This is no laughing matter. 2015 made for some very magical movie moments. Whether exhilarating Action (Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed), astounding Animation (Inside Out, The Peanuts Movie) or dazzling Dramas (Room, Youth), every genre seemed to have its shine. This was, however, for every genre but one: Comedy.
Coming off a seeming awful 2014, a year with a mere handful of genuinely funny films, 2015 somehow managed to stoop even lower. With a lack of original ideas, fresh faces and diversity onscreen, 2015 truly made for one of the worst comedic onscreen years in recent memory, let’s explore this a little deeper.
Like many genres these past few years, Comedy was shy of exciting and innovative film concepts in 2015. However, while genres like Action and Adventure found themselves reestablishing the magic that once was, if not then at the very least finding fresh ways to continue a franchise with films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed and Jurassic World, the Comedy world found itself recycling old ideas in a way that felt more forced than surreal.
Take the Vacation reboot for example. Instead of reigniting the spark in our hearts first felt while seeing the John Hughes-penned original, the film serves as more of a failed attempt at emulating the more contemporary and popular “Bad boy Comedy” style. Equipped with distasteful jokes about incest, rim-jobs and stool, the film is more of a raunchy-wannabe than it is anything unique. The same goes for Hot Tub Time Machine 2, another Chevy Chase-related disaster that felt excruciatingly unnecessary.
Aside from a scarce amount of original ideas, 2015 Comedies also suffered from a lack of fresh faces onscreen. In recent years, audiences seem to have learned to trust a select few actors to create and star in Comedy films for them. It is stars like Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn with whom audience once knew to turn to in order to get their giggles going at the cinema. However, these stars seem to have lost their shine with releases over the past few years, with 2015 perhaps serving as rock bottom of actors of their caliber’s respective careers, creatively speaking. This has resulted in absolute critical duds such as Get Hard (Ferrell), Pixels, The Ridiculous 6 (Sandler) and Unfinished Business (Vaughn).
Of course, our unquestioned trust in middle age white men to provide the laughs brings up another concerning factor in the weakness of 2015 Comedy films: Insufficient onscreen diversity. By constantly turning to 40-something year old white men to make us laugh, we completely eliminate the chance to let other groups of people have their shine. The few times in which both a fresh face and/or a person of a minority group (as far as the comedy world goes) had a shot at starring in films resulted in some of the year’s funniest films. These included Amy Schumer in Trainwreck (her first starring role) and Dope, a film who’s three relatively unknown stars hail from African-American (Shameik Moore, Kiersey Nicole Clemons) and Hispanic (Tony Revolori) decent, both clocking in with some of the highest critical ratings for Comedy films in 2015 (85% and 88% on Rotton Tomatoes, respectively).
With 2016 already promising a seemingly unnecessary number of sequels, more Adam Sandler (sigh) and yet another troublesome year for actors who aren’t middle-aged white male, will things get even worse for the Comedy genre in the coming year? With films like Keanu, Key and Peele’s first feature (the duo have written and will star in the film set for an April release) on the horizon, we could only hope there is at least some room for salvation. If not, we could always drown our heads into our bags of popcorn during a Dirty Grandpa screening…