Dallas likes to read and review fiction and write original articles about films, books, video games, and other media.
Comedy is hard. Sure, just about anyone is capable of being spontaneously funny in the right circumstances. However, deliberately setting out to make the greatest number of people possible laugh at a carefully constructed joke, or moment of comedy, has always seemed like something that would be incredibly difficult. The fear of failure would have to be daunting. Even the most mediocre comedies you can imagine are likely to be the result of a great deal of time and effort, with jokes being written and rewritten continuously in a desperate effort to elicit the greatest number of laughs possible.
The five short films listed below are films that are successful, though. Obviously, there is always going to be a subjective quality to comedy, but I can honestly say that I found each of the short films listed below to be genuinely hilarious in their own unique way. Whether it's the elements of parody to be found in Kung Fury and Future Hero, the character-driven comedy of The Duel at Blood Creek, the entertaining meta-fiction of The Gunfighter, or the surreal absurdity of At Your Convenience, each clearly seems to succeed at that elusive goal of eliciting laughs.
Anyway, let's get to it...
1. Kung Fury
A fantastic, and truly absurd, love letter to the films of the 1980s, Kung Fury tells the tale of a renegade kung fu cop and his efforts to stop a time travelling Adolf Hitler (otherwise known as the Kung Führer). It's a film that features robots, kung fu, time travel, Vikings, Nazis, and David Hasselhoff. Somehow, it also manages to be even more absurd than all of that probably makes it sound.
Kung Fury is a very strange little film. But it's also genuinely entertaining. Thanks to the money earned through its successful Kickstarter campaign being put to good use, it also looks great. Sure, the film's very overt use of green screen may look a little garish, and the quality of the performances range from stilted and awkward to over-the-top scenery-chewing. But all of this fits with the B-movie parody look and feel that the filmmakers were obviously going for. In the end, it all becomes part of the film's strange charm.
Honestly, the most absurd excesses of your typical 1980s action film are really only the starting point for Kung Fury. Your ability to actually enjoy the film is going to be largely dependent on how willing you are to allow yourself to simply enjoy the joke.
2. The Gunfighter
Through the fairly standard storytelling device of an omniscient narrator, voiced here by Nick Offerman, we are told the tale of a tense confrontation between a gunfighter and a saloon full of thugs in The Gunfighter.
It's a fairly conventional set-up, as far as Westerns go. But, of course, it's not long until we are clued in to the central joke that is going to carry the short film. Each and every one of these patrons can hear the narrator, and they aren't too happy about the fact that he seems fairly insistent on pushing them toward killing each other. They also aren't too thrilled about his habit of revealing their deepest and darkest secrets to each other.
The idea of fictional characters being aware of and interacting with the narrator who is telling their story has been done before, of course. But The Gunfighter still counts as probably the most entertaining use of this odd little trope that I have ever come across. The entirety of this short film may rest on that single joke, but there is enough variety in the revelations that that narrator tosses out, and in the way that different characters react to him, that it manages to keep things entertaining.
You can watch The Gunfighter by following this link.
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3. Future Hero
When a cyborg from the future travels back in time to kill his infant son, a lazy and absent-minded father will have to reconcile with his disapproving adult son, also back from the future, if he hopes to save the day.
Sharing some obvious similarities with The Terminator, as well as many other films to feature time travel, Future Hero finds much of its humour in its central character. Casting a lazy slob, who would really rather take a nap than go to the park with his wife and infant son, as the somewhat reluctant hero paired up with his more conventionally heroic time-travelling son leads to some fun character-driven comedy as he so suddenly finds himself in over his head. Also, the bickering banter between father and son, as they confront some future family difficulties, is very entertaining.
In the end, Future Hero is a film that would not have looked out of place as a sketch on one of the better quality sketch-comedy shows. It just has that sort of feel.
You can watch Future Hero by following this link.
4. The Duel at Blood Creek
Blood Creek is a place of honor. It is a place where noble duelists have come to settle their differences for generations. A place where the spilled blood of hundreds of past fallen runs through the very soil. And now, it is to be the sight of another epic duel, as a lord and his man-servant make their way to creek's bank to wait for the man who wronged him.
There's a problem, though. Instead of the foe he expects, a stranger arrives, here for his own scheduled duel. Then, another arrives, also set on carrying out his own duel. By the time that the first duelist's designated opponent actually does put in an appearance, a rather impressive crowd has gathered. Then things get really out of hand as, of course, each and every one of them is adamant that they should be the first to duel.
The Duel at Blood Creek is a film entirely committed to the increasingly absurd situation these characters find themselves in. Much of its humor is drawn from the overblown pomposity of its cast of characters as they all try desperately to make sense of what's happening. Great dialogue and great performances carry the film toward its end, where the arrival of one final character derails things even further.
You can watch The Duel at Blood Creek by following this link.
5. At Your Convenience
Randall and Dwayne are best friends who own and operate a small convenience store together. Randall is naive and a little child-like while Dwayne is much more practical, but the two clearly enjoy working together. They are dismayed, though, when they learn that their most popular novelty item (a glass tube containing a small rose) is only selling so well because they are being used as improvised crack pipes.
Their friendship is tested, though, as Dwayne begins to spend more time with a new group of friends who most definitely aren't a gang. Randall, meanwhile, finds a new friend in the form of Chub D, a local crackhead, where he learns that he may have misjudged the crack-inclined.
At Your Convenience is a film that plays out like the pilot episode of a very odd sitcom. Though, to be honest, that isn't a hindrance. Whether this actually was originally a failed pilot, or the structure was simply the filmmaker's creative conceit, it doesn't really matter in the end. What does matter is the fact that the odd blend of surreal and absurd imagery with the seemingly dark subject matter actually works very well. Subject matter which might seem to border on offensive, on the surface, becomes legitimately hilarious when you see it through the lens of actors performing in front of animated backdrops, in a bizarre and goofy sitcom format.
You can watch At Your Convenience by following this link.
© 2019 Dallas Matier