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7 Dark Comedies That Went Too Dark For Their Own Good

Summary

  • Some dark comedies can be too dark, alienating sensitive viewers and generating controversy.
  • Death to Smoochy, That’s My Boy, The Hangover Part III, Kick-Ass 2, Tusk, The Voices, and Bad Santa 2 all suffered critically or financially.
  • These films either had a toxic vibe, poor reviews, low box office receipts, or a combination of these factors.


Dark comedies aren’t for everyone. More often than not, they tackle real world subjects with a tongue-in-cheek approach, and that can prove alienating for the more sensitive viewers (especially those who have dealt with the severe issue the movie is flippantly discussing). Even classic dark comedies such as Heathers generated controversy at the time of release, and continue to do so.

Yet, some dark comedies still check both the critical and commercial boxes, like Bad Santa, Grosse Pointe Blank, In Bruges, and The War of the Roses. But the following movies did not. Either critics (and, subsequently, general audiences) found themselves turned off by the project, or box office receipts were dismal — or there was a combination of the two. These seven dark comedy films went a little too dark and suffered for it, either critically or financially.


7 Death to Smoochy (2002)

An under-seen Robin Williams film that nonetheless falls far short of greatness, Danny DeVito’s Death to Smoochy is the penultimate of six films directed by the iconic It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star. Throw Momma from the Train, The War of the Roses, and Matilda all reached varying levels of success, but like his 1992 Hoffa, DeVito’s final two films largely failed to find their intended audience.

Was It Too Dark?

Unlike Hoffa, which was a would-be prestige picture that generated more apathy than applause, Death to Smoochy and Duplex came and went from theaters like bolts of lightning. However, while the also-dark Duplex didn’t hit theaters with any word surrounding it — a true surprise for an early aughts film with Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore leading — Death to Smoochy hit theaters with an outright toxic vibe.

And it’s not surprising because, for the most part, the trailer accurately sold how unpleasant the whole movie actually is. It’s a baffling misfire, but also an interesting one with devoted performances from Edward Norton, Catherine Keener, and Robin Williams, and it has become a cult classic in the years since its release.

Death to Smoochy is available to rent on Apple TV, Amazon Video, and Google Play Movies

6 That’s My Boy (2012)

That’s My Boy came out the same weekend as Rock of Ages, and like that film, its marketing hinged on playing to both nostalgia and “something new” simultaneously. In terms of something new, there was “Adam Sandler in an R-rated movie” and “Tom Cruise sings,” respectively. In other words, not enough to generate audience interest, especially when neither film really works for more than one scene at a time.

How’d People Take To R-Rated Sandler?

The reviews for That’s My Boy were rightfully poor, primarily citing its mean-spirited nature, which doesn’t exactly make for a cinematic experience commensurate with a summer comedy vibe. And, given its genre, the film had a huge budget of $70 million, yet could only generate $57.7 million worldwide, cementing it as a forgettable flop.

That’s My Boy is available to rent on Apple TV, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, and YouTube

5 The Hangover Part III (2013)

Technically, The Hangover Part II was the installment of the trilogy to go too dark, but it was The Hangover Part III that felt the brunt of the impact. Part II took things from Vegas to Bangkok, and just about every plot point in the original film was elevated in intensity, often making it seem like one of the central trio could actually die. And, as far as summer comedy movies go, that can work against the intended effect.

RELATED: The Ridiculous Process of Filming The Hangover

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Since audiences were already turned off by Part II there really needed to be something about Part III that convinced prospective viewers it had any reason to exist outside of ticket sales. The trailer (and final product) did not come close to selling that notion, and the trailer’s one quasi-effective joke, where a giraffe is decapitated by an overpass, was certainly not a universally appealing bit of humor.

So, while Part III cracked $100 million domestic, it still experienced a sharp decline in interest, primarily because audiences figured they were going to get more of the same bits that made Part II a failure. They weren’t wrong, but at least Part II had a personality.

