Comedies are, by definition, doomed to a certain, set existence. Quoting Oxford's Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms: "Its ending will usually be happy for the leading characters. In another sense, the term was applied in the Middle Ages to narrative poems that end happily." This was compounded by the advent of New Comedy, which "abandoned topical satire in favour of fictional plots based on contemporary life: these portrayed the tribulations of young lovers caught up among stock characters such as the miserly father and the boastful soldier."

So here we sit, doomed to repeat ourselves over and over because some dudes from way back when made laughs of a certain path. There will be an outbreak of shenanigans, some goofy stock characters along the way, and then the almost inevitable happy ending with cheek-pinching smiles, swelling music, and feel-good moments. A lot of the time, it works. We giggle, the credits roll, and we leave the theater feeling happy and refreshed.

But just as often, I find myself dreading the second half and that inevitable tonal shift. The film will begin to swell into a picture-perfect happy ending, characters softening and getting just what they need for the desired conclusion, whether that be saccharine sweetness, uncharacteristic responsibility, or Meet the Parents type chaos. The personalities and paths of the characters become second-fiddle to the need to wrap up the story. Rather than simply enjoying the world that's been set up, soon we must watch it wrap into a pretty bow.

categories Cinematical