We take a look at some of the best off-kilter comedies…
THE VOICES is released in Irish cinemas this week, and stars Ryan Reynolds as a man driven to murder… Because his cat tells him to. Director Marjane Satrapi has created a wonderfully dark and twisted film in THE VOICES, so we decided to take a look back at some of the best twisted comedies of recent years.
DEATH TO SMOOCHY
Not only is this one of Robin Williams’ most underrated films, DEATH TO SMOOCHY is often so off-kilter that all the audience can do is laugh. Williams stars as Rainbow Randolph, a kids’ TV show host who swears revenge after he is sacked for accepting bribes. Sheldon (Edward Norton) takes over the show as his alter ego Smoochy, and finds himself the target of Randolph’s misplaced, irrational and often hilarious hate. Williams and Norton shine in this twisted comedy that pits good against evil, right against wrong, and rainbows against rhinos.
HAROLD AND MAUDE
Harold (Bud Cort) is a young man obsessed with death, more specifically, Harold is obsessed with his own death, and regularly stages his own suicide, when he’s not attending funerals. It is at one such funeral that Harold meets the elderly Maude (Ruth Gordon), a woman whose love of life intrigues him. As the unlikely pair become friends, Harold’s mother becomes determined to find her son a wife, but Harold has other ideas, and sets about scaring off potential partners by staging acts of violence on himself.
In the end, Harold’s friendship with the aging Maude reminds the young man of the wonder of life, and although the film gets a little preachy towards the end, it is actually an uplifting and celebratory movie.
DEATH BECOMES HER
Is there anything more rife for comedy than the lengths we go to in order to try and remain young? This is exactly what is lampooned in Robert Zemeckis’s 1992 film DEATH BECOMES HER. Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn play rivals Madeline and Helen who drink a mysterious potion in order to turn back the hands of time. The trouble is, however, that the potion makes the women young and beautiful again, but also incapable of healing from wounds they may encounter. This is a problem when each is out for the others’ blood.
DEATH BECOMES HER was not well received when first released, but it has stood the test of time as a kitsch and dark comedy with some standout dialogue – ‘I will not speak to you ’til you put your head on straight’ is a particularly good one – and Streep and Hawn at the top over their over-the-top, DYNASTY-esque acting game.
The Coen Brothers’ dark comedy – which one, I hear you ask!? – stars Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson, a heavily pregnant police chief in Minnesota, and William H. Macy as Jerry Lundegaard, a struggling car salesman who hires two incompetent criminals to kidnap his wife for the ransom money. Of course, the kidnapping goes wrong, and Jerry changes his mind, but events have already been set in motion, and death is waiting just around the corner.
The Coens’ have a knack for making off-kilter comedies, but FARGO is truly one of their best; from Marge’s constant morning sickness – which quickly dissipates and swings to hunger – to the constant use of the sing song Minnesota accent in violent scenes, FARGO is twisted, violent, clever and painfully funny.
Rainn Wilson stars as Frank Darbo a man who takes on the mantle of The Crimson Bolt, after his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer. Although Frank’s heart is in the right place, and his intentions are good, he lacks any skill as a vigilante crime fighter, and soon falls foul of a gang of violent criminals.
SUPER, directed by GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY’s James Gunn, was released a year after the similarly-themed KICK-ASS, but if you thought KICK-ASS was gratuitously violent, then you haven’t seen SUPER, which not only deals with the violence of vigilantes against criminals, but also sexual violence between men and women. There are times when SUPER is almost a little too dark, but on the whole the film is so over the top and unhinged that the audience can’t help but laugh. Just don’t try this at home, kids.
Honourable Mentions To: HEATHERS, FOUR LIONS and DROP DEAD GORGEOUS
THE VOICES is released in Irish cinemas on March 20th 2015
Words: Brogen Hayes