Tag Archives: Comedy

Best Films for Halloween #19 Tremors

“I vote for outer space. No way these are local boys.”

The story of two men who just want to leave the worst town in Arizona (no I don’t mean Phoenix) and the giant flesh eating worms that wouldn’t let them.

Tremors is probably the first movie on this list that I would actually place on a legitimate best movie list (not just a Halloween list, and I’m talking a top 500, not a top 100 movies). (On a side note, given that Beetlejuice, with its giant sand worms, came out about the same time, does anyone think that these movies were trying to make fun of that terrible adaptation of Dune that came out a few years before, you know the one with Sting that made no sense even to people who had read the book? Just thinking out loud here).

Fear isn’t much of a factor in this film, but a series clever one- liners is.

“Look these creatures are absolutely unprecedented.”
“Yeah, but where do they come from?”

We have a wonderful comic team of Val and Earl (Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, two actors who have never been fully appreciated). The relationship between these two is what makes this movie so enjoyable. (And it’s the lack of this relationship, among other things, that makes the sequels such abhorrent disappointments). Although the two gun nuts are also wonderful additional comic relief.

Yeah, this is more a comedy than a horror film.

But there are still the elements of the horror film in here. And of course this comes from the monsters in the movie. Like all good horror movies, as I have already discussed, the less you see of the monster the creepier it is. Thus here we got the slow building up before seeing one of the creatures, a full third of the way into the movie. And while we see the creature a lot, they’re at their most dangerous and most frightening when we can’t see them. The anticipation of an enemy you can’t see is far worse than being able to see and anticipate what is going to happen. Being right under the ground really helps for this invisibility factor. The fun parts of the movie are often when you can see the creature—“Broke in the wrong goddamn rec-room didn’t you bastard”—the most tense scenes are of people standing around like statues. Doing nothing, just trying not move. You have to admit that seldom is doing nothing so suspenseful an image.

(God bless the 2nd Amendment)
Honestly this movie could be watched at any point in the year and enjoyed without thinking, I really should wait until October to watch this, but it seemed to fit in that it did offer a great sequence of tense scenes and monsters that were horrifying the first time around (even if the sequels should all be hunted down and burned).

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Best Halloween Movies #29: The ‘Burbs

“Remember what you were saying about people in the ‘burbs, Art, people like Skip, people who mow their lawn for the 800th time, and then SNAP? WELL, THAT’S US. IT’S NOT THEM, THAT’S US. WE’RE the ones who are vaulting over the fences, and peeking in through people’s windows. We’re the ones who are THROWING GARBAGE IN THE STREET, AND LIGHTING FIRES. WE’RE THE ONES WHO ARE ACTING SUSPICIOUS AND PARANOID, ART. WE’RE THE LUNATICS. US. IT’S NOT THEM. It’s us.

You may have forgotten this little gem. A 1989 comedy/horror starring Tom Hanks. It’s a movie that poses the timeless question: Which is worse living next to a serial killer or living in suburbia? The film basically points out that the answer is more or less a draw.

Hanks plays Ray Peterson who lives next to a trio of new neighbors, the Klopeks. In only a month after moving in the Klopeks’ house look like every stereotypical horror movie house. The grass is dead, the building is dusty and falling apart, the address is 669 (until Hanks knocks on the door, and the 9 turns upside down), lighting regularly strikes the house, weird sounds emanate from it and if you take one step onto the lawn hurricane force winds start up and blow piles of debris around you that weren’t even there a second ago. Just about every cliché you can think of. The Klopeks themselves can only be seen at night digging in the back yard, in silhouette from windows, and occasionally driving the garbage down to the curb then beating the shit out it with a stick. Oh and they killed the house’s previous residents and kept their bones as trophies (and may have even been eating them).

