A comedy of errors, or, the error of comedy?

Despite Halloween vastly approaching quicker than the Christmas merchandise can push the Halloween decor off the shelves of American retail, I’ve been not in a horror mood, but rather, a comedy mood. When I get stressed, I personally turn to comedies. Naturally, because they cheer you up. But I notice a lot of comedies that have a plot (can we call them Plomodies?) are more my cup of tea. Maybe because as a writer, I value true plot. Maybe it helps the story instead of falling down on a banana peal and calling it funny. Don’t get me wrong, slapstick has it’s place. Case in point, Charlie Chaplin or Mr. Bean style (I’d include Three Stooges, but, those guys always freaked me out). However, it seems a lot of these films fall back on cliches and animal humor and body part puns – same routine we’ve probably been feed all our lives. Examples: 1. Failure to Launch Can’t say why, but I was in a Matthew Mcconaughey kind of mood (as if a girl needs an excuse for him?!) So Netflix recommended me Failure to Launch. I figured, hey, at least it has a sexy male lead, what can go wrong? I was impressed. I’d even give it 3 stars. Although Sarah Jessica Parker may have been a mis-match for the role, her counter-part Zooey Deschanel was far better; it had it’s moments. However, the error of this movie, was when it TRIED to be funny, it made you shake your head and ask why… repeatedly. When you have a cast that’s naturally funny, don’t try to force the jokes. Like they kept having him being attacked by animals that don’t normally attack, like a chipmunk, a friggin dolphin … and it just failed. However, when they just spoke their lines or kind of fumbled a bit due to the plot of the movie, it worked. 2. A Thousand Words Actually, this movie made me cry a bit. Not because I was laughing so hard I cried, but moments were really sweet. The biggest joke was that they tried to make it a comedy. I didn’t really laugh very much, just enough to stay amused, but it was a sweet feel-good plot that worked. I wish they stopped TRYING to be funny, and stuck with a feel-good-film with amusing moments. Because when they TRIED to be funny they were resorted to Eddie Murphy being high on a client meeting, lying to get to the front of the long line at Starbucks (can we say Ms. Congeniality?) and other misadventures that were more sad than funny because you can tell how strained the joke was. However, when the jokes were natural, not just a situation only existing TO be “funny”, it works. So I guess what I took away from these two films and movies like them is that comedy in movies is like sex. If the jokes are there just to be there, that’s not funny, that’s comedies version of porn (Promodie?). So let the jokes fly off the screen. Put the characters in awkward situations. But don’t just make the situation awkward for the sake of awkwardness, because then it becomes awkward to watch – not funny. And there are PLENTY of examples out there. Take your pick of cliched romantic comedies and slapsticks, and there you go. But then think of your FAVORITE comedy that you always think of when you think of the genre. What worked so well for that movie? I bet it had a plot, right? What are your favorite comedies? Which comedies make you cringe? Share in the comments 🙂 ~Claire

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