The dark comedy is a tough sell in America, as it combines all of those things that “the masses” tend to dislike, including an R-Rating, more sophisticated humor, nihilism, and often a not-so-happy ending. But, when a dark comedy gets it right, they can be very good.
Horrible Bosses, the weekend’s number two film, got it mostly right, although it wasn’t as dark as some other notable dark comedies. It was funny, and refreshing to see Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell play against type. It’s hard to say what the big draw was — Aniston, Farrell, Bateman, the story, or good marketing — though I’d like to believe it was Charlie Day because he’s the one that deserves much of the credit for the success of the film. Horrible Bosses rang up $28.1 million at the box office, slightly ahead of where Bridesmaids landed after its first weekend and slightly behind where this summer’s other R-Rated comedy, Bad Teacher, landed. The difference, of course, is that Horrible Bosses deserves its success,where Bad Teacher decidedly did not. Nevertheless, it continues to perform respectably, adding $9 million in its third weekend to bring its total to $72 million. The first R-Rated comedy of the summer, Bridesmaids, also added a nice $2.7 million in its 9th week to become the 19th biggest R-Rated movie of all time.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, without tentpole competition, managed to hang on to number one in its second weekend. It wasn’t really close, as it added $47 million to bring its total to $261 million. In less than two weeks, it’s gained the year’s top spot. Only Harry Potter, among the summer’s entries, has a legitimate shot at knocking it off the spot, although wouldn’t it be cool if Winnie the Pooh came out of nowhere and stole the crown from everyone?
The big disappointment, at least from Kevin James’ perspective, was that the $80 million The Zookeeper didn’t manage to make much noise at the box office, opening with a lowly $21 million. Kevin James may not, in fact, be the box-office gold that many thought he’d be. Sure, Paul Blart put up huge numbers, but it opened in January and had very little competition. Pit him against Michael Bay and, well, you’ve got the premise for Bay’s next film: Blubberplosion©, a dark comedy about people who explode if they hit a certain weight. Wait, that’s kind of a great idea. “In a futuristic world ran by health insurance companies, a person’s weight dictates whether he lives or dies. An attractive woman falls in love with a man with an eating disorder. Can she get him to lay off the carbs? Think: Philip K. Dick meets The Nutty Professor.”
As promised, here are the 10 highest grossing dark comedies of all time, keeping in mind that I am not responsible for categorizing them as “dark comedies,” as I certainly wouldn’t have labeled the 2004 Stepford Wives remake as such. A movie needs comedy before it can be classified as comedy. Also interesting that the highest grossing dark comedy of all time hasn’t even cracked $100 million (although, yes, of course, in 2011 numbers, four of the top seven films would’ve broken $100 million. Adjusted for inflation numbers are in parenthesis for the box-office pedants).
1. The War of the Roses: $86 million ($165 million)
2. Ruthless People: $71 million ($151 million)
3. The Witches of Eastwick: $63 million ($128 million)
4. A Fish Called Wanda: $62 million ($119 million)
5. Burn After Reading: $60.3 million ($66 million)
6. The Cable Guy: $60.2 million ($107 million)
7. Bad Santa: $60 million ($77 million)
8. The Stepford Wives (2004): $59 million ($75 million)
9. Death Becomes Her: $58 million ($110 million)
10. Throw Momma from the Train: $57 million ($113 million)