A few years back, I watched the movie High Fidelity and really liked it. One of the things they were always doing in that movie was making top five (or three) lists of various things. At the time, it inspired me to just start making my own. No good reason why, but it was enjoyable to think about. I've lost that list, but I figured I will periodically do a top five here on the blog. Today, I start with movie comedies. Very, very tough for me to pick just five because really there are probably about 20 that have received the Mattywatty gold star rating. I have no particular system for how I rate these, but will say that to make my list, they must be movies that I endlessly quote. But if I just had to pick five, as of today, here is the list (in no particular order):
-Dumb & Dumber. Easy choice here. Ever since it came out, it's been my personal choice for funniest movie of all time. Never gets old, never ceases to make me laugh. The hardest I ever laughed in a movie theater was during this film (the daydream sequence with Lloyd and the toilet scene with Harry, if you must know specifics). There are rumors that Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are on board to do a true sequel. I desperately want that to happen, much like Lloyd Christmas desperately wants to make love to a schoolboy. Most common quotes that I use from this movie include... well honestly the entire movie. At some point in a given week, I probably directly or indirectly quote 25 different parts of the movie, and that's no exaggeration.
-Waiting for Guffman. This one is not very well known, but I think it is easily the funniest of the Christopher Guest mockumentaries, all of which are genius movies. Spinal Tap and Best in Show get all the love from most movie fans, but I really think Guffman and A Mighty Wind are the best. Anyway, the hardest I have ever laughed at home while watching a movie was at the end of their song "This Bulging River," which actually is a deleted scene. After getting to know the main characters, especially Corky, and then watching that awful/amazing performance, his final note was so funny that it had me in tears.
See, for me, the genius in this movie is the character of Corky. For my money, he is the single funniest character I've ever seen. The other characters are good, but Corky is just perfect. This is another one that I quote dozens of times per week in some form or fashion.
This is also a great movie to listen to the commentaries for, because the whole movie- like all the Guest mockumentaries- is done without a script. They have an outline for the scenes, and then it's all improv. But this movie required them to learn a bad musical, which technically was scripted, but perform it badly, as good as they could, all while improvising everything else around the music. If that makes sense.... Anyway, the commentaries have some interesting stories about that process.
-The Princess Bride has to be listed. A true classic, this movie is on the list for millions of men, I would assume. The dialogue is what makes this movie so darn funny, since it is always done so straight faced. It feels like the whole movie was written with a wink, a wry smile. There are some throw-away lines that are part of big, funny scenes that have crept into my day to day vocabulary and get used constantly ("very well, I accept"), and of course there are big chunks of dialogue that get quoted all the time as well.
I've seen this movie so many times, Westley's voice is so ingrained in my head, that just a couple months ago, we were at a movie, and there was a character on screen I did not recognize at all. He's much heavier and has a beard. And then he spoke. And instantly, just for a moment, I was back in the land of the princess bride, watching the man in black who has been mostly dead all day.
Now is where it gets difficult, trying to pick just two more. Will Ferrell is my favorite comedic actor, so I'd like to include one of his, but which one? Monty Python is far and away one of the most quoted movies in my life and could easily be listed, but then what about Mike Myers? The Austin Powers trilogy and So I Married an Axe Murderer would feel left out. What about Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller? What about Bill Murray? Leslie Nielsen? My goodness, what about John Candy?And I haven't even mentioned Chevy Chase and Steve Martin, who both were in The Three Amigos of course and who also have one or two other movies that belong. There are some other greats that I truly love (Dirty Work, Van Wilder, Spaceballs, Top Secret, Office Space, American Pie...). So, I am forced to make a snap decision. Ask me my list tomorrow and these could be different, but my final two comedies are...
-Anchorman. I decided I do need to include Will Ferrell, but couldn't decide between Anchorman and Old School. Frank the Tank is one of Ferrell's best characters ever, no doubt. The entire Old School movie is still, for me, the funniest of the new era of R-rated comedies (not that I've seen all of them). But I pick Anchorman because it features more of Ferrell, more of his improv
Ferrell has the ability to make literally any line of dialogue funny. He's one of those guys that can make me laugh by doing nothing or by doing huge, ridiculous things. His body of work on SNL is incredible. I enjoy hearing what other actors say about each other, and Will Ferrell is considered the best of the best by people in the improv comedy world. Tina Fey talks about it some in her book Bossypants.
Oddly enough, Anchorman wasn't the funniest thing ever when I first saw it. In fact, I didn't even see it when it first came out, but then after hearing a co-worker constantly quoting it at work, I decided to rent it. First viewing, I liked it, but wouldn't have put it on this list. But then you watch it that second time, and you think to yourself, wow, this is genius. Ferrell has the ability to make absolute immaturity into something amazing.
-After much internal debate that led to cramping and some vomiting, I'm going to go with Swingers for my final choice. It's basically the first true Vince Vaughn movie, in the sense that it's the first one where he popularized his fast-talking, cool persona. Swingers is just such a guy movie. I don't think most women can relate to it the way we men can. Every guy is either a Mikey or a Trent. Or both, which is why it's so easy to love this movie if you're a guy. Throw in the fact that this movie singlehandedly made "Vegas, baby!" a ubiquitous catchphrase, and you have a classic. This movie has some of the best painful, awkward comedy you'll ever see, and it would border on depressing if not for the friendship of the guys and introduction of Heather Graham's character.
Honorable mention: Gone With The Wind, Part Deux; Schindler's List: The College Years.