Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nothing Funny About Comedy: How Teenagers Have Ruined Funny Films

This section is where I give serious essays on comedy.

My Taiwanese-American friend Mike and I went to a theater once to see a movie. There were loud teenyboppers yelling into their cell phones. Mike said "I gotta leave this theater," so we left. David Denby of the New Yorker recently wrote an article on how the multiplex experience is getting bad even for Hollywood studio heads. The article mentions cell phones. If he had courage he would have specifically blamed the teenyboppers on their mobile phones.

Cars was the highest-grossing comedy of '06. The top live-action comedy was Talladega Nights.Pretty funny, but neither Borat nor Little Miss Sunshine are on the list. Worst of all, there were three more computer-animated cartoon comedies beating it: Ice Age, Happy Feet and Over the Hedge. Even Seinfeld, who once said in Rolling Stone that comedy isn't ready for the movies, has decided to act in only one feature: Bee Movie, a computer-animated film.

You and I hate the glut of these films
. But what do teenyboppers have to do with the success of these films? Surely teenagers aren't the ones seeing Ice Age - families are. That's my point: teenagers have been so obnoxiously loud on their cell phones before and during the films that people are avoiding teen and adult comedies like the plague. Studios insist on marketing to teens. Why? Teen comedies have flopped one after the other. Remember Accepted, anybody? No. That's why the American Pie sequels are moving to DVD; teens are busy watching Nick Cannon films while fatigued, ruddy-faced fathers let out relaxed sighs at the latest computer-animal revue.

Kids are just as noisy as teens, of course, but teens go to the movies themselves more and more, especially with GPS-equipped cell phones ensuring their parents can check up on them without hearing that dreadful tinny emo music. However most parents don't drop off their small children at the movies. Thus parents prefer to take the family to kids' movies with children only as opposed to teen films where they might run into some delusional suburban brat who thinks he's gonna make the draft pick for Dipset.

In the '80s some of the greatest blockbusters were teen/college comedies. Ferris, Revenge of the Nerds Back to the Future . Now we toss Dane Cook films at the multiplex like burnt French fries at overfed seagulls. When they don't stick we wonder why.

So what's the future of comedy blockbusters in the movies? Not on the iPod or on the PC or the TV; I don't want to derail here. In the multiplex, what will bring in the laughsmoney? Night at the Museum was number one last week. It's a live action film about museum figures coming to life. So it had better be a family comedy with a few ironic asides for the adults. Oh, and if you see my friend Mike looking relaxed on the line for the movie, you know you've got a solid gold comedy hit.


Reel Fanatic said...

These kids today!! ... It is indeed depressing that movie makers continue to pander to them, even though they are abandoning the multiplexes like they're full of lepers

Cibbuano said...

I can't stand teenagers in any public space, but I get a kick out of adolescent humour. Basically, any movie where a guy blows his load after one pump, is a hilarious movie.

sammyray said...

" Night at the Museum" is both an insult and a commentary on American culture.

Mo! said...

Reel: Yes. I'm glad you agree. You most certainly seem to be more of an expert than me, so I feel vindicated.

Cibb: Uh may I suggest Idocracy? Best of both worlds.

Sammy: Even Ricky Gervais is susceptible to the Hollywood Comedy Career Killing Syndrome.