We’ve done the honorable mentions, now onto the main list of the best comedy films of all time!
The Hard Way
Yes, I know it’s a little odd to think that James Woods might do comedy, but it works very well. Woods plays a Dirty Harry-ish NY cop who is given the unfortunate job of babysitting a Hollywood actor who wants to learn how to play a cop, played by Michael J. Fox. Even more so than most buddy cop films, these two cannot stand each other. I am not sure exactly why this movie has fallen into obscurity as I find almost every scene a laugh riot, but for some reason it has. As I said with the honorable mentions humor is more dependent on personal taste and less on any objective standard than any other form of art that I know of…so who knows why I find this hilarious and others find it forgettable. But if you haven’t seen it you should at least give it a try.
Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Now I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of Stanley Kubrick’s work. I find him a competent director but overall I find his collective body of work overrated. It’s too dark without any redemption and too pretentious. And Strangelove is no exception; it just has a lot more funny scenes. For this I think a lot of credit needs to go to George C. Scott for an over the top General and the great Peter Sellers in triples roles as a British Air Force Officer, the President of the United States, and the deranged scientist Dr. Strangelove. The film plots the utter insanity of the concept of nuclear war and how preposterous it is to engage in such a possibility…and even worse when you have nuclear weapons in the hands of lunatics.
The Distinguished Gentlemen
I’m not the biggest fan of Eddie Murphy’s version of comedy, it’s usually a little too crass and cheap for my taste…but in this film he chose the right targets to make fun of. The stupidity of the voting public and Congress itself. What makes this movie so funny (and frightening) is how accurate all of it is. I believe American voters might just be dumb enough to vote for someone just because of the right name (especially when it appears that he was elected in Dade county Florida, known for it’s spectacular voting history). But the best part of the film is the wonderful way he attacks the corrupt nature that politicians are bought by special interest (for an example please see the career of Rick Santorum who as far as my research has shown never gave a single vote on the floor of the House or Senate that wasn’t bought and paid for). And the nice thing is that parties aren’t mentioned and all sides of every issue are shown to be corrupt.
Big Trouble in Little China
Kurt Russell takes on the powers of darkness armed only with ego and bad one- liners.
Some of this movie is more of a fantasy film, some more an action movie, certainly good parts of it are a comedy and then there is…yeah for lack of a better definition I’m going to call this a comedy. It’s at times too surreal to consider it anything else. A cult classic that despite some truly bizarre scenes never gets old and never quite makes sense.
Singin’ in the Rain
If I had any intention of making of top musical list I might have held off on this film…but I don’t think I can get that many musicals that I like (maybe 10 that were actually done well) so since that will likely not happen Singin’ in the Rain will go in the comedy position. (Yeah there might also be an argument for it going in the Romantic Comedy column, but I think the focus of the film is more on the nature of the changing industry than truly on the relationship between Kelly and Reynolds). Theme of this movie is best summed up in the song “make ‘em laugh” and it does just that.