Death to Smoochy failed spectacularly when it was released, finding no purchase with viewers looking for an easy escape from the antebellum early aughts. But a film whose excesses lacked an audience in 2002 might just have found its spiritual home 18 years later.
Sacha Baron Cohen has always had a complicated, meta-textual relationship with irony; his trailblazing satirical work observes the ugliness of the United States while refusing to offer any solutions.
Alien: Resurrection swings the pendulum away from the dour grimness of its predecessor towards a sense of humor and ironic self-awareness; the result is an Alien eager to thumb its nose at its precursors. It doesn’t care if anyone who loves those earlier films gets caught in the crossfire, either.
The Muppets are an invitation to look at our weird, messed up world, and laugh instead of cry. Their acceptance of chaos means an acceptance of everyone, from seven-foot-tall carrots to psychopathic coffee spokesman to neurotic frogs.
In 2020, Burn After Reading feels both more ridiculous and more painful than when it was first released—more capable of breaking down your defenses against laughter, and more likely to keep you up at night.