A high profile Television producer once told me about his industry, “It’s show business, not show art.”
While that’s true, there are, as with everything in this business, shades of grey. In the case of comedies at your local multiplex this summer, it’s clearly all about the black.
If you’ve seen the recent trailer for the new Adam Sandler vehicle Jack & Jill, you probably took a deep breath and sighed. Maybe you shook your head. If not, you can watch it now.
Along with movies like The Zookeeper and even the adaptation of the Smurfs, the summer of 2011 is further confirming Hollywood’s carelessness when it comes to the quality of what’s being produced and being released, especially when it comes to comedy. The focus of the aforementioned films target the family or “four quadrant” (industry term referring to audiences of young, old, men, women) as well as profits that can be gained from international sales.
With that in mind, broad comedies seem to be made conceptually to be attractive to these markets rather than just being good. Instead of making something that’s original, innovative and genuinely funny to be shown outside of independent theaters like Mike Mills’ Beginners, major studios and production companies largely think in terms talking animals (The Zookeeper) mainly because that appeals to children and overseas audiences. Whether the film ends up being actually good doesn’t seem to matter to Hollywood.
With massive marketing campaigns, the anemic movie fare offered to audiences will make some money, but that leaves well-received comedies such as the aforementioned Beginners and Midnight in Paris to be appreciated in obscurity.
Just think about this: If the marketing budget afforded to any of those multiplex comedies was given to a Duplass Brothers movie, people might actually go see the movie that was actually good/delivered on its promise of entertainment.
Otherwise, bad comedies will keep getting made, shoved down the public’s throat and then some slick editors with some free time on their hands will do this.