I like Ed Helms. Really I do. He’s not great or anything, but he’s a solid comic character actor. He was a good third option during The Daily Show’s heyday. He was a good second option in the first Hangover. He is probably the funniest thing about The Office today (damning with faint praise, but still).
However, he’s starting to develop a pattern… appearing in things that stretch believability past its limit, even with the extra leeway comedies should be given.
Film: The Hangover Part II
I would start this with SPOILER ALERT, except that Hangover II is basically a Gus Van Sant’s Psycho-style shot-for-shot remake of the first (after director Todd Phillips just did the same with Due Date re: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles… but that’s another column… except to say that Judd Apatow should sue all the writers who have recently lumped him in with Phillips in “frat pack humor” articles).
There are many ridiculous things about Part II that stretch believability (Zach Galifinakis drugs everybody again, the boring one is left behind again, Mr. Chow somehow shows up in Bangkok).
But there’s one that takes the cake. In the “fuck and marry Heather Graham” section, Helms’ character Stu fucks a Bangkok prostitute. Or rather, she fucks him… turns out she is a he (money line: “Why do you think they call it Bangkok and not Bangcunt” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA). This leads to Stu freaking out because he worries he might be gay.
Ummm… maybe it’s just me, but that’s not at the top of my list if I’m butt-fucked by a Bangkok whore. I’m in the corner in the fetal position, rocking back and forth and trying to listen the blood running through my veins to figure out how much time I have left. I’m rushing off to whatever the best clinic in Bangkok is to have my entire body scrubbed down inside and out. Not the Hangover guys, though. They are way more worried about latent homosexuality. Not one mention of disease, a condom, nothing… that would ruin the madcap antics. Shockingly, everything turns out for the best and Stu ends up getting married. And, of course, he hides all the crazy details from his now-wife. Including the fact she’s going to have to take drug cocktails for the rest of her life.
Television: The Office
Michael Scott has left. Andy Bernard has come, gone to anger management, and returned. Roy is a distant memory and Jim and Pam have a kid.
And not one fucking person in that office has apparently seen a minute of footage from this documentary that’s been filmed for seven fucking seasons.
Maybe I’m too much of a fan of the British Office. But in that version, they had a believable stretch of filming (two 6-episode seasons), and then did a two-episode follow-up after the documentary had aired. It was a great way to end… everybody had seen everything and had to deal with the fall-out. In the American version, it’s like some never-ending experimental film that James Incandenza would have made (look it up). Nobody ever asks why it’s still going on. The new owners of Dunder-Mifflin don’t question it at all. Where the fuck are the filmmakers getting their funding from? Wouldn’t one of them have fucked Angela by now?
The worst part… there was a great final season in there with Steve Carell. They could have made the documentary a series that Michael Scott would have to live through week-after-week, becoming an object of ridicule, dealing with seeing himself in action. But then, they would have had to return to the patheticness that the character started with, instead of the poor-man’s Kramer character he’d become. And we’d miss all of Jim’s adorable shrugs into the camera.