Tag Archives: Comedy Films

The Greatest Comedy Film of all time! (and one last honorable mention)

Hitmen, FBI Agents, Cops, Criminals, teenagers, a maid, a housewife, a corrupt executive, an ad executive, and a bum who lives in a tree...what could possibly go wrong

#1 Big Trouble

“Make her stop! Dear God in Heaven make her stop, she wants my soul!”

Based on one of the greatest comedy books ever written, by the ever hilarious Dave Barry, Big Trouble is probably the greatest comedy of all time.

What you haven’t heard of it? The story of dysfunctional families, annoyed hitmen, and two really stupid criminals who manage to get a nuclear weapon past the ever inept group of people known as airport security? Can’t imagine why not? Oh, wait I know exactly why you’ve never heard of this film…because the original theatrical release date was supposed to be September 15th 2001…yeah read that thing about a nuke on a plane and then date…and I think we all see why this movie was buried with a very brief theatrical release in 2002.

Which is a shame because this movie is hilarious beyond the telling of it.

Trust me, if you haven’t seen this movie, this is one of the few movies that I will say you have to see before you die (you should also read the book).

I'm fairly certain you could still get this nuke past the MENSA members the TSA employs.

Henry: Hold on a second. We have a Die Hard situation developing in the kitchen.
Leonard: What?
Henry: There’s a guy there in the kitchen.
Leonard: A guy? What’s he doing?
Henry: Well my guess is he’s either gonna whack em’ with a rolling pin or he’s gonna bake em’ a cake. I don’t know. Could go either way with this crew.
Henry: Holy shit. Betty Crocker’s got a squirt gun!
Leonard: Let me look!
Henry: Forget about it. This is better than pay-per-view.
Henry: There goes the warranty, and here comes the Iron Chef.

 

 

And one last honorable mention…I didn’t want to put this one in with the other honorable mentions because this isn’t just some mere also-ran. …and it also doesn’t exactly fit anywhere else because it is not just a single work…but it is some of the best comedy in all of film and TV…

And the last honorable mention is…
The Collective Works of Joss Whedon.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, Doctor Horrible, Toy Story, Cabin in the Woods…and likely Much Ado and Avengers.
Everything Whedon does is unspeakably funny. From Buffy’s quip, to Wesley’s faults, to River’s insanity, to Topher’s observations. There is not an episode and hardly a scene without its humor. I couldn’t pick any single episode for two reasons. The first is that even the bad ones have their wonderful moments. The second is that like Shakespeare or any truly great writer, Whedon never creates humor without tragedy or tragedy without humor. There are funnier episodes to be sure, but those are also episodes of deep and moving, and sometime very depressing, pathos…and so while I feel the need to mention his skill in writing great comedy none of it is purely in the comedy genre…






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The Greatest comedies of all time #3 & #2

#3 Arrested Development

The lovable dysfunctional family.

“I’ve made a huge mistake.”
“Have any of you ever seen a chicken?”
“There’s always money in the banana stand.”
“I just blue myself.”
“Spring Break!”
“I never thought I’d miss my hand so much.”
“Anyong.”
“No touching!”
“Illusions, Michael. Tricks are things whores do for money.”
“Watch out for hop ons.”

Almost every quote of this show is comedy gold.

Okay, technically not a movie. But that it is a solid 3 seasons of unending humor with even the weakest episode better than most of the films on this list. And given my loathing for almost all sitcoms, it is a small miracle that I not only like Arrested Development, but love it as much as I do.

From Ron Howard’s voiceovers, to treating it as if it was a documentary, to beyond plausible dysfunction of the Bluths at every level. There were jokes in this that only were funny on the second viewing, and there were jokes that took almost a dozen episodes to buildup before you got the punch line. On the whole it was near perfect. Every thing is perfect comedy gold.

And while I think all right thinking people were sad to see it go…there is always something good about a show ending before it jumps the shark (except for the fact that we actually did see the Fonz jump the shark in this show). And because there was a stop, I have hopes that this coming 2nd run of the show will be equally as good.

#2 Airplane

“Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”


Possibly the best slapstick film ever made.

Making fun of disaster movies, classic films and language in general, this movie has no rival among slapstick films, and if you think it does then I think you picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue…that and you may have a drinking problem.

Every scene, low budget though it may be, is perfectly executed. But if I had to pick a favorite scene it has to be the bar scene with the fighting girl scouts and the bizarre Saturday Night Fever moment (which I couldn’t find a full clip of)…
…but while not quite as good as the original the trial scene from Airplane II is also one of my favorites.

