Thursday, June 18, 2009

The top 30 comedies of the last decade

I couldn't resist. 'The Hangover' started this. Initially I came up with ten funny movies from the last ten years, however that list grew and grew in my head over the last couple of days, and the expanded list has now lead to an expanded piece on the subject.

Simple enough idea. The top 30 comedies of the last decade

The ground rules

I have to have actually seen the movie. No cartoons. If i didn't at least chuckle at it, it's not in there (which rules out 'You, me and Dupree'). Anything from Zoolander to now. Nothing involving Quentin Tarantino (having said that I begrudgingly admit his new one looks pretty interesting).

The process of selecting the top movies was a wildly scientific one. As a young boy I used to invent sports games I could play at my desk at school during particularly boring classes. I would create tiny cards for NFL teams or soccer teams. I would line them up one on top of the other vertically, and using a Dungeons and Dragons dice I would play games against whichever cards were immediately above or below each other. The winner would get shifted up a row, the loser down one.

As the games evolved I introduced a handicapping system weighted largely in favour of my favourite teams. This killed hours and hours of boring class time and any chance I had of becoming a doctor or lawyer.

This system lends itself beautifully to picking a top ten, top twenty or (if you have time) top 100 anything, movies, songs, CDs, whatever. All you do is line them up in no particular order, one over the other, pick one to start with and ask yourself 'Is this movie better than the one immediately above it?' and if it is, swap them around. Repeat until you have a vertical list 1-20 of your favourite of whatever it is your listing.

It actually lends itself beautifully as a system to this kind of enjoyable time wasting exercise. You find yourself arguing vehemently with yourself, ''No! No! I can not, nay, I will not, place this movie ahead of this movie!''

Enough babbling, on to the good stuff, and remember, as the Bloodhound Gang say, if you were not entertained you did not drink enough booze!

30. Along Came Polly (2004)
Come on, the Basketball scenes are funny, and Ben Stiller looks genuinely in distress when trying to eat spicy foods. Movie saved by Phillip Seymor Hoffman's hilarious turn. Bring the raaaaaaaaaaain! Easy enough to place at 30, as although it was funnier than the movies that didn't make the list, it wasn't any funnier than any that finished ahead of it.

Phillip Seymor Hoffman, bringin' the rain

29. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
One of those movies that you spend the entire thing grinning, although you are not completely sure why. Having said that, the meeting with the Beatles was a blast.

28. Blades of Glory (2007)
Kind of trips over itself a little near the end but Will Ferrell as an Ice skating anti hero is worth the cost of renting the DVD on its own. It gets the people going! Consistently almost great.

Jimmy: They're laughing at us. Chazz: Hey. They laughed at Louis Armstrong when he said he was gonna go to the moon. Now he's up there, laughing at them.

27. Meet the Fockers (2004)
This was on TV a little while ago and at first I thought, 'God no, no, no, I am not subjecting myself to this.' however the funny scenes kept coming and the lady and myself ended up watching the entire thing. ''Surprisingly funny'', is how my review would have gone. Really, who could have thought Robert DeNiro would end up making comedy? Is this the further point in the entire galaxy from 'Heat'?

26. Be Kind Rewind (2008)
Not laugh-out-loud, slap your thighs funny, but a charming little movie none the less, probably the least viewed movie, universally speaking, on this list. This was my first tricky movie to place. I couldn't get it past number 25 though, as 25 was simply more frequently funny. Even still, a little treasure.

25. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
You know, you can knock this movie all you want, however it never fails to drag a giggle out of you. Vince Vaughn flat-lines through the entire show however Ben Stiller in a white cowboy outfit and some funny lower level, side characters make up for Vaughn's mailing it in.

Cotton McKnight: In 23 years of broadcasting I thought I'd seen it all, folks. But it looks like Peter La Fleur has actually blindfolded himself. Pepper Brooks: He will not be able to see very well, Cotton.

24. Role Models (2008)
Probably too recent to score higher, Williams and Rudd definitely hit it off as the leads however. The story dips a little as it fogs into that silly Hollywood 'we better give them a moral here' ethos, just enough good gags to keep it going.

23. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
It's filthy! It's great! Seth Rogen continues to belch his way into our hearts with another 'Jovial chubby guy makes us giggle' effort. Pretty full on. If you really want a laugh, how about checking out some of the new paper and online reviewers efforts to validate their own existence by writing about the meaning and depth of the movie. It's a fucking comedy! A self acclaimed dirt-fest, comedy!

