The film director Alexander Payne tends to make stories that can be both painful and humorous. He goes a darker humored path with most of his movies. There’s usually a character in his movies that is struggling with failure and is forced on the road to change because of the failure. He usually uses a combination of dark humor, scenery, and his actors to show the personal struggles and battles of the main character while they deal with overcoming their failures.
Alexander Payne basically always uses struggle, humor, and some kind of painful failure to drive the plot of his stories. One clear example of this in his work is The Descendants. The Descendants is about a land baron and an attorney and his struggles with his family. His wife is in a coma after an accident and he isn’t as close with his kids as she is. He’s struggling to connect with his kids and dealing with learning that his wife cheated on him. Because she’s in a coma in the hospital, he can’t confront her truly about it. He has various conversations with her while she is in her coma though. These are weirdly humorous, but in a dark way.
The films of Alexander Payne all follow a similar tragedy with strange dark humor that allows the main character to confront their failures. They usually end up in a situation where they can’t really fix the central problem but there might be some personal growth they need to take that will help them to improve themselves and their situation.