had his hands in practically any and every movie starring an ex-SNL actor looking to score a big hit, or the next “Napoleon Dynamite,” for lack of better analogy. Realizing, of course, that there’s different brands of humor that suits different audiences, when are we going to tire collectively of fart, genitalia and druggie jokes, and gratuitously violent physical comedy? How many times are we going to have to see Will Ferrell or Steve Carrell or the like act like massive idiots and think it’s funny?
“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy” once again had the “American Pie” quartet cast of characters, most of whom were getting belligerently drunk for no apparent reason, trying to get Christina Applegate (of all people) in the sack, while doing ridiculous battle with his arch nemesis at a different network. His follow up, “Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” was essentially the same thing, except he played up the Southern hick stereotypes and added in a stereotypical conceited European, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. And by the way, what’s up with the coloned movie titles? I should make a movie myself called “American Hangover: The Elegy of Comedy Movies” (but for now, I’ll just use it as the headline for this story).
“Superbad” and “Pineapple Express” both looked like they had some promise, much like “Super Troopers” did when it first came out. Of the three, I could only get through “Super Troopers” without wishing I had that hour and a half to two hours of my life back. Gary Cole and Rosie Perez were the only two high points in “Pineapple Express” (see, you can make a stoner joke without belaboring the point!), and by the time I saw “Superbad,” I’d heard so many McLovin jokes and references that there really wasn’t a point for me to see the movie — and even still, it just wasn’t funny.
So, you may ask, what relatively recently made movies do I find funny? Let’s start off with “Formula 51,” an over-rated dramedy starring Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Carlyle. The aforementioned “Super Troopers.” “Eurotrip” was good for a few lulz, as was “Iron Man” (incidentally). For science fiction, “Star Trek” felt a lot like a comedy, and was greatly appreciated for it. “Bruce Almighty” and its sequel “Evan Almighty” (yes, with that Steve Carell) were pretty solid, as was “Man of the Year,” but it’s Robin Williams. I don’t think it’s possible for Robin Williams to NOT be funny in a comedy movie. Aside from that, you have to go pretty far back, about 15 or so years, to find true genius comedy, not just fluff off the SNL/Judd Apatow/Ricky Gervais bandwagon.
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Follow Chris Hyatt on Twitter at http://twitter.com/hyattch.