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Comedy, the


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Amazon.com: 61 reviews
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Bleak, aimless, horrifying, and often beautiful Oct. 24 2012
By rob - Published on Amazon.com
You probably aren't reading this unless you already know a fair amount about this film and also know that its impossible-to-Google title is an "ironic" misnomer. If I may quote Sundance program guy Trevor Groth on The Comedy: "It's a provocation, a critique of a culture based at its core around irony and sarcasm and about ultimately how hollow that is."

Unfortunately, I find I cannot agree at all with Mr. Groth's summary. Casting Tim Heidecker as the lead in a movie with that intended message would be like someone in the late 1960s making a propaganda film on how electric guitar is a regressive scourge upon Western music, then using nothing but extensive concert footage of Jimi Hendrix to "make" their point.

No, if The Comedy has any central message-- and I am not sure that it does-- it's a more general existential message, not just a cautionary tale for unfeeling 4chan addicts and other self-made high-functioning sociopaths of our time.

I'm not a trust fund baby like Heidecker's character in The Comedy. But the older I get here in the oh-so-privileged West, the more I think and the more I learn and the more I live, the harder it becomes to ignore the emptiness and futility of modern life and existence itself, and to continue functioning... heck, even *pretending* to function in the context of such meaninglessness.

The central characters in The Comedy have reached the same conclusion, but have the further luxuries of endless spare time and being able to buy their way out of any semi-reasonable situation that their antics might potentially cause. They live to entertain themselves and, having given up on any purpose to higher intellectual pursuits, have regressed almost entirely to the behavioral level of twelve-year-old boys. They are shallow, petty, and mean to each other; they treat other humans even worse. There's no real effort made to show what holds this group of obnoxious hipster buddies together, and that's possibly because there *is* nothing holding them together, at least beyond pure inertia and/or exhausted ennui.

I'm not sure what exactly inspired Rick Alverson to make this movie, since in many ways it is as completely aimless and pointless as the characters about which it revolves... but I honestly cannot imagine this movie even being conceived without its lead actor being a central part of said conception from the get-go.

That's not precisely what you'd call a compliment, even though Heidecker is legitimately brilliant in the role, and I'm a huge fan of Tim and Eric besides. Any other huge T&E fans who have watched these guys, particularly Tim, cultivate their ultimate-a****** personae to perfection in interview footage over the last few years will find few surprises in The Comedy.

After all, that's Heidecker's role: a completely insufferable, unwatchable American grownup who has regressed into willfully inappropriate and wildly disrespectful behavior at every turn in daily life, with no motivation beyond generating cheap thrills for his own self-amusement. The whole movie is built around an amped-up version of a character Heidecker has already played in other venues over and over (to the point where I'm actually a little worried he might be *becoming* the horrific jerk he's so fond of playing).

The one big surprise is that, unlike the unrepentant horse's patootie Heidecker so enjoys playing in various comedic-performance venues, you actually get to see a few cracks into the devastating loneliness and desperation of this character toward the end of The Comedy.

And there's the message of this movie, if-- again-- there is one at all. A guy in his mid-30s, effectively dead inside, having already discovered beyond a doubt that this is all there is, is still desperately hoping that this *isn't* all there is. As he wanders in and out of increasingly ridiculous scenarios in an attempt to shock himself back out of numbness, he looks more and more at the lives of others who have not been so successful at deconstructing the myth of actual human meaning with simultaneous envy and longing.

In one of the movie's final scenes (no spoilers, promise!), he briefly flirts with one of the most popular means of attaining a false sense of meaning for contemporary middle-class Americans in their 30s and beyond. It's the only time his on-screen behavior isn't reprehensible in the entire movie. It's also the first time in the entire film that his character appears to be legitimately happy, however fleetingly or falsely.

I've missed a few movies in the last few years, I'm sure, but I've not seen a movie this likely to push a viewer into extended weeks-long depression since The Wrestler. At least Mickey Rourke's character in The Wrestler seemed to have *one* reason for being. Not exactly a must-see movie, and certainly not for everyone (not even T&E fans, who tend to skew somewhat younger in general and will probably miss the entire point).

But it's still a beautifully shot piece of ambient depresso-cinema. The deeply cynical and jaded may enjoy it, in whole or in part... to whatever degree we can still enjoy anything.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant Or Repellant? This Abrasive Character Study Is Not For Everyone March 15 2013
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Looking for the feel good comedy of the year? A rollicking good time? Despite its title, "The Comedy" probably won't fit that bill. This is a movie that will certainly divide its audience. Is it a brilliant character study of the disaffected? Or is it simply a hateful and punishing experience that will leave you wondering what you just watched? To my estimation, it is both of these things simultaneously. And for this, you will either love or hate "The Comedy." Whichever side you fall on, though, I can't imagine you'll be indifferent to it! As a provocation, Rick Alverson's screenplay certainly succeeds. Much of the dialogue is pushed to the extremes of offensiveness. It's so calculated, in fact, that it becomes somewhat indulgent and unrelenting. The film is counterbalanced in some quieter moments, but there is no redemption at the end of this rainbow. If you need a big plot or noticeable character growth, "The Comedy" provides neither. It just shows a subculture of post collegiate ennui that has extended into adulthood.

