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By Noelle Buffam · March 26, 2011
Comedy is a genre of film that uses humor as a driving force. The aim of a comedy film is to illicit laughter from the audience through entertaining stories and characters. Although the comedy film may take on some serious material, most have a happy ending. Comedy film has the tendency to become a hybrid sub-genre because humor can be incorporated into many other genres. Comedies are more likely than other films to fall back on the success and popularity of an individual star.
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Groundhog Day – A grumpy weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again.
The Princess Bride – A farm boy must save Princess Buttercup from a forced marriage to the nasty Prince Humperdinck.
Happy Gilmore – A reject hockey player takes up golf in order to save his grandmother’s house.
Anarchic refers to a sub-genre of comedy that uses stream-of-consciousness humor. The humor in these films tends to be nonsensical with exaggerated characters and situations. Anarchic film often uses slapstick tendencies, yet is considered to be less psychically violent. Unlike classic comedy, Anarchic films tend not to rely on narrative to explain the context of the humor.
Examples: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Blazing Saddles, Animal House.
As it’s names suggests, this sub-genre combines action with humor. Action-Comedy relies on the characters to bring out the humor, while the action scenes tend to be less intense than in the traditional action movie.
Examples: Beverly Hills Cop, Rush Hour, Hot Fuzz.
Black Comedy is a sub-genre of both Comedy and Satire. These films often explore concepts and topics that are considered taboo. Black Comedy takes topics and situations that are commonly held as serious and explores them in a comical way. Because of this approach, Black Comedies often cause the audience to laugh and feel uncomfortable simultaneously.
Examples: Fargo, Harold and Maude, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Horror-Comedy combines comedy with traditional horror movie themes and characters. Because of the subject matter, Horror-Comedy films can cross over into the Black Comedy sub-genre. Horror-Comedy films aim to scare the audience, but also provide comical outlets that let the audience laugh at their fear.
Examples: Beetlejuice, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead.
Dramedy film is a genre that has a dramatic tone, yet has important elements of comedy. In Dramedys, the amount of drama and comedy are almost equally balanced. This balance provides comedic relief for the audience, while still addressing serious issues.
Examples:Little Miss Sunshine, The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation.
Parody/Spoof is a sub-genre of Comedy film that bases itself in reality. These films impersonate, ridicule, or scoff at serious situations and people. These films rely heavily on satire and can be used as a means of social or political commentary. Parody/Spoof films can also take the form in a fake documentary called a “Mockumentary.”
Examples: Life of Brian, Naked Gun, Scary Movie.
Romantic-Comedy is a genre that attempts to catch the viewer’s heart with the combination of love and humor. This sub-genre is light-hearted and usually places the two protagonists in humorus situation. Romantic-Comedy film revolves around a romantic ideal, such as true love. In the end, the ideal triumphs over the situation or obstacle, thus creating a happy ending.
Examples: Roman Holiday, When Harry Met Sally, Knocked Up.
Slapstick comedy is a sub-genre of film that incorporates physical comedy into the story. Slapstick uses visual action, such as harmless violence and horseplay, to depict humor. Slapstick film often relies on comedic timing and a controlled psychical performance of a single actor or actress.
Examples: Caddyshack, Safety Last!, Tommy Boy.