Whilst attending perhaps the worst-matched college for a cultural misfit like me, I realized I liked my sense of humor sick and dark, yet strangely heart-warming, like Christmas Eve at a leper colony. In a country that celebrates Christmas.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in 1989, the house lights went up after our matinee screening of the movie Heathers. I was exhilarated as roommate Lisa, boyfriend Kevin and I exited the theater. I turned to Lisa, beaming, then quickly suppressed my grin at the sight of her stricken expression. She said the movie had disturbed her so much, she didn't want to talk; could we just please go home so she could lock herself in her room to recover. I feigned concern, and agreed the film was "dark." But once Lisa was out of earshot in the parking lot:
"That movie was Awesome," I whispered giddily to Kevin.
"Dude, I know!" replied Kevin.
Kevin and saw the movie several more times, and quoted it all summer long. I bought a copy of the video as soon as it hit the stores. Kevin was an Awesome Dude. (Yes, everyone at my school eventually adopted a Spicolliesque syntax and vocabulary. Resistance was futile.) What killed our relationship was an unhappy marriage of his being so much shorter than I and my irrational prejudice (borne of generations of Giant Norse familial privilege) of short men. But lest I stray further down this Nordic track, I will return to what was, heretofore, a point.
I realized I was not like cute, blonde, sensitive Lisa, who earnestly wanted to work with (and have lots of) children. I think she is now a teacher and happy wife and mother, living a comfortable, snark-free existence. I do not judge Lisa and her sorority sisters, literal and figurative. It's just that somewhere along the historic or karmic path of my life, I noted I was different. Being a proper good girl is not in my nature. And pretending otherwise leads to disastrous results, somewhat like outfitting Russell Crowe's gladiator with a tutu. Fuck that.
The point? Oh yes, I don't know if there is a name to that genre of film - dark, funny (to some) and twisted movies with heart. Dark comedies? (This is why I would never be a good film critic.)
I have enjoyed myriad modern dark, funny heartwarmers (or, if not heartwarming, at least unique, smart, and somewhat absurd without being affected) such as Rushmore (and other Wes Anderson movies), Fargo (and most other Cohen Brothers movies), Harold and Maude, Pulp Fiction (the only Tarantino film I've really liked), Grosse Point Blanke, Mystery Men, American Beauty, A Fish Called Wanda, Being John Malkovich (or anything written by Charlie Kaufman! Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation - a lot funnier if you're somewhat of a movie geek and after you've seen Being John Malkovich. . .)
And . . .if a movie has Steve Carell, Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Greg Kinnear, Lily Tomlin, William H. Macy, John (and of course Joan) Cusack, Jim Carrey (sometimes), Kevin Spacey, Frances McDormand, Holly Hunter, Hank Azaria, Alan Arkin, John Turturro, or Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding, anyone?) . . . I will probably love it just because of how much I enjoy watching these actors.
Anyway, if you loved many of the above movies and actors, then run, don't walk, to go see Little Miss Sunshine. Delightful, sick, hilarious. And you know, with heart. [Brownie points to anyone who knows the movie: "You know, for kids!" another favorite of mine.]
I laughed so hard during the finale of Little Miss Sunshine that I was actually sobbing, tears streaming down my face. It was an incredibly funny, yet poignant, heart-warming and truly satisfying movie experience. A must-see.
If not, well, then go find someone else's mellow upon which to impose your harsh.