Interestingly enough, by reading an abstract from a (presumably) Spanish review, I found out to my own amazement I can actually speak Spanish. This despite the fact I have never taken one class ever.

The abstract;
Ainda que Smith continue a exibir sua compulsão em escrever diálogos que usam a escatologia e os palavrões como forma barata (e ineficaz) de humor, o filme é um grande avanço em relação aos seus três últimos péssimos trabalhos.

My (flawless) translation;
Andy Q Smith continues to exhibit a compulsion to screw dialogue and the study of snails he has pavlova in the form of a beretta (to infinity) the humour, a film with big avenues of realisation and Swiss three ultimate pessimistic troubles.

Perfect! Bueno!

22. The School of Rock (2003)
Yes, seriously. Jack Black carries an entire movie on his shoulders, and does it with aplomb. He is engaging and funny the whole way through.

21. Meet the Parents (2000)
Owen Wilson's turn as the schmalzy, sleazy ex boyfriend is sheer comedic genius. Stiller tripping over his own feet for a couple of hours always works.

Greg Focker: Oh, dear God, thank you, you are such a good God to us. A kind and gentle and accommodating God, and we thank You oh sweet, sweet Lord of hosts for the smörgåsbord You have so aptly laid at our table this day, and each day, by day, day by day, by day oh dear Lord three things we pray to love Thee more dearly, to see Thee more clearly, to follow Thee more nearly, day, by day, by day. Amen.

20. Nacho Libre (2006)
Kind of a 'concept' movie, if you think Jack Black in Mexican wrestling gear is funny, you are going to love it. Of course, the flip side to that is, if you don't...

Nacho: Chancho. When you are a man, sometimes you wear stretchy pants in your room. It's for fun.

19. Knocked Up (2007)
I wanted to place this a little higher, largely because Katherine Heigl is in it (frying pan to the head was so worth it), however I couldn't slip it past any of the movies higher up the list. Some great scenes, nonetheless. Seth Rogen's entourage of enormous geeks is worth the price of DVD rental alone.

...and she's funny too!!

18. I Love You, Man (2009)
This one is definitely going to place higher next year when we inevitably bang out another version of this list. See, certain movies, particularly comedies layered with jokes, mature with age. A couple of extra viewings and suddenly, boom goes the dynamite. Jason Segel and Paul Rudd are brilliant together, continuing on a nice little bit of chemistry they had in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'. Slapping the bass! Slappa da bass! Slappa da bass mon! Slappa de bass mon!

17. Talladega Nights: (2006)
This originally started further back down the list but every time I tried to place it with certainty in the lower echelons, another funny clip from the movie would come back to me. The brilliant dinner scenes with Will Ferrell's character's two kids, Walker and Texas Ranger. John C Reill'y superb turn as a sycophantic side kick. Sasha Baron Cohen as the psychotic French bad guy. Will Ferrell running around a racing track in his underwear thinking he is on fire screaming 'Save me Tom Cruise!' My only complaint is they didn't knock Nascar enough. For God sake, the cars just go in endless circles! At least in Formula One they go round funny shaped corners. Is there anything, anything at all more inane than Nascar?

16.Pineapple Express (2008)
A 'feel good' movie if there ever was one, just a heart warming, funny piece of cinematography. So much to like contained in just a short space of time. Seth Rogen's finest work to date. James Franco as a funny, laid back stoner? Who knew! Absolutely nailed it too.

Saul: Well, I don't know, man. I think I'm functioning right now. I was, like, stoned when I saved you with those slushies. What do you gotta say to that?

15. Semi-Pro (2008)
I wanted to put this one higher. I tried to, I really did. Just wasn't happening. Too much quality in front of it. A couple of 'dead' spots in the middle and near the end kept it anchored at number 15. Still, very funny, as long as you buy into Will Ferrell's vision of a 70's basketball league. Ferrell himself, or Jackie Moon as he is in the movie, is superb, a totally brilliant character. The huge problem is the support characters are a little empty and not that funny. Woody Harrellson is engaging but not really that funny, and the kid from Outkast never really gets out of first gear. Looks like he can shoot the rock a little though. Nevermind, thankfully there's enough Jackie Moon to go round to keep it going. His lack of a low post move alone is reason to watch 'Semi Pro'. Not to mention his meltdown at a league owners meeting. Oh and the hilarious Russian Roulette scene. See, now I want to move it up the list again. However, I can't.