Of course, compared to his other neighbors, a fat lay-about who complains about everything, a mentally unhinged gun nut who claims to have been a soldier, the gun nut’s ditsy trophy wife, a vicious old man who enjoys torturing his neighbors in small little ways, and a hyper-annoying teenager whom is often left alone by his parents (probably because they can’t stand him). It’s a bit of a wash as to which is worse.  Most of the humor of the film comes from repetition of things all too common to suburban life, painting a house, going to meet the new neighbors, taking care of one’s lawn, dealing with the neighbors you know too much about.  Almost makes you wish someone would just kill you and put you out of the misery of suburbia.

I don’t think they intended this to be a grand social statement, but the writer and the director clearly wanted to show that suburbia with its dreary mindless routines is almost as bad as the creepy serial killer next door. And still the fear of life that pervades the monotony of suburbia does somehow come off a little worse than the fear of death exemplified by horror films.
Certainly not the greatest film but an enjoyable waste of an hour and a half.

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2 Guns: 2 loveable characters, too many plot holes

 

2 guns posterSo, I went to see 2 Guns hoping the Denzel’s string of incredibly bad films has finally come to an end.

 

Sadly it hasn’t, at least not entirely.

 

2 Guns gives us two wonderful characters, DEA Denzel Washington and Navy Intel agent Mark Wahlberg…each thinks the other is a career criminal at first and when they realize they have both been played by people in their relative agencies they team up to try and recover their careers and see justice be done.

 

The two characters of this movie were great. They were witty, noble, sarcastic and brave.  And they played off of each other in the way of the old buddy cop movies (not the string of derivate movies that were forgotten, but the early ones we still love).  I really like these two characters.  The problem is that somehow these two wonderful characters got stuck in a movie that made little sense, and surrounded by a supporting cast that varied from detestable (not in a good way) to just surreal.

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Movies for everyone: Cabin in the Woods.

Ok, I’m drawing a line in the f!@#ing sand. Do NOT read the Latin!


As it was probably made clear in my review of Halloween movies, I have great contempt for most horror films.  Cheap, predictable, cliché and recently little more than torture porn.  Especially the “let’s go somewhere remote where a monster of some kind is going to kill us all” variant.  And Joss Whedon apparently hates this cliché as well.

It really shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.  This is the Joss Whedon who got so tired of seeing the ditzy blonde cheerleader with the silly name die at the hands of a monster, he gave her a stake, some brains, and the name Buffy, and let her tear through the monsters.  But he seems to be a bit more vicious in his critique of what the horror genre has devolved into over the last decade, completely disregarding his proof that horror can be intelligent and witty and more than just gore and blood.

It appears he, along with longtime Buffy writer Drew Goddard, wrote Cabin in the Woods to drive the stake home that horror movies are getting just stupid.

Short version, every trope and cliché is made fun of.  Almost every version of the story is lambasted.  College students go on a trip to the cabin in the woods, get stopped by the creepy gas station attendant who basically screams at them to turn back, go into the cellar of the cabin which just conveniently opens on its own, call up a group of redneck pain-worshiping zombies (which is very different from just normal zombies) and get picked off one by one in true archetypal fashion—the blonde over sexed whore goes first, then the fool, the athlete, the scholar, and of course finally the virgin (“we work with what we have”).

But this isn’t your standard horror torture porn film.  No this movie is actively making fun of the kind of idiot who read the Latin from the diary of the religious lunatic bent on worshiping pain which is kept in the creepy cellar…because that seems like such a great idea.  It insults a group of kids who don’t turn right around when the outside of the cabin looks exactly like the cabin from Evil Dead and on the inside has the mounted head of a wolf, a picture of the slaughter of a ram, and the mounted horns of a hart (and if you know Joss Whedon’s work, you know the wolf, the ram and the hart are a very, very bad sign) not to mention the creepy one way mirror and the cellar of horrors…again why didn’t we turn around?  Cabin in the Woods also makes it clear that this grouping of one of each archetype never actually occurs unless you seriously drug half your cast to act in a way contrary to their normal behavior.

“Cleanse them. Cleanse the world of their ignorance and sin. Bathe them in the crimson of …Am I on speakerphone?”

