Comedy – Catchup Part 2

In my last post, I updated on the first 15 (chronologically) Comedy films that I’ve seen from “501 Must-See Movies.”  Today, I’ll be concentrating on the more recent 14 films starting with 1985’s The Breakfast Club.  All in all, I’ve seen 29 of the 50 listed Comedy films.

Seen to date: 29 out of 50

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Director: John Hughes

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald

The Breakfast Club is the story of five teenagers spending a Saturday in detention together.  Each is part of a different clique – an athlete, a brain, a criminal, a basket case and a princess.  Eventually they develop bonds and are able to see past the stereotypes that previously separated them.  

A Hughes-ian classic, The Breakfast Club is an all-time great teen movie.  It recognizes the plight of teens in the 1980s, which timelessly represents teens of any era.  The theme of looking past stereotypes and making bonds outside of whatever clique you fit into has been repeated by countless classes of high school movies, but none with the same level of acumen as the late John Hughes.

My Rating – 3 Ticket Stubs (Out of 5)

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 90% (42 Reviews)

 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Director: John Hughes

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck and Jennifer Grey

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is set during one day in the life of popular high schooler Ferris Bueller (Broderick) as he pretends to be sick and skips school, accompanied by his girlfriend (Mia Sara) and his best friend (Ruck).  As Ferris explains, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!”  He spends his Day Off gallivanting around Chicago while avoiding his school’s Dean of Students (Jeffrey Jones) and his kid sister (Grey).

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of the most re-watchable movies of all-time.  As Ferris, Broderick is clever and charming, enough so that you find yourself cheering him on much in the same way that his classmates do.  Also, Charlie Sheen shows up in a note-worthy, hilarious (and seemingly foreshadowing) cameo.

My Rating – 3.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 83% (46 Reviews)

 

The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad (1988)

Director: David Zucker

Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley and O.J. Simpson

Lt. Frank Drebin (Nielsen) returns from an undercover assignment overseas to find his fellow officer (Simpson) has been shot, nearly to death.  He then takes over the investigation and reveals a plot to assassinate the Queen of England.

The initial installment in the Naked Gun franchise is full of fast paced slapstick, puns and gags.  To me, Nielsen’s over-the-top brand of humor has always seemed inferior to most of his contemporaries.  Obviously, I’m in the minority on this as The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad was a financial and critical success.

My Rating – 2 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 89% (36 Reviews)

 

Big (1988)

Director: Penny Marshall

Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins and Robert Loggia

An awkward pre-teen comes across a fortune telling machine and wishes that he’ll become big.  He wakes up the next morning in a 30 year-old body and runs away to New York, where he lies about his age and gets a job working for a toy company.  As he is still the target for the company’s products, he is able to provide unique insight and move up the company ladder.  But, eventually all he wants is to get back to normal.

Tom Hanks is easily one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors.  He has starred in critical gems from seemingly every genre and has won two ‘Best Actor’ Academy Awards (in back-to-back years for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump).  His Golden Globe winning (and Academy Award nominated) comedic turn as the adult version of a 12 year-old boy is extraordinary and absolutely makes this film.

My Rating – 3 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 96% (55 Reviews)

 

Home Alone (1990)

Director: Chris Columbus

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern

The McCallister family decides to leave their hometown of Chicago in favor of Christmas in Paris, but forget their son Kevin (Culkin).  Left to his own devices, Kevin at first enjoys his freedom.  He watches bad movies, eats junk food, sleds down the stairs and handles his own shopping.  But, soon enough two burglars (Pesci and Stern) focus on the McCallister house and intend on robbing it whether Kevin’s home or not.

Home Alone has become an essential holiday classic.  Despite its below average critical reviews, Home Alone is an iconic movie and turned the young Culkin into a absolute super star.  While, not the best movie on this list I remember it fondly thanks to its holiday connection.

My Rating – 2.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 43% (30 Reviews)

 

Groundhog Day (1993)

Director: Harold Ramis

Starring: Bill Murray, Andie McDowell and Chris Elliott

Cynical TV reporter Phil Connors (Murray) makes his annual trip to Punxsutawney to broadcast the big Groundhog’s Day news.  Connors awakens the next day and it’s Groundhogs Day again.  First he takes advantage of his repeated days, then he tries suicide, but no matter what wakes up again on Groundhog’s Day. 

Bill Murray is a real King of Comedy and Groundhog Day is an outstanding example of his work.  To be honest, I’m surprised more of his classics were not included on this list (Caddyshack for example).   The concept of having to keep doing it until you get it right, provides plenty of opportunity for both laughs and moral understanding, which this classic capitalizes on.

My Rating – 3.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 96% (54 Reviews)

 

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Director: George Armitage

Starring: John Cusack, Minnie Driver and Dan Aykroyd

Successful hitman Martin Blank (Cusack) is in the midst of reevaluating his life and career when he returns to his hometown of Grosse Pointe, Michigan to perform a hit and attend his class reunion in the same weekend.  Complicating things further is the presence of Blank’s ex-girlfriend (Driver) and the persistence of fellow hitman Mr. Groces (Aykroyd) who wants Blank to join his Assassin’s Union.

Of the movies from the list that I hadn’t seen before starting this project and have seen since, Grosse Pointe Blank stands out as one my new favorites.  Cusack brings his unique charm to this hilarious story about a hitman who is questioning his career.

