As a critic, I've been known to call certain films "sitcom-y" and probably nine times out of 10, I mean it as a pejorative.
I'm not sure why that is. There are good sitcoms out there. Lots of good sitcoms. In fact, for my money, there are more good TV sitcoms than there are good motion picture comedies and that's by a wide margin.
"Sitcom-y" usually refers to a certain broadness that many TV comedies have, but it could just as easily refer to the rhythm and structure that TV comedies have to develop in order to work in a 22-minute window.
I'm not saying that I'd ever call a comedy that I out-and-out loved "sitcom-y." Judd Apatow has definitely made movies that owe everything to a style he developed working on TV, though I'm not sure I'd always call his movies "sitcom-y," but sometimes they are. "In the Loop" is basically "The Thick of It" in feature form, but I probably wouldn't call Armando Ianucci's film "sitcom-y."
So it's a matter of situation.
Stu Zicherman's dreadfully titled "A.C.O.D." premiered on Wednesday (January 23) night at the Sundance Film Festival and... it's sitcom-y. But it isn't sitcom-y in a way that I consider necessarily negative. Zicherman is making his feature directing debut, but most of his recent writing credits have been on the small screen, including FX's very fine "Lights Out." He wrote the script with "The Daily Show" veteran Ben Karlin. His "A.C.O.D." cast includes the stars of "Parks and Recreation," plus actors currently appearing on "30 Rock" and "The Office."
So, in this instance, when I say that "A.C.O.D." is sitcom-y, it means that it's a neatly arced comedy with a steady stream of jokes, delivered by a professional troupe of performers who know how to efficiently hit every punchline. "A.C.O.D." is very rarely surprising and Zicherman's directing M.O. is mostly to get out of the way of his cast, but that's just smart business.
And speaking of business, while I don't consider it my business to speculate on future commercial fortunes, even at film market like Sundance, "A.C.O.D." is an ultra-accessible, easy-to-laugh-at comedy with some brains, so it may end up looking even better outside of Park City.
[Full review after the break...]