You Sold My Dead Bird to a Blind Kid?

On the death of the comedy blockbuster.
April 2, 2024
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the stars of dumb and dumber in a car that looks like a dog

Many people consider the period between 1990 and 2010 a golden era for comedy films. It’s hard to argue against this when you look at the list of heavy hitters that came out.

Dumb and Dumber, Meet the Parents, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, The Hangover, Role Models, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, OId School, Tropic Thunder, and the list goes on.

Some sleeper comedies I used to watch on replay include Grind, Out Cold, and Major Payne. “Boy, I am two seconds from being on you like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm. I'm gonna put my foot so far up your ass, the water on my knee will quench your thirst.”

I will always cherish those memories of watching comedy movies with my friends and family while enjoying microwave popcorn and Redvines.

Yet today, I can’t remember the last time Hollywood came out with a truly creative comedy movie. There are a few reasons why:

  • Studios are focused on safer action movies that have the potential to franchise: Studios tend to focus on bankable action movies such as superhero movies or the Fast & Furious series where there is a storyline playbook that is repeatable. In comedies, the jokes are either hitting, or they are not. Additionally, action movies tend to be much easier to franchise and reboot.
  • Dependence on international markets: Hollywood increasingly depends on international markets to drive revenue, and given that comedies are culturally specific, they tend to perform worse overseas. Will Farrell’s 2006 movie Talladega Nights grossed $148MM in the U.S. but only $14MM abroad, per Big Think.
  • Comedy stars are getting old, literally: Ben Stiller is 58. Will Ferrell is 56. Adam Sandler is 57. Eddie Murphy is 62. Jim Carrey is 62. Owen Wilson is 55. Many comedy movies during the 1990s and early 2000s featured these stars, and there aren’t any comparable young stars like these guys.
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