Why Hollywood loves stupid old guys -- In this movie year's dumbest trend, the over-30 crowd is Tinseltown's hot new target, says Nancy Miller

By Nancy Miller
Updated March 04, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Bringing Down the House: Sam Emerson

Why Hollywood loves stupid old guys

The teaser promises overgrown frat boys, overflowing beer bongs, and overdeveloped coeds wrestling in a vat of K-Y jelly. Plus, plenty of Will Ferrell, half naked and hilarious. So where was I on the opening night of ”Old School”? Front and center at my local movie theater, of course. Never mind the fact that I’m 31 (and female) — about as close to dumb comedy’s typical teen demographic as ”Frank the Tank” Ferrell is to a Fulbright scholarship.

But I wasn’t the only person over 30 in the theater, a fact that Hollywood has noticed and is increasingly banking on. Okay, the idea of dumb comedies targeted at older audiences isn’t a brand new thing. After all, the Farrelly brothers made a vault of cash with their ’90s hits ”Dumb & Dumber” and ”There’s Something About Mary.” But I can’t remember a time when more new R-rated comedies aimed at post-teens are popping out of the Hollywood pipeline. With that in mind, here’s a brief primer on what comedy fans well above the legal drinking age can expect in the coming months:

Bringing Down the House
Release date
March 7
Premise Hip-hop empress and new Oscar nominee Queen Latifah stars as an escaped con who wreaks havoc on conservative lawyer Steve Martin in this fish-out-of-water comedy.
Why it may work Latifah will draw the young and urban audiences, while her sexy role in the mainstream musical ”Chicago” has boosted her appeal to older Broadway types. Martin is the go-to guy for over-30 whites who may not know Latifah but think the legendary comedian/author is king. And let’s not forget Eugene Levy, whose street-slang-laden one-liner in the trailer (”You got me straight trippin’, boo”) will draw crowds who know him from both the youthful ”American Pie” franchise AND middle-aged Christopher Guest movies (”Waiting for Guffman”).

When Harry Met Lloyd: Dumb & Dumberer
Release date June 6
Premise In this prequel to the 1994 Farrelly brothers hit, Eric Christian Olsen (”Not Another Teen Movie”) and newcomer Derek Richardson star as ’80s high school versions of the famously dimwitted best buddies first originated by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.
Why it may work Nostalgia. It’s been nearly a decade since the original, and older fans will want to see if Olsen can even compare to the beloved Jim Carrey. Also, director Troy Miller (”Jack Frost”) spiffed up the supporting cast with seasoned comedians beloved by older viewers, including Eugene Levy, former ”SNL” star Cheri Oteri, and Luis Guzmán (”Traffic”).

Jersey Girl
Release date
Premise Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez star as a married couple trying to raise their 6-year-old daughter.
Why it may work Despite the media hullabaloo over the romance between Ben and J. Lo, director Kevin Smith (”Chasing Amy,” ”Dogma”) swears this is his smartest, most grown-up comedy yet. Good news for older audiences who have followed the indie filmmaker’s career since 1994’s ”Clerks.” What’s more, comedy curmudgeon George Carlin plays a supporting role as Affleck’s dad. But the best sign that ”Jersey Girl” will be good for the over-30 crowd? Gratingly sophomoric characters Jay and Silent Bob, a reliable fixture in Smith previous efforts, are sitting this one out.

Stuck On You
Release date
Premise In the Farrelly brothers’ latest comedy, Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear costar as twins joined at the hip who head to Hollywood. Unfortunately, one half wants to be a star, while the other can’t stand the spotlight.
Why it may work Sure, it’s going to be rated a kid-friendly PG-13, but the Farrelly name will undoubtedly attract older fans. Plus, the fact that the Farrellys nearly convinced Jim Carrey and Woody Allen to costar is a good sign of a smart, older-skewing script.

Bringing Down the House

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 105 minutes
  • Adam Shankman