14. Step Brothers (2008)
And here is why Semi Pro doesn't go higher than 15. 'Step Brothers' improves by 12% every time you see it. That's not a suggestion, that's pure fact. It gets 12% funnier every time you see it. There is literally a stack of jokes buried in here, and not only are the two focal characters funny, the peripheral folk aren't bad either. At the end of the day though, it all begins and ends with Will Ferrell and John C Reilly's superbly idiotic 40 something step brothers. The two are absolute comedic dynamite together. I am so calling my '09 fantasy football squad, 'Prestige Worldwide', by the way.

Dale Doback: [after hearing Brennan sing] You have the voice of an angel. Your voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.
13. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Perhaps not as much of an easy riot of jokes and slapstick as some of the movies on the list, nonetheless a rewarding little movie is you put the effort in. As an aside, what does it say about the world we live in that when you type 'Napoleon' into google, 'Napoleon Dynamite' is ahead of 'Napoleon Bonaparte' in search results. Don't forget though, Pedro offers you his protection! Classic.

12. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
Controversy in the 12 spot! This movie polarizes opinion more than Michael Jackson. Much like Wacko Jacko, you either love the Life Aquatic or hate it. There is no middle ground. If you are a hater, I would urge you to revise your view of this lovingly conceived Wes Anderson joint. Okay, so no one gets smacked in the head with a frying pan. And alright, there is no romantic, schmaltzy Hollywood ending. There is, however, a killer chase scene.

Brilliant support characters, Bill Murray at his finest, and a script dripping with beautiful comedic language. I am stunned, at a personal level, that I can't place this any higher than 12. I want to. I just can't. I mean, how can I place it ahead of...

11. Tropic Thunder (2008)
I'm just going to throw this out there, if you don't like it, throw it right back at me. Tropic Thunder is going to be an absolute cult classic in years to come. This movie is packed to bursting with jokes, gags, giggles and the like. The fact that it didn't even break the top ten on this list is only because of the depth of quality of the ten ahead of it. Stiller is in fine form, no more so than in his brilliant 'Simple Jack' performance. Tom Cruise almost steals the show as a completely psychotic studio executive. I say almost as Robert Downey Junior actually does steals the show as Kirk Lazarus, who may or may not be black, we never really find out. His 'full retard' speech is the stuff of comedy legend.

Quick warning though, some sketchy language here, if you are easily offended better take an alternate route and click here instead

10. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
We break into the top ten in style with this little cracker. Steve Carell's coming out party, a thoroughly enjoyable romp that also introduced us to Seth Rogen, furthered Paul Rudd's comedic standing and featured plenty of Michael McDonald too. Superb, uplifting final credits also, those cats can dance! Second best final credits ever, ever! More on the winner of that particular category ever so slightly later. Virgin hits all the right notes. great script, superb comedic acting and it leaves you feeling good afterwards, it ticks all the Great Comedy boxes. I can't believe it's only number ten actually, however, I couldn't slide it higher than...

9. Zoolander (2003)
The fact that this legend of comedy is only number 9 tells you everything you need to know about the top eight! Legend of comedy? That's right! We have become so narrow minded and short sighted in this internet age that a movie made in 2003 is already legendary. Was this filmed in black and white and then, like the Wizard of Oz, changed to colour later? Did they have televisions back in 2003? Zoolander is top ten material for several reasons, none more so than the fantastic editing, a feature of all the top ten flicks on this list. What I mean by that is, hardly a scene is wasted. In some of the lower ranked movies, there are dead spots, scenes not really totally neccesary and clearly in there just to get it to 120 so the punter doesn't feel robbed. Zoolander is the Nomar Garciaparra of funny movies, what was it they said he had, something insane like 2% body fat ratio or something like that? From 'Hansel is SO hot right now' to the brilliant dance off between Zoolander and Hansel all the way up to the funny climax, Zoolander has no wasted moments at all. Stiller, Wilson and Ferrell are all totally superb. Zoolander, for me, really started this wave of great comedy, we have 'Blue Steel' to thank for the latest batch of riotous movies.

8. Starsky & Hutch (2004)
How can this finish ahead of Zoolander? The easy answer is, watch it, and you will agree. For me, a smarter, more refined step ahead of Zoolander which was sometimes just a tiny bit silly. More or less the same team a year later cranked out this gem, a movie that increases in hilarity by 17% every time you see it.

