The Greatest Films For Comedy #16-#13

FYI: Someone over at yahoo came up with a list of “100 Funniest Movies to See Before you Die.”  Be warned that I looked at the list and I would at most say 25 of them are worth watching even once (and 75 I would consider a waste of time)…but as I said comedy is a very personal thing that’s hard to define (I might go as far as to say I have a greater preference for wit than cheap jokes than the person who compiled that list, but to each his own) and I won’t bother going into detail of why I dislike many of those movies. Besides only the most worthless, tasteless, brainless philistine hack would waste his time coming up with lists of over-rated art (yes, I do have someone in mind)…I prefer to focus on greatness rather than merely bitch about the flaws of works of art I will never have the talent to rival.

#16 Hudson Hawk


“Impressive, Hawk. Enjoying Italy? “
“ Yeah.”
“ Yes, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Rome. I did my first bare-handed strangulation here. Communist politician.”
“ Why George, you big softie. “
“God, I miss Communism. The Red Threat, people were scared… the agency had some respect, and I got laid every night.”

This film is possibly one of the most scathing critiques of the insanity of most Hollywood espionage films. Every trope of every spy movie is parodied in this movie without turning into a slapstick comedy.

The plot: To reconstruct Da Vinci’s machine that can turn lead into gold a conspiracy the CIA, an evil billionaire businessman and his wife who seem to have no understanding of economics beyond the Ron Paul campaign, the mob, and tangentially the Vatican’s black ops team (?) hire the world’s most skilled cat-burglar: The Hudson Hawk. The Hawk, played by Bruce Willis, sings songs to time his heists. And in between falling in love with a nun, taking on a the CIA and a sociopathic sword wielding butler, avoid a vicious poodle, throwing a stuffed elephant, robbing the Vatican, saving the world, all he wants is some bizarre drink, keep in mind this movie was made in 1991, called a cappuccino. Oh and Andie MacDowell seems to want to communicate with the dolphins.

On one level it’s a movie about a smartass thief in your typical overblown Hollywood adventure. But on another it gets beyond surreal which if you’ve watching makes it all the funnier. While driving home from jail the New York skyline can be seen from the right and left of a car, when falling off a building the Hawk lands in a place which is miles away and no explanation is given…and there are bizarre references to just about every espionage film of the preceding 30 years: Bond, Flint, North by Northwest. Also as far as I can tell this is the first movie to ever use the “we record over the security tape and keep running a loop in its place” trope that has become far too common in film. Also you will see the most competent line reading David Caruso has given in his entire career.

You could enjoy this film…or you could be swinging on a star…

#15 Office Space

Ummm....yeah...

“The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.”
“ Don’t… don’t care? “
“It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now.”
“ I beg your pardon?”
“Eight bosses.”
“ Eight?”
“Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.”

If you’ve ever worked in a cubical you can emphasize with this film. If you’ve ever had an over-promoted idiot as your boss you can certainly understand this film. For instance there is a server at my office that my coworkers have jokingly asked management to let us buy so that we can treat it like these guys treat that fax machine.

And while everything in this is exaggerated, it is only exaggeration; the movie sadly plays on every small hell of office work that actually exists. Every scene, but more importantly, every scene is cathartic in that it allows us to know that we are not alone…and that there is hope out of morass of endless bad jobs.

#14 Clue

“They all did it. But if you wanna know who killed Mr. Boddy, I did. In the hall. With the revolver. Okay, Chief, take ‘em away. I’m gonna go home and sleep with my wife.”

Who did it? Where? And with what?

Whoever realized there was actually a good plot line hidden within the board game Clue is a genius (as opposed to the idiot who pitched the idea of making Battleship). In spite of every expectation you should have had about making a movie based on a board game this movie not only provides an almost endless stream of wit, slapstick and enjoyable insanity; it places bizarre caricatures of people who should never be in the same room and gives them a bizarre circumstance where they are literally at each other’s throats (and other such vital organs).

It’s sad that I find that this movie has fallen out of the knowledge of the general public and is now known mainly to film buffs. Nothing is better than a mystery literally designed to have three different endings. And each one works. Of course the one where Mr. Greene did it is the best.

#13 Kiss kiss bang bang


“Anyway, by now you may wonder how I wound up here. Or, maybe not. Maybe you wonder how silly putty picks shit up from comic books. The point is, I don’t see another Goddamn narrator, so pipe down.”

This one you may have missed as it got horrible play in theaters and was more or less a straight to DVD film. It’s sad really. Wit of a near Shakespearian level, Val Kilmer (before he really exploded around the waist), Robert Downey Jr.) before he exploded back into the top tier of acting) trading quips and insults at a rapid fire pace.

Robert Downey Jr. as idiot thief Harry Lockhart narrates the strange tale of how while trying to break into Hollywood he gets acting lessons from private detective Gay Perry, and in the process ends up solving a murder and personally killing a lot of other people. Maybe it’s that the jokes (yes plural) about grammar appeal to the English teacher in me. Maybe it’s Perry’s absolute contempt for Harry’s endless stupidity that I find endearing. Maybe it’s the off-kilter plot structure. Whatever it is this is one of the best comedies I have ever seen.

Harry: Well what I’m doing for the guy who likes to bluff is I’m playing a little game called “Am I Bluffing?”
[Loads one round into the revolver to play Russian Roulette]
Harry: Where is she? Where the fuck is Harmony? You want to play hardball? I can do that.
[Spins the chamber and points the gun]
Harry: Where is the girl?
[Shoots the guy in the head]
Perry: [Stuttering at first] What did you just do?
Harry: [Confused] I just put in one bullet, didn’t I?
Perry: You put a live round in that gun?
Harry: Well yeah, there was like an 8% chance.
Perry: Eight? Who taught you math!

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