Believe it or not, we're in something of a comedy renaissance these days. Thanks to a combination of ambitious sitcoms outlasting most of their more traditional contemporaries and a bolder approach to feature-length comedies, the genre has been more interesting today than it's been since its last heyday in the mid 1980's. This summer, a number of interesting-looking laughers are slated for wide release. Here are some of the top contenders for the throne of 2011 comedy king.
Bridesmaids- May 13th
These days, Judd Apatow is more of a curator than a director, lifting a few strong scripts, hungry directors and budding actors to the limelight. His latest anointed one, Paul Feig's new ensemble comedy Bridesmaids has the potential to draw the same acclaim as spiritual predecessors The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. The rather stunning cast makes the well-worn premise of a mismatched team of broad characters tasked with something serious seem not only worthwhile, but possibly excellent.
The Hangover II- May 26th
The original Hangover made a bigger splash than it seemed primed to, so a sequel was inevitable. The entire core cast is returning for a similar (though hopefully not repetitious) adventure in Thailand. If the fun isn't forced and the whole thing isn't just a hasty cash-in, it could be a fun way to spend a summer evening.
Mr. Popper's Penguins- June 17th
What can you say about Jim Carrey? The guy seems to do around one interesting flick every five or six years, then dive headlong into the same shallow comedy pool he's been swimming in since the 80's. An adaptation of an antique children's book (which itself was more or less just a rip-off of Dr. Dolittle), it's the story of a bored man who finds himself inexplicably in charge of a dozen penguins. Hilarity... is unlikely to ensue.
Bad Teacher- June 24th
It's not a spiritual sequel to Bad Santa. Okay, maybe it is even if everyone involved insists otherwise. But there are worse things to be, in all honesty. Cameron Diaz stars as a crass, irresponsible woman who has a highly inappropriate career as a school teacher. There's a romantic element involving Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel, which would be groan-inducing if it didn't involve two actors who have proven themselves remarkably adept at bringing new life to romantic comedy. Diaz is also at her best when she's asked to be subversive, so this one has potential.
Horrible Bosses- July 8th
One of two (and seemingly the better) Jason Bateman comedies this summer, Horrible Bosses is a mildly dark comedy with a cast full of ringers about three put-upon employees attempting to murder their... well, it's right there in the title. Expect things to escalate quickly and either become funnier or more dire as the story progresses.
30 Minutes or Less-August 12th
Did you like Zombieland? Would you like to see the same sense of humor applied to the heist genre? And with many of the same cast members? Done and done.