The two leads, Stiller and Wilson, are absolutely fantastic but the real star of the show is Vince Vaughn's hilariously evil bad guy. Super stash to boot.

Another one of the recent spate of well made comedies that doesn't waste a shred of film, every single scene is funny or at least reasonably funny. Great soundtrack too, some musical gems in there for your enjoyment.

if you do find yourself in any doubt as to the validity of this movie in the top ten just cast your mind back to Will Ferrell's outragous cameo as big earl..

Big Earl: Alright guys, I'm not gonna lie to you. This is gonna get kinda weird... Two dragons.

7. Superbad (2007)
An unusual comedy in that it's actually pretty realistic. Kind of a more grown up, believable 'American Pie' if you will. The beauty of 'Superbad', for this fella anyway, is in it's brilliant portrayal of life as a male teen. Everything fits, the fears, superstitions, clumsy bad language, awkward friendships and distinct lack of action with the opposite sex.

Just three funny guys trying to buy some booze and impress some ladies. The delivery is fantastic. Michael Cera is a real find in one of the lead roles. but Christopher Mintz-Plasse almost steals the show as Fogell/McLovin. Their night of adventure unfolds like so many teenage evenings, messily and with more mishaps than planned fun. Just a rollickin', laugh fuelled ride. Hop on and enjoy.

Evan (on finding that Fogell has put 'McLovin' on his fake drivers licence): What? One name? ONE NAME? Who are you? Seal?

6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Absolutely no apologies for putting this one so high, it's a freakin riot! I would go even higher however it simply can not crack the top five, you will see why shortly. However, 'Forgetting..' is definitely going to be looked back on as a mini comedy classic in years to come. Relative unknown Jason Segel absolutely nails the role as the lovable loser who ends up getting away from a horrible break up, at the same resort as his ex and her obnoxious British rock star (played brilliantly by Russell Brand) boyfriend.

'Forgetting..' has absolutely everything. A brilliant supporting cast packed with funny cameos (Paul Rudd's brain dead surfer is sheer comedic genius). A laugh-out-loud script, some thigh slapping moments and plenty of surprises. The story line itself is a nice break from the usual comedy templates.

Best of all, the movie has a heart. You find yourself rooting for poor old Peter Bretter (Segel) and who knew the object of his affections would turn out to be Meg from Family Guy (no, really!)?!

The finest moment though has to be Peter's unbelievably obscure Vampire opera. I would pay actual real cash-money to see this on Broadway. Or a bar in Hawaii, either works for me.

The top five
Now for the big guns, the big enchilada's, the top dogs, the big cheese. You could, and you probably will, place these in almost any order, I would argue vehemently (and perhaps violently) that these five are all a level ahead of the previous 25, not too mention the 20-25 other comedies that didn't make the top 30 of this list. Without Freddie Adu, the top five comedies in the last decade.

5. Wedding Crashers (2005)
Great premise, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in tip top form, an excellent script, great supporting cast and some fantastic scenes all the way through out. It even has a superb Will Ferrell cameo. All the ingredient to push this instant comedy classic into the top 5. The movie starts off in rip roaring form and manages to carry through the slightly quiet patch 3/4 of the way through thanks to Will Ferrell's outrageously obnoxious cameo (was he practicing for Step Brothers here?!) and Owen Wilson's hilarious slide into morbidity (I keep meaning to change my answering machine message to the one he leaves when he is in the middle of his deep depression).

Jeremy Grey: Okay, what's our back story?
John Beckwith: We're brothers from New Hampshire. We're venture capitalists.
Jeremy Grey: I'm sick of that. Let's be from Vermont. And let's have an emerging maple syrup conglomerate.
John Beckwith: Wait, that's stupid. We don't know anything about maple syrup.
Jeremy Grey: I happen to know everything there is to know about maple syrup! I love maple syrup. I love maple syrup on pancakes. I love it on pizza. And I take maple syrup and put a little bit in my hair when I've had a rough week. What do you think holds it up, slick?

4. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Can you imagine how much fun they had making this movie? Seriously! It had to have been a blast. Has any of the movies on this list come close to giving us as many quotable lines as this classic? Most of all, it brought several colourful, enjoyable characters into our lives. Bryan Fantana, Champ Kind and Brick Tamland. The movie is all about the larger than life Ron Bergundy, however, and he delivers on every level. Quite possibly the single funniest character of all time.

''Diversity? Well I believe that's an old Civil War Ship..''

