23 August 2009

Trends: Apatow and the R-Rated Comedy; Part Two: 2008-2009


Welcome to Part Two of my series on the resurgence and dominance of the R-Rated Comedy in the past few years. Now, we saw how PG-13 was very strong in 2004, but began to falter in 2005, leading to its continued teeterance in 2007 among both commercially and very critically successful films such as "Knocked Up" and "Superbad." In 2008 you could literally see the changing of the guard week by week. Let's start with the Box Office combined with Rotten Tomatoes score:

PG-13:
#9. Get Smart - $130,000,000 / 53%
#11. Four Christmases - $120,000,000 / 24%
#14. You Don't Mess With the Zohan - $100,000,000 / 35%
#15. Yes Man - $97,000,000 / 43%
#19. What Happens in Vegas - $80,000,000 / 28%

2008 is really interesting, because all the major single-centered comedy stars took their crack at regaining their spotlight, but just couldn't win against the Apatow-style R-Comedy. In addition to the Sandler and Jim Carrey (relative) failures here, I'd like to add the abysmal bombs of Eddie Murphy's "Meet Dave" (2008) ($11,000,000 / 19%) and Mike Myers' "The Love Guru" (2008) ($32,000,000 / 14%). That era of comedy died in 2008. So, let's break out the winning side!

R:
#1. Sex and the City - %153,000,000 / 49%
#5. Tropic Thunder - $110,000,000 / 82%
#6. Step Brothers - $100,000,000 / 55%
#7. Pineapple Express - $87,000,000 / 68%
#8. Role Models - $67,000,000 / 76%
#10. Forgetting Sarah Marshall - $63,000,000 / 84%
#11. Burn After Reading - $60,000,000 / 78%
#17. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay - $38,000,000 / 54%

Take out of this what you will. Outside of "Sex and the City," the numbers aren't staggeringly higher, but there's a shitload more of 'em. Especially if you compare it to 2004, or even 2007. Also, as you can see, the overall quality is vastly improved, if not scoring above 90% like "Knocked Up." The average score for Top 20 2008 PG-13 movies is 36.6%. For those rated R, 68.25%. This is a tremendous leap in quality, keep in mind I did not factor in "The Love Guru" and "Meet Dave" into these calculations.

Also of note is the career of Will Ferrell. From the modest 2007 "Blades of Glory" to "Step Brothers" and "Semi-Pro" (haha at $33,000,000 / 21% does not help my case, but the mere fact that Ferrell made this R instead of PG-13 helps me a lot), he's clearly making a transition into more R-Rated territory. The sheer failure of PG-13 "Land of the Lost" (2009) might cement this.

So here we are in 2009, a few months to go, but so far, this is how we're stacking up. Keep in mind some of these are on-going:

PG-13:
#4. The Proposal - $157,000,000 / 44%
#10. He's Just Not That Into You - $94,000,000 / 43%
#14. 17 Again - $64,000,000 / 58%
#16. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - $55,000,000 / 28%
#17. Land of the Lost - $49,000,000 / 26%
#20. Year One - $43,000,000 / 16%

Now, let's go through a few things here. First of all, clearly, the Top 4 on this list are ridiculous romantic comedies and weird Zac Efron vehicles, which will always straggle around and be here forever. "Land of the Lost" and "Year One," however, were very much 90s or early 2000s-style comedies that have failed. Also considering that the 2008 list bottomed out at $80,000,000, and 2007 at $71,000,000, it's hardly likely come the end of the year that the last four on this list will even be counted. Which all leaves you with basically..."He's Just Not That Into You" rounding out the PG-13 list. Shit.

R:
#1. The Hangover - $266,000,000 / 78%
#5. I Love You, Man - $71,000,000 / 82%
#8. Bruno - $60,000,000 / 68%
#10. Funny People - $48,000,000 / 65%
#17. Observe and Report - $24,000,000 / 51%
#18. Adventureland - $16,000,000 / 88%

Now, if you look at this, it's pretty clear to me that "Observe and Report" and "Adventureland" may not still be on this list come the end of the year, but R and PG-13 are tied 6 for 6. Let's see who really has the edge. PG-13 is averaging $77,000,000 with a median of $64,000,000. R, on the other hand, has averaged $81,000,000 with a median of $60,000,000. The draw is pretty fucking close, so let's go with critical analysis. PG-13 on the Tomatometer gets a paltry 35.83% mean and 43% median. R charges ahead at this point, garnering a 72% average and 78% median. While the commercial success of either rating at this point in the year may be up for grabs, clearly R is producing a higher standard of film, and in general, a much higher number of films as long as 2009 is anything like 2008.

Here is a nice list of a shitload of R-Rated Youth films that have come out in the past 30 years. I've done you a service and counted them up, 18/96 have come out since 2005. Further, looking at the top 25, 10 of which have come out in that same timespan, compared with 8 from 2000-04, 3 from 1995-99, 0 from 1990-94, 0 from 1985-89, 3 from 1980-1984, and 1 from before that. Clearly this is a growing trend.

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