Films/Theater Reviews — 16 July 2010
What Ever Happened to Being Funny?

What in the name of Judd Apatow is going on here?  I somehow managed to get to see “MacGruber,” the Saturday Night Live based movie, in the three seconds that it was in theaters.  Jam-packed with a cast like Powers Booth, Val Kilmer, and Ryan Phillippe, and SNL standouts Will Forte and Kristen Wiig, I sat there for almost two hours looking at my friend like someone farted and turned the heat up to 90 degrees in the theater.  With all of the explosions in the movie and the time spent on turning a 90 second sketch into a 90 minute movie with a plotline, the writing team forgot about the most integral part of shooting a comedy: Making it funny.

My biggest problem with the movie though, was how badly I wanted to like it.  You would be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of SNL and its history than this writer, and the fact that the movie bombed so badly, both critically and at the box office was a real disappointment to me.  And the fact that Andy Samberg pal and Lonely Island member/SNL writer Jorma Taccone directed the film, makes it even more troubling considering the amount of time that I spend singing SNL’s praises.  Maybe some of these writing teams need to take a page from’s Web Shots team (shameless plug) and make comedy movies (gulp) funny.

Some four weeks later and after months of promotion in seemingly every outlet, the Adam Sandler penned “Grown Ups” was released.  Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Selma Hayek, Maria Bello, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn?  That is a cast chock-full of big names, all of which have achieved moderate to tremendous levels of success at different levels in the industry.  But again, the jokes in this movie were literally non-existent.  I mean they really bombed.  Now the movie was PG-13, so cursing was at an absolute minimum, which can really be a detriment to any movie aspiring to be funny.  But seeing a middle aged David Spade and Rob Schneider try to act with the same adolescent charm that they had in their primes induced more “Douche Chills” for me than laughs.  I spent more of the movie wondering how David Spade could be such a pimp in Hollywood rather than doing anything that resembled laughing.  Although I did get a funny text message during the movie that made me smirk, the jokes actually in this movie all seemed to fall flat.  Chris Rock may be the best comic on the planet but he can sink a movie faster than a racially charged Mel Gibson rant.  Similar to MacGruber, I am a big admirer of James’ & Rock’s, and I desperately wanted to like this movie too.  But again, it just wasn’t funny.  Unfortunately, Adam Sandler has seemingly coasted on his reputation from his first few movies.  And while audiences still seem to care about him, I find the days of him getting the hottest girl on the planet, being the incredible athlete, and glorifying a funny looking old person have been played so many times in all of his movies that I’ve stopped caring.

Even Toy Story 3-D managed to make me laugh more than the aforementioned two movies.  It also got me choked up as Andy had finally grown up and was heading off to college leaving his toys (Tom Hanks & Tim Allen) behind.  The slate of recently released comedy movies that I chose to see made me regret dropping the $13 (Yes, a movie is actually $13) each time (I did like Toy Story, however).  Perhaps I should have chosen “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “Get Him to the Greek” instead.  One thing is for sure, the stench in the theater that fateful day was not some rank flatulence, but a poorly made and completely unmemorable comedy film.

-  Jane Van Arsdale

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