Thursday, August 8, 2013

Question for the Week of Aug 5-11: Laugh Harder

Which films made you laugh the hardest at a theatrical viewing? Like, laughing so hard you think "maybe I have to cover my mouth?"
If you've been reading these Question entries for a while, you know that I had a bit of an writerly crisis some time back. For a spell, a lot of these posts were much closer to lists, whereas I like to ask questions about why X character chose to do Y in a particular film, or about general trends and problems in the world of cinema.

I was actually pretty proud of myself for the sudden bursts of inspiration that overtook me this last month or so. I got right back down to it, and I hope those entries have been entertaining as well as edifying for all of you... In case you can't tell, I mean to answer today's Question with a list. And a short one, at that.

Austin Powers - James Bond films were all the rage in my family, pretty much up until the Pierce Brosnan era began, which is when I started watching them with my friends and/or my brothers, as opposed to the whole family unit. The World is Not Enough.

As such, I had a lot of familiarity with the material that the Mike Meyer's vehicle lampooned so expertly. One gag after another hit, and hit hard. When Dr. Evil introduces the manservant based on Goldfinger's "Odd Job," I completely lost it. I lost it dozens of times throughout this picture. It's a damn shame the sequel was a shockingly self-indulgent mess, a lame, limp rehash of the inspired original effort.

There's Something About Mary - I shouldn't need to explain TSaM's appeal to anyone, as so many have already seen this exceptional comedy. I had liked Ben Stiller for a long time before this - from The Ben Stiller show onward, I pegged this guy as someone to watch. It's kind of sad that I haven't responded well to anything by Stiller or the Farrelly brothers even half as well as in all the years since. If it was the last gasp for those three comedic forces, at least it was a powerhouse way to go out...

Naked Gun 1 & 2 - If you don't know why these two movies are exceptional, amazing comedies - or if you've heard that, but don't agree - I have a feeling we might not get along so well.

and of course, one of the best scenes ever:

Airplane - I covered this! Airplane is eternally, endlessly funny.

Dumb & Dumber - The Farrelly brothers drew first blood - and drew it hard - with this picture that was made when Jim Carrey was at the height of his comedic powers, after he first came to widespread attention. As Lloyd Christmas, Carrey is endlessly entertaining. The most impressive aspect about D&D, though, is that Jeff Daniels - Jeff freaking Daniels, of all the people! - managed to effortlessly go toe-to-toe and keep up with the most popular, high-energy comedian of the early 90's. Daniels deserves massive respect for his work there.

Words can't express how much I love the reverse-kneecap hit.

Groundhog Day - I hate to mention a picture and then say so little about it, but I wouldn't argue with anyone who called Groundhog Day the greatest comedy ever. I'd be prone to giving Airplane or Naked Guns 1 & 2 1/2 that title, but there's really no need to quibble when dealing with such spectacular quality. I'll review it here, one day when I have enough time and feel I can do it justice.

A Fish Called Wanda - This post went up before I could embed all the videos, and I don't feel too bad about that - only two people checked out the post before they were added. But I do feel foolish for not having added this the first time around. This film was painfully funny. I chose the Otto video because he really is the best thing ever - you'd never expect that such an inadequate, macho, a-hole would have no problem pretending to be gay!

If you haven't seen aFCW, then please correct that as soon as possible and double-please don't watch the below clip!

Billy Madison - These days, Mr. Sandler is known as a person who makes D-rated and F-rated comedies that still make hundreds of millions between the domestic and foreign box offices. As such, the critical opinion on him is very low. However, his first few movies - BM, Happy Gilmore, and The Wedding Singer are all exceptional in my book. When I saw this in a theater, I was nearly howling.

What I like the most about Billy Madison is that it uses intelligent, absurdist humor. When someone says, "stop speaking gibberish," you can tell that the writer understands the difference between "gibberish" and "nonsense." Darren McGavin's performance, and seeing Bradley Whitford play a villain were probably very important to how well I thought of this film.

That's all for today! The next post will be Sunday's review, which I should have ready by 3pm EDT.

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