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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mailvox: the big questions

LA queries:
I had a question--do you have an opinion on the movie Airplane!?
 The humor on this movie has always escaped me.  I've always found many comedy movies to be fairly stupid but I can always suspend disbelief, put aside logical problems in a decent sci fi or comedy movie, and find some way to enjoy the humor even if it isn't my normal cup of tea.
 But this movie has always been the one film I cannot stand.
 Anyway, a friend that reads Vox Popoli and I were having a spat about it and it made me curious if you enjoyed it or if you ever saw it, and whether you care one way or another.
I thought Airplane had its amusing moments, but would not put it in my personal top 25 movies or even top 20 comedies.  I can stand it, but only in short doses; I've never been able to watch it all the way through.  Its humor is mostly of the sort that I consider to be too broad-based and obvious to be more than moderately funny even when done right.  I think an element of surprise, or at least unpredictability, is necessary to make something genuinely hilarious, and most of Airplane's humor is entirely predictable, being based on stupid and unlikely misunderstandings.

As a writer once said that if the plot of your novel is dependent upon your characters being stupid, you don't have an actual book.  In like manner, I don't find humor that depends upon the characters being borderline retarded to be amusing.  And if a "humorous" pratfall is somehow involved, I am left colder than cold.  I simply don't find people falling down, particularly in a theatrical manner, to be be funny at all.  When I see an adult laugh at someone slapping their forehead and falling down, or pretending to faint, I seriously wonder what is wrong with them.

But Airplane! does have its moments.  The "I speak jive" line is funny, although the actual execution of the jivespeak borders on the painful.  The surely/Shirley bit is almost Wodehousean and is done well in a deadpan manner that probably wouldn't have worked nearly as well for anyone not named Leslie Nielsen.  And the short exchanges between Joey and the Captain are downright quoteworthy.  That being said, I looked at the list of what are supposedly the greatest quotes from the movie and noted that less than a quarter of them actually struck me as funny.

To me, easily the funniest movie ever made is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Other movies that I found to be funnier than Airplane! include Heathers, Weird Science, The Hangover, The Gods Must Be Crazy, The Big Lebowski, Old School, A Fish Called Wanda, Dodgeball, Grosse Pointe Blank, Notting Hill, the first two American Pie films, Stripes, The Pink Panther, and Being There.

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118 Comments:

Blogger V September 23, 2012 10:10 AM  

Good list. I'd add Blazing Saddles and Drop Dead Gorgeous for myself.

Anonymous Hmmm September 23, 2012 10:21 AM  

Funnier than Airplane isn't a high bar.

Even so, not sure I would put Heathers or The Gods Must Be Crazy on that list.

Dr. Strangelove is a contender for as funny as Holy Grail.

Anonymous Pablo September 23, 2012 10:24 AM  

Drop Dead Gorgeous is an absolute gem. Probably the funniest movie led by a female cast ever.

Blogger Morrison September 23, 2012 10:39 AM  

The World may soon be in flames, and hiding in Europe won't be an option.

But we can at least deal with the movies.

Blogger W.LindsayWheeler September 23, 2012 10:42 AM  

One of the funniest movies, unknown to a lot, has to be "If it is Tuesday, it must be Belgium". It is about a group of American tourists on one of those packaged 14 day tours.

I don't like Blazin Saddles for it has the first recorded instances of bathroom humor unknown to American film, the scene of the campfire with a meal of beans. It was written by a Jew and of course they have a need to break "barriers" and destroy tradition and custom. From that time on forward, many movies included bathroom/toilet scenes.

The funniest media must be Bugs Bunny though. It is Slapstick humor. Not an actual movie, but as media they are great.

Vox, since he lives in Europe, should enjoy "If it is Tuesday, it.."

Blogger Longstreet September 23, 2012 10:44 AM  

I sat the older boys down for "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" once. The looks they gave me where funnier than the movie, nd that's saying a lot. Maybe when they get older...

They love The God's Must Be Crazy though. So I have hope.

We've watched O Brother, Where Art Though more times than I can count, so I guess I'd add that to the list.

But Airplane is one of those movies that is funny the first time, not so much after. Definitely not top 10.

Guess I'll have to watch Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Blogger Vox September 23, 2012 10:45 AM  

Vox, since he lives in Europe, should enjoy "If it is Tuesday, it.."

"Rome was where we saw the yellow dog."

Anonymous Alexamenos September 23, 2012 10:48 AM  

Life of Brian

'yes, we're all individuals!!!'

Anonymous JohnR September 23, 2012 11:08 AM  

'Being There,'funny?

I think not. Smart people acting borderline retarded and not noticing Chance is slow.

Jerzy Kozinski was a nasty little fuck and 'Being There' is a just like him.

Never understood why people like it so much.

Saw Kosinski on Letterman once in the early 80s (when he was funny). He was nasty to Letterman and Letterman clearly did not like him.

"Serial" with Martin Mull, funny.

Anonymous Carnaby September 23, 2012 11:10 AM  

Some moments in dr strangelove were fairly funny.

Anonymous bw September 23, 2012 11:17 AM  

I don't find humor that depends upon the characters being borderline retarded to be amusing.

Indeed. This should leave out the likes of Farley and Candy, etal.

Saw a video of the roast of Charlie Sheen the other day. Ouch!
The crudest, hardest hitting, funniest, heady, mockery I've ever seen. It really is a contest for crudeness, but man is that roast smart and funny. So wrong but so right.