It also makes fun of every other kind of horror film out there.  The recent spate of Scandinavian horror films that go beyond all good taste are labeled as a total failure from almost the first moment.  The Japanese horror film, where no one has ever survived any incarnation of, is lambasted by finally letting everyone survive the Japanese horror film (how hard is it to kill nine-year-olds?).

Until you’ve seen the movie you don’t realize how hilarious this picture is…Kevin? The Sugar Plum Fairy?

It makes fun of the filmmakers.  The film makers who bet that we’ll go see yet another crappy zombie film are lambasted as boring and unoriginal and the filmmakers of crappy scifi movies which pull out obscure monsters no one cares about are even more humiliated by their choice of stupid monsters.  Not to mention it tears into the tediously formulaic way that these movies progress through as if it’s some kind of ritual that must not be deviated from, even in dealing with the order in which victims must be killed (honestly, when was the last time you ever saw the virgin die first?) or how no matter who is involved, be they bright or stupid, everyone always does the dumb thing and splits up.

And most of all it makes fun of the audience for their perverse need to watch the stupid movies that the horror genre has become.  From the obsessive need to see naked women (which is hit both with seeing all the technicians crowded into the control room to get a glimpse, and again with Hadley’s enthusiastic “score.”)…to the fact that the audience of this genre is constantly being mocked for believing such preposterous situations…and in the final dig for comparing the audience to absolute evil for it’s insatiable need to see such suffering offered up to us as if it was a sacrifice that we demand.  The film closes with a not too subtle call for the audience of this genre to rise up and demand that this cycle of crappy movie end once and for all as they don’t provide anything.

As with any Joss Whedon work every scene is full of wit and humor (even the violent ones) and a whole mess of allusions to other works (at some point I’m going to have to go through the last act and look for every reference they make, because Goddard and Whedon seemed hell bent on referencing every horror film ever made).  The problem is that the first time I went to see this movie the audience I was with clearly understood this was a comedy and was laughing at all the digs at the genre…the second time I saw it the audience clearly came for a horror movie and didn’t get the fact that their genre was being humiliated (it was odd, I was one of the maybe 5 people laughing at every scene).  So the expectations you go in with drastically affect your appreciation of the film.

The main question I get about this movie, from those who are not fans of the horror genre is: is it violent and gory? Yes and no.  It has blood and tension and some gore.  But compared to a lot of films in the genre it’s quite tame.  Personally I would put it on par with one of the Scream movies in terms of gore, maybe a little worse.  (Except for the fifth act where they’re throwing around blood by the tub full…but really that’s more farce than horror.)  If you’re really squeamish, even the humor might not be enough to overpower what gore there is…but I still suggest you should give it a try.

“Good work, zombie arm.”

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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 #7 & #6

#7 A Shot in the Dark

“François, I just cut off my thumb.”

Ah, Inspector Jacques Clouseau when played by the great Peter Sellers. Clouseau is perhaps the dumbest person on earth, and in this the only Clouseau movie without the words “Pink Panther” in the title, and thus it is ironic that it is the best of the Pink Panther movies. I’m not entirely sure who deserves more credit for this moment in insane comedy, Sellers as Clouseau or Blake Edwards as the master of comedy behind the camera, but when these two men collaborate, even at their worst (see Revenge of the Pink Panther).

Clouseau the investigator who has never solved a crime. Clouseau, the master of disguise who never fooled anyone. Clouseau, the master of martial arts who only is able to defeat his trusted (?) assistant Kato, who is constantly out to kill him. Clouseau, the man who drives his boss Dreyfus to self-mutilation and homicide. The only thing Clouseau is really good at is providing an endless stream of laughs while investigating a murder.

#6 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

“Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.”

