groundhog day

Groundhog Day

I tend to gravitate more toward comedies that offer a little more than Kevin James being clumsy on a Segway. “Comedies That Also Make You Cry” could really describe my favorite movie genre in general. The first movie I remember seeing that struck me as really darkly funny and deeply moving has remained the gold standard for me. Groundhog Day perfectly flows from “fish-out-of-water dumb romantic comedy” to “study of the pointlessness of existence” to “life-affirming testament to the power of love” as Bill Murray’s jaded and self-absorbed jagoff Phil Connors gets stuck in a time loop in a small-town Hell. It takes multiple lifetimes of hedonism and self-indulgence, developing and abandoning relationships, and increasingly ridiculous suicide attempts before Phil reaches a kind of enlightenment.

An earlier draft of the script showed Phil being cursed by an ex-lover, explaining how he gets trapped in the time loop and more explicitly showing what a dick he really is. The way the movie stands, with his predicament a mystery that ends as unceremoniously as it began, it is much stronger. We feel Phil’s helplessness and despair and start to feel sorry for him. While his transformation should feel like too little, too late, the movie shows Phil’s genuine, raw emotion as he affects the lives of the people of Punxsatawney. When he’s unable to prevent the death of a homeless man he randomly encounters, I always get teary. The way this movie balances its pathos and existentialism with humor and warmth is unparalleled. -Matthew Borda

Home Alone

My favorite comedy (that also makes me cry) just happens to also be my all-time favorite movie: 1990’s Home Alone! The wonderful premise at the center of the movie ensures such a hilarious good time to be had (and just happens to make it impossible to remake, keeping the film timeless). There are plenty of great lines and gags not only delivered by Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin McAllister, but also by the Wet Bandits (Joe Pesci and the underrated Daniel Stern), Buzz, Catherine O’Hara as the frustrated mom, and John Candy in his famous cameo. Even when the movie makes viewers laugh, it also does not forget to hook them emotionally. The focus on family at its center rings true without feeling forced, while the subplot tied into Old Man Marley’s (Roberts Blossom) part of the story touches the audience’s hearts. For me, no other comedy has done a better job with that balancing act of keeping the humor up while taking out time for empathetic character moments. The tone and plot beats are consistently entertaining. -Josh McLaughlin

In Bruges

Not fully aware of the amazing talent in the director’s chair, Martin McDonagh’s 2008 film In Bruges came out of nowhere to hit me with an array of extreme emotions.  To this day, not only is it an all-time favourite of mine, but it also serves as the perfect example of a “Comedy that makes me cry.”  And even though I would imagine many movie fans have already seen or heard of this movie, I’m going to remain spoiler-free in hopes that the one person who hasn’t seen it decides to watch it for the first time because of this post.

The movie finds us with two hit-men (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) waiting for their boss’s (Ralph Fiennes) instruction while hiding out…you guessed it! In Bruges. A botched job forces our main characters to Belgium and we quickly realize Farrell doesn’t want to there. Brendan Gleeson, his more experienced partner, insists the city has something to offer and they be patient waiting for Fiennes to ring. As the story progresses, we come to understand why our hit-men were sent to Bruges and what the boss wants to happen next.

You only connect by allowing yourself to embrace the subject matter. Themes like death, coping with tragedy, sacrifice, and living a life of morals, are shockingly deep for a movie that sees Colin Farrell karate chop a little person. But that’s just it! This movie is so much more than your average dark comedy. It is a strange thing to be brought to tears with laughter in one scene, only to have a moment of introspection produce the same result. -Brett Picaro

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