Where Are All The Laughs?

I confess a weakness for vulgar humor, which is probably why I liked both Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and, even more so, Role Models. I tend not to worry much about the explosion of vulgar comedy — it’s just locker-room talk. But what I do worry about, at least a little, is that, when it comes to big-screen comedy, there’s so little else, or at least so little else that’s actually funny. Sure, there are plenty of by-the-numbers romantic comedies and ho-hum kid flicks. Adam Sandler reliably churns out 100 minutes or so of dumb jokes every year. But these all strike me as purely efforts to cash in, rather than real efforts as clever, innovative comedy. The Apatow crew and its imitators don’t always succeed, of course, and their efforts are starting to feel awfully familiar — but I at least get the sense that they’re all relatively serious about being genuinely, memorably funny. You still see this on TV, of course, but at the movies, such efforts seem to be few and far between. So what you’re left with is a lot of clever heart-on-its-sleeve vulgarity. I like that a lot, of course, but wouldn’t it be nice if there were something else?