Genre Specifics

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After watching Mad Max: Fury Road, the most awesome movie of 2015!, I started to wonder about the genre specifics and how sometimes it’s necessary to understand what to expect. That in return got me thinking about the bigger theme of movies combining genres and wondering what in those cases deserves more attention, and whether some genres are by unwritten law, paired up automatically and don’t actually fit together.

Based on my educational knowledge, and personal opinion, it is always better to take a thing and see it for what it is. It’s not smart to expect some mind blowing meaning from a comedy, or to expect constant humor from a drama. The same goes for throwing around the word good. Each movie in their own genre could be considered good, but just as we start to compare Pitch Perfect to Birdman, the juxtaposition happens with different genres and the comparison is unfair. A sports movie is either better than the other sports movie, or it is not as good as the one with baseball, but it’s not bad because it’s not as riveting as Nightcrawler.

That basic understanding is easily forgotten when in the cinema. You watch something and you expect it to blow your mind despite it being an animation or a musical because Fight Club is your favorite movie. The trick is to get used to the idea of thinking about similar movies in the same genre and based on that, set your expectations. This is by no means a teaching moment, everybody is free to do what ever they want but this is me simply sharing my way of viewing movies. Certainly it’s sometimes hard, especially considering the fact that many genres are frequently combined and it’s even stated that action can’t exist without adventure and vice versa.

One of my favorite comedies as of late is This Is the End because it combined the element of comedy with fantasy and it allowed itself to think outside the comedy-box by having ridiculous, yet plausible scenarios. The reason they were plausible were to due the fantasy-genre that allows, let’s face it, pretty much anything because it’s considered to be realistic representation of something unreal. Game of Thrones deals with political issues, but it’s far more interesting than House of Cards because it’s high-fantasy. Meaning, a specific genre could create the same element, for instance politics, in a whole new way.

The soon to be released, and most likely another Melissa McCarthy failure of a comedy, is Spy. It describes itself as a comedy and an action movie which is probably the worst combination. Sure, it may work together in some rare cases, but action is a difficult genre to pull off in the first place. Mad Max: Fury Road that started this whole conversation is pretty much the perfect example of an action movie and it does it with class. To achieve that kind of level of action one has to build a world and add characters that don’t need a lot of explaining. I doubt any comedy will be able to achieve that kind of action and it feels redundant to even call it like that. This Is the End had action sequences and yet, it is classified as fantasy so I doubt Spy will justify it’s genre specifics. But this argument will be surely proven after Spy is released, or it could also bite me in the ass and be an awesome action movie, though I highly doubt it.

Finally it’s probably necessary to discuss the fact that mixing genres isn’t always as unsuccessful as comedy + action. My latest experience with The Voices shows me that mixing comedy with thriller and crime could be an unnatural union with a successful outcome (if you happen to enjoy dark humor). Frankly, I think combining genres is a great way of exploiting the idea of genres in the first place and putting together ones that are rarely shown together could lead to an amazing outcomes. Yet, there should always, in my opinion, be a balance between the genres.

Image: Unmask Group

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This post is a Coffee Talk post, a series where I write and ramble about emotions, feelings and decisions behind my process of watching things and blogging about stuff.

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12 thoughts on “Genre Specifics”

  1. “The soon to be released, and most likely another Melissa McCarthy failure of a comedy, is Spy.” what’s up with Melissa hate? And Spy is getting amazing reviews

    1. I’ve stated in many reviews that I don’t dislike her but I dislike the comedies she’s been in for the past two-three years. And this post was scheduled a week ago so Spy wasn’t released yet.

        1. Even if so I might not necessarily agree with the hype, Kick-Ass being a fine example of colliding opinions. Besides, my main argument is in regards to “action” as a genre, and it’s compatibility with comedy and whether it is possible to achieve both, and I highly doubt Spy has done it, the humor aside.

  2. Melissa McCarthy needs a new schtick. The whole “I’m fat, laugh at me” thing is getting old and she was never *hilarious* to me in the first place.

    I think action/comedies tend to work well together when you get actors with great chemistry. Like Rush Hour or The Other Guys.

    1. I get that she is in comedy, sure, you go girl but I feel like she can do so much more! Where are the serious characters she is capable of doing!? Sure, Hollywood is fcked up in that regards and would never have a woman like McCarthy in a movie that doesn’t rely on weight issues or smth that isn’t comedy that relies on her physical appearance being the joke. Same for Fat Amy’s character and Rebel Wilson.. even her damn character is referring to her weight!

  3. My problem with Melissa McCarthy is that everyone who directs her has to let her do several improv takes. Where continuity is lost. Where I’m sure maybe that was the funniest take on set but it doesn’t work on screen but makes the final cut stuff gets in. And where you know she’s playing to the crew. She’s not even talking to the other characters. But trying to make the crew laugh. How about she make a movie where she plays the part as written. You know, where a writer writes a joke and then another and a third then decides which one is best with other writers and people and then an actor says the words as written and the good ones make the line funnier. How about she does that. I’m tired of her Apatowing everything she’s in. (sorry about the rant) Good post.

    1. ˇAren’t most of the big hit comedies nowadays like bunch-line scripts where most of it is improvised? Because it seems like that.. and that’s sad because sure, we have great improvised scenes, but the structure of the movie and the continuity, like you said, is lost and if you aren’t able to grab on to those jokes in the beginning, you’ll be tired by the end and the humor is lost. The idea is interesting indeed, it does raise a question in regards to improvisation and solid scripts. Then again, Mad Max: Fury Road didn’t even have a proper script and yet the story felt very intact and together.

      1. Yeah George Miller presents this great visual story. It’s a great story without much dialogue. Great acting without dialogue and great character development without dialogue. It really is an amazing accomplishment and some fantastic directing.

  4. Well argued. I’m easier on films in certain genres – if a film isn’t setting itself up as an Oscar winner I won’t apply the same scrutiny to the acting, the camera work etc etc. A film should ultimately be judged by its success in delivering what it sets out at the beginning. P.S. you’re right to be nervous about McCarthy.

    1. But then again, the Oscar’s choose very specific movies to showcase and even then, the winners are usually very politically charged in my opinion. But then there are good years when all falls into place. And I truly want McCarthy to succeed in her own right but not with these generic comedies. Hopefully Spy is better, though I sense that I won’t love it as much as I want to.

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