Monday, December 6, 2010

That’s Funny!

“The first thing you do when you start a band is talk about your influences.

So who do you like?

- Blondie?
- Christina Aguilera.

Who? No. Come on. What?

- You, Shortstop.
- Puff Daddy.

- Wrong!”

(Jack Black, School of Rock)

                This blog is about some of the funniest films, actors, and movie moments I’ve seen.

The Funniest Films

                I have to start it off with Airplane!: that 80’s classic that throws in so many weird and otherwise stupid gags it actually makes you laugh, a lot.  Thank my most recent Google search for something else for remembering it.

Ted Striker: My orders came through. My squadron ships out tomorrow. We're bombing the storage depots at Daiquiri at 1800 hours. We're coming in from the north, below their radar. 
Elaine Dickinson: When will you be back? 
Ted Striker: I can't tell you that. It's classified.  (Airplane!)

                The Blues Brothers.  Nothing can compare with the slapstick humor of Dan Aykroyd and (the late and irreplaceable) John Belushi.  Favorite scene: John swears and is struck with a ruler by “The Penguin” (a nun) like a little boy.  Dan reacts with a swearword and receives an immediate backhand with the same ruler.  John reacts similarly with similar effect, until the ruler is flying back and forth between the two of them and they roll out of the room to escape.  Died laughing.

                Wedding Crashers: a favorite of funny films I have seen and surprisingly funny unlike most moderns that burn out after the intro and rely only on the prestige of their comedians to pull off an otherwise crap script.  WC is great!  Vince Vaughn’s best film alongside also funny Owen Wilson.  The dialogue in the first scene and Vaughn’s continued signature soliloquys are incredibly hilarious.  I am tearing up just thinking about it.  Despite dirty gags it does well, unlike many dirty comedies that just end up dirty.

Jeremy Grey [Vince Vaughn]: Do you know what that awareness is, Gloria? 
Gloria Cleary: What? 
Jeremy Grey: That we're all one. That separateness is an illusion, and that I'm one with everyone - with the Prime Minister of England, and my cousin Harry, you and me, the fat kid from 'What's Happening,' the Olsen twins, Natalie Portman, the guy who wrote 'Catcher in the Rye,' Nat King Cole, Carrot Top, Jay-Z, Weird Al Yankovic, Harry Potter, if he existed, the whore on the street corner, your mother. We're all one. 

Secretary Cleary [Christopher Walken]: You know she is not just another notch on the old belt. 
Jeremy Grey: I don't even wear a belt... Beltless. (Wedding Crashers)

                School of Rock, Jack Black’s movie (nominated for a Golden Globe, Best Actor in a Comedy) is the funniest kids’ movie you may think twice about showing kids.  (Did that come off right?)  Anyway, Black thrives in the character of a failed rock star impersonating a substitute teacher who secretly forms a school band.  Rock on Jack!  Kung-Fu Panda was not in my outline but deserves mention here as well.  Black’s natural talent gives life to good scripts (and can’t for bad ones).  I also enjoyed Nacho Libre very much (Black’s accent and demeanor alone bust your cheeks), from the makers of the unexpected and also entertaining cult film Napoleon Dynamite.

                Youth in Revolt is very, very funny, starring Michael Cera playing the loser going badass for the girl of his affections.  Touching on hilarious teen life issues as only Cera can pull off.  Great!

                Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a classic that cannot be forgotten, not just because it’s the only Matthew Broderick movie that doesn’t cause nausea.  (Glory is great but Matt plays the dwebe he is in all his other movies; and Robert Preston is The Music Man – not you!)  FBDO is priceless though: a John Hughes movie for kids that examines a day in the life of a kid for whom everything goes right.  Tons of fun!  Save Ferris!

                One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  I don’t know if you could call this comedy, it’s got quite a darker side to it, critiquing institutional asylums, etc., but it’s Kubrick and Nicholson at their funniest.  Also mentionable is Nicholson’s As Good as it Gets, for which he won his third Oscar and second as Best Actor (the first was for Cuckoo’s Nest).

                40 Year Old Virgin made me laugh out loud and hit my chair: another winning Judd Apatow movie (Superbad, Knocked Up) that plays dirty tricks but where everyone does the right thing in the end.  And a personal redemption for Steve Carrell: I had only seen Evan Almighty and not The Office, so now I’m a believer.

                He's a really nice guy and all but I'm pretty sure that he is a serial murderer. (40YOV)

                The Social Network may not be considered a comedy but has many cough-laugh wise-ass lines.  Witty.  Lots of “ownage.”

                Zombieland.  I liked it (more the first time).  Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) did surprisingly well, Emma Stone – great in typical hot and badass fashion, and I loved Woody Harrelson’s rampage comedy.  A “laugh with your friends” movie.

                This doesn’t cap the list; just the first in my mind right now.

