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7 Comedies That Should Have Been Great (But Weren’t)

25 Aug

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There are some comedies that look terrible from the start. You see who’s in ’em, what they’re about and decide to keep your money in your pocket.

And then there are those comedies that emerge only once every few years. Not for them the lazy sequel, the last, spluttering breath of an exhausted franchise; no, these are actual funny jokes and well-rounded characters. And so, having watched the trailer a few hundred times, you excitedly tell your friends that this, this is the film that will restore their faith in cinema. They’re not convinced, so you throw around words like ‘edgy’ and ‘self-referential’ and tell them to stop rolling their eyes. This must have worked because, the next thing you know, there’s a ticket stub in your hand. You find your seat, slap a big, expectant grin on your face and prepare for the time of your life. But something isn’t quite right. Yeah,you’ve smirked a couple of times and maybe the odd line has raised a half-hearted chuckle…but is this really it? Where did all the funny go?

Maybe they squandered the perfect ensemble cast. Maybe they used up all their best lines in the trailer. Or maybe that much-hyped surprise cameo really wasn’t all that. Sure, you’ve been stung countless times in the past but for one reason or another, the seven examples below had duped you into thinking they were different. They’re by no means failures, just disappointments. Put simply, these are the films that sounded better in your head than they did on the screen.

Contains spoilers

7. Casa De Mi Padre

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Why It Should Have Been Great: Will Ferrell in a spoof of Latin American telenovelas, complete with melodramatic love scenes, deliberately shoddy effects and gloriously over the top shoot-outs? S , por favor! Following a stylish title sequence, Casa de mi Padre begins as a pitch-perfect parody. As the dim-witted ‘ranchero’ Armando Alvarez, Ferrell confounds expectations by leaving his shouty man-child schtick north of the border. Here, he’s surprisingly restrained. He’s even speaking Spanish.

Why It Wasn’t: Sadly, this wasn’t enough to distract us from the fact that, for all its B-movie affectations (continuity errors, terrible dialogue), the film was apparently more fun to write than it was to watch. As Armando sets out to rescue his brother’s girlfriend (G nesis Rodriguez) from a group of drug barons, we brace ourselves for a barrage of Mexploitation gags that never quite take shape. Instead, the film eschews jokes for a straightforward action story, meaning that the biggest laughs are mostly confined to the opening ten minutes. An early highlight sees gunmen lay waste to a wedding, sparking a showdown practically dripping with symbolism; yet such chaos cannot compete with the rival network melee in Anchorman, still Ferrell’s finest work.

Teetering somewhere between a spaghetti western and a swooning romance, the point doesn’t really stretch to eighty minutes and a strong start soon leads to an extended (and typically inconsistent) ‘Funny or Die’ sketch. Gael Garc a Bernal seems to enjoy playing against type – looking every inch the Mexican Tony Montana- but, in constantly reaching for his pistol, he inadvertently reflects the film’s tendency to miss more often than it hits.

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