Let me speak anathema. I’m not overly impressed with many of John Hughes films. Sixteen Candles, Uncle Buck, and Planes, Trains & Automobiles did nothing for me, and I was utterly unable to sympathize with any of the characters of The Breakfast Club (and we’re not even going to talk about some of the shit he wrote beyond saying that if it wasn’t for Hughes we would never have been tortured with hell that is Macaulay Culkin). But as much as his works clearly did resonate with me as much as the rest of America, there is no denying the greatness of Ferris Bueller. Maybe it’s just the beauty of the image of a smart-ass getting everything he has worked for (and make no mistake it’s not that the world just opens to him without effort, he works for all of it), but there is just something unbelievably beautiful about the way Ferris Bueller lives his life and looks around once in a while. Ferris is an embodiment of what individualism and hard work will get you (and he does work hard, he just doesn’t work hard at what society wants him to, “It’s a test on European socialism. I’m not European; I don’t plan on being European. So what do I care if they’re socialists. They could be fascist anarchists; it still wouldn’t change the fact that I don’t have a car.”)

The comedy credentials of this film do not even need to be described…while I don’t think this is the funniest film of all time it is certainly one of the best known films. It would probably make the top 100 list of film buffs and philistines, those who know movies by the boat load and those who only know a handful. Honestly if you don’t love this movie then either you’ve been living in a cave or are quite possibly mentally unhinged (there are few other excuses for not loving this film). So I won’t wax long on its comedic effect.

However there are some things that recent events have brought up to me some other lesser appreciated points of this film.

First off is the lesson in economics that it is too sad that many did not learn. That government interference through higher taxes and more regulation leads to depressions, also that people named Bush know less than nothing about economics. The utter lack of flair and style is part of its charm.

And of course there is the issue that half this film is people whining about “It’s not fair.” Why does that sound familiar?

“Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe Ferris isn’t such a bad guy. After all, I got a car, he got a computer. But still, why should he get to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants? Why should everything work out for him? What makes him so goddamn special?”

Oh that’s right because the movie goes out of its way to show that people who worry about what’s fair or not that other people get things that they don’t. The clear message of the movie is that those who worry about others are pathetic and the people who only worry about their own lives are not just the ones to be admired, but the ones who actually enjoy life.


And let us not forget it probably has some of the wisest words ever uttered on film:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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Greatest Moments of Comedy in Film #9 & #8

#9 The Trouble With Tribbles

“Most curious creature, Captain. It’s trilling seems to have a tranquilizing effect on the human nervous system. Fortunately, of course, I am immune to its effect.”

Okay, technically not a movie…although I’ve included TV episodes on my lists before. But this is the only standalone episode of any show to make it on this list…true there were some very funny episodes of the other Star Treks, some great moments of X-file humor, and I am still looking forward every year to The Closer’s Flynn and Provenza episode. But while almost every show has a great moment in comedy, I think only the “Trouble with Tribbles” really rises to the bar of the Top 30 comedies (if I did a top 40 there might have been an X-file episode or two, “Bad Blood” & “Jose Chung’s”, but I figured 30 was pushing it as it was.

Tribbles are possibly the cutest prop ever developed. A purring ball of fur. How can you not love a purring ball of fur? But it’s not just the tribbles that make the episode.

I will be the first to admit there were some pretty low moments in the original Star Trek. Episodes of bad writing, bad directing, bad special effects and yes bad acting. And when it was bad it was really bad (see “Spock’s Brain”)…but, oh, when they had a good script and a good director then the actors would bring up all the talent they had and everything worked into some of the finest moments of TV history. And “Tribbles” is one of those truly great moments.

Near perfect comedic timing from both Shatner and Nimoy in almost every scene in dealing with a situation that is beyond preposterous.

Looking for a quick 45 minutes of nonstop laughing The Trouble with Tribbles never fails.

#8 Duck Soup

“Remember, you’re fighting for this woman’s honour, which is probably more than she ever did.”

I love the Marx Brothers. Mad cap wit and pure insanity. And Groucho as the Prime Minister of a nation is just more insane than you usually get even in a Marx Brothers film. (And there is the sad fact that he’s a better leader than a lot of the world’s current chief executives). I will admit that this has a much weaker plot than some of the other Marx Brother films…but why are you watching Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo for plot? But the mirror scene, the war scene and a dozen others I find this perhaps the funniest of the Marx Brother movies…but only by a small margin.

