Things are funnier in twos. Two farts in a row is a blessing and then oh yeah, there's the winning combination of two boobs. My point = proven. So by my esteemed logic, if you take a British person (themselves purveyors of the highest quality of witty repartee) and give them another Brit, the combination will be magical. Take, for example, the amazing Paul, which comes out in theaters this week. It was written by two very funny Brits, as you shall learn soon enough, and they're not the only funny duos that tiny little island has produced (sure we could tell you who we are talking about but then you wouldn't have to read the next part, you lazy ass). Here are five examples that prove I'm right. I love being right.
Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Wait, how can three people be on a list about duos? Shut up, it's my list. Anyway, only two of them collaborate at once most of the time so it works out if you just bend the rules this one tiny bit. Oh, why am I even justifying myself to you anyway? It works, deal with it. So Wright and Pegg teamed up and wrote Spaced (and Jessica Stevenson helped, but cut me some slack), then they did the two amazing films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Frost starred in those as well, but he then stepped in and wrote Paul with Pegg when Wright couldn’t direct the flick. Ok, so you see how they work: pop culture gags with a sharp eye towards homages and parodies that borders on obsessive. They’re pretty much a duo with three members. Besides, they’re funny enough that we’ll count them anyway.
A Bit of Fry and Laurie What? Dr. House is British? And funny? And he worked with that strange man? You'd better believe it. Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were pretty fucking funny when their show, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, was on the air from 1989 to 1995 and they incorporated word play, music, and innuendos into their sketches. It's such a shame two terribly gifted comedic actors haven’t worked together since, not that it's their fault. They just got incredibly busy being more famous. After all, Laurie is busy doing House and all that. While House is pretty damn funny at times, like when he's poppin' pills and pretending to be Julius, it doesn’t beat the Hippy Protest song.
Laurel and Hardy Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know they were primarily an American act but Stan Laurel was born in Britain and that’s good enough for me (Oliver Hardy was a good ole American). Besides, it shows how much British humor was influencing American comedy right from the beginning. Laurel and Hardy were staples of the silent film era that managed to make the difficult transition to the talkies. But when most of your material is slapstick, the transition isn’t too difficult.
The Mighty Boosh It's like Tim and Eric meets Flight of the Concords. It’s always a shame how the most creative people seem to be the most insane, but the humor of the Boosh (Neil Fielding and Julian Barrett) is fairly acceptable considering how surreal the visuals are. Maybe the good music helps. Seriously, these guys know how to rock out. Like most things British, it definitely helps to be under the influence when watching it, but that’s not necessary. Just sit back, relax, and if you don’t understand that’s fine; just enjoy the music and pretty pictures and laugh. After all, it's pretty much a grown-up's Saturday morning cartoon.
Amateur Transplants These egghead Brits are what you would get if Bo Burnham went to medical school. And there were two of him. Also, throw in a few Weird Al parodies in for good measure. Mix it all up and you get some pent-up nerd rage created with a musician's ear. The duo consists of two practicing doctors: Adam Kay and Suman Biswas. They do more to prove that a higher education does not automatically make you mature than a fart machine set to the tune of Mozart’s 5th. While they burst onto the scene with their anti-London Underground song "London Underground" that will have any victim of public transportation nodding in approval and then belting right along with them, my personal favorite has to be the simple tune, "Nothing At All" (featured above). Absolutely delightful.
Based on the sensational 1968 trial of the Chicago 7 (a group of anti-war protestors charged with conspiracy and inciting a riot) Chicago 10 is part documentary part motion-capture animation. The Chicago 7 was actually eight people and Chicago 10 is named after the group's two attorneys who also went courageously to jail. The men on trial included Abbie Hoffman the outspoken icon of Chicago-based activism and Jerry Rubin a 20th century celebrity in his own right. Chicago 10's cartoon portion tries to recreate the drama of the real-life trial. The jury listens skeptically and a crotchety old judge (voiced by the late Roy Scheider) gives the defendants’ opposition. It’s a commentary of the farcical nature of the trial--and the surreal standards behind it. Connecting the dots is a music video-like series of documentary images spotlighted by horrific scenes such as the Chicago police and National Guardsmen striking back scores of protestors. Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys songs underlie violent tableaus. For Americans born 1980 and after this era of left-leaning cultural dissent can be a foreign world. The 1960s’ silencing of voices questioning the government in the era of civil rights and the Vietnam War has been echoed with the Iraqi War. But protests like Chicago 10 are a rarity today. On display are the voices of a handful of top Hollywood stars--including Mark Ruffalo Jeffrey Wright Nick Nolte Liev Schrieber and Hank Azaria--as the voices of the courtroom players. As with many star-studded animation productions the result is not greater than the sum of its parts. Although Scheider in his last performance provides the most distinctive voice as Judge Julius Hoffman Ruffalo Wright et.al are lost in the mix. Partially because of a limp-ish script the actors have to inject excitement into a static courtroom environment--but compared to 12 Angry Men or Primal Fear it just doesn’t engage. Director Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) comes with a fresh visionary perspective. He brings a vibrant attitude to this anti-war flick but it's one poorly executed or at least unevenly so. At the heart of the film's animation there are technical problems. The character's eyes are dead and their movements clunky despite the lively body motions. Compared to a higher budget movie like Beowulf the animation is many years behind. It's a big reason to discount the slowness by which Chicago 10 chief concept operates. The animation doesn't provide enough dramatic potency to involve the audience and becomes more like a gimmick. Messy psychedelic assemblage of documentary footage--though culled reportedly from thousands of images and minutes of tape--doesn't add insight beyond common knowledge. Unfortunately it just isn’t much different from what we've already seen.