Thursday, June 6, 2013

Who Honestly Still Enjoys Vince Vaughn's "Comedies"?*

*Of course, everything written below falls under my opinions about comedies in general.  Some people like the movies below that I call bland, and those people will probably like this new film, as well.  This is just my personal reaction to Vince Vaughn's career.
"We need more than a premise for this to be funny?  Oh, crap."
I liked Swingers, Made, Old School, and Wedding Crashers as much as anyone, but Vince Vaughn’s shtick has finally worn thin.  This started to occur to me when I watched the terribly bland The Watch.  Vaughn was simply annoying in that film.  Then I watched him host SNL and attempt to do some crowd work that ended up being awkward and, worse, not funny at all.  Now he’s reunited with Owen Wilson (a comedic actor who has also lost a step, but he tried to kill himself a while back, so I’ll chalk his fallout up to personal issues) for The Internship.  On paper, this sounds like a movie I would go see.  It reunited the Wedding Crashers team, has a potentially amusing corporate tie-in (Google), and it’s about out-of-touch older guys getting schooled by young people.  I was willing to pay some money to see that until I saw the first preview (check it out below).
The Internship preview didn’t evoke so much as a smile from me.  That’s not a good sign for a comedy.  I’m all for a movie saving the funny moments for the film itself, but I do not think that’s what’s going on with this one.  Why would Hollywood decide to go against the grain for this unassuming summer comedy?  So this preview is the “good” stuff.  Wow.  It’s not that the material isn’t funny, it’s that most of it doesn’t even seem like it’s supposed to be funny.  The majority of it is exposition that painfully reinforces the gimmicks that Vaughn and Wilson are older and they are interns.  The problem with the premise is that it seems unlikely that guys their age would be so tech illiterate.  I can get past the premise if the material is funny, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case.  By the way, this is not some pre-review.  I acknowledge that I have not seen this film yet and it might actually be something I enjoy.  I just highly doubt that I will.
So the preview sucks.  Big deal.  This is a Vince Vaughn movie.  The humor is not in slapstick comedy or pop cultural references (the Flashdance reference was odd; the Professor X thing was kind of amusing, but once again, like these guys wouldn’t at least be slightly aware of that character?).  The humor is in Vaughn’s famous rambling rants. 
Vaughn hovered on the edge of drama and comedy for a bit of his career until he finally embraced his most popular early character’s persona from Swingers.  That fast talking hipster cracked people up with his exaggerated metaphors about how picking up a woman is like a bear killing a bunny.  That metaphor doesn’t sound funny by itself, but let Vince Vaughn run with it and it becomes a memorable, hilarious tirade.  Vaughn was able to keep this up for years, and it was great, but something has changed. 
At first I thought that maybe it was improvisation and now directors and screenwriters were holding him back.  But Vaughn is a credited screenwriter on The Internship.  He also received credit for Couples Retreat and The Break-Up, two mediocre comedies.  So he’s been unfunny when the material was at least slightly up to him.  So what’s the problem?  I can only assume that it’s complacency and repetition.  He skated by for so long that he stopped trying.  Just check out that SNL monologue for proof.  He is not trying at all.  Vaughn just spouts off random crap, calling himself a “tall drink of water,” blathering about energy, and giving vague, unfunny compliments to uncomfortable strangers.  Check it out HERE if you want to ruin eight minutes of your life.  The point is that Vaughn’s usual banter isn’t good enough anymore. 
"Now listen here, pretty babies.  This tall drink of water is going to make some magice tonight.  We're going to share some moments.  I'll keep talking until you nervously start to laugh because that's what I do, honey.  Oh, and you, you glorious son of a bitch, you know what's I'm talking about.  I'm going to talk to you like I'm slightly familiar with you until you or other people start to laugh.  No one laughing yet?  That's okay, you lovable bastards, you, because I'll keep talking until the sheer exhaustion of listening to my voice forces you to sigh in such a way that it sort of sounds like laughter.  That's just what I do.  That's what I bring to the table."
Most troubling for Vaughn is that it seems like audiences are agreeing with me.  The Watch didn’t do well, and that one movie before it, The Dilemma (which I had to look up because I had already forgotten about that dull crap fest) bombed, and The Internship is predicted to finish behind The Purge, a non-franchise horror film starring Ethan Hawke, this weekend.
Things don’t look much better in the immediate future for Vaughn.  The teaser trailer for Delivery Man features him saying “What?” and “I don’t have mental problems” twice…and that’s it (I've included it below for proof).  I know it’s just a teaser, but a teaser is still allowed to be a little funny, just look at the new Anchorman movie. 
 The look on his face says it all...
Speaking of Anchorman, according to IMDb, Vaughn is reprising his role of Wes Mantooth.  Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Odds are, though, Vaughn isn’t going to wake up and be the funny guy we all remember.  He’ll skate on by into comedy oblivion.  But there’s still Mantooth.  I doubt that his cameo in the new Anchorman will amount to much, but it does allow me to finish this article with this line: There’s hope in Mantooth.

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