Dark Comedy

Harold and Maude (1971)

Film #2: Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold and Maude is a classic “dark comedy” by director Hal Ashby. Harold (Bud Cort) is a taciturn young adult with a macabre interest in staging suicides for his oppressive mother (Vivian Pickles – yeah, for real). While attending funerals of strangers, he meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), an eccentric octogenarian whose philosophy is to live life to the fullest. A relationship develops, and Harold finally begins to find happiness in life through Maude’s relentless carpe dieming. While his mother and veteran uncle try to move him toward a life of stable responsibility, Harold gets it in his head that he wants to marry Maude. Unfortunately for him, her plans for the future don’t coincide with his.

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Kick-Ass (2010)

Amidst the present-day cinemascape of mega-budget comic book movies comes Kick-Ass, ready to satire the genre by asking the question “What would happen if an average guy took it upon himself to be a superhero?”

It’s an enticing premise, to be sure, something I’ve wondered myself many times before. Kick-Ass, directed by Matthew Vaughn (who also directed one of my all-time favorite films, Layer Cake), is a hip and violent movie that seems like a comic book lovechild of Tarantino and Kevin Smith (There are even a few Pulp Fiction references to boot).

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Meet the Feebles (1989)

Before he directed a film that tied the record for most Academy Awards ever won, Peter Jackson was making low-budget splatter films. I’ve seen the two films that came before and after Meet the Feebles (Brain Dead and Bad Taste), and they were both unabashed gorefests. Meet the Feebles is Jackson’s second film, sprawling forth from his mind in 1989, and it takes a similar “anything goes” approach as those two horror films. This movie is relentlessly gory and crass: there is unfiltered sex, violence, vulgarity, drug use, sexually transmitted infections, and coprophilia. And the icing on this cake of depravity is that all of these acts are performed by muppets, like some twisted distant relatives of Jim Henson’s family-friendly troupe.

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Death to Smoochy (2002)

When I was in high school, I caught Death to Smoochy on Comedy Central one time and fell in love. It continued to be one of my favorite comedies in my pre-collegiate days, but since coming to university I have never rewatched it. I decided to cast my newly trained critical eye on it, hoping that one of my youthful joys wouldn’t disintegrate under more sophisticated scrutiny. The end result of this test is that, while I can see the flaws that so many other critics lambaste the movie for, it remains a guilty pleasure.

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Teeth (2007)

After watching Jennifer’s Body, I decided to watch Teeth, a film made the previous year of the same genre as Diablo Cody’s disaster. Whereas Jennifer’s Body tries to force its humor and hipness onto the audience, Teeth is confident enough in its story to remain entirely tongue-in-cheek and let the viewers laugh by themselves.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

The other week I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a tongue-in-cheek neo-noir starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. I had seen it once before and liked it a lot, and I liked it almost as much the second time through.

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