In the realm of comedy, there are many flavors of humor that can be used to make one laugh. However, I think that one of the best ways to make us laugh is for us to see ourselves for how absurd we all really are. We try so hard to give ourselves some kind of meaning or order to our lives when in reality we know about as much about ourselves as ants could comprehend God. And that is why Fort Tilden is so god-damned funny.
Created by writer-directors Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers as their feature film debut, Fort Tilden is the story of one day in the lives of roommates Harper (Birdey Elliot) and Allie (Clare McNulty) in which they decide to go to beach, and the needlessly difficult time they have of getting there. Harper is an aspiring artist from a wealthy upbringing, and Allie will shortly be shipped off to Liberia for two years with the Peace Corp. But, they both decide to take the day off and go to the beach. Hilarity ensues. Despite the (relative) inexperience of most of the cast and crew, the film is extremely well written, acted, and edited, seeming very much like a major-motion picture production, even though it is relatively indie.
The reason that this film is so funny is because it a satire that viciously makes fun of the white, upper middle-class millennial generation (and I will take that to include both people in their mid-twenties and current college students). Specifically, it points out and makes you laugh at how shallow, inauthentic, and pretentious most of us are. Harper puts on a pleasant face for people, but in reality she is an unlikable bitch who uses people to get what she wants. Allie means well, but has no idea what she wants to do with her life and is too afraid to commit to anything important. Most of their “friends” are similarly out-of-touch with reality, from a pair of singer-songwriter twins who are awful at music (but everyone is too polite to their faces to tell them how bad they are), to Allie’s fuck-buddy Benji and his gay molly-selling harem. It gets to the point that when someone shows any semblance of basic common-sense, it’s downright shocking (“I just watched you watch that kid steal your bike”). It is exaggerated of course (most people wouldn’t buy a random barrel from a random dude off the street for $200 because it looked authentic), but it is not exaggerated as much as it should be; we all know people like this, and if you don’t it’s probably you.
Actually, that’s not fair. We all know people like that because we are all like that. We all struggle to be ourselves, to fit in and to feel like we’re doing something worthwhile. We all have times where we struggle to figure out who we are. Harper, Allie, and everyone else are avatars for ourselves, as characters in all good writing are. Their obliviousness, shallowness, and pretentiousness is ours. As we hate these characters for their flaws we realize we must in turn hate ourselves because we possess these same flaws. As we laugh at them we laugh at ourselves, because they are reflections of ourselves. The fact that Rogers and Bliss made this film so absurdly funny as we laugh at the absurdity of our lives just makes it a joy to watch. And you know what they say: if you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t laugh at anything.