The Comedy

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Terence Gavish

4 comments

  • rob 2 years ago
    53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Bleak, aimless, horrifying, and often beautiful, October 24, 2012
    By 
    rob (somewhere in the south) –

    This review is from: The Comedy (Amazon Video)

    You probably aren’t reading this unless you already know a fair amount about this film and also know that its impossible-to-Google title is an “ironic” misnomer. If I may quote Sundance program guy Trevor Groth on The Comedy: “It’s a provocation, a critique of a culture based at its core around irony and sarcasm and about ultimately how hollow that is.”

    Unfortunately, I find I cannot agree at all with Mr. Groth’s summary. Casting Tim Heidecker as the lead in a movie with that intended message would be like someone in the late 1960s making a propaganda film on how electric guitar is a regressive scourge upon Western music, then using nothing but extensive concert footage of Jimi Hendrix to “make” their point.

    No, if The Comedy has any central message– and I am not sure that it does– it’s a more general existential message, not just a cautionary tale for unfeeling 4chan addicts and other self-made high-functioning sociopaths of our time.

    I’m not a trust fund baby like Heidecker’s character in The Comedy. But the older I get here in the oh-so-privileged West, the more I think and the more I learn and the more I live, the harder it becomes to ignore the emptiness and futility of modern life and existence itself, and to continue functioning… heck, even *pretending* to function in the context of such meaninglessness.

    The central characters in The Comedy have reached the same conclusion, but have the further luxuries of endless spare time and being able to buy their way out of any semi-reasonable situation that their antics might potentially cause. They live to entertain themselves and, having given up on any purpose to higher intellectual pursuits, have regressed almost entirely to the behavioral level of twelve-year-old boys. They are shallow, petty, and mean to each other; they treat other humans even worse. There’s no real effort made to show what holds this group of obnoxious hipster buddies together, and that’s possibly because there *is* nothing holding them together, at least beyond pure inertia and/or exhausted ennui.

    I’m not sure what exactly inspired Rick Alverson to make this movie, since in many ways it is as completely aimless and pointless as the characters about which it revolves… but I honestly cannot imagine this movie even being conceived without its lead actor being a central part of said conception from the get-go.

    That’s not precisely what you’d call a compliment, even though Heidecker is legitimately brilliant in the role, and I’m a huge fan of Tim and Eric besides. Any other huge T&E fans who have watched these guys, particularly Tim, cultivate their ultimate-a****** personae to perfection in interview footage over the last few years will find few surprises in The Comedy.

    After all, that’s Heidecker’s role: a completely insufferable, unwatchable American grownup who has regressed into willfully inappropriate and wildly disrespectful behavior at every turn in daily life, with no motivation beyond generating cheap thrills for his own self-amusement. The whole movie is built around an amped-up version of a character Heidecker has already played in other venues over and over (to the point where I’m actually a little worried he might be *becoming* the horrific jerk he’s so fond of playing).

    The one big surprise is that, unlike the unrepentant horse’s patootie Heidecker so enjoys playing in various comedic-performance venues, you actually get to see a few cracks into the devastating loneliness and desperation of this character toward the end of The Comedy.

    And there’s the message of this movie, if– again– there is one at all. A guy in his mid-30s, effectively dead inside, having already discovered beyond a doubt that this is all there is, is still desperately hoping that this *isn’t* all there is. As he wanders in and out of increasingly ridiculous scenarios in an attempt to shock himself back out of numbness, he looks more and more at the lives of others who have not been so successful at deconstructing the myth of actual human meaning with simultaneous envy and longing.

    In one of the movie’s final scenes (no spoilers, promise!), he briefly flirts with one of the most popular means of attaining a false sense of meaning for contemporary middle-class Americans in their 30s and beyond. It’s the only time his on-screen behavior isn’t reprehensible in the entire movie. It’s also the first time in the entire film that his character appears to be legitimately happy, however fleetingly or falsely.

    I’ve missed a few movies in the last few years, I’m sure, but I’ve not seen a movie this likely to push a viewer into extended weeks-long depression since The Wrestler. At least Mickey Rourke’s character in The Wrestler seemed to have *one* reason for being. Not exactly a must-see movie, and certainly not for everyone (not even T&E fans, who tend to skew somewhat younger in general…

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  • Jeremy 2 years ago
    24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    On Ennui, October 24, 2012
    By 
    Jeremy

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Comedy (Amazon Video)
    The first reviewer (Rob) has written intelligently about The Comedy already, and I’d like to direct those interested toward his comments.

