I come to you as a prophet of doom. I have seen the future of comedy, and I think it might be bad. Maybe you haven’t noticed it yet, but our film comedian resources are quickly dwindling. We’re using the same comedians again and again, cycling them through movies every three to four months.
What’s worse is that we’re moving into a dangerous new area: fantasy comedy. Big budget fantasy comedy. We tried this in the past, and it’s never worked. It’s like using a nuke at a BBQ. It isn’t always the case, but it often is: the more money you spend on a comedy, the less funny it is. Special effects do not a comedy make.
The latest portent of our comedy doom: Gulliver’s Travels. Starring Jack Black, a seemingly omnipresent figure these days, the movie will also feature Jason Segel, another spookily omnipresent figure. And it promises to be a big special effects movie.
The good news – for American audiences – is that Chris O’Dowd has been cast as the villain. Who is Chris O’Dowd? Well, that’s the good news. He’s a British comedic actor – The IT Crowd, the upcoming FAQ About Time Travel – who is not yet overexposed in America. But he may be totally overexposed in the UK; I just have no idea.
Slashfilm caught the casting notice when O’Dowd appeared on a British talk show. Says the site:
Apparently, O’Dowd’s role is that of Edward, who will be the film’s
principle villain. Edward is engaged to Emily Blunt’s character, is a
wee bit of a bastard and has it in for Jack Black’s Gulliver and Jason
Segal’s buddy character. O’Dowd is currently under way with his horse
riding training, which might seem to suggest a trip to the Land of the
Houyhnhnms for some talking horse hijinks, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
But the rest of my warning stands: we must move away from big budget FX comedies. We must eschew story-free, character-barren comedies like Role Models and I Love You, Man (which are funny but are light as air) and we must find new faces to populate our comedy movies. Otherwise we’re going to turn back into the late 80s, early 90s, when the comedies that stalked our theaters were mostly terrible.