The Hangover Part III is available to stream on TNT, TBS, tru TV, and DIRECTV

4 Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Both Kick-Ass movies go dark, but most fans would argue that only one of them does so effectively. And, solid as it was, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass wasn’t ever going to build a swiftly-expanding fan base, so whatever sequel was released needed to be of a comparable quality to retain what fans there were. Kick-Ass 2 didn’t come close to the first film’s good-but-not-great box office tallies, and the disparity between their critical receptions was even more substantial.

How Was the Reaction Compared to the Original?

When it came to critical reception, Kick-Ass 2 was largely viewed as a copy-paste job where much of the impact had been diminished, and any depth had been replaced by more expletives and neighborhood bloodshed.

In terms of financial results, the 2010 film netted nearly $100 million worldwide against a budget of $30 million, which was respectable but not astounding, so hopes weren’t that high for the sequel. But, with $60.8 million against a budget comparable to the first film’s (specifically, slightly lower at $28 million), Kick-Ass 2‘s drop was too substantial to warrant a trilogy-capping installment.

Kick-Ass 2 is available to stream on Peacock Premium or for free with ads on Tubi TV

3 Tusk (2014)

tusk

Tusk

Release Date
September 6, 2014

Rating
R

Kevin Smith’s later films, particularly his True North trilogy (Tusk, Yoga Hosers, and the forthcoming Moose Jaws), have proved to be both far different from his early View Askewniverse stuff, and subject to poor critical marks. Criticism primarily focused on the two films’ wild tonal inconsistencies, with both Tusk and Yoga Hosers oscillating between outlandish, referential, niche humor and body horror tropes.

Too Different for Smith Fans?

In the case of Tusk, the film couldn’t even make a profit on a slim $3 million budget (specifically, $1.9 million returns worldwide). For the utterly bizarre Yoga Hosers, released two years later, the vast majority of critics and Smith fans agreed it was the nadir of his filmography.

And it could only generate $38,784 worth of audience interest on a $5 million budget. Yet, thanks to a respectable and still-building cult audience for the first entry in the True North trilogy, Tusk 2 is most likely en route.

Tusk is available to stream on Cinemax, Kanopy and DIRECTV

2 The Voices (2014)

The Voices

The Voices

Release Date
January 19, 2014

Director
Marjane Satrapi

Rating
R

In The Voices, Ryan Reynolds stars as the troubled Jerry Hickfang, who believes he’s able to converse with his pet dog and cat. Of course, in reality, their words are all creations of his own murderous mind. And, as could be guessed, Reynolds himself provides the voices of the dog and cat. And as could also be guessed, they’re the humorous highlight of this dark comedy.

Did General Audiences Hear The Voices?

The reviews for The Voices were solid if not astounding, which could very much be said of the film itself (though Reynolds really gives it his all and is easily watchable). Furthermore, while the budget was kept very low (given Reynolds and Kendrick’s presences), the niche comedy still barely cracked $2 million worldwide.

The Voices is available to stream on Prime Video or for free with ads on Freevee

1 Bad Santa 2 (2016)

The original Bad Santa was a critical and commercial favorite that gave Billy Bob Thornton his best role in years. Bad Santa 2 received the opposite kind of reaction and ruined what was once an interesting (though crass) character. There’s no character growth in Bad Santa 2, there’s just a man who has continued to fall back in his own way, even dragging the first film’s young boy (not so young now) down with him.

How’d It Compare to the Original?

Terry Zwigoff’s 2003 film scored $76.5 million worldwide against a budget of $23 million (not to mention loads of cash in rentals), yet the 2016 sequel could only attract $17.8 million in domestic interest and just over $6 million overseas on a slightly bumped (but reasonable given the time jump) budget of $26 million.

Regardless of the relatively small budget, given the financial returns and horrendous reviews from critics and fans alike, there was no point in making Bad Santa 2.

Bad Santa 2 is available to stream on Paramount +

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