Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mary's Musings: Ten-year old Steve Martin fans, RomComs are for Losers, etc.

As a kid, I loved comedy. My main favorites were Bill Murray and Steve Martin, whose dry wit I both related to and adored. I was also a fan of John Candy, another comedian I felt I grew up with. I loved The Three Amigos (something tells me this movie would be significantly less watchable as an adult) Ghostbusters, Wayne's World, the non-corny parts of Father of the Bride 1 & 2 and L.A. Story, Twins starring Danny Devito and Arnold Scwarzenagger (I also have my doubts about that one holding up) and the work of Leslie Nielsen. Many of these movie were copied for me from video-store tapes to VHS tapes, and when the FBI warning would flash on the screen I would be terrified, anticipating a team of FBI agents breaking into my home and seizing my copy of Joe Vs. The Volcano as I watched it for the twenty-second time.

The Naked Gun series, as well as Hot Shots 1 & 2 were movies I rushed to see in theaters. My family saw Naked Gun 33 and 1/3 while traveling through Europe. We first chose to see it in England, but the British wouldn't let me see it as a ten year old, though I was with my parents. (Maybe because of the scathing Queen Elizabeth parodies such as this one?) We ended up seeing it in the formerly communist city of Prague, Czechoslovakia, in an extremely Soviet-style, all-cement movie theater. The theater creepily echoed the cement apartment we were staying in, where the lights would shut off if you didn't make it fast enough down the hallway, and at the end of the hallway, we were rewarded with an always ajar-door with red stuff on it leading to the apartment next to ours, where Czech people had violent domestic arguments. These terrifying settings did not spoil my enjoyment of the movie, which I loved. And Anna Nicole was in it, and I thought she was so beautiful. I also selected it as a film to watch at the very last birthday party I remember having, age ten or eleven, a sleepover where I felt alternately embarrassed at the crassness of my selection and annoyance that people weren't watching it.

I also remember when Wayne's World came out. It was really exciting. I was eight, and my mother and I went to see it, but we got there really late and missed the first half, so we stayed in the theater to re-watch it. I later received free or cheap copies of both Wayne's World and the equally excellent Addams Family on VHS from McDonalds as a pack. What a combo!

On a more 90's note, I enjoyed Tommy Boy and the works of Adam Sandler. I loved Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. Saturday Night Live as one and a half hours of pure enjoyment. At the end, when the cast waves goodbye and the credits roll, I would feel a great loss. It seemed extra sad because of the dramatic farewell, and I wished I was up there on that stage with my fellow hilarious castmates, signing off at the end of another great show. I didn't have cable, so there were no reruns. In vain, I would stay up, hoping something good would be on. I usually ended up watching the beginning of Showtime at The Apollo, which didn't really satisfy, just as Soul Train or Professional Wrestling would come on after cartoons and I'd watch it much more out of desperation that enjoyment.

Some of these movies have certainly held up- Bill Murray's Groundhog Day (besides Andy McDowell)/Ghostbusters 1 & 2/What About Bob? type movies are light years better than all his stupid mopey Wes Anderson/Jim Jarmusch/Sofia Coppolla roles. Dumb and Dumber is another I will not hesitate to watch if it happens to be on TV, and obviously the aforementioned Wayne's World and The Addams Family are some of the Greatest Films Ever Made. I still like Seinfeld, a middle-school age obsession neatly fitting in with my other dorky passions.

I think most comedy is really age-appropriate only for a precocious nine-year-old, whereas now the retard tingles you get after watching Michael Cera stammer his way through the same movie for the eighteenth time tend to overwhelm any "funny" aspects the movie promises to contain. Luckily, the trend of wacky sports movie died (Thank god the one starring Andy Samburg bombed) but looking at the comedies still set to be released in 2010, it doesn't look pretty. More romcoms starring Kristen Bell, and then more movies starring Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd as a duo, and then Owen Wilson is the live-action Marmaduke movie. Looks like the studios are taking some crazy, creative chances yet again!

Most comedies are geared toward men. Comedies geared towards women are called "romantic comedies," but they're not really comedies. Romantic comedies are not funny. I'm tired of women on feminist blogs being like, "We have to stop criticizing romantic comedies because they're for and about women. There's no shame in loving romantic comedy. Why aren't people ashamed of action movies instead?" Romantic comedies are insulting to women, that's why. The very format of a pathetic fairy-tale romance combined with the forced wacky hijinks of polite society makes me want to kill myself. They are simultaneously boring and embarrassing. They are almost always about women feeling stupid/ugly/single/uncool/bad about themselves. The women are never crass and funny. I think Tina Fey can be very funny, but to me 30 Rock is just like a romantic comedy- it's about hating herself (Like Chelsea Handler, I often get the feeling Tina Fey actually hates all women.)

The last time I regularly watched romantic comedies was in middle school, when friends would take me to see them. Even then, I cringed. I thought about selecting the The Wedding Singer as a movie to see for my birthday party, but after the final scene, wherein Adam Sandler sings a song called "I Want to Grow Old With You" to a very non-80's looking Drew Barrymore, I was glad I hadn't. It made me uncomfortable to watch such such treacle, and it still does.

