In a sum­mer of com­edy bombs, a few stand­outs

From bad ‘Bay­watch’ to a rough ‘Night,’ it isn’t funny any­more


Two decades ago, se­men as hair gel equaled hi­lar­ity in a suc­cess­ful R-rated sum­mer com­edy. In 2017, a dude’s junk get­ting caught in a beach chair doesn’t reg­is­ter a guf­faw. Or even the slight­est chor­tle, since hardly any­one showed up to see Bay­watch.

When it comes to high-pro­file raunch-fests and other adult-ori­ented buf­foon­ery, it’s been a com­edy of er­rors lately. Mostly be­cause there hasn’t been any­thing ac­tu­ally that funny, but also partly be­cause au­di­ences have lost their taste for low­brow shenani­gans.

Dwayne John­son’s Bay­watch re­boot has made a mere $58 mil­lion — one of weak­est grosses to date for the mus­cu­lar su­per­star — though it has at least out­per­formed Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn’s va­ca­tion-gone-wrong ad­ven­ture Snatched ($45.8 mil­lion), Brides­maids-re­vis­ited Rough Night ($21.8 mil­lion) and Will Fer­rell and Amy Poehler’s casino com­edy The House ($24 mil­lion). Com­bined, their en­tire runs don’t add up to just the open­ing week­end of the sea­son’s top-earn­ing movie, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

They’ve all been shown up by MVP Girls Trip, which fi­nally broke sum­mer’s Rrated com­edy slump last week­end. The bawdy com­edy — star­ring Regina Hall, Queen Lat­i­fah, Tif­fany Had­dish and Jada Pin­kett Smith as col­lege friends who re­unite for a week­end in New Or­leans — took sec­ond place at the box of­fice with $30.4 mil­lion.

So what’s to blame for this post-Hang­over hang­over? First

off, a lot of bad movies. This year’s slate of un­der­whelm­ing R-rated come­dies is dis­ap­point­ing, con­sid­er­ing that last sum­mer brought us orig­i­nal stuff in­clud­ing The Rock and Kevin Hart’s spy spoof Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence, the hi­lar­i­ously of­fen­sive Sausage Party and the mu­sic mock­u­men­tary Pop­star: Never Stop Never Stop­ping.

Even though pure come­dies have wa­vered, film fans can get their laughs else­where with­out the end­less f-bombs and bodyfluid hu­mor. The R-rated ma­te­rial that most res­onates now is in movies that mine hi­lar­ity while work­ing in other gen­res: Get Out, one of the year’s best films, is ter­ri­fy­ing at times, so­cially con­scious through­out, but re­ally brings the funny in equal mea­sure and in in­tel­li­gent fash­ion.

While the adult fare is fal­ter­ing, the PG-13 movies are pick­ing up the slack while also cater­ing to a broader au­di­ence. Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing earnestly wears its teen-com­edy in­flu­ences on its span­dex sleeve, and Guardians 2 — just like its in­sta-clas­sic pre­de­ces­sor — is a fam­ily-friendly romp en­cased in a su­per­hero movie. When the jug­ger­naut Mar­vel movies are more hi­lar­i­ous than the ac­tual come­dies, it’s just get­ting un­fair.

Chris Pratt would prob­a­bly be do­ing some of th­ese R-rated farces were he not cap­tain­ing Guardians, which brings up an­other is­sue: the lack of con­sis­tently bank­able co­me­di­ans.

Melissa McCarthy has come to the fore with Brides­maids, The Heat and Spy, and Hart has tran­si­tioned from pop­u­lar stand-up act to on­screen com­edy force. The rest of Hol­ly­wood seems hit or miss.

John­son couldn’t repli­cate his buddy magic from Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence with Zac Efron in Bay­watch. Ryan Reynolds’ brand will be might­ily tested op­po­site Sa­muel L. Jack­son in The Hit­man’s Body­guard (out Aug. 18) — other than Dead­pool, his R-rated com­edy ca­reer hasn’t ex­actly been stel­lar.

Rather than stars, con­cepts have be­come king — and queen. Bad Moms was a sur­prise hit last sum­mer, so now of course we get Fun Mom Din­ner (in the­aters and video on de­mand Fri­day). Rough Night was, yes, a pretty rough take on the Brides­maids and Hang­over for­mula, though Girls Trip is en­joy­ing a far more suc­cess­ful out­ing.

Don’t sleep on the draw­ing power of Queen Lat­i­fah or the scene-steal­ing ef­forts of Tif­fany Had­dish.

Per­haps the best piece of news that has come out of this sum­mer is The Big Sick, the R-rated in­die Lit­tle Com­edy That Could. The semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal rom-com earned a not-too-shabby $11,000 per theater in its na­tional roll­out and boasts a tal­ented ac­tor on the rise in Sil­i­con Val­ley’s Ku­mail Nan­jiani. Plus, it’s hi­lar­i­ous.

The Big Sick could end up be­ing the cure-all for the com­mon com­edy. Wouldn’t that be funny?


Zoë Kravitz, Il­lana Glazer, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Kate McKin­non and Jil­lian Bell hit up the club in Rough Night.


Eye candy isn’t enough. Bay­watch, star­ring Dwayne John­son and Zac Efron, is one of sev­eral R-rated sum­mer-com­edy bombs.


Regina Hall, from left, Tif­fany Had­dish, Jada Pin­kett Smith and Queen Lat­i­fah take flight for wild times in Girls Trip.


Brid­get Everett, left, Molly Shan­non, Katie Asel­ton and Toni Col­lette star in the fe­male-cen­tric com­edy Fun Mom Din­ner.

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