The Foreign Comedy & Kissing Frogs

 

 

Very few good things come out of having been in the wrong relationship; You often get a better idea of what you want, have a clearer understanding of who you are and, just maybe, have enjoyed some free dinners. It is a rather time-consuming and mentally draining cost, dating the wrong person, when really, you could easily achieve most of these things by simply reading your Bible more often. (Who are we kidding?)

But if you are lucky, sometimes in addition, you may have even been able to take away with you the pleasure of new discoveries you wouldn't have given time for otherwise. 

Nowadays, when a Friday night calls for a good comedy to clear your head, finding such a gem is more difficult than it should be. What once was an endless supply of tightly-knit, comical blockbusters has now become a tall order. The latest movies at Redbox rarely seem to suffice. Even apparently amusing films on Netflix, are found to be disappointing duds or cult classics you've already seen a dozen times. And though it never hurts to just watch Planes, Trains & Automobiles for the 13th time, sometimes you just want something fresh and new. But, from the looks of it, there doesn't seem to be any new comedy on the horizon for movie-goers. Honestly, when was the last time you saw a 2-minute trailer that was enticing enough to pay $10 dollars for?

There seems to be a shortage in comedies in the United States. (That, or my flavor for laughter is just somewhat dated and old-hat.) The current stream of comedies in American film are just not altogether as appealing and enticing as they once were. Maybe it is that most comedies crass styles have just grown predictable or their continual rehash of formulated plots are putting us to sleep. Whatever it is, it seems American films lack intriguing story lines that can't even craft a remotely entertaining trailer, let alone a feature-length film. The American comedy is losing it’s appeal. And this is  where I return to those “few good things” I was first discussing.

The first film discovery I recall through a wrong relationship was Little Miss Sunshine; a film both hilarious and original, in it’s own dark and off-kilter way.  The second,  was one I likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise because... it was foreign. Literally and figuratively. I had never heard of it. And after a few mental scars from some Japanese films I had watched with a friend (be warned: Japanese films can be horrifically depressing), a foreign film was not to my liking at the time. And a previous french foreign film, Amour - which, without giving it away, is a french foreign film and is not a comedy - just put a bad taste in my mouth for foreign films.

Of course foreign films are often known to be more gritty, more raw or even more demanding of their audience than the Americanized, formulated comedy we are so well-acquainted with. However, a discovery of the foreign comedy has certainly turned my attention to realize that maybe the American Film Industry doesn’t know everything there is to know about producing a great comedy. (Then again, it’s just sounds American to have assumed that we do.) Because, without a doubt, American’s certainly don't know all there is to know about producing a few laughs.

A few foreign films for a good laugh when American comedies are putting you to sleep:

1. Romantics Anonymous - This precious little film is set in a chocolate shop, and while it’s not necessarily the breathtaking or seductive Chocolat you may remember, it is just as charming. This sweet tale is about a painfully shy, but gifted chocolate maker and the equally sheepish chocolatier who hires her. After discovering they share the same interest in each other, in their own adorably awkward ways, both must to learn break out of their shells and embark in this new relationship. (Currently available to rent on Amazon Prime.)

 

2. The Chef - Not to be confused with Jon Favreau's Chef. (You will not find Sofia Vergara in this french picture.) The Chef is the story of an ambitious and confident underdog cook, who will do whatever he can to become a chef in the highfalutin restaurant business of France. This slap-stick satire is an extravagant feast for the eyes and heart. A film that is unexpectedly innocent and equally funny, the french were the last I expected to produce such a film.  My apologies France, I had you wrong. (Currently available to rent on Amazon Prime.)

3. Four Weddings and a Funeral - Considered a classic by many movie lovers of the 90‘s. (And yes, it is british, which I would consider foreign in the most affirmative way.) (And yes, it does star Hugh Grant.) This film has always been known as a British Cult Classic and particularly beloved in the romantic comedy genre - which makes sense, since that was the majority of what was produced that decade. It is the love story of an Englishman and American Woman, who’s circle of friends and endless occasions of weddings, and yes (*major spoiler alert*), a funeral, seem to have them fated for one another. Not only do the British do a fine job by weaving in some very sad and sacred moments into a “romantic comedy”, but their bent on what is often assumed as such a giddy and frivolous genre, produces some truly gut-wrenching laughs. (Currently streaming on Netflix.)

Hopefully you can take these suggestions and discover the beauty of the foreign comedy this weekend, without paying the cost of kissing any frogs along the way.