Friday, 13 July 2012

Listorama! My Top Eleven Comedies

OK, here it is - a countdown of my favourite comedies of all time. I've been talking about doing this list for a while, but it proved much more difficult than expected to put it together. For one thing, films you might categorise as being 'comedies' often cross over into other genres - such as comedy-drama, comedy-horror, romantic comedy and so on and so forth.

As the length of my long list was getting unwieldy, I've had to exclude many fine films which may have comedic elements, but which aren't really straight up comedies. Having said that, comedies come in all different shapes and sizes - sometimes you want something that's more cerebral and witty - at other times, you just want some crude, lowest common denominator laughs. I've tried to cater to both types of film in my list, but ultimately the list is just based on how funny I found the movies in question. Obviously, this is my 100% subjective opinion, so you may well disagree, but I hope you enjoy the list anyway.

As ever, there were plenty of movies which just failed to make the grade, for one reason and another - these include Adaptation, Ed Wood, The Forty Year Old Virgin, Napoleon Dynamite, There's Something About Mary, Kind Hearts & Coronets, The Muppets, Dr Strangelove, Say Anything and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Right then, that's enough of a preamble. Here's the list. (As you may have noticed, this list goes to 11. You can see this either as a homage to Spinal Tap or a tribute to the always amusing 11 Points blog. Alternatively, it's possible that I got halfway through this list and realised that I'd forgotten to include Rushmore...)

11.  The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Synopsis: Two teenage boys in 1980s Brooklyn try to come to terms with the divorce of their parents. The older of the two (played by Jesse Eisenberg) sides with their snobbish, intellectual father, while the younger favours his mother, who's been carrying on with a philistine tennis pro. Tennis is played, and library books are ruined.

Best lines:

"Walt Berkman: It's Welles' masterpiece, really. Many people think it's Citizen Kane, but Magnificent Ambersons, if it hadn't been ruined by the studio, would've been his crowning achievement. As it is, it's still brilliant. It's the old story, genius not being recognised by the industry.
Lance: It sounds great. Who's in it?
Walt Berkman: Orson Welles? I don't know, I haven't seen it yet. I've seen stills."

"Bernard: Joan, let me ask you something. All that work I did at the end of our marriage, making dinners, cleaning up, being more attentive. It never was going to make a difference, was it? You were leaving no matter what...
Joan: You never made a dinner.
Bernard: I made burgers that time you had pneumonia."

10. Election (1999)

Synopsis: Matthew Broderick returns to high school as a disenchanted high school teacher who attempts to rig a high school election in an effort to get revenge on an obnoxious overachiever. Alexander Payne's biting wit takes down everybody in its path, whether they're teachers, students or otherwise.

Best lines:

"Jim McAllister: Paul, what's your favourite fruit?
Paul Metzler: Pears.
Jim McAllister: Pears, good. OK, let's say...
Paul Metzler: Oh, no wait! Apples.
Jim McAllister: Apples. Fine. Let's say all you ever knew were apples. Apples, apples, and more apples. You might think apples were pretty good, even if you got a rotten one every once in a while. But then one day... there's an orange. And now you can make a decision, do you want an apple or do you want an orange? That's democracy.
Paul Metzler: I also like bananas."

"Tammy Metzler:  Being suspended is like getting a paid vacation. Why do they think it's a punishment? It's like your dog pees on the carpet and you give him a treat. Then you get in trouble for skipping school, it's so stupid! Hendricks told me, "One more time" and I'd be expelled. Sounded good to me."

9. Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)

Synopsis: Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) tries to get to the bottom of a fiendish plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II, but is distracted by the charms of Priscilla Presley. Drebin follows the trail to a California Angels baseball game, where he delivers a stirring rendition of the national anthem. O.J. Simpson can't stop injuring himself.

Best Lines:

"Frank: I'd known her for years. We used to go to all the police functions together. Ah, how I loved her, but she had her music. I think she had her music. She'd hang out with the Chicago Male Chorus and Symphony. I don't recall her playing an instrument or being able to carry a tune. Yet she was on the road 300 days of the year. In fact, I bought her a harp for Christmas. She asked me what it was."

"Mrs. Nordberg: Oh, my poor Nordberg! He was such a good man, Frank. He never wanted to hurt anyone. Who would do such a thing?
Frank: It's hard to tell. A gang of thugs, a blackmailer, an angry husband, a gay lover..."

8. Withnail & I (1987)

Synopsis: Unemployed actors Withnail and Marwood take a trip away from their squalid London flat to spend some time in the country. Their hopes of a relaxing weekend away are dashed by the arrival of Withnail's insatiable Uncle Monty, who has taken rather a shine to Marwood...

Best lines:

"Monty: I can never touch meat until it's cooked. As a youth I used to weep in butcher's shops."

"Danny: I don't advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hairs are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos, and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight."