    I do take issue, though, with some of his phrasing. I’d like to modify his “aimless” to “seemingly aimless” and his “pointless” to “quite pointed.” The Comedy is actually satisfyingly symmetrical. Four key scenes illustrate this symmetry: the nurse/father scene at the beginning and the nurse/stranger in hospital scene at the end, plus the ride back from the boat with the party/Hitler girl at the beginning versus the ride back from the boat with Kate Lyn Sheil’s waitress toward the end. I don’t know that this structural balance shows an evolution in the character as much as it shows an evolution in the audience’s understanding of the character. I love this technique and I love this movie.

    Tim Heidecker knocks it loose as Swanson, and for all the hubbub about his “squirm-inducing” (or whatever) behavior, it’s his silences and his subtle facial tics that really deliver the character. There’s guilt and longing galore in this movie, and it’s all in Heidecker’s expressions and silences. To refer again to Rob’s solid comment/review, I’m not so sure this movie is for the cynical and jaded. It’s for those on the brink of cynicism–it’s perhaps a buoy for them to gauge how far gone they are. No one thought Jonathan Swift really wanted to eat babies, and I’m not so sure anyone should think Swanson wants to guzzle beer all day and harass cab drivers.

    I love this movie for its relevance–for its exploration of 21st Century ennui, and for ultimately offering scenes of hopefulness. Anyone who’s ever felt detached (on purpose or otherwise) should give this one a try.

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  • K. Harris 2 years ago
    74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    An Immeasurably Charming French Rom-Com That Melted My Heart Despite Its Lightweight And Predictable Plotting, March 21, 2012
    By 
    K. Harris (StudioCityGuy33 at Yahoo dot com) –
    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)
      
    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)
      

    This review is from: Romantics Anonymous (DVD)
    I have somewhat conflicted feelings about the French trifle “Romantics Anonymous.” As a quirky romantic comedy, the film plays out exactly as you might anticipate. From a plotting standpoint, it offers little new. And yet, the film and its stars are just so likable and, dare I say, charming. Despite my intellectual reservations and the feeling that I’d seen this narrative a hundred times, I still was completely won over by the movie’s eccentric sweetness. Is it a great movie? Is it a classic I will reflect on in a dozen years? Perhaps not. But for now, I will put aside my cynicism and admit it. I loved “Romantics Anonymous!” There, I’ve said it and I won’t be ashamed any longer. My brain tells me this is a four star movie, but my heart is going all out with the highest recommendation. It’s sweet, funny, and just odd enough to seem refreshingly different. And did I mention how charming it was? Maybe I’ve grown soft in my old age.

    Jean-Pierre Ameris’ film introduces us to a pair of central characters with enough quirks and nervous tics to make one wonder how they’ve achieved any success in the modern world. When playing up movie eccentricity, many comedy films overburden their story lines with contrivance. “Romantics Anonymous” walks a fine line without disengaging the audience, and this dance of social ineptitude delivers genuine sweetness and amusement. Benoit Poelvoorde plays the head of a chocolate factory that has fallen on hard times. In addition to his business dilemma, he is battling an inability to really connect with others in a meaningful way. Isabelle Carre plays a talented candy maker riddled with shyness and an emotional sensitivity that causes her to “feel too much.” When she gets a job at the factory, might she be its unwitting savior? Might the two be soul mates? Can love conquer all? I don’t suppose any of the answers will come as a major surprise.

    And yet, the movie is all but irresistible. Carre is an absolute delight as she tries to conquer her hesitancy with self affirmations and songs. It’s an astute comedic performance. And Poelvoorde brings a necessary relatability to his role. As written, it is a role that could have been quite alienating, but I was always rooting for this troubled duo to push past the manufactured barriers of their relationship. Even though the film took me down a very familiar path, it was a journey that was well worth taking. If you like this type of film, “Romantics Anonymous” takes a tired premise and makes it seem new again. A smart script and winning performances distinguish this from the pack. KGHarris, 3/12.

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  • Tea&BookLover 2 years ago
    48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    What a beautiful film!, August 22, 2012
    By 
    Tea&BookLover (Boston, MA) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Romantics Anonymous (DVD)
    Five minutes into this film and I just knew I was going to buy it.

    The lead characters are very likable. As are the supporting characters. It is beautifully made and it keeps a very ‘light and bright’ atmosphere throughout. The storyline is entertaining and different. Not your average ‘meet and fall in love’ movie.

    We found ourselves laughing several times throughout the movie.

    Since it is rated NR for now, I will let you know there is no nudity. There is one semi-sex scene in the movie when the lead character walks into her apartment and two visitors are using her apartment. No nudity, but a few seconds of sexual noise and action. Not enough that I didn’t let my teen watch it. I say all that just in case there are parents who are wondering about the NR rating and allowing their children to see it.

    I was sad when the movie ended because it was such a happy carefree movie to watch. Very enjoyable!

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