My favorite movie as a young teenager was “Pretty in Pink.” From Duckie’s effortless charm to Iona’s closet full of wonders, the movie was easy, fun and funny. There are not many modern movies that convey the same romantic comedy tropes without feeling hollow.
Comedy movies used to be easy flicks to see with the whole family. Now, they’re whatever concept can stand out in a constant stream of mindless content. Comedy movies now are either dark or just plain bad.
Although a popular argument, Netflix and other streaming services have not killed the movie theater industry. The AMC theaters in Bloomington still show quite a lot of movies daily. I watched “Bros” and “M3GAN” in person during opening weekends, accompanied by several large groups of families and friends I had never met. However, comedy didn't end up in the top three most popular movie genres shown in theaters. The most damning evidence? Comedy movies didn’t crack the top five highest grossing movies in 2022 list, which only included two in the top 10, both being children’s animation movies.
It just might not be fair to judge current comedy movies based on box office sales. For example, half of Rotten Tomatoes’ Best Comedy Movies of 2022 were released straight to streaming or rental services. One niche genre has replaced the classic comedy in theaters: horror comedy.
The two movies I mentioned earlier, “Bros” and “M3GAN,” are perfect examples of the differences between typical comedy and horror comedy: one is a cute rom-com starring a gay couple and the other is a silly horror movie about a sentient robot. Both movies were highly aware of their comedic value, with "Bros” highlighting the funny moments in its trailer and “M3GAN” hiring a dance team to dress up and dance like the titular robot. Thankfully, both movies were funny enough to be classifed as comedies, but “M3GAN” includes tropes and visuals akin to a classic horror film.
Horror comedies have become rather popular in the past few years. Movies like “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” “The Menu” and “Cocaine Bear” have created a stir with their impeccable comedic timing, despite being movies centered on death and murder.
The typical comedy movie isn’t cerebral by any means. They don’t make you think about the end of the universe or the intense problems of the world. They’re designed to make you feel good. In an age of growing nihilistic sentiment among Gen-Zers, movies have to adapt to appeal to their twisted sense of humor. Comedies can no longer be funny feel-good films; they must be sharp and witty. I personally can’t wait to see what comes next.