Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Good Comedy Is Hard to Find...

...and it's even harder to find a good black comedy. Except for the immensely quotable/rewatchable Burn After Reading, the last five years haven't offered me much to enjoy when it comes to dark comedies. About 99% of the people on the Internet seemed to love In Bruges, but I found it thoroughly vile. In the Loop was a mixed bag: it had some hilarious moments, for sure, but at times veered into the "shouting profanities is automatically funny, right?" territory, which annoys me. It must also be said that it felt very much like an unusually long sitcom episode (it's a spin-off of the BBC series The Thick of It and the same people are now making Veep on HBO). Four Lions seemed to have its share of fans, but fell totally flat for me. Also, like In the Loop, it couldn't have been much less cinematic. John Michael McDonagh's The Guard at least managed to be significantly better than either of his brother's films, but faded quite fast from my memory. And last year, Bachelorette a.k.a. The Mean Bridesmaids was basically devoid of any humor, while Martin McDonagh cemented his status as one of my most disliked filmmakers with his In Bruges follow-up Seven Psychopaths.

And then there's Sightseers by Ben Wheatley, a director whose two previous films I haven't seen, but which IMDb synopses give off a worrisome McDonagh vibe. It's one of those rare films about which I knew nothing going in, other than what the title and poster imply and a vague recollection of having read that it was very well received in the UK.

Sightseers is about Tina and Chris, a newish thirtysomething couple who (after Tina's overbearing mother has done her best to stop them) embarks on a road trip in Chris's caravan. At first, I was a bit worried that the whole hour and a half would be about whether Tina finds out Chris's secret, i.e. his habit of killing people whom he finds obnoxious ("He's not a person, he's a Daily Mail reader."). Fortunately, Sightseers is more complicated than that. Tina does indeed find out, and then comes to realize that she can vent her own frustrations by becoming the anorak-wearing Bonnie to Chris's caravan aficionado Clyde. One can only hope that the wait for the next genuinely clever, funny black comedy will be shorter than the four years between Burn After Reading and Sightseers.

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