Down With Comu-Dramas

No, I’m not “down” with comu-dramas. I mean to say, DOWN with comu-dramas, because they suck. In the past couple months, I’ve seen both Dinner for Schmucks and The Other Guys. Both are portrayed as comic and campy, via trailers. But in fact, Dinner for Schmucks was not funny; The Other Guys was hilarious. Now, let me tell you why …

Dinner for Schmucks is about Tim (played by the adorable Paul Rudd. Remember Clueless? I sure do). Tim is an executive climbing the corporate ladder. He’s climbing so fast that his boss invites him to a “dinner for idiots,” a monthly event in which attendees find an idiot to bring to dinner. Whoever finds the biggest idiot gains certain advantages around the office. Steve Carell plays Rudd’s idiot of the evening, Barry—a divorcee who’s obsessed with finding dead mice, stuffing them, and then, setting them into shadowbox-esque scenes. Such promise in this plotline! And yet, what utter failure.

In contrast, The Other Guys … Will Ferrell and Marky-Mark (excuse me, Mark Wahlberg) play disgraced New York cops, pushing paperwork while the stereotypical good cops—played by Samuel Jackson and Dwayne Johnson—run around, saving the day. Through an amusing mishap, the good cops die, leaving an empty space for Ferrell and Wahlberg to take over. The mismatched duo must look past their differences when they take on a high-profile investigation of a shady capitalist and attempt to fill the shoes of the notoriously reckless officers they idolize. Also a promising plotline, and in this case, epic comic success!

So what made Dinner for Schmucks so bad and The Other Guys so good? I chalk it up to a new film genre, that I hope and pray will soon go the way of Alicia Silverstone.

They call ‘em “comu-dramas.” They’re comedy flicks with some drama thrown in. Case in point would be Dinner for Schmucks. After some mildly funny stuff, Paul Rudd starts to feel bad about what he’s doing to Barry. He has a moral crisis, and oh, isn’t it so sad? Don’t we feel so awful? … NO! We don’t feel awful, because Dinner for Schmucks was supposed to be a comedy, and it failed! It FAILED! The Other Guys has some scenes that could easily have turned dramatic. There’s the scene in the dance studio, where Wahlberg confronts his old girlfriend. This could have added a touch of emotion, but instead, Marky-Mark busts out some ballet moves, and I swear, it’s one of the funniest moments in the movie.

I don’t understand why writers/directors see a need to add drama to perfectly good comic flicks. Did we feel a moment of remorse in Old School? What about Super Troopers? Most recently, what about The Hangover? No, we feel no remorse in these movies, because these movies make us laugh. Although I found parts of I Love You Man to be hysterical, this movie danced along the edges of comu-drama, but it still worked, because it never got too serious. And it shouldn’t have. It was supposed to be a comedy!

I say down with comu-dramas. I don’t want to see them anymore. I don’t want to be force-fed emotion by actors who should really just stick to the funny. Hollywood, stop trying so hard. Stop handing us a moral. If I want a moral to the story, I’ll see a drama. If I want to laugh, I’ll see a comedy. I like them as separate genres, so stop spitting in my popcorn, would ya?

Frank the tank! Frank the tank!
Skip Dinner for Schmucks. Please, save your money. But see The Other Guys, especially if you liked Super Troopers and Old School. Maybe I’m just immature, but there’s a time and a place for stupid comedy … and Dinner for Schmucks just tried too hard.  It makes me think comedies want to start winning Oscars, and I flash back to that scene in Wayne’s World, where Mike Meyers does the fake crying, while “Oscar Clip” flashes at the bottom of the screen. Give it up, people. Comedies are comedies; dramas are dramas. There is no need for cross-breeding.

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