Friday, October 5, 2012


When you put guys like Ben Stiller (the often forgotten about director of The Cable Guy) and Jim Carrey on a VERY short leash they can be hilarious. Seriously, does anyone remember the Ben Stiller show? That short lived sketch comedy series on fox that only lasted one season? It was hilarious (mostly thanks to David Cross & Bob Odenkirk's writing, but still...). Dare I say it was ahead of its time? Zoolander = Hilarious (guilty pleasure hilarious, but still hilarious). Something About Mary was great and his performance in Heavyweights was classic (although as my friend Doug Frye said - he’s been running that character in to the ground). It goes without saying that Jim Carrey can be a bit over the top (sometimes his humor has the opposite effect on me and makes me angry) but he’s had his moments (Dumb & Dumber, Me Myself & Irene, the first time he hosted SNL, etc). When it comes to the type of comedies I enjoy - the thought of Stiller & Carrey (along with a then-unknown Jack Black and Judd Apatow as producer) working together NOW sounds like a disaster but they pulled it off well in the 90’s. Today, some people recognize how funny Cable Guy is but I remember quite well how much people hated it back when it first came out. I guess that makes this a cult film - hated or misunderstood at first then loved later on by a devote group of fans. When I got to college in '99 I discovered that there were tons of loyal fans out there that "got" Cable Guy's humor (it also served as the perfect late night movie when we couldn't get any work done). It’s difficult to describe the humor. I guess ridiculously stupid yet hilarious and pretty smart at the same time. It was one of the early stupid/brilliant comedies that paved the way for future stupid/brilliant comedies like’ Saving Silverman (don't hate til you've seen it) or Freddie Got Fingered. Sure Cable Guy is filled with big laughs (Jim Carrey doing karaoke...yes, that shit is funny) but like so many underappreciated comedies, it’s the little moments in between that make this so funny - from Owen Wilson's cameo to the way Carrey casually reveals his name to be Larry Tate yet it doesn't sink in til moments later where that name comes from. Sometimes its the little random moments that make a comedy great. Think about it, all the great (somewhat) recent comedies have these random little moments that are just as funny as the big comedic moments - Super Troopers ("you guys are talkin' about shenanigans, right?!"), Grandma's Boy (YOU'RE a hooker!), Harold & Kumar (pretty much throughout the whole movie), The Footfist Way (Danny McBride grilling Julio after he screws up the karate demo), 40 Year Old Virgin (Kevin Hart's cameo), etc. Cable Guy had plenty of those moments. For example; if you're someone who can only take a guy like Ben Stiller in small doses, this movie is perfect. There's a very underrated and minor Menendez brothers subplot that plays out through the entire film (both roles are played by Stiller). Not only is it funny as hell (Ben Stiller’s' 911 call to the police about some Asian guy shooting his brother) but Stiller took a shot at an unexpected target like the Menendez Brothers when he could have easily been a hack and taken a shot at OJ Simpson which is what damn near every comedy was doing in the mid-90's. Give Stiller some credit for not going the easy route for a cheap laugh.

Honestly, I just don't think people expected Cable Guy to be as "dark" as it was. Now, you and I both know Cable Guy is PG-rated when you put it next to true dark comedies but like Parents or God Bless America, but as far as studio films’s pretty dark. There was this creepy tone throughout most of the film highlighted by moments like the answering machine scene ("we're having ourselves quite a little game of phone tag here, aren't we?") or that nightmare scene where Jim Carrey chases Matthew Broderick down the hallway. This movie should have bridged the gap between the baby boomers, generation x and generation y but it kinda backfired. It had everything - Television and movie references for older folks, and the kinda of humor for younger teens, directed by a prominent Generation X figure (with all due respect, Stiller DID direct Reality Bites). Unfortunately the old television references used in the movie, which the baby boomers shoulda related too, went over the heads of the younger teenagers who had no idea what stuff like My Three Sons was. On the flipside, the type of humor in Cable Guy that was geared towards younger people didn't seem to go over well with the older generation.
Now, The Cable Guy was obviously poking fun at stalking (specifically films like Single White Female & Fatal Attraction). We shouldn't really laugh at something like that (even though we do from time to time) because most of the time women are the victim and the outcome is never good. But because the stalking victim in Cable Guy is a man, it’s ok to laugh. Somehow men being stalked is kinda funny. Think about it - when a film about stalking is about a woman we get Single White Female, Never Talk To Strangers, etc. But with men we get...Cable Guy. But that's totally fine. I'm not complaining at all. Cable Guy is a great movie. Ben Stiller pulled off the impossible task of giving Jim Carrey something I like to call “controlled free range”. Carrey was his usual spastic self but he’s not in every single scene and his presence is balanced out by Matthew Broderick (technically, Broderick is the main character but does anyone really remember his presence at all outside of the mid-evil times scene). Seriously, are you gonna sit there and honestly tell me the mid-evil times scene isn't fucking funny? "Down, down, knights goin down!" Not only was that brilliant but it seriously made me wanna go to mid-evil times (I still haven’t been). Or how bout the basketball scene? Not so much the physical moments but its lines like; "You guys play here too??" or "we're playin prison rules, huh?" is what makes it so funny.
I'm claiming Cable Guy for MY Generation. We were the ones who kept it alive, didn’t totally dismiss it when it first came out and stayed with it from our teenage years into adulthood. You and I both know this isn’t exactly a “masterpiece” but dammit its funny and deserves respect.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...