Friday, June 20, 2008

Distinctly Droll

Washington Post film critic Stephen Harper goes to town with his writer's block in discussing Steve Carrell's latest work. Here's the lede:
The trick here is adjective selection. (Don't try this at home, kids, it can be dangerous.) Is "Get Smart" "incredibly" funny? No, not hardly. "Incredibly" connotes that oxygen-deprived state of strangled panic, when the laugh has become your enemy and strives to kill you.

So is it "pretty" funny? Um, it's more than "pretty," because there's a tinge of patronization to "pretty," as if the commentator is annoyed that something so primitive and vulgar goosed him into grins. Equally true of "sort of" or "kind of" or "occasionally." What about "intermittently" funny? Nah. It's more than intermittent, if not quite "consistently" funny. Is it, then, "rather" funny. No. Sounds British. The reviewer is just back from doing his Rhodes work at Oxford and wants everybody to know.

It's "darned" funny?

El Perfecto! Bull's-eye! No wonder we won a Pulitzer! "Damned" would be too strong, but "darned" fits the movie's innocence, its earnestness (qualities of star Steve Carell as well), its pleasing lack of sophistication, its good nature.
After lengthy consideration, Global Review has deemed the above distinctly droll.

1 comment:

Chops said...

And yes, I did note his mistake: the trick is not adjective selection, it's adverb selection. Seriously, if you cared about that, you're more anal-retentive than I am!