One of the things I’ve learned about comedy is that the truth is often funnier than things I could make up. As long as it wasn’t one of those had-to-be-there kind of things. So, then, it’s no surprise that many comedies are based around real-life situations and often deal with real issues.
And I’m not talking about going to Vegas for a bachelor party, waking up the next afternoon, and having no idea what happened or where the groom is. I’m talking about, well, these movies:
5. Identity Thief (2013)
While this hasn’t been my favorite comedy so far this year, I did like it. I found myself really stressed out for the first ten or twenty minutes of the movie while they were setting up the whole identity theft thing.
First of all, I’m going to assume most of the information they gave us was accurate. If so, these interstate and federal laws regarding identity theft are stupid on multiple levels. I mean, I understand why most of the laws would be the way they are, but in this age, with all the things technology can do, you would think it wouldn’t be so difficult to nab the sucker and throw them in front of a judge.
The movie takes a funny and seemingly unrealistic turn when Jason Bateman decides to become a bounty hunter. But even that’s not really totally unbelievable. Once we meet his imposter, we soon learn how the identity thief, through an unfortunate series of life events, became the way she is, and she becomes likeable.
Which makes the ending even harder, no matter how they choose to end it.
4. The Change-Up (2011)
I promise you, this isn’t going to be a “Movies Starring Jason Bateman” list. But, uh, this movie stars Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds as buddies who get drunk, piss in a fountain, and wish they had each others’ lives. Hilarity ensues.
Until Bateman in Reynolds’s body learns from his wife that their marriage is on the rocks. (His wife doesn’t know that they’ve switched bodies.) Between work, kids, and household chores, their marriage has suffered. Just like every sitcom that ever aired on television.
What makes this interesting is that Bateman has to convince Reynolds to win his wife’s love back since their stuck in each others’ bodies until they can piss in that fountain again.
3. Up in the Air (2009)
Okay, Jason Bateman doesn’t even have a very large role in this movie, so leave it alone.
George Clooney is a professional employment terminator who is hired to fire people for companies that don’t have the balls to do it themselves. While this doesn’t seem to affect his character’s cold heart, it does leave an impact on the woman he is training.
Employees’ reactions to being let go are eerily believable and definitely heart-wrenching, especially knowing that people are in similar situations all the time. While this sort of takes a back seat to Clooney’s developing relationship and family problems, it is ever-present and takes a horrifying turn at the end.
2. The Rum Diary (2011)
No Jason Bateman in this one. Johnny Depp is Paul Kemp, a character dreamt up by Hunter S. Thompson (and who, for all intents and purposes basically is Hunter S. Thompson). Kemp travels to a mostly untouched Puerto Rico and takes a job at a sinking newspaper. On the side, he takes up a freelancing gig writing up a brochure for undeveloped land that is currently being used by the Navy for target practice. Once the Navy is done with it, a handful of entrepreneurs want to develop the land and make a profit. It’s Kemp’s job to sell it.
In the end, Kemp loses the gig and is thankful for it. He doesn’t want to be responsible for bastardizing the land. This isn’t a huge plot point, but it is important. We see similar issues all over the world: deforestation, destruction of wild habitats, and building WalMarts all over the place.
1. Easy A (2010)
One of the underlying messages in this movie is definitely that high school sucks. But it is also reminiscent of The Scarlet Letter, addressing issues involving rumors, promiscuity, and slut shaming.
Emma Stone is wonderful in her role, criticizing culture, society, and archaic views on natural functions. She adopts a scarlet letter, much like Hester Prynne did in the novel, and takes the school by storm, allowing fellow students to lie about their sexual adventures in exchange for money, coupons, and favors.
Though strong in the beginning, her increasingly negative reputation almost crushes her, but she finds support and perseveres.