Some of us, if you will allow me to brag for a moment, have been warning about the demise of the adult comedy — most especially the R-rated, gross-out comedy — going back 18 months, or long before rumors about Donald Trump jumping into the presidential race even began to circulate. Way back in January of 2016, after the box office collapse of what should’ve been easy money — the Vacation sequel/remake, Seth Rogen’s The Night Before, Robert DeNiro’s Bad Grandpa, and sequels to the monster hits Magic Mike, Neighbors, and Ted — the writing was on the wall.
By January of 2016, The Hangover (2009), a legitimate comedy-classic directly responsible for all the disgusting garbage that followed, was already six years old. By then there had been countless copycats, some of them big hits. But how many filthy jokes can you tell? How many uncomfortable situations involving big stars humiliating themselves with body fluids can one species come up with?
Unless a gross-out comedy achieves something bigger than making the audience laugh out of an extreme case of awkwardness, the movie really isn’t all that much fun. Most of these comedies only offer one thing, the novelty of shock. Now that the shock has worn off, that only leaves Ewwww….
Nevertheless, at the expense of comedy genres that have proven their timelessness by lasting for decades (the teen comedy, the romantic comedy, and most especially the family comedy), Hollywood pretty much ignored all of those (granted, they were running out of creative steam) and went all-in on the gross-out comedy; now the chickens have really come home to roost. Adult comedies are not just under-performing, they are crashing and burning. Just last week I covered this in detail.
Released this weekend, the Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler comedy The House is already a mega-flop ($9M). Add to that Dwayne Johnson’s Baywatch ($57M), Amy Schumer’s Snatched ($45M), Ice Cube’s Fist Fight ($32M) Kate McKinnon’s Rough Night($19M), and CHiPs ($18M).
Hollywood comedies today are as forgettable as they are intolerable. All snark and filth, no heart. Excruciating, unappealing.
I forgot to mention that dreadful Ghostbusters remake, a movie so unpopular I found the Bluray at Walmart for just $3 the other day. And it included limited edition Ghostbusters’ socks.
Rather than face the fact that the novelty of body fluids is played out, rather than come to terms with the evidence that too many of these so-called comedy stars, through their obnoxious and insulting politics, long ago lost the goodwill of the audience, rather than accept the settled science that America misses the likes of John Candy, Goldie Hawn, John Hughes, Steve Martin, Chris Farley, Chevy Chase, Rick Moranis — giants who not only made us laugh but made us feel good about life, love, and family, Hollywood is blaming — wait for it, wait for it — President Trump:
But why aren’t critics and audiences pleased? Another point that’s been raised is that many of the scripts produced and released this summer were sold in a pre-Trump era. The definition of what makes a good comedy has changed quickly and dramatically in the past year. Saturday Night Live and late-night television have captured much of the comedy zeitgeist during and especially since the election — how are movies supposed to compete? Unlike a daily or weekly television show with a team of writers reacting to that day’s trending story, most movies spend years in development before hitting the big screen. Studios can only hope that the next big idea for what comedy means today is already in the works.
You see, America only wants to laugh at Trump now. That is it, that is all we want to do — point and laugh at our president. If more movies ridiculed Trump, we would flock to them. And that is why adult comedies are flopping, because they do not laugh at Trump.
When you consider the fact that, in order to be a hit, a comedy need only sell about 10 million tickets — need only convince about 3% of the American population to drop the $9, the stupidity of that analysis takes your breath away.
Those of us who live in the real world, however, realize that without the comedy genre to rely on, the film business is in serious trouble. Outside of horror, comedy was the only remaining genre Hollywood had that could be produced on the cheap and relied upon to make a quick profit. This leaves only the all-in wagers on franchise films, and even those are faltering now.
In worse news, Hollywood has no farm team, no one to revitalize and bring back the family/romantic/teen comedies that might bring back the audience. There is a farm team but they are all snarky leftists just like the current crop of failures ( see: Night Live, Saturday or Central, Comedy)
We’re tired of being grossed out (Seth Rogen). We’re tired of snark and ironic distance (Tina Fey). We’re tired of woke (Amy Schumer). We’re tired of narcissism portrayed as a family value (Judd Apatow). We’re tired of cold, man-babies (Will Ferrell). We’re tired of movies with titles that start with the word “Bad.” And we’re especially tired of elites declaring us bigoted rubes if we don’t pay to see their latest unappealing and unfunny pets (Kate McKinnon, Lena Dunham).
Where are the rebels ridiculing the system (Eddie Murphy)? Where is the wit (Billy Crystal)? Where are the subversive outsiders taking it to The Man (the original Ghostbusters)? Where’s the heart (John Candy), the insight (John Hughes), the awesomely imperfect adults filled with unforgettable pathos (Chase, Martin, Hawn); the freedom-loving snobs vs. the pompous, humorless elites (Caddyshack)? Where are the R-rated comedies that make us feel deliciously mischievous and naughty as opposed to scummy (Animal House)?
On top of creative bankruptcy, of course Hollywood’s monolithic leftwing culture is to blame. Hollywood comedies are no longer laughing with us (Christmas Vacation), they are targeting us and our values and our beliefs (Easy A, Talledega Nights). Hollywood no longer gets the normal American family (Parenthood), the normal teenage romance (Sixteen Candles), the beauty of the suburbs (Home Alone), how normal guys behave (Planes, Trains and Automobiles) or anything that is not about sex, normalizing dysfunction and political correctness.
Hollywood has become the snobs, the pompous country club assholes, the smarmy, judgmental, and superior Judge Smails who want nothing to do with us Rodney Dangerfields — you know, those of us who just want to have a good time.
Feel free to accuse me of living in the past, but at least the past was successful and produced countless film comedies so iconic that even people not yet born in 1985 still watch and quote them today. It has only been two years, you know of anyone who can quote a single line from Trainwreck?