Thursday 6 September 2012

Top Ten Comedy Films

Like to giggle? Enjoy a good side splitting guffaw that bruises your innards? These may help:

10. There's Something About Mary (1998)
Ridiculous and wonderfully vulgar, this film was a breath of fresh air when it debuted. No one goes to Santiago twice in one year.

9. Annie Hall (1977)
Woody Allen being more contemplative. So much witty banter, you don't miss the slapstick.

8. The Princess Bride (1987)
A whimsical and light hearted fairy tale, it has a devout cult following and set pieces that will live forever in your memory. Eminently quotable. Wallace Shawn is priceless as Vizzini. Inconceivable!

7. Animal House (1978)
John Belushi. Toga party. Enough said.

6. Sleeper (1973)
From Woody Allen's early slapstick period, Sleeper is an underrated comedy that nearly bust my gut when I was a kid. Follow Allen on a romp into the far future, where smoking is good for you, jello can kill, and the world is ruled by a disembodied nose. Awesome.

5. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
The only other film on the list with a real point, it's also the darkest. Features Peter Sellers in no less than three different roles on the brink of world destruction. Has some of the most outrageous lines ever written. Initially not intended to be a comedy, but the material was too insanely bleak to take seriously. The War Room set was designed by the remarkable Ken Adam, whose work made the early James Bond movies so visually distinctive. If you need a volcano lair for your giant laser, you'll want to give Adam a call.

4. Young Frankenstein (1974)
Mel Brooks' best comedy, Young Frankenstein bubbles over with the enthusiasm you'd expect of a mad scientist. Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman have never been better.

3. A Shot in the Dark (1964)
Peter Sellers at the top of his game. Inspector Clouseau comes into his own and assumes the lead role in the Pink Panther franchise. In the first flick he was secondary to David Niven. Perfectly paced by director Blake Edwards, it was based on the play L'Idiote by Marcel Achard. Nobody does The Full Idiot like Peter Sellers.

2. Airplane! (1980!)
Packed to the gills with exuberant zaniness, this ZAZ effort (writers Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker) Airplane is a non-stop flight into hilarity. Way, way better than my faux quote line (If they want to use it for marketing, they're welcome to it). Before you can stop laughing from one gag they've plastered you with a dozen more. The film's a gag gatling gun. Be prepared.

1. Life of Brian (1979)
Backed by The Beatles' George Harrison, LoB pokes merciless fun at religious pomposity. Could not be made today, given the push to ban 'defamation' of religion at the UN. In fact, it almost didn't get made in 1978. After finally reading the script, the original funders backed out three days before shooting was to begin. Audacious, dangerous, subversive, and courageous, it has social value far above the other films on this list, with the exception of Dr. Strangelove. LoB makes a statement. Several, in fact. And you'll laugh through every one of them.

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