Thursday, June 07, 2007

Turn Away, Quick!!!


Comedy and science fiction. I don't know. Sometimes it can be tremendous fun (such as in "Galaxy Quest") and sometimes it can be so bad your small intestine falls out. I could spend a few minutes and discuss how comedic elements can be used to make the fantastic more palatable. I could. But I won't. Instead let's look at what I consider to be the worst five films in the category of bad funny genre films. I post these in no special order.
1) The Three Stooges In Orbit Sad. At the end of their careers, Moe Howard and Larry Fine, with the assistance of an old vaudeville friend, Joe De-Rita, filmed this appalling mess that only the most dedicated Stooges fan could have loved. The tagline read:IT'S NEW! IT'S NUTTY! THE STOOGES PLAY RING-AROUND-THE-MOON WITH A MOB OF MIXED-UP MARTIANS!

2)The Coneheads It was occasionally a fun Saturday Night Live skit, but as its own feature film, this vehicle for Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin proved to be a sore disappointment. I blame the direction and the pandering script for abusing the available talent. The story follow a family of aliens living in suburbia, keeping a low profile as they scout out the terrain to gather intelligence for a possible invasion. Hahahahahaha. "Third Rock From The Sun" got it right.

3)Buckaroo Bonzai I know there are some of you out there who will swear this film is your cinematic soul mate. Stop. Don't embarass yourself. This untidy mess is the story of a physicist, neurosurgeon, Samurai, rock star who saves the world from aliens. Sort of an updated version of the Stooges' film, if you will. I've read this has become a cult film...pass the cool aid.
4)VIsit To A Small Planet was a wonderful bit of satire by Gore Vidal when it first appeared on Broadway. It took the darling of the French, Jerry Lewis, to wreck it beyond recognition and create a vehicle for his own scenery chewing burlesque.

5) Spaceballs. I know there are people who adore this film. Me? Hated it. Hated it like runny egg. Mel Brooks is hit and miss. "Blazing Saddles" enormous hit. "History of the World" miss. "Young Frankenstein"? Hit. "Spaceballs". Unwatchable.

14 comments:

Hey there, Skippy said...

I think the problem with alot of comedy sci-fi is that, alas, lots of sci-fi is kind of laughable to begin with, albeit unintentionally. When TV sets shake, aliens look like people in bad masks, and people in jumpsuits take themselves entirely seriously all the while, people are going to laugh anyway. Trying to inject deliberate humour into that scenario is gilding the lilly.

Britain has an interesting heritage in comedy sci-fi. Douglas Adams, author of The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy also used to be head writer on the old series of Doctor Who. The episodes he wrote were similar in style to HHGTG, but on an ostensible kids' show, they couldnt be as dark as his books and so tended to come across as cheesy and silly. (For those who care about such things, HHGTG began life as a radio play on the BBC).

Then, of course, there's Red Dwarf, a sitcom set on a lost spaceship in the far-future. I don't know if it ever aired in the states, but it fairly defined the word "cult" in Britain during the early 90s. The premise had a sort of slovenly laddish human, an uptight hologram, a servile android, a horny mutated cat and a sarcastic computer drifting around in space trying to get back to earth (as per). I remember finding it hysterically funny when I was a teenager. I saw an episode again recently as was so embrassed for my 14 year old self that I almost retrospectively committed suicde. Nevermind defining "cult", more like defining "drivel". It ran for 6 seasons, for reasons as yet unexplained.

More recently there has been the almost unimaginably bad Hyperdrive which aired recently on the BBC. Another space-based sitcom, this one starred Nick Frost (from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Spaced) and may well be the worst thing ever broadcast this side of Charmed. The premise is "defending British interests in Space" and it's supposed to be quirky and eccentric, when in fact it stinks like a dead lobster.

I think the funniest sci-fi tends to be when "serious" sci-fi does irony, a al Buffy or Firefly. Indeed, it's irony that makes Galaxy Quest such fun - and it was the irony that most cinema audiences missed when Starship Troopers was first released.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Hey Skip..that was a great comment. I agree..science fiction works best when the irony is sharp.

SQT said...

I think the original Batman movies with Tim Burton were going for irony, though I'm not sure they ever quite got there.

Men in Black seemed to be going for over-the-top funny and sometimes managed a few chuckles. I never saw the second one though.

crunchy carpets said...

I don't know what to say.....that you included Buckaroo in that list...

Sigh.

it is the most misunderstood piece of cinematic sci fi since Solaris.

Sigh.

crunchy carpets said...

Oh and Red Dwarf ROCKS!

As did the BOOKS Hitchhikers AND the brit tv show..god I loved that.

Let us NOT mention the movie.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I liked 'Coneheads'. That Three Stooges movies movie never gets shown. It would be good to see it for curiosity.

Hey there, Skippy said...

CC - I rather liied the HHGTG movie, especially Mos Def. Now, of course, the BBC TV version was superior, if only because the sections with the Guide itself were actually hand-animated and looked utterly gorgeous.

Crunchy Carpets said...

true....skippy..the beeb did a fantastic job with the guide

Angela/SciFiChick said...

Loved Spaceballs.. at least when I was a kid.
I'd add Ghost Rider to that list. Even though it wasn't meant to be a comedy, I laughed and cringed through the entire thing.

sfgirl said...

I just adored Galaxy Quest. I really like it when someone takes the cliches and puts them on their side. The writing was clever. Speaking of comedy, you might be interested in my latest post at The Alien Next Door; I interview one of our SF icons!

avery said...

Bored out of my skull during a snowstorm in ninety-nine, I made the regrettable decision of going to see Wing Commander. I was embarassed to be caught leaving (and, in hindsight, should have been equally as ashamed when purchasing the ticket).

Lost in Space with Joey from Friends was nausea-inducing, as well.

squirrel said...

I totally agree! Buckaroo Bonzai and Spaceball especially sucked.

Alex said...

Take it back.

Spaceballs is by far the best of a long, long, long, long, long line of Star Wars parodies.

Asara said...

I <3 Spaceballs, but I still <3 you too Stewart, though you despise it :)