If It Walks Like a Comedy…

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Today I’d like to talk about our insatiable need to categorize and sub-categorize everything. Now, despite what looks like a dearth of good movies opening today, a) it’s still Friday which means at least there’s something new to see at your local cineplex, b) we could be pleasantly surprised and c) at least you have the weekend to relax. And who knows, maybe you’ll get trapped in an elevator with Carol Burnett which, according to yesterday’s poll, is something many of you would welcome. Now onto movies – and what seems to me an overwhelming amount of genres at our fingertips (ably represented by today’s releases). Because let’s face it – you can’t just say you want to catch something funny anymore. It’s nowhere near specific enough for 2010’s demanding  consumer. Think about it – if you lived in the 1930s or ‘40s – you might be known as one of those people who likes a black & white drama. Or perhaps you’d be a fan of the black & white comedy. Or maybe the black & white thriller – and we’d probably not even have that groundbreaking  new step if it weren’t for Hitch (the director, not the vaguely lame Will Smith vehicle). As far as genres go – that was pretty much it. Not any more. Now? Sky’s the limit. There are genres, and genres within genres within genres. Nor do films today even fall into relatively simple classifications like “a comedy” vs. “a raunchy comedy for mature audiences”. Nope. These days we get  “R-rated horror” vs. “R-Rated Tongue-in-cheek-funny horror”. That’s how distinct they are. For example, tonight you have as much chance of strolling into a party and hearing someone say “they adore a great 3D adventure” as you are to encounter those teens “who love their sex-slasher flicks” – or even that uptight couple at the table next to you “who only goes in for serious docs”.  Would that ever have been the case 50 years ago? It’s the same as how we can go have Thai, or sushi, or Mexican, or Organic, or Asian Fusion, or Italian or Indian food – and not even have to leave the mall. But that’s another blog. Back to flicks. Personally, I’ll always opt for a “romantic comedy” but nowadays there’s actually no such thing – you have to get into subcategories: do I want the “Seeking Mr. Right” romantic comedy, or the “Ugly Duckling” romantic comedy or the “Four Weddings and a Funeral” –type romantic comedy (usually involving  confused but appealing English people talking very fast, with a lot of mixups, and everyone racing through verdant  meadows). Our need to classify dramas is even more unsettling  – do we watch the “Human Condition drama”, the “Morality Tale drama”  or the “Modern Divorce drama” (not to be confused with the “Absent Parent drama”)?  Or maybe we’ll catch the “Coming of Age drama” which should NEVER be mistaken for the “Fish Out of Water drama”,  the  “Class Warfare Drama”  OR the “Urban Struggle drama”.  (I know right now you’re thinking: but where does that leave the “Social Injustice drama”?) You can get into a lot of trouble mixing  these things up, as I have done on many occasion.  Then again I’ve always wondered about the “Buddy Cop movie” (which has two variants, of course – the dramatic one which usually involves one partner avenging the death or injury of the other, or the comic one which involves one partner screwing up more than the other – and you’re supposed to root for the one who’s  a) chubby, b) misunderstood or c) wearing a Hawaiian shirt). There’s a movie opening today called  The Other Guys and this is obviously a comedy because Will Ferrell’s in it. But the other thing here is that it’s clearly a buddy cop movie aiming to parody the whole genre of buddy cop movies and in so doing, it’s managed to become its own genre. See how that works? (Either you’re following my line of reasoning or I was left alone too long as a child). Similarly, Step Up 3D is another new genre hybrid that’s both a competition drama, a coming-of -age drama, and a dance movie,  but WAIT — it’s also in 3D which seems to be all anyone cares about nowadays. (I noticed you can catch this film in 2D, too. Has there ever been a movie shot in just “D”?) I still can’t decide what to watch tonight. Maybe I’ll go see Despicable Me again, because who doesn’t love the old Animated-Lion-With-A-Thorn-In-His-Paw-Cold-War Parody/Scrappy-Orphans-Comedy? Voice your choice and tell us which of these buddy cop movies is your favorite?

1.) Turner & Hooch
2.) Rush Hour
3.) Lethal Weapon
4.) 48 Hours

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