What makes a comedy film great?
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Our library film group is viewing comedies this year -- a different one each month.
Last month, we watched the critics' Number 1 comedy of all time-- Some Like it Hot, made in 1958 and starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe. The premise of the film is that two male musicians, trying to escape from dangerous Mafia gang leaders, assume the role of women and join an all -female band on a trip to Florida. The comedy comes from all the humorous situations men can find themselves in while they are pretending to be females, from having cozy 'girl' time with Marilyn Monroe, to being flirted with by other men.
The movie we are seeing this coming week is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, (1988) starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin. The setting is beautiful -- the south of France -- and both stars play con men who swindle wealthy tourists - usually gullible American widows -- out of money, with stories of struggling kingdoms or sick grandmothers. Then along comes one particular woman, and both men compete to win her money. While their behavior in real life would be quite immoral, the light-hearted touch of the movie keeps us smiling -- and even laughing out loud at times.
This week, before I introduce the movie, I will begin a discussion about what makes a great comedy film. Our reaction to humor is a very personal response -- not everyone reacts to a movie in the same way.
Googling this topic produced some interesting responses, and from them, I came up with a list of my own.
For me, the following elements are important in any comedy film:
-- The film must have a well-constructed story that makes you care about the characters
-- There are well-defined characters with great actors to portray them
-- Smart, witty, and funny dialogue
-- A touch of absurdity - absurdity that is believable, realistic
-- The characters should not be in on the joke
For the most part, I do not enjoy the zany films where it is just one joke after another presented by the characters - without any real investment in the story.
I will ask the members of our audience to think about what is important to them in a comedy.
It will be interesting to hear what they have to say.
I would also love to hear anything my SP friends have to say about this topic.