The Baumbach/Raimi Dichotomy

Every film fan at one point or another has attempted to compile a list of favorite comedies. And every single time, nobody amasses more than forty films without getting disgusted at themselves. At a certain point, everybody begins to doubt their own tastes and preferences, or begins to second-guess their instincts. They begin making observations like, "Why do I have Arsenic and Old Lace two points behind Jackass 2?" or, "I haven't even seen What About Bob? in fifteen years, and I don't remember any of it."

It's not a coincidence; this happens to everybody. It's the direct result of the Baumbach/Raimi Dichotomy. The film rule that comedies cannot be objectively compared to each other.

Let me explain:
Sam Raimi makes films that are funny, which are not comedies.
Noah Baumbach makes comedies, but they are not funny.

Raimi employs heavy black humor, over-the-top acting and ridiculous situations, but ultimately stay in the horror/thriller genre.
Baumbach makes slice-of-life dramadies more akin to the ancient Greek definition of comedy, providing uplifting lighthearted tales rather than belly-laughs. There are humorous instances, but none that provoke belly-laughs or actual guffaws.

Comedy is not a fair or accurate word. The spectrum is too broad, too grand, too all-encompassing to accurately define a film. It could mean any number of things, and does mean any number of things. The word can be used to describe both Noah Baumbach and Sam Raimi's works, but the two filmmaker's catalogues could not be any more different.

The real irony is, neither are truly representative of the modern definition of comedy.

No comments:

Post a Comment