 7. South Park: Better, Longer & Uncut (1999)

Synopsis: Outcry over a vulgar Canadian film leads to a war between the USA and their neighbours to the north. Kenny goes to Hell, where he meets Satan himself and his partner in crime, Saddam Hussein. Some of the funniest musical numbers ever written are performed.

Best lines:

"Doctor: Son, we have some bad news. We accidentally replaced your heart with a baked potato. You have about three seconds to live."

"Sheila Broflovski: Remember what the MPAA says: horrific, deplorable violence is OK, as long as people don't say any naughty words! That's what this war is all about!"


6. Airplane! (1980)

Synopsis: A former hotshot air force pilot turned washed up alcoholic is forced to take the helm of a stricken airliner. An auto-pilot is inflated. Jelly wobbles. Zucker Abrahams and Zucker cram more gags into an hour and a half than anyone else has managed before, or since.

Best lines: 

"Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker: Surely you can't be serious.
Rumack: I am serious... and don't call me Shirley."

" Steve McCroskey: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffin' glue."

5. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Synopsis: Meet the greatest news team in San Diego: firstly, their leader, Ron Burgundy - he's kind of a big deal. He has many leather bound books, and his apartment smells of rich mahogany. Next we have Brian Fantana, the stylish one of the group. He's given nicknames to his testes: James Westfall and Doctor Kenneth Noisewater. Third on the list, Champ Kind, the king of sports news. He's all about having fun - drinking a few cocktails, maybe starting a fire in someones kitchen. Finally, there's Brick Tamland, punctual weatherman with an IQ of 48. Will the arrival of ace reporter Veronica Corningstone break up the group?

Best Lines:

"Brian Fantana:  She gets a special cologne. It's called Sex Panther, by Odeon. It's illegal in nine countries... Yep, it's made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good."

"Ron Burgundy: It's so damn hot... milk was a bad choice!"

4. Rushmore (1998)

Synopsis: Bespectacled hobbies enthusiast Max Fischer is one of the worst students at the prestigious Rushmore Academy, letting his love for clubs and societies overshadow his academic work. He finds himself falling in love with a beautiful English first grade teacher, but has to fight for her affections with a disenchanted millionaire, played by Bill Murray. Along the way he puts on a few explosive plays...

Best lines:

"Herman Blume: (addressing the students at Rushmore Academy): You guys have it real easy. I never had it like this where I grew up. But I send my kids here because the fact is you go to one of the best schools in the country: Rushmore. Now, for some of you it doesn't matter. You were born rich and you're going to stay rich. But here's my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can't buy backbone. Don't let them forget it. Thank you."

"Max Fischer: I like your nurse's uniform, guy. 
Dr. Peter Flynn: These are O.R. scrubs. 
Max Fischer: Oh, are they?"

3. Heathers (1988)

Synopsis: A clique of three beautiful but evil girls named Heather rule the roost at an Ohio high school, along with their disgruntled friend, Veronica Sawyer. When Veronica meets the dangerous and charismatic JD (Christian Slater), the pair decide to take the Heathers down. From this fairly standard set up, we get probably the sharpest, funniest, darkest, most twisted High School movie ever made.

Best lines:

"Principal: Now I've seen a lot of bullshit. Angel dust. Switchblades. Sexually perverse photography exhibits involving tennis rackets. But this suicide thing... guess that's more on Pauline's wavelength. Well, we're gonna just write off today. And on Friday she can hold her little "Love-In" or... whatever. Whatever."

"Heather Chandler: I brought you to a Remington party and what's my thanks? It's on a hallway carpet. I got paid in puke. 
Veronica: Lick it up, baby. Lick it up."

2. Groundhog Day (1993)

Synopsis:  A world weary weatherman (Bill Murray) is doomed to repeat the same day in the same small town forever, unless he can find some way to break the cycle. Along the way, he falls in love with a beautiful colleague, punches an annoying insurance salesman, learns to ice sculpt, dresses up like John Wayne and listens to 'I've Got You Babe' about 12,000 times...

Best lines: 

"Phil: It's the same thing your whole life: 'Clean up your room. Stand up straight. Pick up your feet. Take it like a man. Be nice to your sister. Don't mix beer and wine, ever.' Oh yeah: 'Don't drive on the railroad track.'
Gus: Well, Phil, that's one I happen to agree with."

"Phil: This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather."

 1. This is Spinal Tap (1984)

Synopsis: Director Marty DiBergi takes us on a documentary or - if you will - 'rockumentary', on the road in America with one of England's loudest bands. See the excitement as the band get lost on the way to the stage! Taste hors-d'oeurves served up by mimes! Hear some of the greatest rock parody songs ever, including Big Bottom, Sex Farm and Stone Henge! Touch a cucumber wrapped in tinfoil!  Smell the glove!

Best lines: 

"Derek Smalls: We're very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they're like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They're two distinct types of visionaries, it's like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water."

" David St. Hubbins: I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn't believe anything."

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