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The Examples of Great Comedy in Film #12-#10

#12 Evolution


“Allow me to share something with the entire class. Last night as I was grading papers, I came across two gems both entitled “Cells are Bad” and both with just one paragraph which I unfortunately committed to memory: “Cells are bad. My uncle lives in a cell. It’s ten foot by twelve and he has to read the same boring, old magazine everyday. The end.” Although my standards are nowhere near where they used to be I could not bring myself to put A’s atop those beauties.”

Part of me thinks that this movie’s absolute refusal to say anything scientifically correct is what makes me love it. It is a masterpiece of Hollywood’s constant misuse of scientific sounding words and phrases to come to the most preposterous conclusions and scenes. This movie makes The Core look well research, but is completely unapologetic about it’s lack of serious scientific knowledge.

While I love him in this movie I think it may have probably been a bad call on Duchovny’s part to do a movie about an alien invasion where he falls for a red-headed scientist as the first role to play after he left X-files…but it does make his line about “No government. I know those people, we can’t trust them” all the more enjoyable.

#11 The Hangover

Stu: So, uh, are you sure you’re qualified to be taking care of that baby?

Alan: What are you talking about? I’ve found a baby before.
Stu: You found a baby before? Where?
Alan: Coffee Bean.

This is one of those movies that found that rarest of rare balances between wit, raunchy, physical and verbal humor….and it appears it was a bit on accident as they clearly weren’t able to repeat it…and lord knows why they’re even trying for a third?

Is there a scene in this film that is not perfectly written and performed for a great laugh? Although for some reason I find Stu singing about what tiger’s dream of to be the scene I can just watch over and over again (maybe for the look on Cooper’s face at the end) but frankly this movie never seems to get old.

#10 Lucky Number Slevin

Slevin: I’m sorry, who are you?
The Boss: I’m The Boss.
Slevin: I thought he was The Boss.
The Boss: Why? Do we look alike? So, Mr. Fisher, you were gonna tell me something?
Slevin: I don’t know, you brought me here.
The Boss: Yes I did. Back when you thought I was him.
Slevin: I didn’t think you were him, I thought he was you. And I was trying to tell him – you that they picked up the wrong guy.
The Boss: The wrong guy for what?
Slevin: Whatever it is you wanna see me about.
The Boss: Do you know what I wanna see you about?
Slevin: No.
The Boss: Then how do you know I got the wrong guy?
Slevin: Because I’m not…
The Boss: Maybe I want to give you $96,000. In that case do I still have the wrong guy?
Slevin: Do you wanna give me $96,000?
The Boss: No, do you wanna give me $96,000?
Slevin: No, should I?
The Boss: I don’t know, should you?
Slevin: I don’t know, should I?
The Boss: [pause] Long story short.
Slevin: I think we’re well past that point.
The Boss: I bet it was that mouth that got you that nose.
Slevin: Okay, I’m under the impression that you’re under the impression that I owe you $96,000…?
The Boss: No, you owe Slim Hopkins $96,000. You owe Slim, Slim owes me. You owe me.

I wish I lived in a world like “Lucky Number Slevin”…okay maybe not the part where everyone is trying to kill everyone else…but the part where every single person you encounter speaks in nothing but rapid fire glib repartee.

The movie keeps you guessing exactly what is happening through it’s near byzantine plot (even thought they pretty much tell you what it’s all about in the first scenes) by distracting you with one Howard Hawk’s-esque scene of witty banter after another. Even the scenes that aren’t fall on the floor laughing are great humor in their crisp delivery of dialogue.

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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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Greatest Comedy Films #25-#21

I loved this scene. Not humorous, but it does a great job at conveying the sense of accomplishment at what they just did.

#25 Ocean’s Eleven (and Twelve and Thirteen)
While the original has its place in my heart, the remake is one of the few remakes in history that I think was actually better than the original. And I know I’m not the first to say it, but part of what makes all three movies so enjoyable is that the cast clearly just had a fun time making all of them.  And one of the greatest part is that this movie does an excellent job of subltely playing off the plotline of the original where the money was lost when the oldest member of the gang had a heart attack and the money was burned up with him when he was cremated.  It was little things like that where they paid homage to the original that made this a great film.

