Overview: Director Kevin Pollak sets out to answer the age-old question, “Do you have to be miserable to be funny?” in this star-studded documentary about comedians. 2015; Tribeca Film; Not Rated; 95 minutes.
Ugh: For a documentary called Misery Loves Comedy, it takes an awful long time for Pollack to actually get to the topic of misery. This film should have been called Comedians Talk About Pretty Much Everything Except For Whether Or Not They’re Miserable. If I seem frustrated, it’s because I am. I really, really am. So much about this movie overwhelmed me. The editing is rough and seemingly pretty lazily done. The soundtrack is weird and distracting. And the narrative is nonexistent. Instead of looking for common threads that push the documentary forward, Pollak chose to slap some text on the screen of the questions he asked. But all of that could have been excusable for me. But there’s one thing about Misery Loves Comedy that I can’t get over, and that’s wasted potential.
THAT CAST THOUGH: Pollak got everyone for this movie. Seriously. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen simply because each time a new comedian was introduced, I was more and more blown away that Pollak had pulled this off. Jimmy Fallon, Bob Saget, Whoopi Goldberg, Matthew Perry, Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Jim Gaffigan, Judd Apatow, Lisa Kudrow, Larry David, Jon Favreau, Martin Short… The list goes on and on. I mean, it’s just mind-blowing. How did this guy talk so many outrageously talented, A-list people into being in this movie?! I wish I could freaking interview Pollak just to ask him that question.
Just a side thought: Notably absent is Louis C.K., my personal favorite comedian right now, a hugely popular talent, and a dude who basically makes his living talking about how miserable he is. I can only imagine how hard Pollack must have tried to get him. (The idea that C.K. probably turned him down multiple times actually makes me like him more. He seems like the kind of guy who wouldn’t be all that interested in sitting down and talking about himself, and I dig that.)
Wasted Potential: Despite this mind-blowing cast, Pollak never gets in deep with these comedians. He doesn’t dig beneath the surface, and even with people who have been very open about their struggles with addiction or depression (such as Rob Delaney), Pollak doesn’t seem to ask the hard-hitting questions. I’m not sure exactly what it takes to get funny people to open up about their inner turmoil, and apparently neither is Pollack, which unfortunately makes this movie feel like such a waste.
Final Thoughts: This movie should have been so good! But it just… wasn’t. It was meh. Still, in spite of all my frustrations, I still really liked this movie. I’m a fan of so many of these comedians, and I would watch all of them talk about almost anything.
Grade: A+ for getting so many ridiculously awesome funny people to be a part of this movie. D for not taking advantage of the access to so many ridiculously awesome funny people.