What is wrong with the world of comedy? 2011 has undoubtedly seen some of the worst mainstream comedies in recent memory, and it seems there is no end in sight. This past summer we were inundated with a glut of loud, obnoxious, arrogant, brash comedies that failed to arose the slightest hint of interest from either critics or audiences: The Change-Up, The Hangover: Part II, Hall Pass, Bad Teacher, Horrible Bosses. This past year’s films have been met with nothing but disappointment, disgust, and displeasure (granted, Horrible Bosses did inexplicably manage to receive strong critical response despite a rather meandering plot and boring characters). This summer’s comedies weren’t just bad or unfunny; they were something more: they were all just plain irritating.
I bring this up because there seems to be a shared affinity between these disparate, underachieving films. Yes, the actors and directors all seem to lack comedic timing, the actors themselves aren’t very funny, and the jokes are completely unoriginal (unless you consider bizarre pairings of expletives funny – “Fuck-knuckle” anyone?). All of these issues contribute to the films’ failures, but there is something much simpler, rather obvious, and quite mundane that is missing from these films: they are all unable to generate any audience empathy for their characters.