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Where did all the fun films go?
As a massive nerd, you may be surprised to learn that I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons but when I was invited to watch the recent film with some friends, I was curious as to how the famous game would be adapted for the big screen. Within twenty minutes I was certain that this would be a film I’d like to see again. The story and characters were just so much fun and I’ve long thought that cinema seems to be moving away from this crucial element of storytelling.
In recent years, films have become much more morose in tone (I am still blaming Christopher Nolan and his Batman films for this shift) and seem to want to delve deep into our psyche for something dark to come out. Even my beloved MCU films have become very sad of late, which given the events of Endgame is understandable, but it was the silliness and fun that made me a superfan. Now it feels like the stories are going down the emotional Osar-bait route and I don’t like it.
Films such as Hot Fuzz, Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters all spring to mind when I think of fun films; they have varying degrees of sentimentality and an emotional arc that leaves the viewer satisfied but they’re not really trying to hammer home a message. They are just meant for pure escapism and that’s equally as valid as exploring the inequalities and ills of our society. Cinema is meant to explore everything it is to be human, which not only encompasses pain but also the absurdity and hilarity of life (live, laugh, love, guys). Given what we’ve all been through these last few years, I’m surprised we’re not demanding more fun stories just for the sake of them.
I understand why the film world may not place as much worth on these types of stories, as the films that tend to win accolades are predominantly those with darker themes. You just have to look at IMDB’s top 10 films to see the list is dominated by dramas and thrillers. And there’s clearly an appetite for it, otherwise the films wouldn’t get made but, I don’t know about you, after a long day of work and attempting to be an adult, I don’t always want to spend my evening traipsing around a dimly lit and corrupt city as its anti-hero tries to grapple with a moral quandary. I just want to see some ghosts being funny. And while that may not be reflective of real life, that type of film is still meeting a valid emotional need.
I’ve loved films since I was a child and I believe it to be an art form that teaches us so much about what we already experience, as well as giving us the opportunity to explore worlds so different from our own. Cinema can be everything to everyone and that doesn’t make it low brow or less valued, it makes it more realistic.