All of the humor is witty and seldom goes for the obvious joke which really helps keep what could easily be a silly heist film fresh and original.

#24 Get Shorty
Get Shorty (and to a much lesser degree Be Cool) are one of the few examples of an ensemble cast working out. Usually when you try to shove more than three actors that people might recognize things get lost very quickly yet this movie manages to balance all of the different parts. I make this comment here and not with Ocean’s Eleven because as much as we love all the characters in the Ocean films Clooney, Pitt and Damon do dominate, whereas in Get Shorty there is a healthy balance of all the characters and their individual expressions of insanity.


#23 Men In Black

They should have stopped with the first one.

The sequel was terrible and I have few if any hopes for number 3, but the original was a masterful work of wit and whimsy. Yeah there were some issues with the supporting cast and a few scenes that I think didn’t work but overall the movie is not only funny but, despite the stupid concept, seems to have stood the test of time and remains watchable and enjoyable.

#22 Snatch
As far as I can tell British comedy is a bit of an acquired taste for most Americans…especially since it seems to be broken into low comedy which seems obsessed with the radically different attitude toward sex that the Brits have and high comedy which isn’t much different than high comedy over here (although we don’t have much of it anymore)…but that said, the works of Guy Richie are more in the high witty and surreal category, and by that virtue hilariously bizarre. Now while I love Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels I found Snatch to be just a little more entertaining (especially with Brat Pitt’s utterly incomprehensible Irish gypsy character).  As opposed to the other films listed here there is a chance you might not know what this one is about…but I couldn’t try and summarize the plot in a sentence or two, it’s just too damned insane.

#21 My Fellow Americans
A movie that portrays politicians as idiots.   Not so subtle hits at Bush and Clinton…and really Democrats and Republicans in general.  It’s kind of obvious why I love this film.  Can’t you just see Joe Biden saying some of the things that the VP in this movie does?  Actaully no, Biden is a lot dumber than the VP in this movie.

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The Greatest Romantic Comedies Of All Time

February is here which can mean only one thing…

…Groundhog leftovers.

…no, it means Valentine’s day.

Now, I’m single, and I understand the tendency of many of my fellow single people to loathe this holiday with a fiery passion.  I understand the frustration.  However, it is still a wonderful holiday that celebrates one of the best aspects that life has to offer.  Which means I should do a series of the best movies that deal with Romance…however I’ll be the first to admit that while some of these films I can watch over and over and over again, I’m not sure I can get a full blog out of them–some are a little short on philosophical depth.  So what I’m going to do is give you three lists.  The top 14 romantic comedies, the top 14 Romantic dramas, my favorite cinematic couples.  So let’s start with the Romantic Comedies.

I understand it’s very hard to rank comedies as there are lot of intangibles in the issues of taste when it comes to what is and isn’t funny…but here is my list, feel free to disagree in the comment box.

(LoveActually should probably be on this list, but as I put it on the Christmas list already, forgive that it is not being included).

#14

Failure to Launch

“You were bitten by a chuckwalla. That shouldn’t have happened. It’s a reptile of peace. I have a theory. This isn’t the first time that nature’s lashed out at you like this. I believe it’s because your life is fundamentally at odds with the natural world. […] Therefore, nature rejects you. “

A stupid little comedy about doing that thing we all hated doing…growing up and moving out.  I can’t fully praise its virtues other than I really enjoy it.

#13

Blind Date

“Oh Walter your beautiful car! Oh look on the bright side, what else can happen? “

Most have probably forgotten about this Blake Edwards film where Kim Basinger leads Bruce Willis on a blind date straight from the 10th concentric circle of Hell!  His car is destroyed, he loses his job, chased and beat up by a deranged ex-boyfriend (played by the hilarious John Larroquette), burns every business connection he has, and gets thrown in jail…and worst of all this glutton for punishment falls in love with her.  All the insanity you expect in an Edwards film (remember the original Pink Panther) in a romantic comedy.

