Well, I am in a good mood today, since a Mid-Term for a class went well, so I thought that I would do another of my Top 10 posts. Today, I thought I would pay homage to the films that have made me laugh over the years. I am not much for comeday. At least, not anymore. It appears more and more that people just can’t make a good comedy. Or if there are such films, they are rare and very far between. Films like “Cop Out” and pretty much anything National Lampoon makes anymore, they all piss on the intelligence of their audiences, and people in general. But there are some gems from history, and this list pays homage to them. I hope you enjoy.
10. Christmas Vacation
Now, many will argue that this is a Christmas special, and I totally agree with that, but here’s the thing – it didn’t try to be a classic Christmas special. This film was trying to be a comedy film, and bless it’s weird-ass heart, it succeeded, while subsequently becoming a Christmas movie. This film is by far my favorite of the “Vacation” movies that National Lampoon made. This was Chevy Chase at his…well, he’s sucked in pretty much everything else, so, this was one of the few times that Chevy Chase was good. And it was a classic comedy. The characters were awesome, the plot of trying to have a fun family Christmas, but failing miserably was awesome. The jokes are memorable, such as the battle to get the Christmas lights outside the house to work. It was just a great film. And it was a Christmas film for adults, which made it even better, showing how the joy of being a child can become the joy of being an adult at Christmas. What’s not to love?
9. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
This movie is by far the strangest movie that I have EVER seen. And that’s saying something. From the very beginning of this movie, it is weird, telling a kind of pirate story about old bankers. It’s so weird, so bizarre, and yet, so stupid, that it has to be awesome. This film was funny because it attacked the most random of things. From Roman Catholic religion, to live organ donors, it really cast a wide net. And you can tell that all the actors are really putting their heart into it. One thing that I really thought was amusing was how they had the old style of having almost many of the women in the film played by men. It takes you back to how things worked when Shakespeare was first doing his work. But still, the madness of it aside, it was a very funny movie, and it really made you think, which is always a plus in a good comedy, and something that Monty Python is famous for. He doesn’t do fart jokes.
8. Grandma’s Boy
It isn’t often that a film decides that it is going to totally merge genres. More often than not, it turns into a giant pile of shit. But with this movie, it did it well. Really well. It mixed the stoner-comedy with the nerd culture. That’s not only cool, it’s awesome! And it did so well. The story of the stoner video game designer having to move in with his grandma is such a fun premise to work with, and this movie does it perfectly. The biggest problem of the movie is that there aren’t many iconic moments. Our culture hasn’t picked up many of them for satire of anything else. Still, I liked this movie because, as a man who supports legalizing cannabis and a gamer, this is a movie that appeals to all sides of my nature. Probably the best scene in the movie is when grandma finds the guy’s pot stash and, thinking that it’s tea leaves, turns it into tea. Grandma and her friends, totally baked, is just awesome. I have a feeling that my parents are going to be that way when they get older.
7. Big Trouble
You know, it’s ironic that I love and hate Tim Allen. A lot like Robin Williams, something that he makes, you either love or you hate. Based on the Dave Barry novel of the same name, this film has such an absurd premise that it treats as so commonplace that it is impossible not to get sucked into the ridiculousness of it. It is a story where there are lots of characters and all of their stories come together at the end. Tim Allen plays a dad who recently lost his wife an his dream job. Jason Lee plays a homeless man who lives in a tree. Rene Russo is the wife of a corrupt businessman who secretly is laundering guns for his company. There are so many characters and all of their struggles are so ridiculous that when you see how it all comes together, it is impossible not to find it unbelievably hilarious. Dave Barry is a great writer, and his talent shows here. This was a great and absurd film that you couldn’t help but love. Look it up if you ever want smart and unbelievably ridiculous humor.
There is a battle that has been going on between this film, and the British film of the same concept – Shaun of the Dead. Each side is just CONVINCED that one is better than the other. For me, it’s the British film. But while I think the other is better, this film is also hysterical. Woody Harrelson is awesome. Jesse Eisenberg is awesome. Bill Murray, who is playing himself and only for a couple minutes, is hysterical. This film also had some really iconic moments, like Harrelson’s pursuit of a Twinkie. Eisenberg is a great protagonist, just being a random guy, not really special in any way, trying to survive in a chaotic mess of undead. Weird, twisted, and the “Rules of Zombieland” moments are just awesome.
