January 8, 2008

Smart and funny

I normally don't get too bogged down in thinking deep thoughts about pop culture. And you're in luck, because I'm pretty sure none of what follows could reasonably be called deep thoughts.

But let's start with something that's been bothering me more and more lately. It really bugs me that people who can't write (or are just morons) feel the need to post their own music and movie reviews on web sites like Amazon and Netflix. To illustrate my point, I thought I'd visit Netflix for you. It took me about one second to find an example of what I mean. Consider:

"... beautifully-filmed, generally well-acted, intermittently-compelling misfire of a film. However, its complete lack of narrative energy..."

Well, my hyphen-misusing friend, you're not Richard Schickel or Janet Maslin. You're not Roger Ebert, or even, for god's sake, Richard Roeper. You are, however, a blowhard who is posting anonymous 40-word reviews on a web site where millions of people a day can ignore your horribly written opnions. Get over yourself and your lack of narrative energy and just go talk to your friends about the movie and leave the rest of us out of it.

(Deep breath.)

That said, I was thinking about the movies I saw during the holiday break: Charlie Wilson's War (entertaining, with a manageable dose of Sorkin preachiness); 27 Dresses (in an L.A. sneak preview, two weeks before it opened everywhere else, sucka); and Juno.

And I was thinking about why Juno stood out as one of my favorite movies of the last year. I can best sum it up this way: Almost all of the funny moments -- and there were many -- came from people doing and saying smart things. There was humor in the awkward tenderness between Juno and her parents, and in the awkward awkwardness between Juno's family and the couple who's going to adopt her baby, but the movie didn't resort to making fun of them.

Oh, sure, I like my dumb comedies every once in a while. (I crack up at the most random moments remembering the scene in Dodgeball when Patches O'Houlihan is killed in a casino by a falling "Luck o' The Irish" sign -- or, as Vince Vaughn's Pete La Fleur describes it, "two tons of irony.") But most comedies seem to make the audience laugh by making the audience cringe, thanks to characters doing stupid things, berating other characters, or getting hit in the groin by a wrench (again, Dodgeball is a pretty good example). I rarely see a movie that generates laughs with intelligence, but Juno fit the bill.

Oh, it also was well acted and I found there to be a sufficient amount of narrative energy.

1 comment:

Laura said...

The whole time I was watching Charlie Wilson's War, I kept saying... aloud actually to the annoyance of my companion... "Well played, Sorkin. Well played."