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WRITTEN BY GRAHAM WALLACE

Unless you’re married to the sea, raise alpaca, or find more constructive uses of your downtime, by now you’ve heard about Mumford and Sons’ music video for their new song “Hopeless Wanderer.” The news peaked your interest not only because it’s 2013 and a band is releasing a music video, but that the video stars Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms and Jason Bateman. These men are comedians and comedy is wonderful. So, even if Mumford’s sound isn’t your particular bag, you’ve enjoyed the comic offerings of these gentleman over the years enough to make this video something you could get definitely get behind.

And then you watched it. And it was… pretty good. It was funny. Right?

The video opens in a sun soaked field while quick cuts show faceless band members all gearing up to “do this thing.” It isn’t until the one-minute mark that we actually see the Mumford brood has been replaced by Sudeikis and Co. This reveal comes across a bit deflated since the viewer is made well aware of the comedy switcheroo before they click “play”. They did, however, expect this reveal to keep our jaws on the floor for another 2 minutes (an eternity in comedy time) while the actors give the bands song a surprisingly straight forward portrayal. While at first, seeing the band in comedy form is quite great, (tip of the hat due to Forte’s beard work) watching these funny men guilelessly deliver lyrics in assorted rustic settings leads us to ask, “Is that it?” After a goofy banjo dance sequence, the remaining comedic moments include a man-on-man kiss (I never!), some bass humping, and a Who-style instrument smash-em-up (is smashing things funny?). One shouldn’t blame the comedians themselves for the videos lack of substance. The majority of these “funny” moments feel like impromptu choices made by skilled comedians. Choices born out fear that the “can you believe we’re dressed up as these guys!” gag was beginning to curdle.

Other articles think differently and praise the bands ability to “laugh at themselves” and “not take themselves too seriously,” which raises another batch of head scratchers: Why cast comedians? Why doesn’t the band dance and smash stuff and kiss each other as themselves? That would be unusual. Instead we have comedians being comedians which is less exciting. Also, does simply putting a comedian in a thing turn that thing into comedy? If Will Ferrel starred in a line-for-line remake of 1993s Falling Down would his acts of brutality send us rolling in the aisles? Or does it require something more? Something that, if we knew exactly what it was and how to achieve it, we’d all be successful comedy people. Whatever it is, its something that ultimately makes the difference between a video with all the right components for comic genius, and a video that’s…pretty good.

“Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford and Sons

Graham Wallace is a writer living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. More of his work can be found at http://grahamistrying.com.

gif image via buzzfeed

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