#12

America’s Sweethearts

“I’m grateful for you.”

A romantic comedy that makes fun about how stupid romantic comedies are getting (the newest film in the top 10 was written in 1995) and how everyone in Hollywood seems to be getting more and more annoying and screwed up with every passing year.  Quite frankly Hollywood needs to make fun of itself more often.  All of the characters are deeply screwed up, but you love watching them try to figure out their lives and loves.

#11

50 First Dates

“There’s nothing like a first kiss.”

I am not a fan of most of Adam Sandler’s work (usually it’s a little too crass for my tastes) but 50 First Dates avoids most of that.  While completely impractical, there is something unspeakably sweet about a man who loves someone so much he will work to make her fall in love with him every single day.

#10

Heart and Souls

Harrison: “Who came up with this ridiculous concept anyway? Resolve your entire life in one bold stroke? What if I fail? And I will. I’ll fail. I’m telling you. I always fail. Then my whole life will be a complete failure. “

Thomas:”No offense, Harrison. But you died a failure because you never tried.”

It’s hard to imagine a movie where two-thirds of the cast dies in the first 10 minutes being a comedy, but it is.  (Oh, wait until we get to the drama, there is death aplenty there…9 of the top 14 somebody dies in 2 others there is serious injury).  Four souls are given the chance to use Robert Downey Jr. to help them solve whatever problems they had in life.  This leads to some serious issues with Downey Jr.’s love life, which his personality was already ruining, but eventually everything gets worked out.  I’ll grant it’s more comedy than romance, but it’s still a good film.

#9

ANY Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Comedy, but especially Desk Set & Adam’s Rib

“Well you know what the French say, viva la difference”

Do I even have to justify the works of these two?  A constant locking of heads and wills between two very intelligent, very stubborn people who whether it’s on film or in real life are completely in love.  These are comedies that never get old.

#8

Sabrina

Democracy can be a wickedly unfair thing Sabrina. Nobody poor was ever called democratic for marrying somebody rich.”

If you think I meant that horrible remake, shame on you! I mean Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart…there exists no other version.  None.  Bogart and Hepburn are perfect in this story of love and business.

#7

It happened one night


Alexander Andrews: Oh, er, do you mind if I ask you a question, frankly? Do you love my daughter?

Peter Warne: Any guy that’d fall in love with your daughter ought to have his head examined.

Alexander Andrews: Now that’s an evasion!

Peter Warne: She picked herself a perfect running mate – King Westley – the pill of the century! What she needs is a guy that’d take a sock at her once a day, whether it’s coming to her or not. If you had half the brains you’re supposed to have, you’d done it yourself, long ago.

Alexander Andrews: Do you love her?

Peter Warne: A normal human being couldn’t live under the same roof with her without going nutty! She’s my idea of nothing!

Alexander Andrews: I asked you a simple question! Do you love her?

Peter Warne: YES! But don’t hold that against me, I’m a little screwy myself!

 

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in this story of a reporter helping a rich girl escape her oppressive lifestyle for a story is nothing short of perfect (and the best writer, best actor, best actress, and best director Oscars this movie got seems to back up my point).  Probably nothing is funnier than when the fabled walls of Jericho come down.  (On a side note that will probably get me much hate mail, I don’t know why Roman Holiday isn’t more often referred to as a cheap rip off of It happened one night…because that is all it is, and one with a much crappier ending).

#6

While you were sleeping

Lucy: So what should I do?

Jerry: Pull the plug.

Lucy: You’re sick.

Jerry: I’m sick? You’re cheating on a vegetable.

Sandra Bullock has been in a slew of romantic comedies but probably none is better than this one where a lie leads her to true love…although not with the man she thought she loved.  (Although I think Two Weeks Notice deserves an honorable mention, if for no other reason than the faces Hugh Grant makes throughout the film).  Personally I will always take Bullock in a romantic comedy over a drama (even though she is very good actress) but this is also one of those movies I look at and never fully understand why Bill Pullman doesn’t have a more successful career as he makes a perfect leading man in this bizarre comedy of errors.

