Last night I watched the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time. I happen to enjoy subtle dark humor. If that’s your slice of pie, this movie is a masterpiece. It is perfect. In terms of being subtly hilarious, I can’t think of a better movie example. It’s also dark in that it deals with the end of the world, but chooses to focus on the trivial complaints and worries people have. That is the human condition, to avoid the serious and focus on the trivial. We focus on the trivial as a way of coping with a darker reality.
The problem I have with a lot of comedies is effort. It seems the more visible effort that goes into a joke the worse it is. I choose the word “visible” because very funny jokes still require a lot of effort and work put into them, but most of that work is underneath the surface. The difference is that when you can see someone is visibly putting a lot of effort into a joke or trying to make a joke deliberately, it isn’t quite as funny. It’s much more funny if the humor comes off as effortless or is the result of a serious situation. The latter is where Wes Anderson movies derive a lot of their humor, from serious people in ridiculous situations. Those movies tend to produce the heavier laughs (to me) than the Adam Sandler/Kevin James schtick.
In the movie It’s a Disaster, almost all of the humor stems from how people deal with serious situations. The whole subtext of the movie is that it’s the end of the world, therefore anything they do which doesn’t have a serious tone has a sense of humor to it. The awkwardness of everything makes for running humor throughout the whole movie. David Cross going for the knock on the door and hitting air, as seen in the trailer below, is quietly hilarious. A man on a third date, wanting to impress his new date, is now faced with the end of the world. So much of the humor is based on the people, the relationships, and how they essentially react like children when faced with a serious situation, which is probably what most people would do.
Off the top of my head, I can only recall referential humor being used once. It was a hilarious reference to LOST, but fairly quick and non-consequential if you haven’t seen the show. Referential humor is like a perishable fruit. Eventually there’s an expiration date on the humor as the references fade into obscurity.
The movie is not for everyone, as pretty much nothing good is. It won’t make $100 million in theaters (or maybe even $10 million), but it’s a comedy masterpiece.