The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

The Comedy – yet another festival film without a story

with 9 comments

Imagine a film about a 30-something guy with a big belly that spends all of his days drinking booze, eating cookies, hanging with his friends. He has no purpose or drive in his life and he never connects to anyone or anything. His eyes has always the same, blank, absent look, even as he hooks up with one of those girls, who for reasons I can’t explain seem to be drawn to his sad being.

This man walks through life without ever being challenged by anything more difficult than his own self pitying and navel gazing. In a near future he’s going to inherit a fortune from his father, which means that he’ll never ever have to think about how to earn a living for the rest of his life.

Imagine spending one and a half hour watching this man pottering around half naked, either drinking or acting like a jerk to other people, but most of all doing absolutely nothing.

Does it sound boring? It is. This film exists, and for a reason I don’t know it’s called “The Comedy”, which is about the last thing it is.

Seen it before
I have no idea of what the film is meant to convey. A reasonable guess is that it wants to show that just because you’re wealthy it doesn’t mean that you automatically become a happier person, knowing what to do with the easy life you’ve been given. The souls of rich people get lost too.

The problem however is that we’ve seen movies with similar themes before and those were far more interesting and easier to engage with.

The bored and alienated film star in Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere was someone that also appeared a bit spoiled and unreasonably self-pitying, but I could still find reasons to sympathize with him, much thanks to his interaction with his daughter. And unlike The Comedy, Somewhere had a plot. Even if it was just as slow, it was moving in a certain direction, from one point to another. The Comedy doesn’t go anywhere at all, or if it does, it’s too subtle for me to notice.

Another movie I got to think of was Mike Leigh’s Naked. While Johnny in Naked lives in a completely different financial situation to Swanson in The Comedy, they’re both unpleasant guys with a nihilistic view on life. But their output is completely different. John Thewlis’ character is in a state of frenzy, spitting out a fascinating verbal cascade of wit, cynicism and madness. Tim Heidecker on the other hand is left with a lot less to do. Most of the time he is a state of apathy. I don’t say that he isn’t good at playing his role – he’s very convincing in it – but it’s not as entertaining to watch.

I can imagine that The Comedy works better if you come from the socio-cultural circles where it takes place. Perhaps it offers recognition and smart, poignant criticism. I can’t tell since I don’t come from that place.

All I know is that it left me as indifferent as the characters it depictures. And that after seeing three festival films which all had in common that they lacked a story, I crave for a movie that wants to engage me.

The Comedy (Rick Alverson, US 2012) My rating: 2/5

Here’s what my fellow Swedish bloggers Sofia and Jojjenito thought about it.

Written by Jessica

November 15, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in The Comedy

9 Responses

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  1. Sounds like a real depressing time at the theatre. 🙂

    filmhipster

    November 15, 2012 at 1:54 am

    • I’d say boring more than depressing. I had severe issues staying awake and yet it was screened at 3.30 in the afternoon.

      Jessica

      November 15, 2012 at 7:40 am

  2. Until you got to “acting like a jerk to other people” and the whole inheritance thing, I kind of felt like it was a movie made about my life. And the irony is that I really dislike Tim Heidecker. Of course, I’m also not stupid enough to think that my life should be a movie.

    John

    November 15, 2012 at 5:44 am

    • John, I think if you knew what this movie was alike you wouldn’t write anything like that. I’m sure you’re a way better person than he is and lead a way more interesteing life.

      Jessica

      November 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

  3. I concur but still more tight-fisted with the grade for this (as you have already seen ;)) You make me curious, exactly for what does The Comedy earn a whooping two? Still, you hit the nail on the head — this movie seems completely pointless.

    Sofia

    November 15, 2012 at 6:11 am

    • 1. The ending. There as a little something in it, a suggestion that something actually had happened during the movie. It could of course alsu just have been me reading things into it that weren’t there, relieved that the film finally was over.

      2. The kinship I felt with Naked and Somewhere, two movies which I both think are excellent. This was a far, far, far worse copy obviously, but there was some kind of connection there. I’ve got a weak spot for movies about people in a state of ennui. It’s just that this one didn’t pull it off.

      Jessica

      November 15, 2012 at 7:39 am

      • Ok, fair enough. The major difference is then my impatience with the ennui-people…

        Sofia

        November 15, 2012 at 7:48 am

  4. I hated this movie for all the reasons you gave it. Interesting comparisons between this and Somewhere. Except that Stephen Dorf’s character has a job and at the end learns to be satisfied with himself and where he is in life. I never got that from Tim Heidecker in this movie. A waste of time for me

    TheVern (@videovangaurd)

    November 19, 2012 at 12:11 am

    • I wouldn’t exactly call it a waste of time, since I was lucky to watch it in company with some other Swedish film bloggers visiting the festival. But it’s not a movie that will stick with me, that’s for sure.

      Somewhere has a tough start with five minutes watching a man driving around a racing course, over and over again. There’s also a long scene where you actually SEE paing drying for an extended period. And yet I found it a lot more engrossing than this one. The Comedy was just sooo boring. A real snoozefeast if you ask me.

      Jessica

      November 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm


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