Funny Films

Piggy-backing on Ronan's previous post, I thought I'd pose this question to all you [b]Headlifers[/b] out there: Suppose you've been charged with cheering up the Most Depressed Guy on the Planet. And the drug store is all out of Paxil. Fortunately, the Blockbuster next to the Rite-Aid is open, and you decide to get five films that are sure to make him laugh. Which fave are you renting? Feel free to answer in a new post. In the while, here are my picks (in no particular order):
Fletch. The plot is simple enough: Chevy Chase plays Irwin Fletcher, a reporter for the LA Times. When a wealthy business man asks Fletch to kill him, his investigation into the matter reveals a twisted plot of drugs and police corruption.

This film really is Chase at his best. His dry delivery works marvellously here; more so than in his various "Vacation" films. The best scene: his exchange with the mechanics at the airport-- a real classic.

Airplane!. The classic Zucker brothers film, spoofing the airport disaster movies of the 70's. The crisis here is what to do when the flight crew and most of the passengers become deathly ill from the airplane food. Most important-- who will land the plane?

The humor is a bit off the wall and comes one after the other so expect to watch it a few times before you get them all. Leslie Neilson totally reinvented himself as a comic actor, starring in the "Naked Gun" series, as well as some bad Zucker knock-offs.

There are too many fantastic scenes to try and pick one to highlight, but the classic line is still "Surely you can't be serious!" "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

Top Secret!. Another Zucker brothers film, though less-heralded than Airplane. This one spoofs various WWII spy films. Here, an American rock-and-roller (in the Beach Boys vain) plans to give a concert in East Germany when he encounters a women in dire need of help to rescue her father from the evil Germans (because really...).

Val Kilmer plays the lead and does amazingly well. Watch for the scene filmed entirely backwards. The best line from the film is, of course, "Oh, I know a little German-- and he's sitting right over there!"

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. This was the film that launched Jim Carrey to stardom after his very funny stint on "In Living Color." As a PI specializing in finding pets, the authorities call on Ace after the Miami Dolphin's mascot goes missing.

Say what you will about Carrey, in this film he is amazing. In fact, it's hard to imagine how anyone else could even play the lead. Sure, there's some low-brow bathroom humor and such, but how can a list of funny American films not have some of that? In any case, Carrey has great delivery here, and his overacting totally works. Unfortunately, it does get old, perhaps explaining why I've found his subsequent comedies-- virtually all of which rely on this-- to be disappointing.

The Private Eyes. I know what you're thinking: Tim Conway? Don Knots?!? Fer crying out loud!!! OK, so it will appear in few "Best" lists outside of this one. But for some reason, I really love this film. Conway and Knots play two detectives in the Sherlock Holmes vain sent to investigate a murder in a supposedly haunted house.

Knots and Conway do well together, with Conway doing his deadpan dull-witted routine and Knots playing his classic ever-loud (and ever-wrong-- think Mr. Furley from "Three's Company") bit. The best part for me are the little poorly-rhymed clues the killer leaves behind-- they may not cheer up the Most Depressed Guy on the Planet, but they sure make me laugh. And hey-- since it's a Knots-Conway thing, it's actually rather family friendly!


So anyhow, I hope you all get a chance to see some of these (or see them again, if it's been awhile)-- and I certainly hope you enjoy them as much as I have!!