You know how some movies try to be serious, and are so bad, they’re good? Normally So Bad It’s Good movies are serious drama driven or genre films that slide in comedy because the execution is so poor, the actors are too hammy, and so on. This is why it’s rare to get a so bad, it’s good comedy, because when comedies are bad, it’s not funny, and you can’t laugh at something being really not funny. Grandma’s Boy is a really weird film for me to watch, because it’s a stoner comedy that slides into drama, or at least it comes off as a weird character study, albeit certainly not on purpose.
Grandma’s Boy, for reference, is a story about a loser. He’s meant to be a loser - can’t make rent, is a video game tester, 35 and doesn’t have a girlfriend, etc, your typical movie loser. Anyway, his roommate spends all the rent money on hookers, the loser has no where to live but his grandma’s house. She wakes him up early and - gasp- makes him do chores in exchange for having a place to live. He smokes weed, because lol weed, but the effects from weed seems like the writers attended a D.A.R.E. conference rather than have actually seen anyone high,
The Main Character (I don’t remember anyone’s name) works at a video game company, where he is a video game tester. There is the Villain (whose name I think is JP) who builds the video game, then a half dozen testers that test it. All these characters are pathetic losers, different stripes of pathetic losers but the script makes sure the emphasises that they are virgins just so we know how big of losers they are. The company is run by a hippie, who is played by Doug from Weeds and has a couple good lines. There is also a woman, whose entire narrative purpose is to not be a loser and be lusted after by all the virgins, and eventually won by our Main Character, whose name I forgot. Then there is Grandma and her roommates, who are well meaning lawful good types.
What strikes me about this movie is that a lot of the humour comes form people mocking each other. JP is the head programmer and in fact only programmer of the game. He goes on and on about how much of a genius he is, except he’s programming for (what the time) looks to be a AAA game, all by himself, and he’s successfully, all by himself, written two other best selling games. I think he kind of is portrayed as a genius at doing what he loves. JP is also socially terrible, weird, talks like a robot, and dressed like Neo from the Matrix. He’s also really, really obviously has some sort of social or mental disorder. All the virgin losers (for we must be reminded constantly that they are both virgins and losers) that he works with mock him endlessly.
I just bring this up because this movie is really, really tragic in a lot of ways, because just imagine this guy, he’s clearly very smart and talented at what he does, who cant’ socialize, and a bunch of losers who have loser lives are making fun of him to feel better about themselves. (One of them lives in a car bed and has stuffed animals and is portrayed as a child.) He’s mocked for his disorder, socially ostracised, and is called by his co-workers to be laughed at from after hours, including by the girl he likes. He’s a man whose life is ultimately tragic. He does some shitty things around the climax, but they seem thrown in because he is the villian.
Everyone else is pretty tragic too. The MC is taking advantage of his grandmother, gets illegal cable installed at a risk to her, is generally disrespectful of her house, etc.. One of the virgin losers sleeps with one of the Grandma’s roommates and transforms into a regular looser, and we see him the next day telling stories about it to everyone at work and being massively disrespectful. (“Her vagina smelled like the great depression”, etc.)
At one point, the Hippie boss, pleased with the team’s performance, sends them to an expensive vegan restaurant. Everyone there is massive disrespectful, makes fun of the vegans to each other, mocks their waters name, mock him when he gets upset (he calls them out on their bullshit, but they keep making fun of him). They act like a bunch of children.
There is also some other stuff, but I’m not here to explain why a bad stoner flick is a bad comedy; rather, there are a couple of underlying themes that are constantly repeated.
All the characters didn’t go far in life (the MC admits to the GIRL that he got good grades until he started smoking weed in high school. This is portrayed as funny rather than sad), and because of their massive insecurity complexes, they make fun of those less fortunate then them, until those they bully lash out. This is portrayed several times (The Vegan Restaurant, the MC mocking JP until JP steals a game form him and tries to pass it off as his own). It’s a movie about a bunch of underachievers trying to navigate a world that expects these masculine things out of them, but they constantly fail to grow up or become masculine, even by the end of the movie, though they are trying. There is a nerd hierarchy that regulates those at the bottom to be mocked and derided. This movie portrays all these things as funny but comes off as tragic and sad. The girl’s job is to come in and make sure projects get done on time, and it’s clear that her job is to be pretty and be able to demand that virgin losers do their jobs, and they do whatever she says to please her. Nice to see that her entire life she moves around the video game industry to be pretty.
So yeah, I’m not sure if I laughed at all with Grandma’s Boy. But I am rather fascinated with failed to be a comedy instead accidentally tell an almost compelling story about bullying, male insecurity, and of how cruelty begets cruelty.