Make ‘em laugh. It was the motto of somebody somewhere, and it’s been making Hollywood a lot of money while giving audiences everywhere joy. 2007 and 2008 were in many ways banner years for the genre, and while this year wasn’t quite as strong as those years, there were still some pretty damn funny works out there.
- Brüno: Sacha Baron Cohen is one of the funniest and most innovative comedians working in film and he proved with Borat that his style could also be very accessible to the masses. His follow-up, Brüno, is neither as innovative or consistently funny but there’s still a lot of good stuff in it. Between the audience pilot test from hell to warped baby auditions to a graphic encounter from beyond the grave, this provided some very large laughs.
- Funny People: I have been saying that this works better as a movie about comedy than as a comedy in and of itself, perhaps I’ve been short selling it to a degree. There is some good comedy to be found in this movie even if that isn’t necessary it’s one and only mission in existence. Yeah, maybe it trades more in chuckles than belly laughs, but that isn’t entirely a bad thing. It’s not always easy to find the best balance in a dramedy and this one makes a valiant effort.
- The Hangover: Maybe not the year’s best comedy, but clearly the most popular. This modest comedy was in a good position to be a sleeper hit, but nobody expected it to end up as the sixth highest grossing comedy of the year. This was achieved by taking the basic tone of the frat-comedies being made recently, putting together a funny cast with good chemistry, and giving it a clever if not overly challenging set-up. As an artistic achievement, this is not too high up there, but it’s certainly a funny flick.
- In the Loop: Satire isn’t an easy thing to do. It requires some genuine understanding of the issues you’re taking on so that you can see past the surfaces and point out the absurdity. If that weren’t hard enough, you also need to make the jokes actually work. Even the famous Lenny Bruce reached a point when he focused so much on the social aspects of his shows that he forgot to actually tell jokes. In the Loop doesn’t have this problem at all. This is a movie that manages to be insightful and hilarious and not have either goal interfere with the other.
- Observe and Report: The Apatow-esque comedy has occasionally been used for slightly dark effect on a few occasions, but it had never been used for something as edgy as Observe and Report. Now of course when I only say edgy when compared to other Hollywood material, but still the fact remains that this is a movie with some dark undertones. Sometimes this dark material isn’t executed perfectly, the movie is kind of a mess, but there’s still some biting comedy that comes to the surface sometimes.