The Comedy is quite possibly the single most unfunny film I have ever seen. When I first saw the trailer for it a few weeks ago I was fascinated and somewhat intrigued, though I knew that it would be a harrowing experience to sit through. I was lucky in the sense that I was completely unfamiliar with Tim and Eric or LCD Soundsystem going into this film, so my perceptions of them didn’t exist to be ruined. I didn’t enjoy this movie on any level. This isn’t to say, however, that I disliked it or didn’t appreciate it. In the end, I can completely understand why people hate this movie. It just so happens that I do not.
Savage, intelligent, overbearing, cruel, irreverent…these are the words I’d pick when it comes to The Comedy. The opening sequences are horrifying, grating, disgusting, and nauseating. The creators aren’t stupid. They want us to feel these things. They’re like kids with a magnifying glass popping ants on a hot summer day. The problem is – we’re the ants. Going into this film without knowing that beforehand will result in…an unpleasant experience, involving drinking Tabasco sauce being blown up from the inside out.
|My sense of political correctness in this film.|
The film is aimless. It’s a wandering narrative that follows an over-privileged white guy from Williamsburg, Brooklyn as he tromps around New York City, trying to aggravate people into making him feel something. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Sounds like Borat attempting to be something intelligent. Well, yes and no. It’s got the same “He’s not gonna…he didn’t just…yes, yes he did” factor as Borat or Jackass, but instead of aiming to make us laugh, The Comedy aims to horrify us. It aims to shake us, to strike us, and demands our attention. The film is literally so angry that it’s seething. It’s foaming at the mouth.
Watching this film, I was aware of something happening. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it – and maybe I still haven’t put my finger on it at all, and I’m seeing fool’s gold in the river – but I knew it was there. It lurked just behind the scenes, just behind the utter abandonment of any sensical plot or story. It leered at me, and at that image made the information click. What I was witnessing was something genius. I was witnessing the unformed essence of all humor.
Let’s rewind a moment here. I’ve written a few times that the root of all humor is sadness, violence or cruelty. If I am correct about that, then what The Comedy really is is a pseudo-documentary about the unformed stuff that eventually gets turned into humor. It’s like the crude oil of all things funny – it’s the pain, the anger, the indifference, the cruelty and the…well, the disgusting goo that powers comedy.
To comment on the normal qualities that make up a film would probably be impossible and futile when it comes to The Comedy. The movie has no plot, the acting is less about acting and more about portraying particularly disgruntled “selves”. There is a character arc…sort of…but in the end we don’t particularly know where these characters begin, let alone where they end, so how are we supposed to gauge what happens in between?
|I know something important happened in this movie. I KNOW it.|
I don’t have all the answers. I doubt I have any, actually. I am almost as baffled by this film as most of the people were who wrote the reviews that I read. I don’t quite know what happened except that this film didn’t like me, and it didn’t really like anyone else, either. As a result, most people didn’t like it right back, but they at least appreciated the intelligence that went into it. I fall in with this group, I think – I appreciate this film and I found something important in it. I’m not quite sure what exactly I did find, but I know it was something. Like a gift wrapped in flypaper, this film gives me something that could be great, but I’m too offended and disgusted to open it up. For now, I’ll leave it on the shelf. Maybe later, I’ll come back and open it up. With scissors. Or a sword.
The Bottom Line: Abrasive, unpleasant, ugly and offensive, this film is worth a view. It makes unpleasant points, often about itself, but offers a real gift in terms of quality and photography.