Today I am joined by my friend Becky Pritchard to enter a dark place where people still manage to find some joy, dark comedies, joins me. Full disclosure I’ve not seen some of the great dark comedies. The original dark comedy for instance Dr Strangelove is sitting near the top of my DVD pile waiting to be watched (I wanted to watch it before this list but sadly exams got in the way). But I have managed to a compile a list of my favourites that I’ve actually seen. There are also some films that it could be debated as to whether they are dark comedies as it is a hard genre to nail down, but they all have pretty dark themes and are definitely comedies. So here we go with our top 5 dark comedies.
- Shuggie: Filth – So whilst Filth is a long way short of Trainspotting (but aren’t most things?), unlike Trainspotting it is fair to call Filth a comedy. James McAvoy shows he has a great ability to carry a film as an Edinburgh Detective Sargent trying to gain a promotion to Detective Inspector. A great cast of British actors including Jamie Bell and Eddie Marsden among others ably supports him. This film is dark, twisted, uncomfortable, delves into emotional health and wellbeing. It absolutely toes the line between comedy and drama, and is great for and Irvine Welsh fans.
- Becky: Team America: World Police – Team America is an absolute classic, however it is not a film for all. Team America is a light hearted, vulgar film that mocks out of practically every political group and attitude to come out of the USA. The puppets are what make this film and just seeing them in various position such as having sex or dominating the world are enough to raise a few laughs. The songs, dialogue and situations are brilliant, and the creativity of the sets are beautiful.
- Shuggie: Four Lions – Four Lions was a film that I think passed a fair few people by, but it is one that is well worth checking out. The premise of following four young Yorkshire men who are attempting to launch a terrorist attack might not be the most obvious setting for a comedy, but that’s why dark comedies are such a brilliantly original genre. The film helped propel young Riz Ahmed towards larger success, along with Nightcrawler, and he is going to be staring the upcoming Jason Bourne and Rogue One. With some darkly funny moments Four Lions is wonderful satire, and well worth watching if you haven’t already.
- Becky: Robot and Frank – Robot and Frank is about a former jewel thief struggling with the onset of dementia. His son, Hunter assigns a healthcare robot in to Frank’s possession when caring for his father gets a little too much. Frank uses Robot’s caring and innocent nature to trick him in to becoming his accomplice for a burglary. We follow Frank and Robot as the tale unfolds in to a romantic, fun sci-fi comedy. It’s a little difficult to get in to at first but once you do, it’s an absolutely brilliant film.
- Shuggie: Snatch – Snatch could possibly be Guy Ritiche’s best ever film, and it’s certainly his funniest film. Brad Pitt’s gypsy boxer Mickey is as funny as any performance in a straight comedy. However to have such a great comic performance in a dark comedy is pretty impressive. With the classic farcical elements that we saw in Lock Stock, as well as a great cast of actors and characters including Mickey, Statham’s Turkish, Alan Ford’s Brick Top, Vinnie Jones’ Bullet Tooth Tony, del Toro’s Franky Four Finger, and many others, Snatch is an incredible example of a dark comedy.
- Becky: Angriest Man in Brooklyn – Yet again, Robin Williams manages to warm the hearts of the audience with this emotional rollercoaster of a film. The film begins with Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) on his morning commute sharing with the audience all the things he hates in life from Flip Flops to Infomercials. His life changes when he arrives at the local hospital and is greeted by Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) who diagnoses (actor) with a brain aneurysm and after Henry repeatedly questions Sharon about how long he has left to live, Sharon flips out and tells Henry he has 90 minutes to live. What follows is a film full of laughter, emotion and inappropriate moments all the while making the audience question our own lives and mistakes. Robin Williams consistently amazes with his raw, passionate performance and leaves the audience in tears. This film is a must see.
- Shuggie: In Bruges – Probably one of the best modern examples of dark comedy. Whilst the Martin McDonagh went on to create Seven Psychopaths with Colin Farrell, this film about two assassins who are sent to Bruges is a step above. Farrell and Brendon Gleeson both create such rich and different characters. There’s a fair amount of bleakness in this film, and yet McDonagh manages to bring out so much great comedy, as well as some truly moving moments. His follow up film, Seven Psychopaths and his younger brother’s works The Guard and Calvary, are all fantastic as well.
- Becky: Super – Rainn Wilson (Frank) and Ellen Page (Libby), the two leading actors bring this film to life in a tragic hero comedy. Frank is a depressing fry cook whose life gets turned upside down when his wife leaves him for a drug dealer. After watching Christian TV, Frank decides to take on the role of a superhero and win back his wife with his weapon of choice being a pipe wrench. Along the way Frank teams up with a local comic store clerk, Libby who becomes his sidekick. This film embraces the absurd and runs with it, the result is a twisted, gruesome, hilarious comedy which sees Libby getting her face blown off and multiple injuries caused by Frank’s pipe wrench all in the efforts to win back his ‘true love’. The thing I absolutely love about this film in particularly is the way the actors portray this as ‘not just another superhero film’ but twists your perception of good and evil and perhaps more accurately portrays what would happen should somebody decide to don a cape and fight for justice.
- Shuggie: Fargo – It’s can be seen in some of my previous Top 5 lists that I’m a huge fan of the Coen Brothers. And as Coen comedies go Fargo is the pinnacle. It has some great comic performances from Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi, with McDormand’s pregnant police officer one of the finest characters they’ve created. It’s a farcical film, it’s a hilarious film, and most of all is dark, but extremely wry about that darkness. A worthy inclusion at the top of many comedy lists let alone a dark comedy list.
- Becky: The Voices – ‘The Voices’ is a film that cleverly plays around with the perception an individual has of mental health issues, particularly Schizophrenia. Ryan Reynolds (Jerry) takes us on journey through his perception of what the world should be like and how to make his ‘problems’ go away. Jerry is a likeable, unassuming office worker who with the help of his talking cat and dog gathers the courage to ask out his long time crush, Fiona played by Gemma Arterton but it all goes horrifically wrong when she stands him up for a date. This film gives a beautiful insight to the issues one might battle with should they have a mental illness, the audience find it hard to not like Jerry as a character even when he beheads three female co-workers and hides their heads in his fridge. The Scottish, evil cat is a bloody hilarious addition to the film and Jerry’s submissive attitude towards his cat, Mr Whiskers deepens as the film develops. The Voices is a fantastic film in all aspects and definitely a must see.
So what do you think of our choices, and what are your favourite dark comedies? Please let me know.