The Evolution of comedy


Directed by Ivan Reitman

(David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott)

Rated: PG13

For all the readers who haven’t yet taken Anthropology 1001, evolution is the process by which our earliest hominid ancestors slowly mutated into the Homo Sapiens that we see around us today. In a similar fashion, the cinematic comedy genre has also slowly morphed from it’s origins (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton) into what is termed “comedy” today, i.e. the shock value, bathroom variety, bottom of the gutter comedy.

To extend this evolutionary metaphor, if we equate the modern Homo Sapien with the modern gross-out comedy, then perhaps the greatest compliment we could give to Ivan Reitman’s newest film Evolution is that it’s the evolutionary equivalent of say, the Neanderthal, or possibly Homo Erectus.

This is because Evolution hearkens back to a kind of comedy not very often in evidence today, and exemplified well by one of Reitman’s earlier films, Ghostbusters. The biggest laughs in the film don’t depend on someone taking a shot to the crotch. Instead the humor is more situational, less lowest-common-denominator.

This isn’t to say that the film is without its flaws. Even though Reitman purported that much research went into the scientific details of the film, the chemistry is laughable to the point of absurdity. In addition, Julianne Moore’s character is about as clearly motivated as Senator Jim Jeffords and Sarah Silverman’s cameo is as bafflingly nonsensical as Gilbert Gottfried’s career.

The film so closely resembles Ghostbusters that one waits in painfully unfulfilled anticipation for a shot of a scantily clad Sigourney Weaver floating over her bed asking for the “keymaster.” (The Ghostbusters’ scene this reporter most vividly and fondly recalls.) However, Evolution will not become the classic that Ghostbusters did. There’s no pop song, no catchy phrase and most of all, no Bill Murray.