Tim Heideker plays the lead, an irresponsible man/child facing the death of his father. His life consists of getting drunk, behaving boorishly, and hanging out with friends with similarly uninspired goals. Heideker, whether in action or in discourse, is poised to mock and offend just about everyone he encounters. His diatribes can be funny in the most politically incorrect way possible, but he uses them as a defense mechanism against normal intimacy. I didn't laugh out loud, but I was amused by the ferocity and the apparent insecurities that unleashed it. There is no doubt that Heideker is disturbed, some may say pathetic, but that's what makes "The Comedy" so distinctive. It has a definite point of view and, as a character study, it works. As repellant as I found the antics, I also believed them in the context of this character.

Dark and bitter, I'm not even sure that I would classify this experience as a comedy. It is searing human drama tinged with uncomfortable humor. In a bold choice, Alverson doesn't really give us much story and (odder still) no real character arc. Every once in a while, you see the sad little boy beneath the veneer, but this is not about growth and redemption. You have to take Heideker at face value, and I understood and appreciated this unorthodox character. The big question for most will be "does this qualify as entertainment?" This is where I think the audience will divide. I was happy to go on this journey, no matter how unpleasant. But it is certainly not a movie that will be embraced by all. It's an art house experiment that isn't particularly meant for mass consumption at the local mall theater. It's aggressive and in-your-face and unapologetic. I'm not certain that I loved "The Comedy," but I won't soon forget it. That's a compliment in this era or forgettable entertainment. KGHarris, 3/13.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
On Ennui Oct. 24 2012
By Jeremy - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The first reviewer (Rob) has written intelligently about The Comedy already, and I'd like to direct those interested toward his comments.

I do take issue, though, with some of his phrasing. I'd like to modify his "aimless" to "seemingly aimless" and his "pointless" to "quite pointed." The Comedy is actually satisfyingly symmetrical. Four key scenes illustrate this symmetry: the nurse/father scene at the beginning and the nurse/stranger in hospital scene at the end, plus the ride back from the boat with the party/Hitler girl at the beginning versus the ride back from the boat with Kate Lyn Sheil's waitress toward the end. I don't know that this structural balance shows an evolution in the character as much as it shows an evolution in the audience's understanding of the character. I love this technique and I love this movie.

Tim Heidecker knocks it loose as Swanson, and for all the hubbub about his "squirm-inducing" (or whatever) behavior, it's his silences and his subtle facial tics that really deliver the character. There's guilt and longing galore in this movie, and it's all in Heidecker's expressions and silences. To refer again to Rob's solid comment/review, I'm not so sure this movie is for the cynical and jaded. It's for those on the brink of cynicism--it's perhaps a buoy for them to gauge how far gone they are. No one thought Jonathan Swift really wanted to eat babies, and I'm not so sure anyone should think Swanson wants to guzzle beer all day and harass cab drivers.

I love this movie for its relevance--for its exploration of 21st Century ennui, and for ultimately offering scenes of hopefulness. Anyone who's ever felt detached (on purpose or otherwise) should give this one a try.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
It's a film school film Dec 23 2012
By CinemaMinor - Published on Amazon.com
A lot has been written about this movie here, so I don't feel a need to go into detail. If you're questioning whether to watch the film, if you like French New Wave, the style of "The Comedy" will probably appeal to you. I hadn't seen a movie like it since college when I had to watch movies like it for class. I appreciated the character study, the originality (compared to what is mostly available these days)...but I was also keenly aware that I was watching something that was trying to be something. And I'm not talking "Tiny Furniture" -- that movie has way more of a traditional narrative structure than this one. "The Comedy" boasts great (documentary-style) acting and cinematography, but that doesn't make it any less arduous to watch -- and I don't mean that as a criticism. What I mean is, this is a film to watch when you're in the mood to think and be introspective, not when you're looking for something sunny and uplifting. The best description I can think of is that it's a sophisticated and polished film school film, and one that's definitely worth watching if you can digest the style (lots of long takes and silence) and mostly melancholy content which centers around a man in his mid-30's who so far has made nothing of his very privileged life and treats people with as little respect as he has for himself. Provocative, yes; fun, escapist fare, no.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Bad, great, horrible, and funny Jan. 26 2013
By funguy999999 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
You guys are taking this way too seriously. It's called The Comedy because that's what it is, even though it's kind of not, silly.

His jokes are totally offensive or obscene- that's funny. His days are pointless and vapid- that's funny too. He's fat- also funny. Bellies = belly LAUGHS.

(not a spoiler) The last scene with him playing with a little kid on the beach, and the contrast of the two of them there, in the waves- a grown man flopping around like an overweight buffoon and a child more or less at the same level. Maybe he's being "re-baptized" or maybe HE is the kid. But this kid is also yet another thing that he crosses paths with that exists for its entertainment potential. Funny. No, not "ha ha" funny, but sadly funny, and very true. Kind of like the whole movie.

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