#5

My Man Godfrey

You mustn’t come between Irene and Godfrey. He’s the first thing she’s shown any affection for since her Pomeranian died last summer.”

The story of a ditzy socialite, Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) who, upon finding what appears to be a homeless and destitute man who isn’t afraid to tell off her shallow rich friends, gives him a job as her household butler.  There this man, Godfrey (played by William Powell), finds that his ditzy boss is actually the best person in her family of thieves and idiots.  All of them look down on Godfrey for one reason or another at first because they assume from her story that he is poor as poor can be…to hell if he’s smarter and more honorable.  And of course there’s that other thing about the fact that he’s about ten times richer than they are, and had only been found looking like a bum after a year-long bender from getting his heart broken.  Of course Godfrey falls for Irene, against his good judgment, while rediscovering how to live life and not be simply self-pitying.

#4
The comedies of William Shakespeare especially Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It and Nunn’s Twelfth Night.

“One woman

is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am

well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all

graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in

my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise,

or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her;

fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not

near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good

discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall

be of what colour it please God.”

In the history of writing there is a simple fact that no one has ever been able to exceed Shakespeare (there are some flaws in transferring it to film which is why this is only #4) but nothing has yet to outdo the Bard.

On film probably the best versions are the stories of Beatrice and Benedict and their constant snipping, the insanity of Rosalind and Orlando, and the madcap cross-dressing wackiness of the Viola/Cesario-Ovlia-Orsion triangle.  However I might add that I might have to movie Shakespeare to #1 for movies if Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing is as great as I hope it will be. (Also there was apparently a stage version with David Tenant as Benedict and Catherine Tate as Beatrice…dear god what I would have given to see that).



#3

The 3 movies starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, Bringing up Baby, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story.


Now it isn’t that I don’t like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I’m strangely drawn toward you, but – well, there haven’t been any quiet moments.”

Tracy and Hepburn, great.  Grant and Hepburn, well it’s sad that the English language lacks a super-superlative.  But what would you expect when you team up the greatest actor of all time and the greatest actress of all time?  From the madcap insanity of Howard Hawk’s Bringing up Baby (and the only time I think I have ever seen Hepburn play a ditz) to the two more witty Philip Barry plays Holiday and The Philadelphia Story these two are always perfect together and can be watched over and over and over again without their genius ever losing anything.


#2
Pretty Woman

“What happened after he climbs up and rescues her?”


She rescues him right back.”

The perfect modern interpretation of the classic fairy tale that acknowledges that love and rescuing in the field of romance is always a two way street (because he is in far more need of rescuing than she is).  You are not fully human if you don’t love this movie.

Honorable Mention: While not as good as Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride is delightful in how it plays off of all the little moments in Pretty Woman.

And of course…

 

 

 

 

I assume you want to know what the greatest romantic comedy of all time is…

 

 

 

 

Well since you asked for it…

 

 

 

 

All I can say is…

 

 

 

 

 

As you wish.

 

 

#1

The Princess Bride


“Death cannot stop true love…all it can do is delay it awhile.”

 

It would say it is safe to say that 50% of the people reading this blog know every single line in this movie.

It never gets old.  It never ceases to warm my heart.  It could not be any better in any way shape or form.  It is perfect.

If anyone in Hollywood ever gets the idea that they can remake this movie, then the only punishment fitting for such arrogance and stupidity is death.  This movie is perfect for all ages, all times and circumstances.  There is nothing that can be improved. It is the greatest romantic comedy of all time and if you haven’t seen it then your life is unspeakably sadder for not having this in it.

Other Honorable Mentions in particular order:

Indiscreet, For Love or Money , Mr. Destiny, She’s All that, He said/She Said, I.Q., Just Like Heaven, Serendipity, Lady and the Tramp (not so much the whole movie, but the spaghetti scene), Heaven Can Wait

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