Monday, March 7, 2011


Okay, to piggy-back on the last Ransom Notes post about investing me in a crime story: I just saw that there’s a sequel to The Hangover on its way to a theater near you, which is fine by me. I enjoyed the first one, and I’m not so invested in it as to be dismayed at the possibility of sullying the good, er bad name of the project with lesser spin-offs or cash-ins, but let’s be clear about something - the appeal of the original was the close proximity that it placed the average viewer in of some veeeerrrry unsavory possibilities. How far off the reservation of the social/moral contract could these relatively normal characters (therefore the viewer) be pushed? And now that we’ve witnessed the unrealistic, (if commercially smart) and cozy solutions to their problems, it’s going to be impossible to be invested in a second go-around for the same reasons that we were in the first. The alternate-reality safety net has been revealed and the natural consequences of actions have been neutered.

Which, hey, works plenty. I love to catch light entertainment sometimes, but you know what really sticks with me? – When the usual punches aren’t pulled. If your characters are going to play near the ledge, you gotta let ‘em fall off at least once in a while. Otherwise the stakes are null and void across the board. So, for everybody who liked The Hangover, I’ll go ahead and recommend Peter Berg’s directorial debut Very Bad Things. This one revels in consequence like very few popular tales do, pushes them so far in fact that it plays like noir for laughs.

But I digress.

What gets me hooked are these stories that play with the conceit of our humanity both damning us and keeping us from the lowest levels of hell simultaneously. To take Very Bad Things as an example; gluttony, greed and lust propel our surrogates deeper into lying, violence and betrayal, but rather than becoming completely callous and getting away with it, it’s the latent efforts of their consciences recovering from trauma that doom them on the one hand while keeping them from becoming absolute horrors on the other.

At Ransom Notes, I'm posting lists of some of my favorite comic crime movies. Reallllly pretty light fare. Comedy I'm stressing. Don't look at me like that. 

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