Funny People

                Robin Williams certainly takes the cake.  Deserved every bit of his Best Supporting Oscar for Good Will Hunting (one of the best, if not best drama that’s come out in a while); but humor fans know him for his hilarious voice impersonations in Mrs. Doubtfire (the job agency), Dead Poets’ Society (classroom John Wayne), and every kid that doesn’t know him knows the Genie (Alladin) that could have only been played by Williams.  He’s had his flops and can do drama, but no one compares to him in impersonation.  (And you gotta’ love Patch Adams, especially if it almost makes you cry.)

                Michael Cera deserves mention even more so because I wrote an entire blog post about him (cf. keepin’ it real and awkward in the same comic breath.

                Harrison Ford.  Yeah!  The dude is funny!  Loved the spilled orange juice moment in Regarding Henry, the coffee commercial in Witness, the “Shorty where’s my razor!” only Indy fans who have seen the movies 100 times will remember from Temple of Doom – I mean, the man’s a comedian in addition to being the man’s man.  It’s a part of being a man, I think.  Dry, charming, cool – that’s Ford humor.

                Vince Vaughn!  Wedding Crashers.  Nobody else can pull off dialogue like that: fast, sarcastic as hell, funny as shit.  Didn’t like Couples’ Retreat really, but Vaughn still brings out his best: a Guitar Hero© rock-off half-way through that is way-fun, and the Act One jokes when the movie still feels good.  Hope to see many more Crasher-level Vaughn films.

                Adam Sandler is a very funny man, having written most of his hit films (Billy Madison, The Waterboy, Big Daddy – gotta’ love The Wedding Singer), though Apatow’s Funny People, despite Sandler being the right man for the role, was not that great.  The obscure but funny Indie film, Punch Drunk Love, is probably my Sandler favorite.

                Sort of new guy Seth Rogan deserves a spot, a creative writer himself that leans on the obscene side.  I enjoyed Observe and Report very much: Rogan is the king of wild immature funny antics.

                Paul Rudd is a last second throw-in.  That guy cracks me up (Knocked Up, Role Models, […] The Legend of Ron Burgundy).  Ron Burgundy himself should be in here: Will Ferrell, SNL upshot like many comedy greats.

Ron Burgundy: Veronica Corningstone and I had sex, and now we are in love! 
[Brian shuts office door] 
Ron Burgundy: Did I say that loud? 
Brian Fantana: Yeah, you pretty much yelled it. (A:TLoRB)

                I could go on and on…

             These last two I don’t remember for films at all, but have certainly inspired many great film comedians: Jack Benny, radio’s greatest back before television, whose timing even on improv is impeccable and roll-over laughable; and Bill Cosby, who is endeared to all TV watching American’s for his Cosby Show blubbering, dance-stepping genius.

Funny Moments

                The intro and ending to real-life couple Angelina Jolie (LOVE her!) and Brad Pitt’s (cool man) Mr. & Mrs. Smith was written by a genius and performed by two more.  “Ask us the sex question,” followed by the usual but here uncharacteristic awkwardness gave me that glowing smile.  Damn, that was funny!

                About A Boy with Hugh Grant is surprisingly entertaining.  Grant, formerly hated by me, shines as the man who never really loved getting his God-given capacity stretched by life’s people-circumstances.  And no bullshit all the way.  My favorite funny moment from this winning and finally heartwarming comedy:

I'd be the worst possible godfather. I'd probably drop her on her head at her christening. I'd forget all her birthdays until she was 18. Then I'd take her out and get her drunk. And, let's face it, quite possibly try and shag her. (AaB)

                There are about a million more moments I’m missing here.  Feel free to add yours below.

                Unfortunately, the tragedy of most comedies is their sell out to obscene dirtiness as if that were the ticket to success.  Just because you can make us laugh doesn’t make good comedy.  Show us what we don’t want to be and raise our spirits about it (John Candy in pretty much every role).

                After all, everyone needs a good laugh now and again.



  1. I just saw Airplane for the first time the other day--hilarious! And I'm very relieved that Zombieland made your list. :) I have to say that I don't think I will ever be able to tolerate Hugh Grant though.

    Some of my favorites: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead, Waiting for Guffman, Waking Ned Devine. Have you seen any of them?

  2. On the fav list: NO! I NEED TO SEE THEM! sound great. Adding to the to be gotten from the lib list.

    Airplane! Is def fun. Didn't expect but the "have u ever been in a cockpit before son?" scene on the preview was die laughing hilarious.

    Z yes. Fun, funny, gross but parodying all that horror stuff so part of the adven.

    & I (being a guy ESP) never could conceive of the idea of tolerating Hugh grant, but after my bro Rec-mended (my bro r-c-ing a chic flic) I had 2c. Worth the stretch. Great fun. One of those daring fun endings too, the other fav part of the move.

    Watch on ;)