Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where has the funny gone in comedy films?

Reading some of the "best of the year" lists a few weeks back, I was amazed that the comedic films Bridesmaids and Crazy, Stupid, Love had such a prominent place on them. The fact that two films I found completely forgettable seem to be held in such high regard just baffles me and had me temporarily second-guessing my own funny bone. This got me looking back at the comedies I saw over the last year, which ultimately left me shocked at how few had any merit. I could think of a single comedy that entertained me - Horrible Bosses, and even that was only just okay.
Crazy, Stupid Love is as much of a romance as a comedy, but it isn't successful in either of those genres, wasting a good cast on the derivative screenplay. Other comedies I saw from 2011 that dropped the ball: Hall Pass, Your Highness, Meet Monica Velour, The Dilemna (Vince Vaughan is now comfortably ensconced in Jennifer Aniston and Sarah Jessica Parker territory, where nearly all their comedic roles are completely interchangeable from one film to the next), Paul, The Beaver, Super (which I reviewed after seeing it at TIFF in 2010), Our Idiot Brother, Bad Teacher, and Cedar Rapids. The worst? No question - The Hangover Part II, which was not just the worst comedy I saw last year, it was the worst movie, period, and one of the most egregious examples of a shameless Hollywood cash grab I've ever seen. I literally laughed more watching The King's Speech.
Bridesmaids' popularity, in particular, is mystifying. indicates that the movie got an impressive 90% favourable rating from the professional critical reviews they compiled, and Entertainment Weekly magazine has practically fallen over themselves heaping praise on the movie since it was released in the summer. Now, I love EW, but they do have a habit of latching onto specific TV shows, movies, or actors that they worship, and shoving them down our throats. Their love-in with Bridesmaids has been downright embarrassing, though. Critics Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum, whose writing I highly respect and who I've been reading for years, amazingly listed Bridesmaids number three and two, respectively, on their ten best films of the year. Schwarzbaum writes that "the story has integrity, originality, and a sharp intelligence". Really? Because I found it to be little more than an occasionally amusing lark. Personally, I didn't find a script that lazily would make it appear that there was one single police officer working in the entire city of Milwaukee to be terribly intelligent. Gleiberman hails the performance of Kristen Wiig, the film's star (and co-writer), as "the best performance by an actress this year". Wiig is talented, but that is simply a ludicrous statement from someone who views pretty much every single notable film release over the course of a year. Bridesmaids co-star Melissa McCarthy, the plus size star of the terrible TV show Mike & Molly, has also been a lightning rod of dubious over-attention from the magazine, appearing on the cover multiple times and garnering huge praise for her role in the film, which they think is actually deserving of an Oscar nomination. And they'd have their readers believe that her October Saturday Night Live hosting appearance was the funniest 90 minutes in television was not.
May 2012 bring us more laughs at the movies.


  1. An interesting take on Bridesmaids, a movie I found a little overrated although perhaps not as much as you did. Agreed on the Hangover sequel, which was a dog's breakfast!!

  2. I thought Bridesmaids was really pedestrian and tried too hard to be like The Hangover. I hardly laughed at all through this film. There really wasn't a good comedy last summer and if there was I didn't hear about it.

  3. I loved Bridesmaids! :(

  4. Agreed on the over-rated fluff, 'Bridesmaids'. Whoever decided to give Melissa McCarthy all of her undue attention, must think that Chris Farley desired an Oscar for his body of work!

  5. C'mon, he did some pretty stellar work in Tommy Boy.


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