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No Laughing Matter

Wednesday 13 March 2013, 11:37

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Do you ever find yourself laughing during a film when you shouldn't be? When does this happen and why?

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    God knows how many times I've laughed a film when I wasn't supposed to, but the crowning jewel of unintentional hilarity in a film has to be The Wicker Man remake.
    Regardless of how many horrendous films he's been in for the last decade or so, I will still love Nicolas Cage for his amazing performances from his classic films, and I'll duel ANYONE who says he's a bad actor. However, the Wicker Man was a case where even the might of Nicolas Cage couldn't help me from laughing at moments like when he out-right punches a woman in the face and kicks another across the room like he's Bruce Lee. Also, the dialogue in the film, such as "Get away from the bike!" and "No! Not the bees" is also enough to make a man burning to death in a wooden effigy a laugh-riot.
    I just hope that Nicolas makes another Bad Lieutenant or Bringing Out the Dead soon as opposed to submitting us all to cinematic abominations such as this.

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    Comment number 2.

    It may come as no surprises to the good doctor, but the last time I found myself laughing during a film when I perhaps shouldn't be doing was the infamous Basic Instinct 2, from the insane performances (including Sharon Stone's deliciouslly wicked femme fatale), the suspiciously glossy London exteriors, and the completely bonkers script. However, I am perhaps one of the very few people, like Dr. K, who actually thought that Basic Instinct 2 was just a good bit of trashy exploitatious fun.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    Ghost. Packed cinema and both me and a friend had the same thought at the same time, that Demi Moore, she's not dancing/knoodling with Patrick Swayze, that's Whoopi Goldberg. Much mirth and merriment ensued along with a lot of stern looks from the rest of the audience.

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    Comment number 4.

    THAT scene from Blue Velvet - Frank's introduction. It certainly is a disturbing scene, no doubt about it. But I think I found it funny for two reasons:

    1. What you're seeing as a voyeur (as an audience and through Jeffrey's character) goes from naught to sixty in the blink of an eye. I think the laughter is to relieve the tension much like in horror films after a scare.

    2. Just thinking about what goes on inside David Lynch's head makes me laugh, but in a admiring way. I was pleased to find out that Lynch was also laughing during the actual shooting of the scene - I think he was having a very self-reflective moment.

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    Comment number 5.

    When I saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at the cinema the man in front of us spent the first hour laughing, especially the bits with John Hurt... No idea why.

    And I'm sorry Mark but The Exorcist is an absolute comic gem. The bit where Regan does the backwards crawl down the stairs had me in stiches, probably because it's so completely out of kilter with the rest of the scene.

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    Comment number 6.

    It's probably me being unintelligent and completely missing the point but:

    Shame. That bit near the end where he's having fun with two prostitutes. The strings are playing hi-pitch, heart wrenching music and all the while tongues, fingers and "other limbs" are being waggled about like some silly cheap porno. I know it was meant to be devastating but Fassbender was having far too much silly fun for me to take it seriously. Again, it was probably just me being childish; but there had already been a lot of sexual content up until that point, none of which I had found comedic.

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    Comment number 7.

    I watched Twilight People on YouTube the other night; a Dr Moreau styled film and that was very funny in parts.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    My brother and I were both laughing in Titanic when that poor soul fell off the stern of the boat and smacked the propeller on the way down. Those teary eyes in earshot of us quickly began giving us the evil eye, no doubt wondering how we could be so heartless.

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    Comment number 9.

    I was stifling sniggers around the halfway mark of Revenge of the Sith. When some boys at the back started laughing towards the last half hour, it set me and some other patrons going, to the annoyance of some fanboys behind me. Sorry, fanboys, I did try, and the joke was on me really for dutifully handing over my £7 for the third time for a film I knew would be lousy because of some misplaced nostalgia.

    A friend with lousy taste would drag me to some stupid films that provoked unintentional laughter. One was The Covenant (or something like that), about photogenic youths shooting lightning out of their hands in barns; another was Angels and Demons which had Catholic priests firing up the Large Hadron Collider. So bad it was hilarious.

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    Comment number 10.

    Star Wars Episode 3. As Darth Vader finally rose from the operating table to find out that his favourite person had died, his roar of "noooooo!" had me in fits of giggles. It felt like a parody of itself, as if Seth MacFarlane had kidnapped the scene. I fail to see to this day how this scene was meant to be played straight.

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    Comment number 11.

    Noooo got the biggest laugh at the screening I attended. Other laughter provoking moments included the birth and naming of Luke and Leia and Yoda saying goodbye to Chewbacca. The audience just hooted with derision; apart from the poor fanboys who tutted and huffed at this flagrant disrespect.

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    Comment number 12.

    The birth scene in a 'A Cock and Bull Story' with 3 fellow 17 years olds. We had never read the source material, so the rather graphic scene, involving Dylan Moran and forceps, took us all by surprise. The only way we knew how to react was fits of shocked laughter.
    No one else was laughing, hence many dis-approving looks, which caused us to continue laughing for maybe 5 full minutes.

