Not really sure why I opted to review two comedies in the same weekend. I never know what to write about comedies.
It seems like they either work or they don't.
Comedies are probably the most subjective of all genres of movies. What makes some laugh is offensive to others. What makes others laugh is too stupid to some.
Typically, for instance, Will Ferrell's movies are too stupid to bother laughing. His schtick is tired. I wish he'd go back to doing funny bit parts, but the truth is, he just does the same thing over and over and over again, and we've seen it. Same Will, different movie.
But some like him, that recurring bit he does. Does that make his movies good or bad?
Comedies are among the cheapest films made in Hollywood, which is why some of them don't bother with even the barest of plots. Most comedies' plots are just tenuous set-ups for the sight gags. It's really not unlike an action movie in some ways.
Thing is, when action movies fail, they're just sort of boring. When comedies fail, they're painful. But you typically don't have as much subjectivity to deal with in regard to action flicks. Everyone likes when stuff blows up real good.
Comedies? Different strokes.
For instance, in both of this week's movies--The Hangover and The Land of the Lost--I saw user comments on IMDb.com where viewers slammed the films for being vulgar and containing too much profanity. They pretty much believed that the films were not funny because they were vulgar. You know, last I checked, vulgarity was pretty common to comedy. A staple, if you will.
So then this is one of those cases where you really need to know me as a reviewer to get any value out of my reviews. Do our senses of humor overlap in any way? You need to know the answer to that question to get any value out of it.
I'll try to help. I can do without scatological humor. I think it's too junior high. I can do without gross out humor. Same reason. I prefer my comedies have at least a little meat to their stories, rather than say, anything made by the Wayans Brothers (excepting I'm Gonna Get You Sucka). I like Monty Python and Mel Brooks, and some of the old Zucker films. Basically, I like situational humor that doesn't treat me like I'm a damned idiot, which is generally what Will Ferrell movies do.
So, where's that leave me on last weekend's two comedies? With one that I laughed a lot through, and one during which I laughed only occasionally.
We'll start with Will Fail, er, Ferrell.
I never watched Land of the Lost as a kid, which seems counter intuitive. All kids like stuff with dinosaurs in it, right? Well, sure, but not stop-motion animated dinosaurs that were obviously fake. I couldn't stand how fake they looked. And I remember thinking the shows were boring. Mind you, I probably only saw them after they were already at least four or five years old. The show premiered when I was one.
Anyway, I didn't like it then, so how about now? No, not so much.
First thing you need to know about the movie is that it's not a kids' flick. The humor isn't kid-friendly. At all.
Riddle me that. How do you expect to succeed taking an old kids television show and transforming it into an adult-oriented adventure comedy? I think maybe someone didn't think this all the way through. Hopefully that someone was Ferrell and I won't have to see another of his films for awhile. That'd be great.
So... Land of the Lost.
Dr. Rick Marshall (Ferrell) is a joke in the scientific community. He thinks the solution to all the world's energy crises can be found in the exploration of parallel universes. Matt Lauer thinks he's an idiot, and the YouTube video of Marshall's appearance on the show is apparently the most watched YouTube video of all time.
Marshall loses all his credibility and ends up teaching science classes to elementary school kids. But then Holly (Anna Friel) shows up and convinces Marshall he's a genius. He stays up all night, creates this tachyon thingie, and then eats himself into a food coma.
When he wakes up, he and Holly take the machine to this low-rent theme park paddle boat cave ride operated by a redneck showman named Will Stanton. Inside the fake cave, they activate the machine and are transported across dimensions and back in time to ... the Land of the Lost.
Once there, they run from sleestacks, dinosaurs and other random crap. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, and there are crystals involved somehow.
Short version: the movie's pretty dumb, though not without some laughs. I just didn't see the point. Like I mentioned before, the humor here isn't for kids. It's more like any other Ferrell flick (PG-13/R territory).
I wish Danny McBride would do something other than play a dumb redneck. He's a funny guy with the potential to do a little more, but he keeps playing rednecks. Maybe it's the accent. Anyway, he's the funnier of the two here.
Ah well. Land of the Lost is a renter. It's definitely not worth a trip to the theater or your popcorn money. But it did make me smile here and there, but that's the only caveat it's getting outta me.
Oh, and Matt Lauer can suck it.
Try Some Greasy Food
The Hangover tries really hard to be a better class of comedy. Despite not being an Apatow film, it aspires to that level of ... sophistication. For instance, it has, you know, characters who develop.
Yeah, okay, maybe just one.
But it does actually have a story.
Four buddies--Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis)--go to Vegas for a bachelor party. Doug's about to get married and they want to do it in style.
Hitting the archetypes... Doug is the straight man with the gorgeous fiancée. Phil is a school teacher with a moral compass stuck in the gray area. Stu is a dentist held down under the thumb of his domineering girlfriend. Alan is the dimwitted screw-up brother of the bride.
They all head to Vegas in a really rare Mercedes convertible, eventually arriving at Caesar's Palace where they upgrade their room to a massive suite. They then go up onto the roof of Caesar's and share a shot of Jagermeister before heading out on the town for a night they'll never forget.
And then they wake up the next day and can't remember anything. There's a tiger in the bathroom, one of the couches is smoldering, a baby is crying in one of the closets and there's no sign of Doug. When they head out to retrace their steps, those they can remember taking, they realize that in the midst of it all, they stole a cop car and lost the Mercedes.
That's the set-up, but really, you can infer that from the trailer.
Yes, but is it funny?
I laughed. I laughed a lot.
It's crude, extraordinarily vulgar and sophomoric. But there's some genuinely funny stuff in here, not limited to but including a cameo by Mike Tyson.
The characters actually make it all work. You really feel for Phil and Stu, and to a lesser extent, Alan, because he can't help himself. Actually, Alan is the character to watch. The guy who plays him is pretty funny.
Bah. This is simple. The Hangover is a decent but not great movie that has a ton of laughs waiting for you should you decide to buy the ticket. Keep in mind that it's R-rated, and you'll be fine.
Out. See you next week.
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