Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Comedy Club

I really love the obscure movie of the week thing we're doing here. It's been consistent, and frankly everyone but Mackenzie (currently on the 30-day Disabled List, but he's going go Kobe Bryant and be back sooner than later, special tip of the hat to him for trying to play hurt) has contributed rather nicely. Some real gems, and that segment's only getting better.

One thing about our "P1" readers (you know, the three of you, and a "P1" for those unfamiliar with the term is your core group who rely on to at least sneak a peak here every day, sort of like radio prize pigs, those who are so into their radio station you can always count on them coming out to your remote broadcasts and listening every day) is that we all seem to be in, as Kid Rock would say, "agreeance" on our all-time favorite movie comedies. And I'd say we'd all sign off on the following criteria:
  1. It's a movie we've seen so many times we consistently drop references in everyday conversation. In fact, you make new friends with those who get those references because you know they're in to the same kind of funny.
  2. You find something different that you laugh at or enjoy each new time you see it.
  3. You find yourself going to the movie's page and looking up the memorable quotes on it and actually laugh at reading them.
  4. Years, and in some cases now decades, they remarkably hold up in a big way, and that's extremely difficult for a comedy. I mean, I don't think our little clique goes to the Marx Brothers.
  5. You HAVE to own the DVD, or in Mackenzie's case, you borrow the DVD from someone who considers him one of his best friends and never bring it back.
  6. There's a brilliant performance in the movie from an actor you'd never suspect could be that genuinely funny, and we'll get to a few of those as we start this list.
  7. Any time it's on cable, you find yourself having to drop everything and watch it, even if you only see part of it.
  8. It's a movie that if you find somebody in your life who doesn't like it, you wind up hating that person.

There are a million "All-Time Greatest Comedy" lists (including this rather odd one, which I firmly believe Leonard Maltin was behind) but it's time for this site to create our own database. And I'm guessing we won't have any surprises, but this is an idea who's time has come. Here's a start, in no particular order:

  1. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Meets all of the above criteria, and is going to be remembered as Will Ferrell zenith because frankly he's now on the Chevy Chase path (which is really ironic, because Will is on record as saying how much of a dick he thinks Chevy is). I beg of you, go to that movie's memorable quotes page, print out a copy, and enjoy the best fifteen minutes on the shitter you'll ever have. Also becoming known as the Will Ferrell movie that even people who hate Will Ferrell like. I'm of the opinion that the four main leads and Fred Willard improvised this thing, they were having so much fun, and frankly some of the stuff is so laugh out loud funny that it couldn't have been written out. The surprise gem of a performance (and it was really a gem at the time because, well, he was never in a funny movie before) comes from Paul Rudd, who it turns out is actually EXTREMELY funny in real life. Don't believe me? Check this little clip out:

    Every scene is a classic, except for the whole "Jumping in the Panda Cage" scene at the end (which I'll go to grave believing was one of the only things actually written and they caved in having to have some sort of ending), but even that scene has funny moments in it. This one will grow in legend as the years go on. Another tidbit about this flick that Comedy Central or other networks don't understand: You can pretty much show this entire movie with very few language edits (You'd have to lose the "Go Fuck Yourself San Diego" scene, which would dissolve the movie quite considerably, but everything else could pass the network test).
  2. Blazing Saddles : Constantly referred to as, "The movie that you couldn't possibly make today." I disagree, I think somebody should put something like this together and it'd make, to borrow a quote from Slim Pickens from the movie, "A Shitload of Dimes." And yes, that picture above is of perhaps the most underrated comedic actor of our lifetime: Gene Wilder, somebody who's had the pleasure of working with both Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. And this is Wilder's finest hour, he's pitch perfect in every scene. Meets all the above criteria. The two surprise performances: Cleavon Little (like Wilder, he nails everything) and I still say Pickens, even though he was in another comedy classic (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), but he was still at the time considered a serious character actor (Stanley Kubrick even wanted to hire Slim in the Scatman Crothers in The Shining.
  3. Caddyshack: The movie that every guy of our generation can still quote almost every line from. Holds up incredibly well, and turns out there were a number of improvised scenes in this one as well (most notably, the only scene where Chevy Chase and Bill Murray have screen time together -- that baby was put together after everyone realized they never had a scene, and it's one of the funniest in the whole damn movie. The "Cinderella Story" scene was completely improvised by Murray, and evidently so was that oil massage thing with Chevy Chase. That latter scene was probably one of those moments where Chevy had a fantasy about that hottie Lacie Underall, and said he'd regret it for the rest of his life if he didn't at least TRY to get that done.) The only fly in the ointment is the whole Gopher thing, but Murray makes the Gopher at least bearable. Otherwise, everything works and works to classic proportions. The surprise performer: I still go with Ted Knight, even though he was wickedly funny on Mary Tyler Moore, but who knew he could hang with the likes of Chase, Murray and Rodney Dangerfield? He delivers lines like "The world needs ditch diggers too" and "How 'bout a Fresca?" to high levels. It's been said that Ted even got fed up with the constant shenanigans of Chase, Murray and Dangerfield. But damn what comedy, even almost thirty freaking years ago now.
  4. Vacation: For my money, Chevy Chase's last shot at the title (there are those who will bring up Fletch, but I'm guilty of I guess not seeing that movie enough times). Still delivers big time, and has one of the all-time best surprise comedic performances of our lifetime: Randy Quaid, who was a dramatic actor at the time and delivers one of the most memorable characters in our comedic history. Rumors abound that there's going to be a special 25th anniversary DVD out later this year, and if that rumor isn't true, it should be.
  5. Dumb & Dumber: I keep thinking this one's going to lose it's edge, but in a weird way it's become like the Shawshank Redemption of comedies (released in the same year, 1994, as Dumb and Dumber for what it's worth). Meaning that it's always on a cable channel like TBS, and holds up. Ultimately I think it'll be remembered as Jim Carrey's finest comedic hour (NONE of his other comedies hold up, but he does have an Oscure Movie of the Week I'm going to get to a week or so). But I figured out early why it's a keeper, and it's because of the biggest surprise performance in almost any comedy. That's right, Jeff Daniels, who is actually much funnier than Carrey. Daniels performance still stands as one of my all-time favorites in any comedy.

These are just the first five of what I know will be a growing list. I'm expecting some major suggestions for quite some time. But these five roll right off the old memory bank.

1 comment:

BSmokedTurkey said...

As I like to say to my boss when he launches into canned corporate speak, "Shoot Mr. Taggart. You use your mouth prettier than a two dollar whore."