Transformers exceeded my very low expectations.  Visual bonuses:  gorgeous cars, my sweet home Chicago, and a beautiful leading lady (the kind who, in the immortal words of Gordon Cole, “makes you wish you knew a little French.”)  The offices and architecture were also lovely.  Comic relief from Dr. Ken, John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk, and John Turturro helped.  Sound track and effects were thrilling, not overwhelming, with beautiful separation.  The race-tainted jive of the earlier work was replaced with wisecracking aliens of the MIB/Bug Guy variety.  And the voice casting for bots was really nice, with big names like Hugo Weaving and Leonard Nimoy, and old favorites like Frank Welker and James Remar.  The best surprise was the plot, which actually made sense, and was plausible and intriguing.  It’s not Tolstoy, nor was meant to be; but it did what it set out to do, and did it well.  It avoided the pitfalls that would have weakened it.  I only gave it a “meh” in my previous post because I’m not a maniac for the genre.

For comedy, I’m a maniac.  I can put up with a lot of dreck, and I can watch and re-watch comedies even though I know every line.  But there are some sub-categories of comedies I can’t deal with at all.  My curse is that I can’t turn off a comedy, no matter how much I hate it.  I have to stick it out, to the bitter end, hoping for that payoff or punchline or last laugh…and the movies that don’t deliver are odious to me.  They are my enemies for life.  I’m not saying they are bad, mind you; I can recognize quality even in movies that I loathe.  Technically, if it has a happy ending, it’s a comedy.  But I want a laugh riot, and not all movies deliver.

Worst of all, for me, is a movie that is touching.   If I wanted a movie to make me cry, I’d watch Angels in America.  All the laughs in the world are not worth the misery if you have told me what I’m getting is a comedy.  The best and worst director for me is Judd Apatow.  Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and The Critic, have nearly endless repeat watchability for me.  I laugh every time.  A couple of others (Superbad, The 40 Year Old Virgin) are borderline — lots of yuks, but enough painful moments to create a significant approach-avoidance conflict.  As we head toward the “I Thought This Was A Comedy Why Am I Crying Hell No I Don’t Want You Touching Me There” territory, we have Knocked Up, Get Him to the Greek, and now:  Bridesmaids.

In Bridesmaids, the main character is an obnoxious loser whose best friend has been cultivating a flawless replacement bestie along with a rich fiancee.  Things continue to go horribly wrong for our loathesome heroine, and she continues to screw up in ever more awful ways.  She manages to lose her job, alienate her wonderful new boyfriend, and go stark, staring nuts as the movie progresses.  The loony girl, Melissa McCarthy, jumps in to her rescue, and stands in as the new best friend long enough to get the loser back on her feet so she can get her “real” best friend back, at which time she is promptly forgotten.  The  implausible ending involves dumping her fuck buddy, making friends with the bestie who replaced her, returning to Friend #1 with her with her original best friend, becoming girlfriend to her boyfriend, and starting up a new business even though she is dead broke and failed at it once.  Then Wilson Phillips comes out and and sings their tired single, now a Classic Oldie, while all the ladies spaz out and hit air drums out of time to the music.

Kristen Wiig proved she can carry a movie; she did a great job at the dramatic parts as well as the comedy.  Maya Rudolph is amazingly talented and she was completely wasted here.  (They also didn’t mention, write in, or refer to her pregnancy, which often is pertinent to weddings, dress fittings, etc.)  The supporting cast was excellent, and Melissa McCarthy stole the show.  But the script!  All that pain, stress, and general agita was not worth the few paltry laughs.  That poor woman hit bottom and bounced, and mugging for the camera during valiant attempts not to go under and give up does not a comedy make.  Anyone who thinks watching people suffer is hilaaarious should have his head checked.  Even if you feel empathy for the characters and are moved by their plights, do you enjoy having a director try to make you cry?  I don’t.  So this movie might be great for some, but not for me.

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