Redefining Comedy with Timeless Favorites
There has to be a ground breaking start with every well loved director or writer of comedy. That beloved status is usually obtained by breaking down all the barriers separating their intended audiences by providing us with side splitting comedy and a few audible Awwws! as the films’ characters progression feels true.
Here’s a look at three Ground Breaking Comedies who challenge us at all possible levels of social acceptance and make us laugh all the way through;
We start with director Amy Heckerling, best known by thirty somethings as the writer of Clueless, but before she was making Alicia Silverstone a household name, she gave the Griswolds a run for their Pig in a Poke money with National Lampoon’s European Vacation, released in 1985. Ellen Griswolds racy version of Big Spender with Clark filming, leads to the first suggestion a marital sex tape. After promising he would erase it, before anyone could see it we have learned our first lesson.
1. Lies and committed relationships don’t mix. Beverly D’Angelo was certainly not June Cleaver, she stood out as Clark’s (Chevy Chase) constant companion and defender through his well intentioned but never well thought out vacation plans. Scheduled but never confirmed, Clark manages to exude every negative American stereotype, while making us laugh and being a rock for his wife Ellen to cling to. Her stand by your man philosophy instantly changed the moment she sees herself, in all her sexually suggestive glory, on a billboard outside a cafe in France from their homemade porno flick entitled The Hot Wet Slut.
Ellen Griswald went from exhausted wife and mother to an offended schoolgirl as she screams ; “I’m leaving you, Clark!” Even after her impossible declaration, she comes to her senses too late in the hotel room to overcome the circumstances she has fallen victim to. It takes Ellen getting kidnapped by a french scoundrel and Clark eventually coming to the rescue for Ellen to forgive her husband and reunite with her children.
This was a surprising pg-13 rated comedy, considering this was the 80s, featuring full frontal nudity, underage drinking, and sexual themes all crammed in a family based film. It proved women directors could break all the rules while providing entertainment and lessons of the heart too, which brings us zooming through the decades to lesson and comedy number;
2. Be wary of who you expose yourself to. In Judd Apatow’s hit emotional barrier busting 2005 comedy The Forty Year Old Virgin, we begin with upbeat and independent male virgin, Andy (Steve Carell). Throughout the film the attentive stock room employee at a discount technical store has lots of boyhood hobbies and feminine trust issues.
His “dark” secret is announced to all by attending a poker game at the insistence of his new crew. After the guys let their guards down, with alcohol and testosterone fueled conversational points, his inability to describe the female anatomy accurately brings an awakening of exactly why he was the enigma of the group.
“It’s because he hasn’t had some she-devil sucking the life force out of him.” says David (Paul Rudd) later as they go through great hysterical pains to get Andy to lose his virginity and mature into the rest of the group. Although Andy tries faithfully each and every suggestion with the very best of intentions, it’s his heart, undeniable good qualities and instincts that leads him to his first sexual partner. His new wife, Trish (Catherine Keener), who happens to be a young forty something grandmother with trust issues in the opposite sex too.
3. Strong female characters can be brilliant and totally clueless too. Nothing brings out an estrogen fueled meltdown like being the maid of honor in an unfamiliar wedding party and social group. It’s a thankless position, where your best friend is branching out and transitioning while life seems to be breaking down for you.
Kristen Wiig, as the writer and star of the 2011 comedy shocker Bridesmaids, was not afraid to reach into the depths of the great comedy bowl to express what a sluggish economy and social life can do to you. As a former baker and house mate of socially awkward siblings, Annie is independent but unable to be emotionally supportive as she struggles to find her new groove..
It takes fellow bridesmaid Megan (Melissa Mc Carthy) through aggressive tactics and a few well placed slaps to get Annie to fight to recclaim her independent identity and join in on life too. By the end of the movie, all the gag reflex inspired antics gave us a resolution we could live with, Annie being emotionally engaged with a supportive new male friend too.
These three comedies didn’t just stop at prat falls and bathroom humor or sex appeal to land their laughs and punchlines. They provided us with rich emotional landscapes to delve into by taking our emotional responses to the extremes with raucous sexual antics, then easing off the uncomfortable tension with characters audiences can relate to. These imfamous comedies redefined the world of unabridged comedy by giving us unfettered and in all ways fresh access to laughs and thought provoking commentary too.
(referenced by imdb for continuity)