Sure, action movies are retarded too, but they are exciting and exhilarating, and not always based on some series of horrible, cutesy, faux pas. I don't know how you can compare an entire yacht blowing up or someone getting stabbed in the face with some girl worrying whether she is too fat for her date with Hugh Grant. Only one of these scenarios should be fulfilling some kind of primal urge.

A lot of these modern, "I Love You, Man" style comedies kind of blur the line between romantic comedies and wacky retard comedies, both because the men in them appear to be in long-term, committed relationships with their male friends, and because they also have to resolve a problem with their nagging but inexplicably hot wives or girlfriends. Plus, they are always talking about their feelings. So many women seem to have embraced these kind of comedies, even laboring under the delusion that the men who star in them are attractive and sexually appealing due to their "comedic" "talents." I recently heard a young woman say she would have sex with Jonah Hill if he asked her to. Do you think, fifteen years ago, a lot of guys would be like, "Hey, she's such a great comedian, I'd have sex with Roseanne, wouldn't you?" Talk about a double standard.I mean, it would be cool if a guy said that in a way the opposite would never, ever be cool.

Also, I know I've been ranting a long time now, but I also am so sick of the faux-documentary style format I want to puke. It had already been perfected with the British The Office, some Christopher Guest movies, and Arrested Development, but, instead of thinking of something new, everyone just jumped on the bandwagon to play out a bunch of third-rate versions until it looks really dated and everyone hates it. I feel like I am the only person on earth to hate Steve Carrel and the U.S. The Office. The last commercial I saw for it promised Jim and Pam or whatever their names are having a baby and they were having a baby special episode! Way to stay true to the dry, realistic, melancholy spirit of the original, American colonialist TV producers!

Needless to say, I also hate Judd Apatow and think he directed all the most sexist, trite parts of Freaks and Geeks, which he wrongfully gets credit for and is the greatest show ever.

In conclusion, it's really hard to find funny comedies, and if you want to get high and watch a retarded comedy you haven't seen, please check out Spring Breakdown, starring Amy Poehler, Rachael Dratch, and Parker Posey, which manages to be feminist without being patronizing (alright, I can't recommend the scenes with Amer Tamblyn, but still, the movie is good.) If you are like, "Why is Jonah Hill in all these movies but these famous, established female comedians can't get their much funnier comedy released?", obviously the answer is the patriarchy, and I guess that is also the answer to the question about why I never watched any female-driven comedies or remember liking an female comedians, but we all know that.


Anonymous said...

Romcoms are soooo terrible, I agree. Those are feminists that are reaching when they say not to criticize them. It's sad that even when women are making romcoms themselves they're still making them like men have been for years (aka: The Ugly Truth).

I have to admit though, I never liked much comedies. But then, I was also the girl that went to Star Trek conventions, so I obviously had a bias.

Anonymous said...

Pretty much, yeah.

The only thing that's making me feel better about it is that this discussion is coming up more frequently recently. Not sure why, but it can only be good.

jesse.anne.o said...

#1) "Why aren't people ashamed of action movies instead?" --- UH. I am ashamed of action movies. They are usually equally as stupid.

#2) Agreed re rom-coms. I did have an ex-bf who loved them though, as the outlier. I am kind of over people defending rom-coms and Sex in the City as feminist because they're making a choice to be what they are. Uhm. Yeah. And the situations in no way hinge on either marrying a rich man or being sexually attractive. Not to say it's wrong to want to be sexually attractive...but it probably shouldn't be what your largest chunk of time is spent on. But that's unfeminist for me to say so.

I do happen to like Michael Cera in ltd doses. Although the last thing I saw was Juno so maybe I should watch my mouth.

Em said...

Which parts of Freaks and Geeks do you think are sexist? I can't remember anything, but it's been a while since I've watched it.

Ruthie said...

You're right, almost all films and television suck!!! It's all a conspiracy to promote morbid obesity!

Mary said...

Em: Interesting question! I think there are certain episodes/storylines in Freaks and Geeks that stray from the original commitment to realism (this is not to say Judd Apatow didn't do some good stuff on the show too.) This is kind of par for the course for most TV shows, since they are usually directed and written by different people throughout the season.

For instance, at one point this sugary sweet, hottie kindergarden teacher type is randomly introduced who Bill has a crush on. She is like the most clicheed, annoying, unrealistic character, and she is played by Judd Apatow's real life wife, Leslie Mann. I think that whole episode has a cloying quality, like when their enemy Alan has a heartfelt hospital room moment with Bill.

Another version of this teacher seems to be the hottie popular girl they all have crushes on in another episode. I think judd Apatow creates "dream girl vs. nerd" type situations.

Some of the Apatow-directed stuff has the geeks taking on this stereotypical "we're nerds who need to get laid!" personality (sound familiar?) which is really at odds with the awkward, afraid of girls/sex personalities they originally established.

Even the less good episodes are certainly worth watching, though. And overall, the show is great!

Liina said...

I love this post, though I am very late arriving at it, and I would like to mention that as an adult I think TWINS IS TOTALLY FUCKING HILARIOUS & AWESOME. So is Naked Gun, which I never actually saw until I was 27, but I laughed my butt off.