JUNE 8, 2009 5:37PM

PIXAR's bad, but adult comedies are way worse

Rate: 4 Flag

My Open Salon pal Mad Typist penned an excellent blog today concerning the lack of positive female characters in Pixar’s otherwise uplifting films.  If you haven’t read it, check it out.

Mad Typist is right: even the vaunted Pixar colossally fails when it comes to portraying women and minorities in a positive and progressive light.  But others are worse.  Way worse.

Lately its the comedies that have been bothering me.  Where are the African-Americans in “white” comedies? 

Take for example the recent lousy Paul Rudd vehicle "I Love You, Man." I trekked to the late-run $1 movie house to watch this--mainly to see the beautiful Rashida Jones.  In the movie, Jones (the biracial daughter of Quincy Jones) looks white/Mediterranean, as she always does. That part didn't bother me.  What did was the fact that all her friends in the movie were white and her parents were written out of the script without any explanation whatsoever--even though there was a wedding climax scene in the film (no father walked her down the aisle). Her parents weren't mentioned or ever shown on screen. I was disappointed...  It was almost like the movie execs wanted Jones “to pass” on screen.

Another egregious example is the 2009 dramedy, "Adventureland." That (also bad) movie deals with an overeducated jewish boy's coming of age in a 1980's theme park.  Many of the scenes were filmed at Kennywood, a real life Pittsburgh amusement park. The film's one black character had zero speaking lines.  She appeared several times and in each of her scenes, she silently hung out and danced with one of the film's main white female characters.  I recognized Kennywood on screen because I've been there.  When I went, most of the people working the park were black.  At least half of the park's visitors were minorities.  It's situated in a blue-collar minority section of town. To film this movie about fictional Adventureland employees the filmmakers had to get rid of all the real (black) Kennywood workers and set the film 20 years in the past.  This and the Rashida Jones no parents thing make it seem like Hollywood writers and producers are going out of their way to avoid black characters and actors in mainstream (i.e. not Tyler Perry) comedies. 

The last comedy I saw in the theater was “Hangover.”  The fiancé and I went yesterday.  It was disgusting, but funny.  I felt like I needed to go to church afterward.  It did contain some hip-hop in the soundtrack and the film featured one (very funny) black actor (Mike Epps), but his role was a tiny one...  Epps wasn’t cast as one of the four partying buddies, but as the drug dealer who sold the four partying (white) buddies some bad dope.  Go figure.

Can somebody point me to some 2000’s era comedy that features funny, major parts for both black and white actors?  I honestly can’t think of many.

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How's about White Chicks?

talk about a triple-play, offense-wise....
Interesting question, and I have no answers. Then again, I have a three year old daughter and I wouldn't know a movie theatre if it bit me in the ass, and yes I have Netflix but she keeps me far too busy to even have a spare couple of hours to watch them. Do Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder comedies count? I know, ancient history.
"Do Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder comedies count?" Nope. I alluded to that in the tags. It seems like the integrated adult comedy died with Richard Pryor (and when Eddie Murphy shifted exclusively to stupid family comedies).

And yeah, Connie, the Wayans are offensive. Their spoofs are kind of their own little genre (like Tyler Perry, but not nearly as good).
I know it makes me so sad. I love Juno, but how can I recommend it to my biracial neice? There's no one in the movie that looks like her. It just makes me sad.
Maybe it has to do with the complaints of the 80's and 90's where the Black guy was delegated to being just the sidekick. Of course now Will Smith is the leading man and doesn't have to take second place to some White guy like Bruce Willis. Ever consider that?
Maybe it has to do with the complaints of the 80's and 90's where the Black guy was delegated to being just the sidekick. Of course now Will Smith is the leading man and doesn't have to take second place to some White guy like Bruce Willis. Ever consider that?
yeah, Will Smith got to be the first major box office black superhero... who was also the first moody superhero with violence and substance abuse problems...

Yeah, Gwendolyn, it bothers me that they don't cast black actors in those quirky Juno-type comedies. Adventureland fits that mold. for some reason, no one in Hollywood thinks there's such a thing as a goofy insecure black kid. They obviously didn't go to school around here (in the ATL's southern burbs)
You're right - by and large, the mainstream comedy scene is really about white frat guy humor. But here are a few suggestions that you may enjoy:

One of my favorite under-rated comedies from the 2000's is actually the Eddie Griffith film "Undercover Brother." It's hilarious (it's sort of a play on the blaxsploitation films of the 70s), and has a lot of really clever commentary on race, gender, etc. It's the only film I can actually stand Denise Richards in. Oh yeah, and it has Neil Patrick Harris in it. Highly recommended.

If you don't mind sort of sophmoric gross humor, the guys at Broken Lizard are lead by Jay Chandrasekhar, who is of Indian descent. I'd recommend "Super Troopers" and "Beerfest".

I also love Mike Judge's "Idiocracy", which has a lot of problems but is still a fun film. Maya Rudolph is one of the leads, plus there's a pretty hilarious supporting character played by Terry Crews.
thanks for chiming in MT...

I've seen and enjoyed all three of those recommendations. I actually own Super Troopers and Idiocracy. I don't have Undercover Brother in my collection, but I've watched it more than once. Those are all great comedies. Unfortunately, none of them are exactly mainstream. Of the three, only Undercover Brother got a proper studio release. Super Troopers and Idiocracy (which pretty much went straight to DVD) made their money in video sales.

I thought about all three of those while writing this post (which was of course inspired by your post, as noted). The only other ones I could fathom that fit that desired bill of a fairly recent integrated adult comedies come from the stoner genre (Half Baked, Harold and Kumar)