I worked at the Tower Theater in 1999 when they screened the hand-held novelty The Blair Witch Project, the most vomit-inducing film of the last 20 years not directed by Nancy Meyers. It got so bad that employees started keeping a running tally of barfing customers.
I can say confidently that there is nothing fun about mixing movies and vomit.
So why has Hollywood suddenly turned into Projectile: Greenlight? Most people throw up only once every couple of years, but an alarmingly high number of films these days include at least one gratuitous vomiting scene.
Shutter Island isn’t a minute old before we see Leonardo DiCaprio lose his lunch at sea, Steve Carell’s anxiety-invoked barf scene in Date Night symbolized that film’s queasy desperation and Jeff Bridges became the latest actor to pick up an Academy Award for a role that required on-screen ralphing.
Gross-out comedies, predictably, are the worst offenders. The excessive vomiting scene has been a comedy staple (a “gag,” if you will) for decades—forged by Monty Python, mainstreamed in Stand by Me, Muppet-ized in Meet the Feebles, puppetized in Team America: World Police and pointlessly wedged into every “gross-out” comedy in between.
It’s easy to come up with a long list of recent comedies that contain a prominent puke scene; the real challenge is trying to think of a single one that doesn’t. When Rob Corddry projectile-vomited into a squirrel’s face in Hot Tub Time Machine, it actually felt restrained and safe. It’s enough to make you long for a good old-fashioned kick in the testicles.
My advice: If you want to pay 10 bucks to watch someone get sick, a couple of shots and a mirror will do just as well, and it won’t take you two hours.