We Need More Comedies Like ‘Hit Man’

Opening in theaters and also your living room
We Need More Comedies Like ‘Hit Man’

The movie industry is clearly in a weird place right now. Blockbuster movies just aren’t raking in dough like they used to, but also, nobody wants to accept the opinion that cinema is “dead,” especially when it’s coming from the guy who just made a straight-to-streaming Pop-Tart-themed abomination

But in the midst of all of this confusion comes Hit Man, starring newly minted movie star Glen Powell as a dorky (yet weirdly ripped) teacher who moonlights as a fake hit man for police sting operations. Directed by the great Richard Linklater and co-starring the charming and talented Adria Arjona, Hit Man is the kind of rock solid, crowd-pleasing comedy that Hollywood used to make all the time. These days, however, it’s a rarity.

Somewhat frustratingly, Hit Man is being distributed by Netflix, the company run by a guy who recently extolled the virtues of watching Lawrence of Arabia on an iPhone. But while Netflix releases a ton of original comedies that inevitably get memory-holed by society (anyone remember Jeff Garlin’s Handsome: A Netflix Murder Mystery?), this is a film that should really be playing in movie theaters. And it sorta is.

Hit Man is in theaters right now — albeit just 44 of them. Which ones? It’s hard to say, considering that there’s little to no marketing behind the movie. And Netflix is giving it just two weeks in theaters before it gets released/dumped on their streaming service.

While it’s easy to dunk on Netflix, they were the only ones confident about releasing Hit Man at all. According to Linklater, even after successful screenings at film festivals, major studios weren’t “convinced,” whereas Netflix “stepped up with the right attitude, like, ‘Hey, we love this film, and we want to make sure everybody sees it.’”

Which might be disappointing for movie fans to hear, but it’s also self-defeating for the industry. One movie that did get a big theatrical push from a studio this year was the action comedy The Fall Guy. But it was released on VOD after just two weeks in theaters, and ultimately branded a box-office disappointment, despite starring starring Ken and Mrs. Oppenheimer.  

The Fall Guy arguably ticks a lot of the same boxes as Hit Man. Two sexy movie stars? Check. They get involved in a wacky misadventure? Check. But The Fall Guy cost a reported $130 million, whereas Hit Man only cost around $10 million. Sure, one has more action set pieces than the other, but both movies would make for a fun date night — unless, of course, your date is a jerk.

Studios seem content to keep pouring money into movies that cost over $100 million on the off-chance that one might become a billion dollar hit, which is A) the same logic that retirees employ while casually feeding their life savings into slot machines; and B) this undoubtedly leads to a lot of movies “bombing” because they have trouble making their money back. 

On the other hand, movies that don’t feature explosions and car chases still have the potential to become huge success stories, like last year’s romantic comedy Anyone But You, also starring Powell, which was released theatrically and made more than $200 million worldwide, from a budget of $25 million. 

To be fair, several recent mid-budget comedies have flopped. Like Joy Ride, which, despite critical acclaim, barely made a dent at the box office. Or No Hard Feelings, which was deemed a failure despite nearly doubling its budget

But good comedies, like Hit Man, really do work better in theaters. The idea that comedies, purely due to a lack of cinematic spectacle, should be shunted to the streaming abyss is a disservice to audiences. Comedies work better in a crowd because laughter is verifiably contagious.

You could make Hit Man like 20 times for the cost of one Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania. Just saying.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).


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