But these are good too…

…yes I’m sure you’re curious what the #1 pick is…tomorrow…

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Greatest Comedy Films #5 &#4

#5 Arsenic & Old Lace

If you think your family is a handful, try being Mortimer Brewster. The insane uncle who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt is the sanest one of the bunch. You’ve got the homicidal brother. And the mass murdering old aunts. And everyone else in the neighborhood also appears to be a bit off.

When most of us think of Cary Grant comedy we usually have Grant in mind as the debonair straight man who plays off the insanity of the rest of the cast. In this case a young Cary Grant, while his character is certainly more mentally stable than everyone else in the movie, the insane troupe is calm and unaffected by their mass insanity while Grant as the sane man in a group of crazies is bouncing off the walls trying to bring order to a situation that has none. As seen by Grant’s facial features here…

Starting with this film I find the rest of this list may cause severe problems to breath from laughing to hard.

#4 Blazing Saddles

“A sheriff! But law and order is the last thing I want. Wait a minute… maybe I could turn this thing into my advantage. If I could find a sheriff who so offends the citizens of Rock Ridge that his very appearance would drive them out of town. But where would I find such a man? Why am I asking you? “

Only Mel Brook could come with lines of racist slurs that only humiliate the racists. “…but we don’t want the Irish!” The sad thing as vicious a critique of racism as this movie is, you could never make it today.  The politically correct mores of modern society would never let the slurs of this film be made, despite the fact that they are being aimed at humiliating those who use such words.

Rivaled only by Young Frankenstein (which I’ve already discussed) this is probably Mel Brook’s funniest film. If this movie has one flaw, it is the ending which, I think we all admit is a little forced. But even that can’t dim the surreal ingenius/ingenious of Kahn’s bizaare/bizarre stage number or Sherriff Bart holding himself hostage. There are few scenes in this film which aren’t hilarious.


…And Methodists! …?

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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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The Greatest Film Comedies #20-#17

We crack the Top 20 and start getting into films that can’t just be watched over and over again, but you almost want to watch them over and over again.

#20 Whole Nine Yards

“I’m gonna keep the coke and the fries but I’m gonna send this burger back. And if you put any mayonnaise on it, I’m gonna come over to your house, I’ll chop your legs off, set fire to your house, and watch as you drag your bloody stumps out the door.”

The story of a hitman and his dentist.  Again, as seems to be a fairly consistent theme with a lot of movies in this list, the sequel sucked, but the original was genius.  From Bruce Willis’s deadpan straight-man performance as a hitman who has a rather irrational dislike of mayonnaise (okay we may not like mayo but threatening to kill people over it) to Kevin Pollack as a mafia member who supposedly has lived his whole life in America yet has the strangest accent ever conceived.

Mob hits.  Cheating wives.  Dental assistants with a love for Walther PPG’s.  Plots within plots…and of course, as Bruce Willis puts it, “the great and powerful Oz.”  Every line is unexpected, every scene played a little against the trope.  Crisp, clear humor of the witty variety with just enough stupidity to keep it fresh.

#19 Thank You For Smoking

“We don’t sell Tic Tacs, we sell cigarettes. And they’re cool, available, and *addictive*. The job is almost done for us.”

A brilliant dark comedy that lambasts everyone and everything.  It has a simple theme, you’re an idiot if you didn’t already know that cigarettes were harmful and you’re an idiot to defend them and you’re an idiot to attack them—grow up and take responsibility for your own actions.  Lobbyists, politician, the press, the public are all shown to be the idiots they are…and if there is one thing that isn’t funny about this movie is that it isn’t that far off from reality.

#18 Real Genius

“Was it that dream where you’re atop a pyramid wearing sun god robes and naked women throwing little pickles at you?”

“No.”

“Why am I the only one who has that dream?”

This gem staring a very young Val Kilmer has been all but forgotten, which is sad.

The movie is a mishmash of surreal moments of geniuses bending the rules of school and science to just prove how smart they are mixed in amongst their attempt to one up each other with wit and experiments



#17 Galaxy Quest

“Never give up.  Never surrender!”

I will admit that if you are not a Star Trek fan this movie may not make a lot of sense.  Why? Because every scene is designed to not just make fun of Star Trek episodes but of Trekkies themselves and the actors who were made famous by the show.  Red shirts, Shatner getting his shirt torn in every fight, Nimoy’s early years of pretentiousness toward Star Trek, the pathetic but loveable lives of devout Trekkies (yes even I have been to a Star Trek convention).


I’ve met people who don’t find this movie funny, and without exception they will always tell me they’ve never watched Star Trek (which is almost equivalent to admitting to not leading a full life), I have never met anyone who has watched Star Trek and does not find every scene a viciously accurate lambast of a show that even I will admit, despite all it’s greatness, has a lot of flaws.

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