If you know me, I’m one for a good laugh. Humor is needed in our lives to relieve tension and stress and to help with understanding. This goes double for movies. In movies there must be humor so that the movie doesn’t have that drag effect. No one wants to be totally depressed for the 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours of experiencing a narrative. Modern movies understand this point, maybe even too much. Comedies coming out are too focused driving home “jokes”; even when they are unnecessary and distasteful. There’s too much winking at the audience as if they want to say, “Get it? It’s funny, right?” The focus goes to the jokes and not enough to the story. With that in mind let’s talk about The Graduate.
First off, I don’t remember genuinely laughing while watching a movie since I watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World when it was released in theaters about 2 years ago. The Graduate runs off of situational comedy where the comedy isn’t originated from what the characters are doing or saying but how they are reacting to their environment. This kind of comedy allows the viewer to be better placed into the characters and let’s them question, “how would I react to this situation?” Another element that makes the comedy work is the camera work. Who knew that conscious camera angles would add to comedic effect? Well, The Graduate executes this element perfectly, a classic technique long forgotten in time.
The first two scene sequences of The Graduate didn’t have me on my stomach laughing my gut out but had me chuckling to myself because of the awkwardness of the scenes. The narrative begins by introducing our protagonist Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a newly college graduate who returns home to find himself outside of his element. All his family friends are around for his return party pressuring him with questions about his future plans and ambitions. While at this party he gets trapped into driving his parents’ friend, Mrs. Robinson, home. After many pressured attempts Mrs. Robinson lures him into the most uncomfortable situations leading to the infamous line, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me, aren’t you?” As the plot progresses they eventually do have an affair where they have a routine of meeting up with each other from night to night in a hotel room. Even though this situation isn’t right in any regard it gets shaken up by Ben’s parents in pressuring him into taking the Robinson’s daughter, Elaine, out for a date. Needless to say, Mrs. Robinson doesn’t approve. From one date Ben falls in love with Elaine leading to even more drama that still contains that lovable sense of humor.
Now I know why this movie was such a classic in the eyes of fans. It’s sensibility and heart leaves a lasting impression. The last sequence is magical, so magical in fact that Wayne’s World 2 parodied it brilliantly.
Also: a word to the wise and cautious. Even though this movie has a PG rating only because they didn’t have a PG-13 rating back in the 60’s. By today’s rating it would get a PG-13 rating for little nudity; let’s just say that it has less exposure than Titanic.
Make sure to stream if you have any extra time this weekend. And let me know what you think?