Take a blank piece of paper. Using a hole-punch, randomly punch an indeterminate number of holes in that paper. Let that piece of paper with the indeterminate number of holes in it represent your sense of humor. Or, more specifically, mine. The sense of humor of a person above a certain age, let’s say, over fifty.
Now, take that piece of paper with the indeterminate number of holes punched in it, and place it directly over another a piece of paper, whose indeterminate number of holes represent the sense of humor of a person who’s under thirty.
Look down at the pieces of paper, one piece of paper sitting directly over the other. What do you notice?
You notice that few to none of the holes on those two pieces of paper
That’s what it means to be old-fashioned.
The reason for this morning’s moaning? I went to see The Hangover. The Hangover, a surprise hit comedy – it’s projected to gross over two hundred million in domestic revenues – is scoring mightily with audiences, particularly with the dearly coveted younger demographic. People really seem to like The Hangover. And they’re recommending it enthusiastically to their friends.
After seeing it, I have no idea why.
I wanted to see what the fuss was about. If you’re a “comedy guy”, you want to know what’s going on. It had been a while since I’d had had any movies ideas of my own. Who knows? Maybe The Hangover would inspire me. Maybe my comic instincts would pick up on what they’re going for, and trigger some internal response like,
“I ‘get’ what they’re doing. And you know what? I think I could come up with something that’s very much along those lines.”
It didn’t happen.
Virtually nothing in The Hangover made me laugh. Once, near the beginning, a child-like (and by default the movie’s most appealing) character took off his pants, unexpectedly revealing some jockstrappy type underwear and casually exposing his pale, flabby butt. I cracked a smile at that. Turns out, that “butt moment” would be the highpoint of my enjoyment.
Time now for my “I’m not entirely out of it” disclaimer paragraph. I nearly fell out of my seat laughing watching the first South Park movie (in spite of their making horribly unfair fun of Canadians). I’m a fan of the Judd Apatow oeuvre, cracking up at substantial chunks of Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Though I’d be hard pressed to produce my own version of such movies, and though I wasn’t always crazy about the storytelling, I at least understood what they were going for. And sometimes, they surprised me, their finest moments totally exceeding my expectations.
By contrast, The Hangover seemed recycled, carelessly constructed and lame.
There’s a tiger in the bathroom.
The movie audience’s reaction.
“That’s a nice-looking tiger.”
One of the leading characters discovers he’s missing a tooth.
The movie audience’s reaction?
“That looks like actual blood.”
The missing groom-to-be, whose disappearance propels the storyline, is finally found sitting on the roof of their hotel in a drugged-out stupor.
The movie audience’s reaction?
A palpable sense of relief.
“There’s nobody keeping him there. Why didn’t he just come down?”
And if you say, “Because he’s in a drugged-out stupor”, I’d say,
“The other guys took the same drugs. How come they recovered from them and he didn’t?”
I will not bore you with any more of my quibbles.
Except for the naked, Asian quasi-gangsterish gay guy whose high-pitched squealings generate not a single moment of hilarity.
And the pristine silver Mercedes you’re waiting to see get trashed, and when it finally is, the moment is neither surprising nor laugh inducing. (Nor is there any response from the Mercedes’ passionately possessive owner when they bring the messed-up car home.)
And the least memorable Vegas quickie wedding chapel scene0 I have ever seen in movies. Or TV.
And the dufus who suddenly morphs into a card-counting winner at the blackjack table.
And the teacher who absconds with his students’ field trip money with no consequences whatsoever.
And Mike Tyson showing up and being sweet but not at all humorous.
And an “out of the blue” black guy, and a good-hearted stripper, and a ball-busting fiancée whose portrayal is so excruciatingly over the top…
Did I mention the film was projected to gross over two hundred million dollars?
Is The Hangover malicious? No. Is it mean-spirited? No. Is it gross, crude or tasteless? I don’t care about that, but no, it isn’t particularly at all. It’s benign and it’s harmless.
And it’s not at all funny.
What am I missing? Why didn’t I get one laugh in the entire…however long it was, and it felt considerably longer? What exactly is my problem with this hot, new comedy sensation? The explanation is very simple.
My holes are in the wrong place.