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    Comment number 13.

    I was at a midnight screening of The Exorcist back in 1990: it was a Friday night in Portsmouth and there was a lot of laughter throughout the film. Why? Because the pubs had chucked out and most of the people in there were very much the worse for alcohol. In fact the laughter was so bad that after the film the cinema manager came up on stage and berated the drunks, and informed them in no uncertain terms that if it continued then they'd be thrown out of the next film.

    Nobody laughed during Exorcist II: The Heretic.

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    Comment number 14.

    Wonderful subject heres a few

    Of Course The Room. A laugh out riot. Its either Tommy Wiseau's lobotomized Christopher Walken. "I DID NOT HIT HER. I DID NOT. OH HI MARK" Or the flower shop scene. Just wonderful

    Another one is of course Manos Hands of Fate. Once you have sat through the opening 10 minutes of landscapes (They forgot to put the credits in) Which makes Tarkovsky look like Gasper Noe. We get Torgo. Without doubt one of the funniest unintentional characters of all time.

    The Black Dahlia. Fiona Shaw's death scene had me in stitches. I like Brian De Palma but that one was bad.

    Return of the Sith. Killing Younglins line.

    Troy. Brad Pitt calling Brian Cox a sack of wine

    Showgirls. That sex scene

    Congo. STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE

    Batman and Robin. All of it

    The Happening. Where Mark Whalberg talks to plants

    Dungeons & Dragons. Jeremy Irons overacting

    Ben and Arthur. The Room with gay people

    Every film Steven Berkoff plays a villain in.

    The Watcher. The film where Keanu Reeves plays a Serial Killer. Its as funny as it sounds.

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    Comment number 15.

    I know many people who said they witnessed laughter during the Normandy beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, mainly the shot where the soldier picks up his severed arm. The idea of that seems ridiculous to me, so I can only assume they were laughing to help alleviate the tension of such a horrific sequence.

    And when I went to see the re-release of The Exorcist in 1998 there was quite a lot of sniggering, although there was a certain anxiety and frisson about the reaction, as if any moment the sniggering could turn to screaming.

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    Comment number 16.

    Found myself sniggering during To The Wonder (mop dance in supermarket) and The Paperboy (pretty much all of it) in the last week.

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    Comment number 17.

    I remember laughing at the end of There Will Be Blood.

    It is my favourite film, however there is a moment featuring bowling skittles (no plot spoilers) which is borderline comic. I am not sure if it is a release from the intensity of the final act that makes me smile or if it is how Paul Thomas Anderson intended it to be played. I have also spoken to others that have seen the film and they reacted in a similar way.

    The scene is particularly strange as it quickly escapes this break and returns to the intensity of the film up until that moment.

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    Comment number 18.

    I don't think even my favourite comedies make me laugh as much as when I saw Rocky Balboa. From Stallone's face to the clunky dialogue and preposterous storyline, me and about half a dozen friends laughed non-stop ALL the way through, no doubt much to the annoyance of other cinema patrons, but if they took the film remotely seriously it probably serves them right.

    We all love the ridiculous excesses of Rocky III and Rocky IV which are funny but entertaining with great comic-book bad-guys, but this was too far. Genuinely one of the worst films I've ever seen, I could not keep it together when Stallone did anything on screen, which was pretty much every shot.

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    Comment number 19.

    Count me in as another who laughed during Revenge of the Sith but at pretty inappropriate moments such as when Anakin is about to kill the younglings (I think it was terrible delivery of the kid's line plus the perfect comic timing of Anakin turning on his lightsabre) and the part where Anakin is set on fire (with him already having had his legs sliced off it just kind of reminded me of the Black Knight scene in Monty Python & the Holy Grail)

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    Comment number 20.

    I was at a screening of Blue Velvet where there were several moments of laughter from a large proportion of the audience. I think a lot of that was down to most of the people being there, myself included, were big Lynch fans, and moments like the Heineken scene, or Isabella Rossellini's face as she is carted off from Laura Dern's house, are just....funny, and Lynch fans recognise that, because he does have a signature sense of humour in his work, that isn't maybe immediately obvious to first time viewers. Sometimes it's because of his choice of actors, or their strange, occasionally wooden performances, which are no doubt deliberate, but result in oddly comic moments - the first section of FWWM is littered with that kind of thing. There is sense though, when that happens in the screening of a film like Blue Velvet, that you are all sharing a joke, an in joke, amongst fellow Lynch fans - you all know why you're laughing, what you're laughing at, and it's a nice feeling, and I don't mean that in a clique-ish sort of way. I personally love introducing people to that world and letting them in on the joke so more people can share it.

    Also, when I watched National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets, I laughed all the way through it. So much comedic value - Nick's hair, Nick's teeth, Nick's horseface, Nick's woeful acting...

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

This twice-weekly video blog is the place where he airs his personal views on the things that most fire him up about cinema - and invites you to give your own opinions.

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