Friday, April 3, 2020

Confusion.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Theme: Humor in film -- what makes me laugh:


Confusion.

One Sunday morning as we traveled in our car during a Utah winter, I shivered and complained about the frigid temperature. My husband said, "Don't worry, it'll be plenty hot where you are going."

I thought he meant I was going to hell!

But as it turned out, he was referring to the care center where we were headed to visit elderly residents with their thermostats cranked high.

Confusion makes for great comedy!

Many of the movies with Jerry Lewis use confusion for laughs. For one example, in Artists and Models (1955) his character, Eugene, sees a woman who's been modeling as The Bat Lady--the heroine in his favorite comic book--and is so flabbergasted he hurries back to the apartment to tell Rick (Dean Martin). In his confusion, he goes to the wrong floor, enters the wrong door and awakens a heavy-set woman. When he finally reaches his apartment and rapidly tells Rick about the happenings, it gets confusing... is he talking about the Bat Lady or the Fat Lady? Click here for that funny scene.

The confusing mix-ups throughout Oscar (1991) make me laugh every time! Angelo "Snaps" Provolone (Sylvester Stallone) promises his dying father that he will quit the gangster business and lead an honest life. Hilarity races through this movie and it's hard to keep up with who is who and what is what. One of Snaps' thugs, Connie (Chazz Palminteri), experiences frequent confusion. Watch this 41-second clip and you'll get what I mean.... I think.

Do you have a favorite movie or scene with a confused character?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Breaking the fourth wall.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Theme: Humor in film -- what makes me laugh: 


Breaking the fourth wall.

When a character in George of the Jungle (1997) argues with the narrator, that's breaking the fourth wall, and it cracks me up. (See the short clip.)

I think I first learned about the "fourth wall" while watching Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. In one sketch (as I recall, and not verbatim), Jerry was in a jail cell. Dean was on the outside, talking to someone when suddenly Jerry was next to him. Dean asks, "How did you get out?" And Jerry responds, "Easy, I went through the fourth wall!"

Filmmakers generally keep the camera, lighting, crew and the process of filmmaking behind the scenes... creating an illusion. But in some comedies, ignoring the imaginary wall between the characters and the audience--breaking the fourth wall--creates a great comedic surprise.

Mel Brooks uses that method in several of his films, but my favorite is High Anxiety (1977) with the hilarious use of the camera making the audience remember this is a movie. For instance, a scene where the camera position begins with an exterior shot where the audience can see from a distance towards glass French doors of a building. The camera moves closer... nothing unusual for a film viewing experience... so the audience gets a better look at a group of people around a dining table. But the camera moves even closer and breaks through the glass of the door! The characters turn to see what happened, and then resume their meal as the camera backs slowly away. Such a funny scene! (Click here for the clip.)

For fun, you can browse through an IMDb list of movies that break the fourth wall (found here). It's not all-inclusive, but it might remind you of those funny moments when the movie reminded you it was just, well... a movie.

Is there a funny breaking-the-fourth-wall scene you'd like to share?


(P.S. ... I wrote an academic essay about the comedic use of the camera in High Anxiety for a Comedy Film class. I shared it on this blog several years ago. You can find it here.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Awkward situations.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Theme: Humor in film -- what makes me laugh:


Awkward situations.

Put me in an awkward situation in real life and I will squirm with discomfort, but seeing it in the movies? That's a laughing matter!

Consider the scene in Two Weeks Notice (2002) when Lucy (Sandra Bullock) desperately needs a restroom while stuck in a traffic jam. George's (Hugh Grant) solution involves leaving the vehicle and rushing her to a ramshackle RV spotted far ahead of them to beg use of the toilet. Lucy is mortified, and her awkward situation provides a great comedic scene! (Clip found here.)

And can you imagine going back in time and meeting your mother as a teenager... and she seems to be making the moves on you? Awkward! (Back to the Future, 1985). (Click here for that scene.)

In Roxanne (1987) (loosely based on Rostand's story of Cyrano de Bergerac), a new-to-the-station firefighter, Chris (Rick Rossovich) has been warned that the Chief (Steve Martin) gets violent when anyone brings attention to the size of his nose. Here's the awkward situation when Chris sees that nose for the first time...

Movieclips: Hypnotic Nose - Roxanne

I watched an edited version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987). Oh my goodness, awkward moments abound in that film. If I had to choose a favorite, though, it would be the scene where Neal (Steve Martin) and Del (John Candy) share a motel room with only one bed.

Movieclips: Those aren't pillows!

The entire scene from when they awaken snuggled together to where Neal rinses his face with dirty water (Del's socks are soaking in the sink) and dries off with huge whitey tighties... the awkwardness of it all makes me laugh.

Do you have a favorite awkward situation portrayed in film?

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

2020 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Theme Reveal

Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge 2020 badge


Humor in film -- what makes me laugh.

Once again I selected a theme that I need... this time it's laughter!

In last year's "L" post (found here) I shared, "Negative thoughts plague me more than I want to admit, and laughter is a natural anti-depressant. 'Why I watch movies (as if I need a reason)...' well, because I need laughter."

Most of the movies I will reference during the challenge will be comedies, of course, but also a few dramas and action flicks because they use spots of humor--comic relief--to give the audience a break from the tension.

Life needs comedic breaks, too.

Charlie Chaplin said, "Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot."

And a woman I greatly admire, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, quipped, "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache."

Perhaps what makes me laugh will tickle your funny-bone, too... so, follow along in April as I discuss the A to Z's of humorous elements in film.



Note: This is my sixth consecutive year of joining the April A to Z challenge!  Click here for links to all of my A to Z posts.