3. The Hangover (2009)
Too soon? Not at all. Just right. How can we write that with such confidence? Easy. I almost broke a rib laughing at the damn thing at the Irish (and European actually, now that you mention it) premiere of the movie. An absolutely rip-roaring, rollicking, roller-coaster thrill ride of jokes, it slaps you in the face from the very start.

Another brilliantly executed Todd Phillips joint, nothing is wasted, every scene fits and the jokes come at you thick and fast from start to finish (and oh boy oh boy, what a sensational finish!). The movie is imaginative and creative, taking several new angles that are both hilarious and refreshing.

The characters are fantastic, Ed Helms, who some of you might know as Andy Bernard in the US Office, is hilarious as the accident prone dentist. Bradley Phillips gets the 'straight' role of the piece and shows of a burdgeoining star capacity that promises more to come. Zach Galifianakis, however, makes this baby tick, he is absolutely off the charts hilarious as 'Alan'. His Rainman impersonation is the stuff of legend.

It's a new movie so I don't want to say too much and spoil it, all I can say is, beware naked chinese gangsters jumping out of the trunk of cars, and always check the bathroom for Tigers when you are in Vegas!

2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Wait, what's this? Blatant controversy in the two spot! Yes, that's right, The Royal Tenenbaums. You know, as I started this list (believe me, it took about seventy five thousand days to write) the RTs started out by hovering around the ten spot, however every time I tried to place it, it kept moving north, higher and higher. The two hole, after much deliberation, felt absolutely perfect. Not quite as funny as the number one movie (not many movies with a scene where a is guy trying to kill himself to a particularly depressing Elliot Smith song can qualify as a comedy) however a classic in its own right.

Beautifully conceived, the movie will probably go down as Wes Anderson's greatest achievement. The greatest quality of the movie is the assembled talent on display. Luke Wilson gives a thoughtful, even paced and gently funny turn as former tennis super star Richie Tenenbaum. The gift of the RTs is that by the end you start to think of Richie Tenenbaum as a tennis legend, forgetting completely it's Luke Wilson, an actor. Bill Murry is almost, almost wasted in a small part as the brilliant yet tortured Raleigh St Claire (well I wanna die). Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson

Amongst the obscure humour that some might find a little inaccessible there are however some absolute throw-away gems, there for all to enjoy. How about Richie Tenenbaum's unusual melt down on the tennis court?

What sets the RTs apart from the other 28 movies on this list, however, is the beautiful, thoughtful, heart breakingly funny performance of the wonderful Gene Hackman, a man at the peak of his trade. This is a career display by the great man, lending a powerful validity to the movie, bringing it all together.

What else is there to say really, other than, Ethyl, I'm dying baby..

1. Old School (2003)

And on the seventh day, God said, let there be some seriously funny shit. And there was. Nothing was ever going to keep this off the top, though many tried. It all starts and ends with Old School.

From Vince Vaughn's best performance to date, to Luke Wilson's enjoyable deadpan straight act. From Jeremy Riven's coming out party to the hilarious frat house members.

Even the obligatory Todd Phillips cameo works out (''I'm here for the gang bang?!'')

Of course it all starts and ends with Will Ferrell's comedy preformance for the ages, as 'Frank the Tank'.

His lovable loser goes through a personal crisis or ten, the entire movie he is either in trouble for streaking, being beaten up by a drag queen, being attacked violently by Jeremy Piven or getting himself in serious trouble during counselling with his wife. Ah yes, who could forget the Trust Tree?

Old School is a seamless movie with a distinct, wasteless flow. It keeps coming after you scene after scene. Nothing is wasted, everything fits. The editing is that good that there isn't one scene you would remove from the flick.

Just a wildly enjoyable romp, from start to finish.

Link: Old School quotes and the Red Sox combo deal.

So there we have it. No doubt you, the reader, would have an entirely different top 30, however, hope you enjoyed reading this one. I bet you twenty dollars cash money you have made a mental note to watch at least two of the above again.

They just get funnier every time out, don't they?



The Princess said...

Your genius knows no bounds :)

Anonymous said...

The longest yard?? Road Trip? Nice list but you re missing some musts.

Anonymous said...

dude...the Wendell Baker Story? Life Aquadic? & the Royal Tenebaum's before Nacho Libre...are you craysee man?
besides that, I like the list. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you haven't seen Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. Borat?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

you don't mess with the zohan? harold and kumar?

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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