It’s never easy tickling the collective funny bone. One person’s side splitter ignited by a pie in the face draws a tired yawn from another. A wry play on words, frequently highlighted by a perfectly raised eyebrow, induces knowing chuckles-a-plenty to many but simultaneously leaves dozens more wondering why they’d missed the joke.
Little wonder that the most successful (when measured by yuks-per-minute) comedy over the last century is produced by stand-ups who leave it to their listeners’ imaginations to fill in the visual blanks.
Probably the most difficult genre to transform to the screen is the theatre of the absurd. Past masters (prose or playwrights) such as Harold Pinter, Nicolay Gogol and especially Kranz Kafka were experts at placing their bewildered protagonists in the most ludicrous, unfathomable situations but always managing an artistic payoff by journey’s end.
Writer/director Quentin Dupieux’s Wrong succinctly lives up to its title but not in the way intended. Focusing his attention on sad sack Dolph Springer (courageously rendered by Jack Plotnick) and his dognapped best friend, Paul, Dupieux tries to glue the production together with perfectly implausible scenes (although three-months fired, Dolph continues to show up at his former office where one and all—except the boss, of course—are daily drenched to the bone by a non-stop indoor shower), once-too-many sight gags (the digital clock soon becomes tiresome) and super-silly dialogue (a detailed discussion as to the meaning behind the newest pizza joint in town’s logo sets the table early-on for many more deliveries).
At today’s screening, the sporadic laughs erupted from various pockets of patrons yet a collective, heartfelt guffaw was as rare as any sort of redeeming subtext (even the dog turd, er, probe got a mixed response). Having had their fill of self-indulgence trumping what might have been a deliciously, dark essay on the recessed fears within us all, a few film buffs left early.
Most certainly two wrongs could never right this disappointing affair. JWR