Friday, January 12, 2007

Brit Popculture.

Billy Liar
1963, UK
John Schlesinger
DVD



The British sense of humor is a difficult thing to define, primarily because it doesn’t seem to exist. The Brits have a sense of the absurd, certainly, as evidenced by Monty Python and Tony Blair, and they do pronounce things amusingly, but if those were the sole criteria for being funny, we'd all be listening to stand up recordings of people from Alabama reading from university textbooks. Still, it seems to be quite popular among older white parents and kids who like calculus. That's not to say that early 60s British comedy Billy Liar isn't a good movie. With its childlike play between fantasy and reality, childhood and maturity, this story of a creative but flighty young man with a Peter-Pan-complex toys between being lighthearted and tragic, like a conversation with me when I haven't been taking my Lithium. But the real highlight of the film is its rapid-fire, improvisational dialogue. American comedies of the same period were all weighty, clunky affairs, every joke telegraphed and the plot so constructed it feels like it was directed by cranes. Even now, I picture most Hollywood comedies as being helmed by some boorish, whiskey-fattened lout, as if James Belushi has been behind the camera of every movie ever made. So while Billy Liar never made me laugh, it never made me want to give up laughing for fear the sound might carry on a southerly blowing wind current and encourage a sequel to Beer Fest. I've actually been on a humor strike since they cancelled Futurama, replacing it with the preening excuse for a post-football drinking game that is Family Guy. Did Stewie say something as if he were a cross between James Mason and Hitler? Take another shot of Jagermeister, frat boy. But don't drink too much! You'll want to be able to remember enough to quote the whole fucking thing in the back of Early American Literature class, should your voice be too hoarse to do a good impression of Cartman from South Park.



Comic genius. I hope Chris Farley plays him in the feature film. In hell.




In fact, what's even the point in smiling? And I say that not because I've spent too much money on Joy Division CDs. It's just that trying to find a good comedy is like finding a virgin at a Peaches concert; it takes a really long time, and once you finally succeed, you've forgotten how to either laugh or tie a ball gag, depending on which stream of metaphor you're following. There hasn't been a funny movie made since 1993, when Army of Darkness reached a zenith in comedic genius and set up the inevitable long decline that follows such a lofty peak. And now, as we wallow in the rut left behind by such mighty giants as Army of Darkness and Billy Liar, we can only let the facial muscles atrophy as we watch humor fade away, leaving us only with reruns of Three's Company and ball gag jokes.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Rin said...

Films just aren't funny anymore. I've been relying on Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm, but my DVDs are slowly getting worn. I think I might start watching wrestling again. Anything involving Vince is a guaranteed success.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Rin said...

Saying that Bad Santa was almost flawless. And Willie has taken over Jake Gittes as character I most aspire to be.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Drek said...

Don't fret too much, there is a Futurama movie in the works.

I saw Mysterious Skin a little
while ago and it was hilarious in some scenes. Does that count?

7:00 PM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

I heard the sequel "Ash Pederast" wasn't very funny either.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous lk said...

"...primarily because it doesn’t seem to exit" - I think you meant to use "exist" for "exit"

Agreed, Army of Darkness was awesome

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Baron Zemo said...

Honestly, Army of Darkness?

Try Idiocracy, if you want something new. It dares to ask the question "Whycome?"

10:15 PM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

OK, first Korvac and now Baron Zemo (Yeah...nice pink mask and fur collar Zemo. Queer.)....

If that fucker Arnim Zola or that windbag MODOK shows up I'm outta here.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I'm getting menaced by Captain America villains. This is a new low.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous broadzilla said...

I don't think Captain America is going to be in any great hurry to come to the aid of a Canadian, either.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous baron zemo said...

Sorry "Jerk", Helmut was way ahead of his time. How could you mistake a fushia mask,phallic ray guns, and an army of mandroids as "queer"?

Seems like someone has issues.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

Ok, sorry...he's "metrosexual". My mistake.

GEezus...mandroids. I forgot about those. I say we get Rob Halford to play Zemo in the Cap movie.

9:08 PM  
Blogger batturtle said...

There's gonna' be a sequel to Beer Fest!?!

12:03 AM  
Anonymous davis j. borderline urinary incontinence said...

batturtle, do you, or do you not realise that the british film industry is an abomination that must be annihilated with malice-a-fore-thought and extreme prejudice, i would like to hear what you think on this important subject. "DESTROY THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY NOW !!!".

6:43 PM  

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