Spoilers for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2″ ahead!
I never expected "Mockingjay -- Part 2" to make me laugh. And I really never expected to laugh during the most heartbreaking, violent and emotional moments of the last installment of the "Hunger Games" movie franchise. But that's exactly what happened. Sitting in a packed theater on opening day, I chuckled during atrocities. The whole audience laughed. I think we had to.
Having read the books, I knew what was coming. The violence and madness that characterize the end of the series would be presented in stunning reality on a giant screen. I was ready for Snow and Prim and a brainwashed Peeta, but I wasn't ready for how close to home some of that on-screen violence would hit. The film closely mirrored recent news footage and, at some points, became difficult to watch.
And that's when we started laughing. Within these moments of tension were slivers or normality that forced the audience out of their heads and into their hearts. Katniss, who had just lost her sister, watched society crumble and murdered its new leader, screamed at the cat who had represented Prim's goodness throughout the story. Katniss never liked the scraggly, ornery cat, but this diatribe was pure hatred and resentment spilling from the frothing mouth of a broken woman.
And then the camera panned to the blank expression of the recipient of bile. Just a dumb-looking cat. We cracked up! We had to. One, because the cat's emotionless little mug was adorable and at a complete juxtaposition to the pained face of the fantastic Jennifer Lawrence. Two, because if we as a collective audience hadn't broken that tension, it might have broken us.
There were other moments throughout the movie that had the same effect. We had a wry laugh at Gale's jealousy when he wished for Peeta's recovery. We snickered when the two talked about Katniss' tough decision should they all survive the war. Whether these moments of levity were intentional or self-made, I don't know. But I'm grateful for them. A laugh among the devastation made the more difficult moments of the movie tolerable, memorable and enjoyable.