Tag Archives: black comedy

The Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II is the perfect sequel, in that the exact same movie was made for a second time. Everything I liked about The Hangover, I liked here too. It’s not that I like humor based on other people’s discomfort. I do sometimes, but to a pretty limited degree. What I really like is humor based on situations that are spiraling out of control. And if waking up in a room in Bangkok with no memory of the previous night, a severed finger, a missing wedding party member, and a stray monkey isn’t out of control, not many things would be.

Still, after that, the untangling what actually happened and trying to make sure the wedding goes off and finding all kinds of hilariously horrible situations along the way, like I said, same movie. So there’s hardly anything to add. I just dig the genre, is all. (And I hope that I never have anyone like Zack Galifianakis’ character in my life, ever. I like the idea of inexplicable, out of control adventures in my life, I do. I just want them to be accidental. And not involve frozen mountain passes or blood-thirsty, one-eyed warlords. Already covered those.)

Youth in Revolt

Hello there, movies. I know it’s been a while, but I haven’t forgotten about you. I even wanted to see some of you, despite how it has looked. Soon, I will be back onto a schedule you can trust, and it will be like we’d never been apart. I would never give you up, nor let you down, and I would certainly never run around and hurt you.[1]

The movie I spent some time with last night was Youth in Revolt, based on a generally positive review from Fresh Air and my ongoing amusement with Michael Cera. It tells the highly episodic story of a sixteen year-old boy with a probably average and certainly miserable life, a downright horrible name (Nick Twisp), and a nagging virginity. After meeting the girl of his dreams in a northern California lake’s adjacent trailer park[2] and determining that she must surely take said virginity lest he die miserable and alone, he develops a split persona with an ironically wispy mustache and an endless supply of cigarillos that he names Francois Dillinger. With that character finally on screen at the end of the first act, the movie finally lurches out of its snail-paced romantic comedy first gear, rife with ubiquitous excessively cultured and vocabularied teens[3], and putts into black comedy at a stately second gear. This pacing issue, really, is its only serious problem. The laughs are sincere and sometimes side-splitting while they’re happening, but the flick is so very, very slow in between. Well, and there’s also the problem of Justin Long’s character, in that he seems to exist for no other purpose than to fulfill the deus ex marijuana role. Long story short? Probably not a movie worth seeing in the theater, but it was pretty funny if you’ve got an otherwise slow night and a DVD player somewhere in your future.

[1] Look, I… it happened so fast! I don’t know how to explain it.
[2] Although Sheeni manages to occasionally rise above that, it really is as intentionally trashy as it sounds.
[3] Likely in a (differently from the film’s main theme) rebellious response to their trashy or overly religious parents.

The Hangover

So, I like black comedy. The Hangover has a significant portion of that, and so I liked it pretty well. And yet, I can’t find much else to say about it. It was funny, but quite generically so, I guess? Or maybe I just like things to be a whole lot darker than people do on average.

Anyway, there are these dudes in Vegas for a bachelor party, which is intended to consist of light gambling, drinking, and general low-key debauchery. Which would be fine, except that after shots of Jäger on the roof of the hotel, they lose complete track of the night and awaken to a (very artistically!) trashed suite, a missing tooth, a stray tiger, and most importantly, a missing groom. And as they try to reconstruct their drunken night, the day keeps getting worse.

I could try to claim that there’s a lot of mileage in here on the importance of friendship, and, well, they do put in some effort on that score. But mostly, it’s yay black comedy and zany adventures. Laughs, yeah; thoughts, not so much. Oh, and an unnecessary (albeit well-drawn) caricature of a shrewish girlfriend who was the main downside of the movie. She was neither zany nor comedic, and mainly only existed to be disliked. I can go for one-dimensional characters, but the dimension needs to maybe not be repellent.

The Signal

I’ve been sitting on this review for a goodly while now, and it’s just not getting any easier to proceed with. Some of the delays were valid, some were due to being busy, but still mostly I’ve just been stuck. Somehow or other I caught wind of this indie horror film, The Signal. Very limited release (two theaters in the area), interesting concept reminiscent of Cell by Stephen King, and some of the descriptions implied that it was also very funny. Which sounds like basically everything I’d want out of a movie. I even talked Jessica into going, though she claims to find such movies far too scary. (And yet she watched 28 Days Later. This is a dichotomy that warrants further consideration.)

So, one night in the thematically named city of Terminus, a staticky image appears on all of the televisions (which are turning themselves on), and staticky sounds emerge from all of the cellphones, landlines, and airwaves. And after a very short period of time, some people are affected. The short description is that they’re all going crazy, but from the characters that we got to spend time with, I’d say instead that they are all being amplified. Whatever primary emotion they are feeling, be it resentment, jealousy, fear, concern, most everything is being blown out of all proportions, such that people are wandering the halls and the streets, committing wanton murder. In the midst of this, we are presented with a love triangle between a woman, her husband, and her lover, which is an excellent use of the background space, particularly after the husband seems slightly unhinged even before any serious effects of the signal are being felt. The story is told in three parts, one from the perspective of each member of the triangle, which is potentially interesting. And it is written by three different writers, which is more or less disastrous. The first portion focuses on the fear and claustrophobia of both the external and internal situations, and was extremely well done. The second portion is a black comedy, and also extremely well done, except for how little it fits with the first act. And the finale is a surrealist nightmare which was possibly well done, except that it failed to match the previous two acts in a new and different way, as well as suffering from the modern short story’s flaw of going all confusing right at the end and allowing you to draw your own conclusions about What Really Happened. That choice is so far outside the horror genre that I have no choice but to be offended and rule the movie lame. Which is a pity, as prior to the last ten minutes, flawed or not, it had at least been constantly interesting.