My Rating – 4.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 77% (60 Reviews)

 

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Director: Joel Coen

Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Julianne Moore

L.A. slacker Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (Bridges) is confused for a local millionaire with the same name by some henchmen who pee on his rug (which really pulled the room together).  After the millionaire Lebowski’s trophy wife is kidnapped, he calls on ‘The Dude’ to deliver the ransom money.  However, thanks to the involvement of ‘The Dude’s’ bowling buddy Walter (Goodman) the plan goes awry.

This is easily one of my favorite films of all-time.  If I could give it more than 5 ticket stubs, I would.  Actually with this being my blog I can and I will.  The Big Lebowski was not initially well received by critics, but has since become considered a classic.  Some authorities even consider this film to be the greatest Cult film ever. 

My Rating – 5+ Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 79% (77 Reviews)

 

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Director: Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Kate Ashfield

Between dealing with his girlfriend, mother, younger co-workers and flat mates Shaun (Pegg) is trying to get some kind of focus in his life.  Meanwhile, the beginning of a zombie apocalypse is going unnoticed.  Eventually, the zombies become unavoidable as they show up in Shaun’s backyard.  He searches out his friends and family in hopes of hauling up at his favorite watering hole and waiting the apocalypse out.

Billed as a ‘romantic zombie comedy’ Shaun of the Dead brilliantly walks the line between subtle humor and over-the-top comedy.  A perfect parody of apocalyptic zombie films, Shaun of the Dead was one of the best comedic cinematic imports from England since Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

My Rating – 5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 91% (177 Reviews)

 

Anchorman (2004)

Director: Adam McKay

Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate and Steve Carell

In San Diego during the 1970’s Anchorman Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) was “kind of a big deal.”  That is until female anchor Veronica Corningstone (Applegate) steals some of his limelight.  The news crew must adjust to having a woman as an equal in the workplace, causing Burgundy to lose his job and become a friendless alcoholic.

Anchorman is packed with comedic talent.  Ferrell headlines a cast which includes Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, David Koechner, Fred Willard and Vince Vaughn and features cameos by Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Seth Rogan and Jack Black.  Part of making this a classic, is the abundance of lines and jokes that have become part of our culture.  Also, Will Ferrell has created a classic character in Ron Burgundy.

My Rating – 4 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 66% (193 Reviews)

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Director: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Starring: Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin and Steve Carell

Academy Award Wins: Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Arkin)

Olive (Breslin) is not your typical child pageant competitor, but she manages to score a spot in the Little Miss Sunshine competition.  This causes her completely dysfunctional family to drive across the country to get her into a competition that she has no chance to win.

Little Miss Sunshine is a laugh out loud comedy with a huge heart that caught audiences off guard and garnered four Academy Award nominations (Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress – Breslin).  Dysfunctional families have been part of comedy films for decades, but perhaps none of the quality of the Little Miss Sunshine’s Hoover family.  

My Rating – 4.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 92% (206 Reviews)

 

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit of Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)

Director: Larry Charles

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen and Ken Davitian

Borat (Baron Cohen) is Kazakhstani TV presenter who is being sent to America to create a documentary about how American culture for the benefit of his home country.  Once he gets to America he provides a platform for unpleasant Americans to look stupid, struggles with proper social etiquette, offends rodeo attendees and falls for Pamela Anderson.

Borat gets credit for being both funny and critical.  And, at times it is both of those things.  Maybe it was how long I waited to see it, but for me it didn’t live up to all of its praise.  Much of the outlandish humor goes on far past the laughs and none of the characters likeable in the least.

My Rating – 2 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 91% (209 Reviews)

 

Juno (2007)

Director: Jason Reitman

Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera and Jason Bateman

Academy Award Wins: Best Original Screenplay

Juno MacGuff (Page) finds out that she is pregnant thanks to a romantic encounter with her friend (Cera).  Originally, she intends to have an abortion, but changes her mind when she discovers that her unborn child already has finger nails.  She then makes plans to arrange an adoption for the baby.

Even though 2007 seemed to be a year in film dedicated to unplanned pregnancies (2007 also saw the release of Knocked Up and Waitress), Juno stood out as something unlike any of its contemporaries.  This starts out with extremely unique opening title sequences and continues thanks to Page’s Academy Award nominated portrayal of the off-beat teenager.

My Rating – 4 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 93% (198 Reviews)

 

Knocked Up (2007)

Director: Judd Apatow

Starring: Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd

Up and coming TV presenter Allison (Heigl) is pregnant after a one-night stand with Ben (Rogen) a pot-head slacker.  They decide to attempt to raise their baby as a couple and have nine months worths of relationship highs and lows while preparing for the birth.

Judd Apatow has done the unthinkable and turned the slacker comedy into a critically well-received and financially viable type of film.  Personally, I thought if one Apatow directed/written film would make the cut it was going to be 2005’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin.  Still, Knocked Up is a great comedy which at its heart is the story of a modern day, improbable romance.

My Rating – 3.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 90% (228 Reviews)

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About DC Evans

I’m a long time film lover. For as long as I can remember, I’ve spent my free time going to multiplexs; renting tapes and building my own DVD/Blu-ray collection. I'll be blogging about my efforts as I watch my way through the history of film. For starters, I’ll be focusing on watching each movie in the book “501 Must-See Movies.” Follow me on twitter: @D_C_Evans
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One Response to Comedy – Catchup Part 2

  1. We can really observe your own exhilaration in the work you write. The world can do with more zealous authors like you that are not scared to express that they feel. Always pursue your own heart.

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