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When it comes to stuff I plan to review, I add movies to my Netflix queue for a bunch of reasons. Some of them are movies I’ve seen before and know will make for a good writeup. Some get recommended by my friends or by Netflix itself. Others I toss on there because some anonymous internet person made them sound interesting.

I heard about Better Off Dead as a movie where a teenager repeatedly tries to kill himself. Sounds awesome; you could mine a lot of black comedy out of that concept, and maybe expose some dark truths about adolescence most people won’t touch with a ten foot pole that’s being held by an illegal alien. But when I sat down to watch Better Off Dead, the suicide attempts weren’t only not the focus of the movie, they barely registered. They were just quick gags.

On one level, I was disappointed I wasn’t watching the movie I’d imagined. But Better Off Dead quickly established its own thing as a churning, riotous gag factory. Soon enough, I didn’t care it wasn’t what I’d signed up for. That’s the mark of a lasting movie.

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