The 17th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards are happening on VH1 Thursday, January 12th hosted by Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer. This is my third year as a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics and leading up to the big show I am profiling the nominees in each of the major categories.
Today: Best Comedy
The biggest comedy of 2011 was undoubtedly Bridesmaids starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy and an exceptional group of supporting players who make up one of the best comedy ensembles in a long time. Bridesmaids was often hailed as a female version of The Hangover and while that’s a fine comparison in terms of the amount of laughs each film generates, it sells Bridesmaids short as it implies a lack of originality.
Bridesmaids is fully original from the minds of star Kristen Wiig, her writing partner Annie Mumulo and director Paul Feig, each of whom bring a unique comic perspective that somehow melted into one of the most hysterical films of the year. How great is Bridesmaids? There is a serious Oscar campaign for Melissa McCarthy for Best Supporting Actress that insiders are having a hard time dismissing and a win for McCarthy at the Critics’ Choice Awards could make her a true front-runner.
Crazy Stupid Love
Steve Carell has a vast comic talent that adapts easily to broad comedy like Anchorman to crude comedy like The 40 Year Old Virgin and into quieter, more mainstream work such as Crazy Stupid Love. Directed by Glenn Ficcara and John Requa; Crazy Stupid Love finds Carell full of heart and sympathetic humanity as a devastated soon to be divorced husband to Julianne Moore’s emotionally exhausted wife.
Carell is so good that he makes physical comedy like jumping out of a moving car seem simply the rational reaction of a man trapped inside his worst nightmare. Carell’s work gets even better when he teams with Ryan Gosling as a ladies man living the shallow life until true love comes along in the form of Emma Stone. While I am among the many that found the final 20 minutes, give or take, of Crazy Stupid Love to be forced and far-fetched, I can forgive the filmmaker’s indulgence since this cast is so very good.
In a crowd of R-Rated comedies it may surprise some that Horrible Bosses would be the standout. For those who saw Horrible Bosses however, and witnessed the wonderfully foul comedy team of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day in action it’s not at all surprising. Horrible Bosses has a terrific premise and unlike far too many other 2011 comedies, it didn’t stop at the premise.
The idea is simple; three friends with nightmare bosses conspire in Hitchcockian fashion to kill each other’s boss. From there the movie becomes a roller coaster of close calls, dirty words and ingenious reactions from star Jason Bateman who is becoming the go-to straight man for directors looking for a handsome guy to heap repeated humiliation upon.
Midnight in Paris
Mixing romance, comedy and a literary cavalcade of guest stars, Woody Allen created what was, for me, the best movie of 2011. With that said, Midnight in Paris is unlikely to win Best Comedy. The humor of the film is far too subtle and thoughtful and the comedy is too specific to the characters for it to break out of a pack of movies that set out to strike hard at the funny bone.
Was there a film more childishly delightful than The Muppets in all of 2011? I doubt it. Writer and star Jason Segal’s love for the Muppets colors every scene with bright, imaginative humor for all ages while telling a compelling and engaging underdog story. The premise is very basic but the humor is endless from start to finish. Segal rebuilds the Muppet brand with an unexpectedly brilliant mix of nostalgia and modern wit.
Aiding Segal greatly was the contributions of Flight of the Conchords star Bret Mackenzie who, with Segal, will be crashing the musical categories at the Oscars as well as the Critics’s Choice Movie Awards.
Vote for your favorite comedy of 2011 at VH1.com and watch the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards on VH1 Thursday, January 12th.