Welcome to the new Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.
Comedies are fickle. Perhaps the first time you watched a comedy you laughed till you cried. Or, perhaps you sat stone faced through the movie. Then you watch it again and your opinion changes.
The first time I watched Superbad, I thought it was a mostly hit-and-miss affair. There were some memorable laugh-out-loud moments in the coming-of-age comedy starring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, like the unexpected penis sketch scene, followed by stretches that tested my patience. I probably would have graded it a 2.5 outta 5, maybe a 3, which was lower than many critics, and certainly lower than most theater-goers would have rated it.
So this weekend I was relaxing on the back patio when I heard my wife laughing from inside our house. Curious about what was causing her to yuck it up so much, I went inside to investigate. She was sitting on our couch watching Superbad on cable. I sat down with her and soon found myself laughing loudly with her. Parts of the comedy that I didn t find particularly funny the first go-round, I was thoroughly enjoying during the second viewing.
After the movie, I thought about what I would have rated it based on my second experience; I would give it 4 stars, which is at least a full star improvement, if not a star and a half over what would have been my initial rating.
It goes to show that critics are subject to a reversal or, at the very least, altering an opinion. Call it the hindsight clause.
I think the phenomenon, if you want to call it such, is limited mainly to comedies. Rarely do I change my mind on a drama or thriller or action movie. If anything, I tend to think I was too generous in my initial estimation of the movie. But comedies are a unique film genre that beg reevaluation, for better or for worse.
Maybe it s emotions. I m often asked if moods affect me when I watch a movie I m reviewing. Absolutely. You try not to let the outside world influence your thoughts inside a movie theater, but critics are human. And comedies suffer the most when it comes to moods. You typically either are in the mood to laugh or you're not, and when you re not, it takes a lot to change your mind.
There's also the wine factor. Some comedies age well, and get better over time, while others fizzle through the years. Many 1980s comedies I enjoyed as a teen, which I quoted regularly, like Used Cars, I ve had the opportunity to rewatch and I m generally less impressed.
But movies like Superbad apparently grow on me. I wonder if, given enough time away from the film, I might feel differently about Year One, a two-star comedy starring Jack Black and Michael Cera and directed by Harold Ramis I thought was painfully slow. It had some great laughs, but it was ultimately undone by too many unfunny lines and gags.
So, what happens in two to three years, when I hear my wife laughing hysterically at Year One? Perhaps, after watching it with her, I ll think differently of the movie the way I did Superbad.
As I said, comedies are fickle that way.
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