Six months ago, at 2009's halfway mark, I noted a hot, fast-rising trend: onscreen vomiting. And not the discreet kind, either, where someone is hunched over a toilet and we hear sounds but don't see any actual barf. I'm talking about movies where you actually see the chunder as it spews from the person's mouth. That kind of thing used to be rare in movies -- but not this year!
As of June, we'd seen it in Adventureland, The Haunting in Connecticut, Drag Me to Hell, Observe and Report, The Hangover, Year One, My Sister's Keeper, and I Love You, Man. Since that first post, I spotted 10 more: The International, Miss March, Thirst, District 9, Jennifer's Body, Zombieland, The Road, The Fourth Kind, Gentlemen Broncos, and Precious. That's 18 puke movies in one year. A new record?? I can only assume.
Why the excess of ralphing? The obvious answer would be that it's funny, and movies have lately been pushing new boundaries to get shock laughs. That's why we've been seeing more full-frontal male nudity, too. You used to get a laugh just by suggesting someone was barfing or naked; now you can get a bigger laugh by actually showing it.
But that doesn't tell the whole story. Of the 18 movies on my list, only nine use the upchuck for purposes of comedy. The others use it more seriously, in medical situations or other traumas, or for horror. Is it our increasing desire for realism and grittiness that drives this?