We Need More Dark Comedies, Period

We Need More Dark Comedies, Period

Jul 08, 2011

I was one of those nerdly little film geeks who loved Dr. Strangelove well before his peers even got the jokes. I went crazy for the colorfully nasty humor found in '80s farces like Ruthless People, Throw Momma From the Train, and A Fish Called Wanda, and I fell in love with the powerful venom of Danny DeVito's The War of the Roses

I adore dark comedy. Arsenic and Old Lace, M*A*S*H, Very Bad Things, Heathers ... when it's done well, few sub-genres can be as memorable as the dark comedy: delicate and subtle or sledgehammer nasty, dark comedy speaks to an audience that doesn't mind a little carnage mixed with comedy, provided the two ingredients complement one another in some tasty way. Plus, let's be honest: it's healthy to laugh at death once in a while.

This weekend's Horrible Bosses, which is sort of a Dark Comedy Lite (my full review here), in that violent things happen, but the heroes are so amiable they prevent the flick from becoming too unpleasant, reminds me that we don't get all that many dark comedies these days -- which is not to say they were ever all that prominent to begin with.

But in a comedy landscape that offers little besides Larry Crowne, Zookeeper, and Adam Sandler's latest excrescence, perhaps there's still a little room for flicks that offer some frank nastiness (and I don't just mean simple bodily-function rudeness) along with some well-timed chuckles. Last month's Bad Teacher, for example, is a great example of a nasty, subversive character trapped in a thoroughly conventional plot, but thanks to some sharp, vulgar writing and an actress willing to play "mean" with some vim and vigor .. the flick works. And I thought I'd hate that movie!

So there's a discussion topic for the weekend! What are your favorite dark comedies? New, classic, obscure or, hey, even a few really rotten ones. (I expect lots of hate for Peter Berg's Very Bad Things, but I will happily defend that sick, wacky film's honor.)


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