Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Greatest Comedy of All Time?

According to me, that is. Anyway, I thought I'd put together a list of my favourite funny movies. Doing so made me realise how wide our conceptions of comedy are. Some of the following are outright rib ticklers . . . others are profound works of art. All, in their way, are very funny, and moved me to list them here.

Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin's most brilliant and ambitious movie. Tender, hurt and hilarious, this ranks among the greatest expressions of the human spirit.

Sons of the Desert

Stan and Ollie in a right royal romp. This could as easily been one of their other movies, such as Way out West, or A Chump at Oxford. Every time I watch these two, I am astonished by their timing, skill and command of the camera. Brilliant.

The Quiet Man

A lovely movie, with great characters and laughs throughout.

Sorority Boys

Yes, Sorority Boys. The gender bending comedy is a one-off fiesta of fun, with brilliant acting all round. For ninety minutes of guaranteed laughter, this is up there with the best. And it's not as shallow as it looks - some nice thematic currents throughout, and a genuinely moving sub-narrative. Please, boys and girls - do it again.

Pee Wee's Big Adventure

I know you are, but what am I? A work of supreme, unmatched lunacy. Paul Reubens, we thank you.

The Naked Civil Servant

A uniquely poignant and powerful movie about the late Quentin Crisp. John Hurt is mesmerising as the great man. In the spirit of its subject, the movie flirts with boundaries - in this case those between comedy and serious drama. The result is magical.

Gregory's Girl

Scottish comedy, which gets to the heart of growing up. Haven't we all done horizontal dancing?

La Cage aux Folles

Gay and glorious, this story of a young man introducing his fiancee to his gay father and his outrageous partner is one of those rare movies, which moves and delights throughout. I utterly love this sharp, tender sit com.

Be Cool

A joyously weird movie, which sucks you in and delights throughout. Dwayne Johnson - better known as "The Rock" - should have received an Oscar for his performance.


No, not that Switch - the boring one about the sperm sample being swapped - but the one where a misogynist yuppie wakes up as the stunning Ellen Barkin. Said Barkin is superb as the man trapped in a uberbabe body, and - again - the themes run deep.

Shallow Hal

A big fat hit, for Jack Black and co. Gwyneth Paltrow steals the show with her self conscious overweight mannerisms.

The School of Rock

Terrific showcase for the talents of Jack Black. Funny and moving throughout - and the music is great. Hey, that's twelve on the list. Aaarr now. Well, I might as do thirteen . . make it a baker's dozen.

This is Spinal Tap

The original and greatest rockumentary of them all. Lick my Love Pump. Yeah, baby.

Forgetting Sara Marshall

A sunny, sexy romp about heartache and redemption in Hawaii. This movie really has everything. All the cast are excellent, but the standout performance is by Russell Brand.

White Chicks

A double switch! The Wayans brothers manage both race and sex changes, and the result is mayhem. Extremely funny throughout, with Terry Crews (above) putting in one of my favourite comedic acting performances ever. If you haven't watched it, you have a treat waiting for you.

So these are my current faves. So what have I learned here? Well, I have learned that I like comedies that subvert gender boundaries, and in the last example ethnic boundaries as well. Perhaps, that's how comedy works for me. There are other movies that could and perhaps should have gone in there . . , The Life of Brian, Groundhog Day, There's Something About Mary, As Good as it Gets, Withnail and I  . . . all these are worth watching and rewatching. However, these are my top ten . . I mean fifteen. Hope you like them  - and if you haven't seen Sorority Boys yet, well . . .

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