The Couch Potato Report – April 20th, 2004
In The Couch Potato Report this week thereís an office thatís fun to go to, a master and a commander and a funny man whose funny no more.
Comedy is subjective.
What I find funny, you might think is stupid, and vice versa.
I find a lot of things funny and have no problems stating that my favourite movie of all time is THE ADVENTURES OF BOB & DOUG McKENZIE IN STRANGE BREW.
Iíve seen the film at least a hundred times and still laugh out loud every time.
I havenít seen every episode of the British Sitcom THE OFFICE a hundred times, but I suspect that once I have Iíll still be laughing.
On the other hand, you might not think the show is funny at all.
After all, there are no punch lines, no jokes, no laugh tracks, and no smile inducing happy endings.
But what makes it better than almost everything else on TV is how itís funny, because it isnít funny. At times itís actually painful because the situations are so real, but once you sidestep the pain, youíll enjoy a good laugh.
THE OFFICE takes place in the offices of a fictional British paper merchant.
The writing is subtle and deft, yet broad and daft at the same time. The ensemble cast are so perfect together that the documentary feel of the show sometimes feel very real.
That cast is led by co-director and co-writer Ricky Gervais who plays David Brent, the office manager. Gervais steals every scene heís in as he is so letcherous and idiotic that you canít help but laugh at what he does, and how funny HE thinks he is.
Some day David Brent will become a name as symbolic as Basil Fawlty in the history of British Humour.
That all said, you still might not find this show funny. I do, and it is with great pleasure that I sat and watched the DVD set that is THE OFFICE ñ THE COMPLETE SECOND SERIES.
This SECOND SERIES picks up where the FIRST SERIES left off and we see the continuation of the fall of David Brent. That fall allows for some darker comedic moments, which like the rest of the series, have to be seen to be believed.
But the best part of THE OFFICE are the moments that come out of nowhere, for instance in a moment prior to the opening credits when the entire cast sings along to the Muppet classic Mahna Mahna.
THE OFFICE ñ THE COMPLETE SECOND SERIES far surpasses the sky-high standards set in THE FIRST SERIES of the show and I find it laugh out loud funny stuff.
You might find it boring and unfunny.
And thatís okay. We donít have to agree on everything.
I suspect another area that weíll disagree on is how good MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD is.
Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany from A BEAUTIFUL MIND star with Billy Boyd from THE LORD OF THE RINGS in the Oscar Nominated MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD.
Based on Patrick O’Brian’s enormously popular novels about British naval hero Capt. Jack Aubrey, and directed by Peter Weir, some think MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD to be a seafaring adventure like no other. Iíve also heard that people thought it was impeccably authentic, dynamically cast, and thrilling enough to give any classic swashbuckler a run for its money.
Unfortunately I didnít think any of that. It’s unfortunate as I love movies about the sea. If you put a boat or the sea in your movie I’m almost certain to love it.
MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD has both boats and the sea, but it didn’t entertain me.
The film is about the HMS Surprise, an English warship sailing around South America during the Napoleonic era. Russell Crowe is superb as the ship’s captain as he engages in a battle of wits, wills, and firepower with a rival captain during the perilous sea trek.
There are also great moments of humour and camaraderie.
But the action, the plot, the characters and the entire film just stopped and re-started too often to keep me interested. I understand that the story has to stop at one point so we can see that the captian is human after all, but once it stops it stops.
Then it takes too long to get started again. I would argue that it never actually gets started again.
I respected MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, and I will watch it again some day to see if I am way off base.
Upon my initial two viewings I have to say that I didnít think the movie was very good, and Iím prepared to hear that you liked it.
Just as prepared to hear that you donít think THE OFFICE is funny, but like I said we donít have to agree on everything.
What I think we can agree on is that fact that Eddie Murphy used to be one of the funniest people in the world.
On SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, in his stand up routines RAW and DELIRIOUS and in films like 48 HOURS, BEVERLY HILLS COP and TRADING PLACES he started the eighties off on a huge role.
With the notable exception of SHREK his recent work in THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH, SHOWTIME, I SPY and DADDY DAY CARE has been unwatchable. Itís almost as if he canít be funny anymore.
Eddie Murphyís downward role continues in the very unfunny THE HAUNTED MANSION. Like THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN it too was based on a ride at Disneyland. Unlike THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, this movie is dreadful!
Murphy plays a workaholic who visits a haunted house with his family during a job interview. He meets a ghost that teaches him a lesson about the importance of the family that he has neglected and nothing interesting happens.
If you have very young kids they might, and this is a very remote possibility, they might get a kick out of some of the special effects and things that happen when a family moves into a haunted mansion, but I doubt it.
Plus, why did Murphy even make this movie?!?!?
In his concert film DELIRIOUS he talks about how only white people are stupid to stay in a haunted place:
Says Eddie as a Black Male Householder: ìAw baby this is beautiful, we got a chandelier hanging up here, kids playing outside, it’s a beautiful neighborhood. Ain’t got nothing to worry about… I really like this place…î
Demonic Voice: Get out!
Black Male Householder : Too bad we can’t stay…
If you ignore THE HAUNTED MANSION maybe it will just go away. As for Eddie Murphy, with SHREK 2 due in theatres in less than a month, Iím sure heíll be fine. I only hope that SHREK 2 is vintage Murphy.
Good luck to us all!
THE OFFICE ñ THE COMPLETE SECOND SERIES, MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD and THE HAUNTED MANSION are available right now on video and DVD at your favourite local video store.
COMING NEXT WEEK IN THE COUCH POTATO REPORT
Tim Burtonís luscious BIG FISH is an enchanting film about a son who is reunited with his estranged, tale-telling father.
In the wonderful LOVE ACTUALLY ten couples look for love during Christmas. From the same people who made FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and NOTTING HILL the movie features a personable and talented large ensemble cast that includes Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson and Keira Knightly.
The latest film from the comedic Farrelly Brothers is called STUCK ON YOU. Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear are conjoined twins who pursue a career in acting. Sadly, the funniest thing about the movie is the premise.
TITANIC collaborators James Cameron and Bill Paxton lead an expedition to the Titanic wreckage in the documentary GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS.
In THE COOLER William H. Macy is the unluckiest sap on the planet. He is employed as a “cooler” at a casino; his very presence can chill the hot streak of any patron on a roll. The film is a little offbeat, but the cast that also includes Mario Bello and Alec Baldwin is full of great characters.
Norman Jewisonís THE STATEMENT is a thriller that stars Michael Caine as an escaped Nazi collaborator who is being pursued by a French judge and an army colonel so he can answer for his crimes.
I’ll have more on those releases in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – April 20th, 2004