“They don’t make ’em like they used to” is the perfect adage to describe stoner comedies in 2022. From Cheech & Chong to Half Baked and Pineapple Express, stoner films made a significant dent in comedy and pop culture for almost 40 years. However, the lack of box office success over the last five or so years has led to a declining genre. Hoping to buck the trend are Machine Gun Kelly and Mod Sun, who co-wrote and co-directed the new stoner comedy, Good Mourning.
Set throughout the course of one day in Los Angeles, MGK, who is billed as Colson Baker, stars as London Clash, a rising star on the verge of greatness if he can score the leading role in a superhero film. However, Clash’s love life becomes complicated after receiving a potential break-up text early one morning. With the help of his friends, Clash tries to save his relationship and win the part of a lifetime, but chaos soon follows in true Hollywood fashion.
In an interview with Digital Trends, Machine Gun Kelly and Mod Sun spoke about their collaboration on Good Mourning, the similarities between screenwriting and songwriting, and their favorite stoner comedies.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: Is it a weird coincidence that you were going for the role of Batman in Good Mourning, and now, The Batman is one of the biggest movies in the world?
Machine Gun Kelly: [to Mod Sun] That’s another one! We just keep talking about how oddly serendipitous everything we wrote in this movie is with what’s happening now. Because no, Batman was not even a thing two years ago beyond Christian Bale. It wasn’t even in the spectrum of pop culture radar. We didn’t know Robert Pattinson was going to be the new Batman. Like none of these things were known to us so it is crazy how it worked out that like. Everything is so relevant that we’re joking about in the movie right now.
Mod Sun: We also almost didn’t get to do that.
Kelly: Yeah, it’s crazy because they almost didn’t let us use the word “Batman” in the movie.
Sun: We fought for it up until the day we shot. We had backup plans. We had David Bowie. We had multiple different people for him to be playing. It was crazy.
Mod, how did you get involved with co-writing and co-directing the film?
Sun: Colson just hit me up. He literally texted me and said, “Do you want to write a movie?” Most people would get that text and be like, “You’re crazy.” But for some reason, you know, every time we get together and do something, we kind of just see it through. That’s our relationship as friends. We see it through to the end.
How did you approach writing this film together? Is it similar to songwriting?
Sun: Yeah, in a lot of ways, it is like a giant song. It’s a lot of pacing around the room. [To Machine Gun Kelly] “Oh, this is what you would say!” I would say 10 things and you would say no to nine of them. That was a lot of the process.
There are a lot of funny people (Whitney Cummings, GaTa, Boo Johnson) involved with the film. Was there a lot of ad-libbing on the set or did you write most of the one-liners in the script?
Kelly: I mean we had a lot of funny shit that we wrote. A lot of my favorite things ended up being ad-libs because we were fortunate enough to have comedians on set. And then there were things that I’ll still hold dear to me that we wrote in the script that were hilarious. But when it came down to other people saying it, we were just like, “Oh man. Maybe we wrote this wrong.”
Sun: There were many times while we were making this when Kells was like, “Dude, we are not comedians. What are we doing writing this?” But luckily, we had people like Whitney Cummings, who would turn what should have been a 30-second take into 15 minutes. She would just go, go, go. And those are a lot of the things that ended up in the movie.
The simple lines stuck out to me. Like when Pete Davidson’s character said, “Send love to the boys” at the valet when the guys are right in front of him.
Sun: Yeah! All of Pete’s lines in the movie are just him going completely off-script.
When you walked into the diner and the waitress said you look like you came from a “sale at Hot Topic,” that got a big laugh out of me.
Kelly: Fucking hilarious. That was all ad-lib too.
Was there a particular scene that you knew was really funny right away while doing it?
Sun: I would say the self-tape impression. I was blown away by that. I really, really went into that scene being like, “Oh, this is going to be a train wreck.” And everyone was blown away. He did really well.
How did you end up just casting these roles? Is it as simple as picking up the phone, calling your friends, and saying, “Hey, I got something for you?”
Kelly: Me and Mod did about half and half. We were talking about GaTa and Mod was like, “Oh my God. I’ve known GaTa for a decade.” He hit up GaTa and he agreed. I think I threw in Boo [Johnson]. They know him as Fat Joe. I called Pete. That was [a struggle] to make happen because of everyone’s schedule. I mean dude, it wasn’t like we planned this for months. It’s like we planned this for days. And then it happened.
It almost sounds like when you were shooting the film, you just kept moving to the next scene even if you didn’t know what was going to happen next.
Kelly: That is exactly what it was, which I feel is kind of how those iconic movies that stick are made. It only lines up if it’s meant to line up, and it all lined up.
Not a lot of stoner comedies are made anymore even though some of the best comedies are in this genre. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused, Friday, etc. Are you both fans of this genre?
Kelly: Yeah, huge fans. We’re stoner kids. That’s how we met. I met Mod when I asked him for weed on Warped Tour. He was the one who had it.
Do you have any favorite stoner comedies?
Sun: I love Grandma’s Boy.
Kelly: I just said that earlier!
Sun I said you were going to say that. They asked me, “What do you think Kells was going to say?” I was like, “He’s going to say Grandma’s Boy.”
Kelly: Grandma’s Boy is a good one. Yeah, Grandma’s Boy, Superbad, Friday.
This film seems like it was a fun time to make. It’s a lot of friends working together. But as directors, did you ever find it challenging to be critical of your friends?
Kelly: Hell no. I’m brutally honest. I specialize in that. I give my friends the harshest truths.
Sun: He definitely pushes me to take the honest route.
You both have rock star personas and successful music careers. After I watched this movie, I get the sense that it’s two guys behind the camera who just want to laugh, be goofy, and make jokes. Was this film a way to tell people that you have other sides to you, not just the ones seen on the stage?
Sun: Yeah, that’s a big part. I get to see him [Machine Gun Kelly] all the time in real-life scenarios, and he’s actually really funny and really goofy. And I think that the world is definitely slowly but surely starting to see that side of him. And at heart, he is one of the goofiest people I’ve ever met.
Kelly: I never got cast in those roles, so it was almost like while I didn’t intend to play this role, I was glad I did because I wouldn’t have gotten cast to play this role if it was somebody else’s movie in the same vein, you know? So it’s nice to be able to do that and be able to show that I’m more than that persona.
Is it important for you to be billed as Colson Baker instead of Machine Gun Kelly?
Kelly: I don’t really care. I love the name Machine Gun Kelly. It’s a stand-out name. I don’t really care. I’m not really doing it for the name visibility. I’m only doing it because I love it. It’s kind of funny. If they look at the screen and they don’t know who Colson Baker is, that’s even funnier.
Sun: That’s a great name, dude.
Kelly: Yeah, it’s a good name.
Good Mourning is in theaters & on demand starting May 20, 2022.