Lately I've realized something about being ridiculous; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'm not exactly sure what makes the difference between the two, but there is something. The easiest way to demonstrate my point is with film, though my point can apply to writing and any other art form as well.
The two movies I would like to use as an example are 'Sydney White' and 'Mamma Mia.' These are interesting cases for me, because while I am not a young person movie, high-school drama-ish kind of person, I really enjoyed Sydney White. And while every move Meryl Streep makes is stunningly, breathtakingly brilliant, as a whole I really did not like Mamma Mia. (Don't get me wrong, she was still amazing in Mamma Mia. The only amazing thing about it.) Both of these movies are plain-old, good times ridiculous, but one worked for me and the other didn't. I'm not quite sure what made the difference, but I do have a few thoughts.
Maybe its self-consciousness. I feel like Sydney White was very consciously ridiculous. Lines like, "Things are looking grim, brothers," shows just how much fun the writers were having. I think there was lots of just being ridiculousness in Mamma Mia, but there were also moments when it was really trying to be serious, and they just didn't work, especially if Meryl Streep wasn't involved. Not only didn't they work, but they took some of the fun and umph away from the light-hearted ridiculousness too.
Maybe its the culturally embedded story. The plot of Mamma Mia is just a way the writers found to string Abba songs together, so its not a story we watch or hear as children. Ridiculousness can work with these kind of new, hodge-podge stories, but its not as easy. With Sydney White, the story was an adaptation of the Snow White fairy tale, so its a story we are all familiar with. This allows the story to go all out making fun of itself, and gives us lines like the one above. Renditions of fairy-tales are usually a safe bet in regards to ridiculosity.
What do you think? Obviously I'm still trying to figure this out, so any thoughts from you would be great. Because who doesn't want to try being ridiculous every once in a while, right?