Editor's Note: I'd like introduce the newest writer for film.com, Amanda Mae. Though occasionally southern in her mannerisms she resides in Los Angeles - combining down home folk wisdom with the gnashing search for entertainment that is the City of Angels. I hope you enjoy her first piece!
Dane Cook was funny at one point, right? We laughed the first few times an overeager fan made us listen to parts of his stand-up routine. We laughed at the endless barrage of adorable made-up words, the endless screaming, and the vulgarity. Oh, how we laughed.
Then he was everywhere, just like Napoleon Dynamite. I liked Napoleon Dynamite the first time I saw it, but over-saturation kills the funny out of anything. Just as Napoleon Dynamite over-saturated the market with cutesy quirk, Dane Cook was in the right place at the right time with his own particular brand of quirk. His stand-up routine was one thing, but then all of a sudden, there he was in a movie with Jessica Simpson. Though it looked terrible, how bad could it be? The answer: really bad. Now comes the slap in the face that is Good Luck Chuck, which looks to be the triple whammy of un-funny, un-clever and unbearable. A guy becomes a good luck charm via sex? Jessica Alba falls in love with said guy? I sure hope this is because of some kind of tax scheme.
You know who else used to be considered funny? Pauly Shore. Encino Man had a few good moments, but the last real hurrah of Shore’s career was Bio-Dome, a film so good in its badness that no one could hope to ever recreate its greatness or explain just how bad it is to the uninitiated. Shortly after that point, the laughter died to be replaced with grimaces and pity as Shore’s career took a permanent nosedive. Pauly brought us the type of comedy that we could handle in the '80s and early '90s. We were burnt out on the '60s revolution, dulled by the '70s sexual rebellion. We wanted the comfy blanket of mild and stupid comedy. Pauly Shore was our man, catchphrases and all.
Likewise, Cook came into the public eye at just the right time, funny but not too overly intelligent, he filled a niche, saying things that we’d all thought but never really said, and saying them over and over, louder and louder. And despite the accusations that Cook has stolen a good deal of his material, he continued to rise in popularity. Quirk + nostalgia + boredom = Dane Cook. Perhaps the trademark of the late '90s and 00’s is a generation of people just old enough to long for a past that they were never truly a part of.
Hence the Garden States and Napoleon Dynamites of this world. We want to remember, but we have nothing worthwhile to consider. We are left with the best and most memorable of all that came before us, but having no real interaction with the past all we can do is say “Hey, remember…” and chortle to ourselves.
Shore and Cook have similar stand-up backgrounds parlayed into film careers, and they perform a very similar function for the American public. Shore provided us with a gentle stupidly hilarious humor which paled once we saw through it. Cook seems to be making the best of his current golden situation. But how long will it be before the wistful kids of today grow up a bit more and get tired of the quirk? Don't look now, but we could be staring Bio-Dome II dead in the eye.