Monday, October 13, 2008

My Favorite Comedies

Comedy, almost more than any other film genre, is completely subjective. What I may find unrelentingly funny, you may think is relentlessly stupid. Of course, this post is about my favorite comedies, not yours. In no particular order, here are my favorites:

Young Frankenstein Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder wrote the screamingly funny screenplay for this parody/homage to one of Universal's most enduring characters. Nearly every line is quotable and almost every sight gag is hilariouos. Add brilliant performances from an amazing ensemble which includes Wilder; Marty Feldman; Teri Garr; Madeline Kahn; Peter Boyle; Kenneth Mars and an almost unrecognizable Gene Hackman, and you have one the singlularly funniest and most-beloved comedies of all time, bar none.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail I was in middle school when I first discovered Python on PBS. By the time The Holy Grail came out, I was a devout fan. Their first film, a parody of the King Arthur legend is their best and most quotable. Eric Idle's recent stage musical adaptation "Spamalot" is further proof of the films enduring hilarity. Sheer comic genius. And so hard to choose a favorite moment. Here is one of many:
The Producers Mel Brooks again, this time with his Oscar-winning screenplay about a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer and the hapless CPA he convinces to help him produce a Broadway flop. The incomparable Zero Mostel joins Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars and a host of "little old ladies" in quite possibly the funniest movie about a musical about Hitler, ever made.
Bringing Up Baby My personal favorite film has Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant at their madcap best. This 1938 Howard Hawks comedy was a flop when it premiered, but is now considered one of the director's best films. The story revolves around Grant's paleantologist character and Hepburn's zany heiress who loves him; two leopards; mistaken identities; a bone-stealing Terrier and a hundred other things that all add up to a zany romantic adventure. Pure genius.
What's Up Tiger Lily? Early Woody Allen at his best. Allen took a Japanese spy movie, removed the soundtrack, re-cut and re-dubbed it with his own script about the search for the perfect egg salad recipe. With a soundtrack provided by The Lovin' Spoonful, this 1966 film is both silly and sublime and it never fails to make me laugh. The only decent clip I could find is from the end credits, but it will give you an idea of just how goofy this movie is.
What's Up, Doc? The only Barbra Streisand movie on any of my lists, Peter Bogdonavich's love-letter to 30's madcap comedies is pure hilarity. Ryan O'Neal (at his peak of hotness) is a music professor presenting his latest theory at a "Musicologist's" convention in San Francisco. Striesand is the girl who gets him into repeated trouble. Madeline Kahn makes her brillaint film debut along with a host of comic geniuses, including Austin Pendelton and Kenneth Mars (funny how he seems to keep popping up). Loopy, looney and silly, What's Up, Doc? is just a whole lotta fun. The funniest movie about igneous rocks, stolen CIA documents and San Francisco you will ever see.
Dead Alive Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings; King Kong) made this insane horror-comedy early in his career. It concerns a young nerd, the Hispanic beauty who loves him; his zombified mother and more fake blood before or since. Gross, disturbing and hilarious, it is without a doubt the funniest zombie movie, ever.
Evil Dead II Director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) cemented his reputation for outrageous visuals with this slapstick horror film about a group of young people vacationing in an abandoned cabin who stumble upon the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) and unwittingly unleash a horde of 'Candarian' demons upon themselves and the world. If the Three Stooges had made horror movies, this would have been their best. It also made a cult star out of its young hero, Bruce Campbell. It also inspired a hilarious Off Broadway musical. For some reason, I can't embed the clip I wanted to show you, but you can view it at:

Hope you enjoyed these clips as much as I did. More of this, anon.

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