The Martian Kristen Wiig

Sure, ‘The Martian’ had its chuckles and light-hearted plotlines.  Disco anyone?  But is that your destination flick when you want a laugh out loud riot?

Uh… maybe?  At least the Golden Globes thinks so.  The celebration– judged by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association– that kicks off award season by honoring the best in both TV and film is often viewed as a predictor for the gold standard of accolades, the Academy Awards.  But unlike the Oscars (as the Academy Awards are alternately known) and the TV-focused Emmys, the Golden Globes divides its honorees into categories, Drama and Comedy.  (Comedy also envelopes Musicals.)  And one of the most buzzed-about movies of the year, Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ is under consideration for the top honors… as a comedy.

‘The Martian’ certainly isn’t as dark and heavy as many movie dramas, but it’s really not funny either.  Cute or charming maybe.  Does that make it a comedy, though?

First of all, don’t consider that classification a slight.  20th Century Fox, ‘The Martian”s studio, submitted it that way and the HFPA agreed to allow that decision to stand.  On the other hand, Bleeker Street’s biopic ‘Trumbo’, starring Bryan Cranston, which also mixed drama and comedy was submitted as a comedy, but the HFPA rejected that, switching it to the drama category.

Is there any harm in classifying ‘The Martian’ as a comedy?  Not for Fox.  ‘The Martian’ boasts humorous bits, but is largely a drama with nail-biting tension and amazing performances from proven A-List actors.  It could easily stomp all over any other straight-up comedies, which may be quality films, but aren’t the big-budget production that “The Martian’ is with its $108 million budget.  Even the excellent ‘Trainwreck’, directed by Judd Apatow, which is, on the surface, an outrageous comedy, but also mixed in drama and emotional performances, probably wouldn’t stand a chance against that caliber of movie-making.

On the other hand, were ‘The Martian’ to compete as a drama, it would be in for a tougher fight against heftier fare like ‘Spotlight’, the acclaimed true story about the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sex abuse or the upcoming ‘The Revenant’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio or even box office smash/annoying meme generator ‘Straight Outta Compton’.

For Fox, sending an expensive and commercially successful sci fi flick up against much less expensive films with less lofty goals, makes sense because it could easily steamroll the competition and should ‘The Martian’ win, Fox is able to market it going forward– on DVD and BluRay– as a “Golden Globe Winner.”  This is also something, NOT coincidentally, that could carry a lot of weight when the time comes to push the film for the Academy Awards, which isn’t divided by category.

The move didn’t go unnoticed by Hollywood.

‘Ghostbusters’ director Paul Feig, diplomatically clarified what exactly makes a comedy, saying:

“A comedy’s a film whose #1 goal is to make people laugh. If that wasn’t the filmmakers’ top goal, it’s not a comedy.”

Considerably less diplomatically, ‘Trainwreck”s Apatow called out Fox, stating:

“Trying to dominate the comedy category when you are really a drama afraid of dramatic competition is a punk move.”

Ouch!

It may ultimately fall to the judges to decide whether ‘The Martian’ will dominate the category based on budget and gravitas or if it will have to live up to the comedy label and actually elicit LOLs.

To be clear, the nominations have not been announced.  That doesn’t occur until December 10th, but ‘The Martian’ is very likely to be among them.  But when it comes time to judge it, it WILL be as a comedy.

What do you think?  IS ‘The Martian’ a comedy?  Do you think it qualifies?  Or does it need more poop jokes?  Is it fair to pit this blockbuster against smaller-budget fare?

Source: Slash Film