My Unpopular Comedy Choices

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I recently watched Vacation, the sequel/remake to...National Lampoon’s Vacation. I didn’t like it. I can count on one hand the number of times I laughed out loud. If you’re sitting there for a whopping 90 minutes, you should be laughing at more than four moments in the movie.

And after reviewing Spy and deciding that Comedy movies aren’t movies I think I want to review anymore, I’m just gonna give a short list of Comedy films that I love that make most people say “Oh, you actually like that movie?” if they know what I’m talking about at all.

Now two things to tell you about this list before we get started.

1. I’m sticking with movies that generally go unheard of, did poorly at the box office, and/or are mostly met with disdain when mentioned. So Tropic Thunder, 40-Year-Old Virgin, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles are hilarious but they’re not here because they don’t fit the aforementioned criteria.

2. I’m also sticking with movies that are intentional Comedies. Otherwise this list will be filled up with The Room, Samurai Cop, Torque. You get the idea.

I want to put the trailers up but for movies like these, which the studios often have a hard time marketing, the trailers only do it a disservice in most cases.

Let’s Go To Prison (2006)

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12% on Rotten Tomatoes. 4.6 million dollar box office gross on a 4 million dollar budget. Numbers don’t lie.

Friend Reaction: “Nah, I didn’t get it.”

I know I’ve mentioned this one before but it was a while ago and people don’t care about that post. Will Arnett is the Nelson Beiderman IV, the spoiled son of a respected judge. And through the careful planning of a man whose life was ruined by Nelson’s dad, Nelson gets sent to prison.

The way Nelson adapts and reacts to his environment is pretty much gold thanks to Arnett. He seems to be the go-to voice for casting directors of animated movies and they just can’t get it right. But in live-action comedies, he’s the perfect snobby jerk.

It’s also directed by and (sort of) co-starring Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk and plenty of prison…type…jokes. I’m not sure what I like about this movie so much other than that it’s just funny to me. Great explanation I know, but that’s Comedy for ya. You can put names to the type of comedy a film employs but it’s tougher to say why it’s funny and even then, explaining it can ruin it. If you didn’t actually just get out of incarceration yourself, you need to see this.

Observe and Report (2009)

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51% on Rotten Tomatoes. 28 million dollar box office gross on an 18 million dollar budget. I’m kind of surprised this movie cost that much.

Friend reaction: “You like that movie? I thought it was supposed to be a drama.”

You’ve probably heard of this one, it’s got Seth Rogen in it. Little underground Comedy genius most people don’t know about. This came out around the same time as Paul Blart did, which is funny because they’re both about Mall Security taking their job way too seriously. I mentioned to a friend that I thought it was hilarious and he told me he didn’t know if he was supposed to be laughing or feeling bad for Rogen’s character, Ronnie Barnhardt. Eh, I think it’s a bit of both.

You want to see Ronnie do well in life but given the severe depth of his delusion on how he views himself (As season 2 of True Detective’s Colin Farrell would put it- “a god warrior”), you also know that Ronnie should take a bow every now and then instead of making things around him worse than he already has. But in my mind I cheer for him when he does something right all the same.

This is written/directed by the mastermind(?) behind Eastbound & Down, Jody Hill just so you know what you’re getting into. The soundtrack is great also. The end.

Gentlemen Broncos (2009)

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19% on Rotten Tomatoes, Less than 1 million at the box office on a 10 million dollar budget. Hoo boy.

Friend Reaction: [Upon viewing Gentlemen Broncos] Constant looking back at me as I crack up to scene after scene. The rest of the room is silent.

Co-writer/Director Jared Hess is best known for Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. After those and before the upcoming Masterminds, he did this. If you’ve seen Dynamite, you could say this is Hess’ attempt to recreate that success with milquetoast characters living in a boring Midwest town and delivering every line with a dull sigh. But I laugh all the same. I don’t think it’s meant to recreate the same success (Not mostly) as much as it is, this is what Hess finds funny.

Benjamin Purvis has his work stolen by his favorite failing science-fiction author, Dr. Ronald Chevalier, played by Flight of the Conchords’ Jermaine Clement. Sam Rockwell stars as the lead character in Benjamin’s novel and periodically serves to act out what Benjamin wrote vs. what Chevalier’s changes are doing to the story. I think as a writer this movie more or less affects me. I don’t know what’s stronger- the hope that I’ll be able to make a living at this permanently or the fear that success only means allowing your stories to be bought only so they can be ruined.

Chevalier’s writing class on how to name your fictional characters is an excellent scene in displaying the stupid thoughts that go through one’s head as they’re trying to comes up with suitable names.

Idiocracy (2006)

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73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Less than 1 million at the box office on a roughly 3 million dollar budget.

Friend Reaction: I don’t know anybody that’s seen this movie that doesn’t like it. Problem is, not that many people have seen it.

There are three reactions to Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. The first is that “It’s so stupid.” The second reaction is from the person who acknowledges how funny it is, regardless of their deeper thoughts on it. The third is the snob who uses this to say that this is exactly where society is headed because, well, we’re all so stupid.

But everyone laughs all the same.

When Joe is accepted into a military hibernation project, he wakes up 500 years in the future. Only since Joe’s time in our society, things have been dumbed down to the extreme and Joe finds himself the smartest man on the planet.

Satire pushed to the extreme. You’re laughing at how dumb the characters are but it’s also kind of a joke on us as well. At one point in the future, Joe goes to see the highest grossing, movie they have- the award winning “Ass” which is two hours of a naked butt onscreen, just farting. Joe is disgusted while his fellow audience members crack up.

That sums it up really. You’re laughing that Joe is disgusted. You’re laughing that these people in the future are so stupid that they would laugh at a farting butt…and it’s easy to be a little ashamed that it’s all sort of funny and sad at the same time.

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002)

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11% on Rotten Tomatoes. 17 million at the box office on a 10 million budget. Eh. Not so bad.

Friend Reaction: “Is that the one where he fights the cow? I hate that movie.”

Not to be confused with Kung-Fu Hustle. Yes, it’s the one where he fights the cow, it’s the one where he uses gophers as nunchuks. As mentioned with the trailers, this is a movie that’s marketed as “SO WACKY! YOU WON’T BELIEVE HOW WACKY IT IS!” And sure, wackiness ensues. But the real humor from this movie comes from the way writer/director Steve Oedekerk voices every single character in this unrelated parody to the old school kung-fu film, Tiger and Crane Fist. It’s a combination of using footage of that film, while digitally placing himself into certain shots, as well as creating entirely new scenes. I get why people don’t like it, but there’s plenty to enjoy here, even if you’re embarrassed to admit it.

Steve Oedekerk is most famous for his series of thumb movie parodies, where he kind of does the same thing with those that he did with this and a kung-fu film. Except it’s with thumbs. Yes, they’re kind of annoying but there are some good jokes in there all the same.

This is a movie that if someone tells me they’re a fan, immediately I’m cool with them. It’s only happened once but I have faith it will happen again. Someday…

Here’s a video someone made of a Kung-Pow character voicing over Bane from The Dark Knight Rises which pretty much creates the same effect.

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3 Responses to “My Unpopular Comedy Choices”

  1. Mudibarát (INTP) Says:

    Idiocracy is an awesome movie, hands down.

  2. Oi! Farts are hilarious, butts are hilarious, so farting butts must be double hilarious. Period. (My boyfriend doesn’t always appreciate my fart humor, though. Something’s wrong with him.)

    Thanks for this list, I’ve been looking for a good comedy to watch for a while now. I’ll try these. 🙂

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