Man, talk about classic comedy. This film is one of the great comedic legends. Telling the story of a plane that becomes infected with a deadly disease, a war pilot who is afraid to fly again and a dozen other cliches that are overused by that time, this film throws them all on their head and makes good sport of all of them. The timing in this film is nigh-perfect, with every joke landing and landing big. The number of iconic moments in this movie is too large to count. For as dumb as the comedy is, it’s also very smart. Dumb comedy can be made better when it’s used in a smart way. Memorable lines, memorable characters, it’s a classic that has REALLY stood the test of time in a big way.
4. Igby Goes Down
Of all the movies on this list, while this isn’t the strangest, it is the most thought-provoking. This movie stars Kieran Culkin as Igby. He’s a boy from an extraordinarily wealthy family. This film goes into the world of wealth, showing the ugliness of it, but in the most humorous way possible. Igby hates his life, and is desperately trying to escape it, all the while finding that this life follows him everywhere he goes. This film has a great cast. There is Jeff Goldblum, Susan Surandon, Ryan Phillipe, Bill Pullman, Claire Danes, and many others. Attacking the idea of wealth, and that money can make you happy, this movie really got into the heads of the characters, and not only made for a funny movie, but a move that made you feel. Making you think is great, but truly enjoyable films have to be able to make you feel for the characters. This one does it perfectly, and that is why it is so high on this list. Oh, and the fact that it opens with Igby and his brother non-chalantly killing their mother helps.
3. Shaun of the Dead
So, like I said, I think that this was the better of the zombie romantic comedy films. Wow, that term. This could be a genre in and of itself. There have been a lot of movies that have tried it, but this one perfected it. Shaun is the perfect comedy character. He truly is a British version of the everyman. He is just an ordinary guy, thrust into an extraordinary situation. There are so many awesome moments. The debate between him and his roommate about which records to throw, the monologue about how they are going to save his mother, and the beating of the zombie to Queen. All of these are awesome. It’s the rather plainness of Shaun that makes him a much more likeable character than those from Zombieland. I love that movie, but I love this one just a little bit more.
2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The way that Dogma is to Kevin Smith, the Holy Grail is to Monty Python. This is him at his best. Every scene of this movie was perfect. The introduction of King Arthur, the French taunting man on top of the wall, the fight with the Black Knight, the killer rabbit and the Holy Hand Grenade, all of these scenes are awesome and make me almost fall to the ground laughing. This movie was so random, to the point of ridiculousness, but you didn’t care, because you couldn’t stop laughing. It’s a new take a story that we’ve all heard a hundred times – King Arthur trying to find the Holy Grail. But this movie doesn’t take that premise seriously at all, and thank non-existent God for it, because it makes a movie that is impossible not to laugh at. They even made the original trailer (linked above) funny! This film is piss-your-pants funny, and I am so glad it was made.
Ironically, though, as funny as all of these movies are, to me, they pale in comparison to the film at the top of the list.
1. Blazing Saddles
By leaps and bounds, Mel Brooks’ best film. This movie was so classic and funny that it belongs in a class all its own. It tackled so many issues, but in a way that made the not only palatable, but hysterical. It tackled racism, sexism and homophobia, but never made it feel preachy. It was able to just mold them into the fabric of the story perfectly. The scene where the sheriff (played by Cleavon Little) is coming to town, and the guy on watch keeps trying to tell them that he’s…”He says the sheriff is near!” It’s just great. Gene Wilder is also awesome. This was him at his top game, and the world will weep a little when he passes away. Like George Carlin, both are comedy legends. But, of course, everybody in this movie is perfect. There wasn’t a single mis-cast, and you can tell that they put their all into this. Never before has there been a comedy movie like it, and there probably won’t be one so memorable ever done again. And that is why it is at the top of my list. Well, that and this movie made me laugh so hard I nearly did piss myself, the first time I saw it.
Until next time, a quote,
“Who knows, maybe someday they’ll actually talk to you in public!” -Jim, Blazing Saddles