Monday, November 2, 2009

Year One: Too Many Straight Men

Year One had the potential to be one of the funniest comedies of the year, maybe even the decade. It had a director renowned for great comedies. Writers from 'The Office'? Yes, please. Charismatic leads who, yes, aren't necessarily everybody's cup of comedy tea but put on a good show if that's the show you want, in addition to cameos left and right by long time favorites and fresh-faced newbies? How many cooks did this kitchen need, right? 

The answer was "less." The Year One kitchen needed nearly no cooks by comparison to the number of cooks they actually had. It didn't suffer from the funny cooks, though. It was the cook playing it straight who destroyed the souffle. 

"Drop a couple comedians into a ridiculous situation and wait for the magic to happen" must have been Year One's mantra. The mantra didn't work. Year One was never graced by the hand of any wizard, or sorceress, or warlock. It was cursed and damned, and I blame the writing. The writing was supposed to be one of the pluses. Way to go, writing. 

A script calling for as much exposition as Year One is doomed to be boring. When an action scene takes up an insufferable ten minutes of the movie relying on the comedic timing of its performers something has gone amiss. The most upsetting fault in the script is the many scenes of straight men talking to straight men. 

Straight men exist to carry the story forward when they aren't playing punching bags and assisting with punch lines for the heroes of the story: the clowns. Year One had an ample amount of clowns, but clowns consistently overshadowed by the gloomy, boring straights. Whole scenes take place with the straight men setting up story points not even convolutedly contributing to the humor. Look back as far as The Marx Brothers and you'll see that a straight man isn't doing its job if the clowns aren't victoring the straight spoils. 

Straight men ruined Year One. Poor comedic timing and a misuse of comedies helped. Harold Ramis should have paid more attention, and the actors should have given a little more effort. They all got paychecks and I'm poor because I wasted my money on them. Why am I talking about it now? Because you're such a good friend.

 - Eric T. Voigt

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