Sunday, November 25, 2012

The 10 Funniest Films I Have Ever Seen

If there's one thing all film buffs know, it's that humour is subjective. What one person finds hilarious is devoid of any laughs for another person. SEX! While I've got your attention, let me announce that The Hangover is one of the least funny movies I have ever seen, and I cannot understand the acclaim it receives (had to get this off my chest). I almost didn't make this list because I have not seen some movies that are generally lauded as the funniest of all time—most notably Airplane! I must note that this is not a list of my favourite comedies. Superbad is my favourite comedy, but I enjoy it for its heart and spontaneity more than I do for its humour. You won't find it on this list. Essentially, these are the ten movies that make me laugh the hardest. It was very difficult to rank these films, but I achieved it nonetheless. Let's begin at #10!

10. Animal House (John Landis, 1978)


This movie is an absolute riot. It's bursting with comedic energy and is largely propelled by the late John Belushi, who is hilarious as Bluto. This film works because the humour caters for everyone. It's a concoction of slapstick, toilet humour and wit, so you're guaranteed to laugh. Its influence on teen sex comedies is undeniable, but very few movies have replicated its charm. It channels a rebellious sensibility that teen audiences can relate to, and there is not a single dull moment to be found. Trivia: This was Kevin Bacon's debut film. Also, Donald Sutherland is very funny as a pothead English professor. 

9. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)


Ghost World doesn't necessarily achieve its laughs through jokes. Yes, there are jokes in it, but most of the humour arises due to the oddity of human behaviour. Thora Birch is the highlight here. She portrays Enid as a passive-aggressive misanthrope, and her delivery is effectively dry. Her stark honesty makes for some of the film's funniest moments. Take, for example, when she gets a job at her local movie theatre. A customer asks her if the theatre serves any beer. She responds, "I wish. Actually, you wish. After about five minutes of this movie, you're gonna wish you had ten beers." Steve Buscemi is also quite funny as the reclusive Seymour, although he is also responsible for some of film's more poignant moments. And yes, this is a very touching film and you shouldn't only see it for a laugh. It provides excellent commentary on suburban alienation and the superficial exterior upheld by sections of society. 

8. Billy Madison (Tamra Davis, 1995)


There are many people who believe Adam Sandler has never been funny. I beg to differ. There was a time when he starred in films that were genuinely funny. Sure, they weren't dripping with wit, but the gags were very accessible and great if you wanted a cheap laugh. When plenty of cheap laughs accumulate, you get one very funny film. Sandler is very believable as Billy Madison, but it is the late Chris Farley who steals the show as a sleazy bus driver. It's a very fun and enjoyable movie, and while it is often very crude, it has a lot of heart. It's also one of Sandler's most quotable performances. Throw out a "STOP LOOKING AT ME SWAN!" and watch how many people recognise it. P.S. I dare you to watch this and not develop an insane crush over Miss Vaughn (Bridgette Wilson). She was one of my first true movie character crushes.

7. The Meaning of Life (Terry Jones, 1983)


You can determine a lot about a person by asking what their favourite Monty Python film is. Personally, I cannot stand Life of Brian (not for religious reasons, either). I really like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, although The Meaning of Life is the film that makes me laugh the hardest. Most film enthusiasts would regard it as the weakest of the three, but this does not alter my decision. I assume most people don't like it as much because it plays out as a series of sketches rather than one complete story. This is probably the reason I like it so much. This is one of the few films where going over-the-top pays off. Whether it's live organ transplants or Mr Creosote exploding, this is one outrageously funny film.

6. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)


Admittedly, this is the only Marx Brothers film I have seen. My enjoyment of it suggests I should see more. While I was watching this, I was so fixated with Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo. These men just knew how to be funny. I use the word knew as though they learnt the art of humour from a textbook. I should clarify—these men naturally exuded comedy. I was in awe of them the whole time, especially Groucho. Whenever Groucho opens his mouth, you can guarantee some hilarious words will fall out. The slapstick scenes featuring Harpo and Chico and absolutely wonderful. A timeless film that will make you smile.  

5.  Deconstructing Harry (Woody Allen, 1997)


It's one of Allen's most challenging films. The plot is very unconventional and it borders on metafiction at times. Allen plays Harry Block, a writer who uses his family and friends as inspiration for characters in his books. This does not sit well with those close to him, and he must come to terms with his life and work while travelling to accept an honorary degree. In this sense, the basic outline is similar to that of Wild Strawberries—a film by Allen's idol, Ingmar Bergman. There are many flashback segments, and some scenes where Harry converses with characters from his work. It's rather surreal at times, but most importantly, it is extremely funny. The script is peppered with many classic Allen aphorisms, such as "The most important words in the English language are not 'I love you' but 'It's benign.'" Many people don't like this film because they think it's autobiographical and thus self-indulgent (Allen has denied it's about himself), but I rank it among Allen's best. 

4. Love and Death (Woody Allen, 1975)


I do not think this is Woody Allen's best film (check out Hannah and Her Sisters if you want that), but I think it is his funniest. It's the film he made right before the classic Annie Hall. If only Love and Death had the reputation of that film! This movie is Allen's parody of Russian literature (in particular the works of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky). The best thing about the film is that you can enjoy it without being well-read in Russian literature. Allen cares more about making a comedy than he does about making a period piece. I think I laughed AT LEAST once every two minutes throughout this. It's so damn funny and more people should see it. 

3. Kingpin (Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly, 1996)

 

First of all, I must give a shout-out to my pal Chris Elena, who agrees with me that this is simply one of the funniest movies ever made. I just cannot believe how underrated it is. I never hear anyone talk about it, despite the fact it is directed by a famous duo. The three main players in this film are Randy Quaid, Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray. How could you NOT want to watch this film with a cast like that? If you need more convincing, the plot centres around tenpin bowling (always fun!). This film made me laugh until my belly ached like hell. Watch it. 

2. Borat (Larry Charles, 2006)


This satirical mockumentary is, in my opinion, a modern classic. It penetrated the zeitgeist at just the right time. It got people talking. People loved it. People hated it. People REALLY hated it and filed lawsuits. It is certainly not for everyone, but I would like to think most people see the funny side of it. Under the guise of Borat Sagdiyev, Sacha Baron Cohen exposes the prejudices of the everyday American. A lot of the scenes are unscripted and the people Cohen talks to are unaware he is making a satirical film. Cohen portrays Borat with the right amount of naivety and innocence, and by the film's conclusion, you will have fallen in love with him. This is not to be missed. 

1. There's Something About Mary (Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly, 1998)

Theres Something About Mary Cameron Diaz Hair Hair  

I'm sure some of you are surprised that, out of all the movies I've seen, I consider this the funniest. I'm yet to find someone who loves it as much as I do, but like I said in the intro, humour is subjective. A lot of the comedy is in bad taste, but there's no denying the underlying current of sweetness this movie has. The film's climax is so ridiculous and over-the-top, but hilarious nonetheless. Everyone seems to remember the movie for the "hair gel" scene, but there are so many moments that are funnier than that. I never thought I'd say this, but seeing Ben Stiller wrestle a dog is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Oh, and Chris Elliott steals every scene he is in.

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