"You're late," one said. "And what happens when you're late?"
"You don't get fruit cup," replied the other. And I laughed.
"You guys like Mel Brooks?!" I asked. "Cool!" But they stared. "Mel Brooks, right? High Anxiety, right? That's where the fruit cup comes from, right?"
"No," one said, with 'duh' written all over his face. "Sportscenter."
Oh, how pop culture plays games with us.
Got two DVDs from Amazon today, films I adore but I realize almost nobody else seems to dig: The Impostors and Funny Bones, quite possibly the best film ever set in Blackpool. It's also got a great soundtrack with Raymond Scott and John Lee Hooker and all sortsa stuff. Oliver Platt is a funny funny man, especially when he's allowed to be in a very dark comedy.
Forget the box copy for Funny Bones. Don't read it. Don't read the tagline. The marketing for the film was so horrendously mishandled that it's no wonder the film didn't do any business at all. If you go into Funny Bones expecting slapstick crazy comedy right off the bat, oh man will you be disappointed. If you go in realizing "Oh hey this is gonna be a black comedy and it may just shock me as much as it'll make me laugh" then you're gonna be just fine.
There is one scene in Funny Bones which is absolutely brilliant. It was the one scene that stuck with me in the eight years since I last saw the film. I'll put it behind the cut.
The Parkers, two old brothers in Blackpool, run a ghost train dark ride. When someone takes a ride, they eagerly duck behind the scenes and run to take part in a scene. The riders go through your usual funhouse stunts, horribly fake pop-up ghouls and stuff, and everybody's laughing. It's fun to be scared and laugh at cheesy depictions of death. The riders laugh through the entire ride, until they get to the last scene.
It's the two men. The two actual men. At a wake. Mourning someone in the coffin. And as the car rolls by, the two turn to stare, dolefully, at the riders.
And the riders shriek. They scream. They leave the ride crying and shaken.
I love it.
That's the way the entire film is, really. You laugh at what you're supposed to laugh at and then something happens that just kills you. I don't mean comedic kill, either. It just blows the hell out of you. Oh Moses. But that's comedy. Comedy happens at the expense of somebody else -- every single time. Laughs come from our relief at not being the one on the spot, or in the tree, or wearing that ridiculous outfit. Sometimes the schadenfreude is not as pronounced as other times, but it's always there. Just remember the old dictum from Mel Brooks: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."
But in the end, even with the freeze-frame ending at the moment of triumph which I do so hate, Funny Bones is good. The comedic climax featuring the two brothers is just... so wonderful. Watching two old comedians do some incredible bits of physical comedy, stuff you just know they'd been doing forever and ever, is just a joy to watch. Plus the film features Lee Evans, an incredibly manic British comedian who just never got much exposure in the States (no, Mouse Hunt does not count.)
And you know, it's one of Jerry Lewis' few roles that I actually like. This and The King of Comedy are his two movies I like. It's funny how good he is when he plays a comedian, eh?