Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good Stupid Movies

This has been a topic that has been bugging me lately.

Stupid movies.

There are a lot of movies that I love that other people criticize as being "stupid" or dumb, or whatever. Movies like:
Dumb & Dumber
Hot Rod
Super Troopers
Austin Powers
Brothers Solomon
Happy Gilmore
Kung Pow
The Stupids
Billy Madison
Spies Like Us
Land of the Lost
Ace Ventura
Joe Dirt

Trust me, there are tons more.

I love all of those movies. But after making comments about any of these movies or quoting lines from them there is always someone who says: "That movie is stupid!"

Which almost always elicits the same response in my mind. My first thought is always: "if you went to that movie to see a movie that was not a 'stupid movie' YOU are stupid."

Of course they are stupid. That's the whole point. The plots are not overly complex, and the characters are somewhat simple and straightforward, most of the time it is the performance of the writing and the acting that are on display here. And by acting, I am not talking about Meryl Streep and Deniro, I am talking about slapstick, physical comedy, voice acting etc.

I understand if these maybe aren't the genre that you would most love to see. I get it, you don't have to love these movies. They may just not be your thing. Cool, fine, but don't tell me that they aren't good.

These movies take a ton of talent from an actor. Show me any other actor who could have pulled of Ace Ventura, better yet, show me any actor who has won an academy award who could do it. Tom Hanks could be in a stupid movie and Robin Williams has pulled off great stupid movie characters, but Deniro, Pacino, DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel, none of them can pull off that level of physically demanding stuff. Any of them could be in a movie and say funny things, but could they really pull off a stupid movie? No!

So there is certainly a great performance talent involved in stupid movies. You can't question that.

But what about writing? I know, I know, sometimes that plot is silly. But often, you need to admit that it is brilliantly silly. A writer of a stupid movie is there often to build a story around a character. The point is to put the character into situations where they are incongruous or ridiculous. Ace Ventura at the high society dinner looking for snowflake. Joe Dirt in Buffalo Bob's basement cave. Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn living it up in Aspen. Ron Burgundy in the Bear Pit.

And the one liners! Can you quote from any movie the way that you could from watching Anchorman, or Dumb & Dumber or Austin Powers? Very few movies have presented that many memorable moments. Those moments are due to funny writing and good performances.

The snarky and mean side of me watches people bash these movies and thinks: "you are so desperate to sound smart and above others that you are not willing to enjoy something silly."

The even less politically correct side of me notices that women often are the ones who have a problem with these movies. Ladies, show me how in the world anyone can think a romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock and Keanu, or Ryan Reynolds or any one else has as much talent as a stupid comedy.

I also need to point out that just because some movies get called stupid, I am not necessarily going to like them. The Scary Movie , Epic Movie etc franchises are proving that they can be as equally paint by the numbers as a Sandra Bullock movie. I saw about 15 minutes of a Larry the Cable Guy movie the other day and noticed that there was absolutely nothing to the movie, poorly written and poorly acted by someone who does the one character for a living. Pretty weak stuff.

All I am saying here is: don't get hung up on the one gratuitous gross-out scene that seems to be mandatory in every stupid comedy these days. Get beyond it and enjoy a fun movie. No one said it had to be "No Country for Old Men" every time.

Wait, that just made me think of something. You can't get passed the vomit scene in Team America, but somehow you're OK with "friendo" blasting people's heads apart in that movie. That was disturbing! "The Departed" was a great movie, but there are blood and brains and more foul language than any stupid comedy I have ever seen. I'm just sayin'.

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