I saw Sideways a while back, not long after it was released, after soooo many people told me it was The Funniest Movie They Had Ever Seen. These were people that I generally like and trust, so I eventually got the DVD, sat back and waited for the hilarity to unfold.
Sure - it was ... quite funny. Paul Giamatti as the bug-eyed, nerve-wracked obsessive in post marriage depressive melt-down was pretty good. The rest of the cast were OK - mainly unknowns, and - I gather a few ring-ins that they found in wine country while shooting the pic. It started as a low budget movie, but went on to be a cult hit - especially among the wine drinking fraternity. Also it reputedly led to a huge drop in the popularity of Merlot and a corresponding spike in Pinot Noir sales.
But over-all, it was mildly amusing, with the best comedic moments hinging on Giamatti's character. Not a lot of laugh out loud moments for me.
The Hangover had also been recommended by folks recently as The Funniest Movie They Had Ever Seen.
We watched it on the weekend. Again I was underwhelmed. Yeah - a bunch of guys end up in Vegas on a bachelor weekend and get an unexpected dose of Rohypnol with their shooters. The result is that they wake up - and the groom is gone, there's a tiger in the bathroom, a Chinese mobster wants $80,000 back and one of them is missing a tooth. I get the feeling that the writers started with that premise and then backward engineered the plot from then on. The characters stay very much one-dimensional and cartoonish. There is B grade acting, showing that the actors don't have the comic skills to pull off quirky characters - other than mugging for the camera.
I can't help thinking that both movies would have been far more successful if filmed by a British crew and cast - say in they style of Death at a Funeral, with some good eccentric character actors. The Poms do seem to do a good comic movie - even if it means seeing Colin Firth again...and again ...and again.
Not that I'm knocking USA comedy. In fact, there has been a reversal where USA sitcoms are funnier, sharper and more consistent than most of the Brit TV comedy dross. Shows like Scrubs, Malcolm In The Middle, Everybody Hates Chris, The Simpsons, Two And a Half Men, and the new Big Bang are brilliant.
Whereas the Brits throw up the odd gem like Black Books, Black Adder, Red Dwarf and The Office, most of the fave Britcoms are formulaic crud like One Foot In The Grave, and The Vicar Of Dibley.
Take heed America and Britain - stick to what you do best!!