“If it weren’t for the brief respite we give the world with our foolishness, the world would see mass suicide in numbers that compare favourably with the death rate of lemmings.” – Groucho Marx
In the 21st Century comedy based media takes its place as a dominative force within consumer culture and entertainment. Comedic television, movies and music are in abundance but what purpose do these serve within the wider spectrum of modern society? Freud wrote extensively about comedy and its relation to the unconscious, over a hundred years ago. But to what extent is todays emotive and technological idiosyncrasies processed through humour?
Here are 5 comedies that deal with life: its ups, its downs, its turns and speed bumps through the art of humour.
1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Watching The Royal Tenenbaums is akin to watching a small child being given a goldfish to learn about death. But instead of one goldfish there are fifteen, they all dress incredibly well and live in New York.
The myriad of emotional and interweaving backstories mixed with the films pace, writing and plot development feels like watching some grow up in front of your eyes. This movie doesn’t scream 21st century but is most defiantly made for an internet generation, longing for sincere nostalgia and something tangible to chew on. The laughs from this film aren’t snorting uncontrollable fits, but chuckles that develop with every watch as you grow warmer with every view.
Four Lions (2010)
As people cower with anxiety about literally anything on the tube in London, writer/ director Chris Morris made a comedy satire about terrorists trying to blow up Boots the chemist and taking a Kebab shop hostage. The film feels ever more important as Islamaphobia has become a prevalent hot topic amongst internet politics and click bait Facebook articles. The film takes this very loaded subject and derives slapstick from it. Neither mocking Muslims or individual acts of terrorism, but sidesplittingly rejigs the warped outlook and attention that the media and press too often prescribe to Muslims in the UK.
Another movie which proves a film can be set within a previous era but most definitely be a product for a current audience. Set amongst a bleak backdrop of Swansea in Wales, during an ambiguous era (1970’s or 80’s possibly), we follow Oliver as he deals with love interests, self esteem and most importantly his parents withering marriage. In a society where divorce has become an anomalous by product of marriage, Submarine is not about relationships directly. But shows the mechanisms and intricacies of what its like to be a young person dealing with puberty, self esteem and balancing the sporadic pitfalls of life. Submarine’s characters speak to the viewer through their individual ticks, choice of phrase and relatable flaws – making the movie that much easier to resonate with.
Team America: World Police (2004)
As a film Team America is bursting with critiques of the 21st Century. Most obviously is its political satire and parody. Trey Parker and Matt Stone aren’t creators that shy away from absurdity or surrealism, and have used those canons to target todays political figures, A list actors and film industry tropes. Aside from politics, theres the gleaming shine of whitened teeth and tanned skin that we have become inundated by thanks to endless blockbuster movies. Parker and Stone miniaturise the over saturation of Hollywood movies with no plot and bad acting – by having the entire cast of the film played by marionettes. Genius.
Obvious Child (2014)
After endless features staring white ‘funny men’ its great to see women being cast for these types of roles. Especially as the film deals with such an important and current issue, abortion and pro-choice. These topics make for great subject matter in filmmaking, as long as they are handled intelligently. Also allowing for discussion without arrogance or ignorance. Obvious Child is a product of a wave of filmmaking that will surely continue to exist as long as there are smart and creative filmmakers pursuing and spreading messages of equality, diversity and positive representation.
So as your troubles and tribulations take up space in your calendar and force tears from your eyes, sit down in a nice comfy chair with a drink of your choice. Put on a couple of movies, and watch others deal with their squabbles and pain, and laugh it all off.