Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grosse Point Blank: a romantic comedy in disguise, and thoughts on dry humor

This movie wasn't a romantic comedy, but it was romantic and it was funny. So I guess it is a romantic comedy, after all. A romantic comedy minus those ooey-gooey moments that make you squirm in your seat and feel just a little embarrassed that your watching :)

First off, John Cusack's presence made the film work. What can I say, the man is enigmatic. His expressions are fun to watch and his diffident charm makes him the ideal leading man for a movie of this kind. After watching Scarface (1932) which didn't have any great actors, I appreciated John for his sheer charisma. A few actors have it, the vast majority don't. It's an indescribable something that draws the viewer into the film and captures the imagination.

Also, the script was very good. It didn't quite play to my particular sense of humor, so I didn't laugh very often. But I could sense the script was well-written. The tongue-in-cheek humor gave the movie a smart, off-beat feel. Funny how when humor is tongue-in-cheek or dry or whatever you want to call it, (basically when the jokes aren't set-up with ridiculous facial expressions or slap-stick misshaps), then humor is elevated to the level of an art form and commands respect from all who encounter it.

Tongue in cheek humor almost always elevates the comic to a superior status by putting their audience on the defensive: if the audience fails to "get" it, the joke's on them. Actually, it even goes beyond "getting" the joke. A proper response to tongue in cheek humor is tongue in cheek humor . . . otherwise the receiver of the joke drops the ball, so to speak. Which is quite an easy mistake to make. This helps to explain why, with tongue in cheek humor, it often feels like the comic is laughing at you and not with you. As a decidedly not funny person, I'm often on the outside of jokes and I often feel awkward around people with dry senses of humor.

Tongue in cheek humor is very powerful and, in social situations, can be applied to a dazzling or disastrous effect. It can be very tasteful and delightful if the comic knows when to stop and is willing to laugh with you if you fail to catch on or do not know what to say. Otherwise, it will feel like the dry-witted humorist is abusing their powers by refusing to throw you a life-saver. People like that are downright annoying . . . I hate the types who seem to enjoy putting others on the outside of jokes and watching them squirm . . .

Which leads me to a final point about humor. Interestingly, the most people-centered and friendly folks I know are often funny. They enjoy making light of life and laughing with you. On the flip side, the most arrogant people I know (certainly the most arrogant person I know), are also very funny . . . but they do it in the smart-alecky, refuse-to-throw-you-a-life-saver kind of way.

I guess humor is like most everything else in life. It isn't inherently good or bad, but what counts is the spirit you do it in.