Anonymous MendoScot September 23, 2012 11:23 AM  

What? No Police Acacdemy? The franchise was unreliable, I admit, but it certainly had it's moments. And compared to Jerry Lewis or Rodney Dangerfield, Dingleberry was a comic genius.

Anonymous MendoScot September 23, 2012 11:31 AM  

Ha! Tackleberry, not Dingleberry. Freudian slip, there.

Anonymous rycamor September 23, 2012 11:32 AM  

"The Gods must be Crazy" might not be the funniest movie ever, but it is in a category by itself, because it manages to be funny, irreverent, and even sexy at times while still being a good family film. It's really hard to find something the whole family can find funny at the same time. And, it even has some points to make you ponder.

"Being There"... um... I guess you had to be there.

Anonymous VD September 23, 2012 11:33 AM  

I think not. Smart people acting borderline retarded and not noticing Chance is slow.

The scene with Shirley Maclaine alone makes up for all the dross and is funnier than the totality of Airplane.

Anonymous Roundtine September 23, 2012 11:48 AM  

I'm surprised Vox didn't mention a Benigni movie. Il Monstro was better than Airplane!, as was Johnny Stecchino. Even the Koreans make funnier stuff; I found Sex is Zero funnier than American Pie.

Anonymous Roundtine September 23, 2012 11:50 AM  

This should leave out the likes of Farley and Candy, etal.

Have you seen Tommy Boy or Planes, Trains and Automobiles?

Anonymous TLM September 23, 2012 11:59 AM  

Back to School with Kinison as history professor berating the young chick & Dangerfield. Although Rodne's son in the movie was a total puss.

Anonymous Booch Paradise September 23, 2012 12:04 PM  

How about the Naked Gun films? In my opinion they are the same style as Airplane! but much better done.

Blogger W.LindsayWheeler September 23, 2012 12:07 PM  

The joke I made up while in Europe was

"What do you call a person who speaks two languages?"

A Bilingual.

"What do you call a person who speaks three or more languages?"

A multilingual.

"What do you call a person who speaks one language?"

An American.

WLW

Anonymous Stickwick September 23, 2012 12:10 PM  

Tropic Thunder is very funny. It's worth watching just for the scenes with Les Grossman.

Anonymous Stickwick September 23, 2012 12:13 PM  

How about the Naked Gun films? In my opinion they are the same style as Airplane! but much better done.

Agreed. Also in the same style are the Hot Shots! movies, which are likewise silly and predictable, but funnier.

Blogger V September 23, 2012 12:14 PM  

upon reflection, Caddyshack had moments of brilliance. Certainly more going for it than Airplane...

While Hollywood was happy to remake The Producers, good luck with Blazing Saddles. And it wouldn't be due to the fart jokes.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick September 23, 2012 12:20 PM  

The Man Who Knew Too Little

Anonymous Jack Amok September 23, 2012 12:22 PM  

I don't find humor that depends upon the characters being borderline retarded to be amusing.

Interesting to square that with enjoying P.G. Wodehouse. In general I don't like enforced plot stupidity either, but Wooster and Jeeves plots are entirely driven by the cluelessness of Bertie and his friends and relatives and I love them.

Anonymous Anonymous September 23, 2012 12:31 PM  

Browsing around Hulu, I discovered The General with Buster Keaton - a silent movie, but absolutely delightful and funny. Since that movie, I've been looking for everything else he's done. Youtube has quite a bit of his work. He was one of a kind, uniquely talented. A documentary of the story of his life, Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow was well done and gives you an idea that the man was pretty special.

The little I've seen of that genre was with Charlie Chaplin, who I didn't find especially entertaining or funny. But Buster Keaton was a treasure.

Blogger IM2L844 September 23, 2012 12:32 PM  

Most comedies try too hard and barely give me an occasional chuckle, but The Jerk, A Fish Called Wanda and The Pink Panther all had me in tears from laughter at various points.

Well I'm gonna to go then! And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything. Except this. *picks up an ashtray*

Anonymous No_Limit_Bubba™ September 23, 2012 12:44 PM  

I notice new funny things in A Fish Called Wanda everytime I watch it. It is a very well made movie. Airplane, Caddyshack, and Blazing Saddles are all in my top ten.

Interestingly enough, I watched History of the World the other night and it was not even close to being as funny as I recollected.

As far as newer films the "Meet the Fockers" movies as well as the two "Hangover" movies were a lot funnier than I expected.

Blogger Brad Anderson September 23, 2012 1:10 PM  

No Marx brothers? I really like "A night at the opera."

And the birthday party scene in "Notting Hill" is a classic bit of dialouge.

Blogger Nate September 23, 2012 1:13 PM  

I literally cry at times I'm laughing so hard at the Big Lebowski.

Anonymous Anonymous September 23, 2012 1:16 PM  

"I simply don't find people falling down, particularly in a theatrical manner, to be be funny at all. When I see an adult laugh at someone slapping their forehead and falling down, or pretending to faint, I seriously wonder what is wrong with them."

The best comedy isn't an act at all. For a quick and deep chuckle, I watch a few minutes of women playing sports, or read what a woman writes online.

Anonymous DT September 23, 2012 1:29 PM  

I literally cry at times I'm laughing so hard at the Big Lebowski.

Yeah, well. The Dude abides.

Anonymous Noah B. September 23, 2012 1:37 PM  

"I literally cry at times I'm laughing so hard at the Big Lebowski."

That movie is a masterpiece. I have never laughed as hard at a movie as I did at that one the first time I saw it.

I don't know how the thread got this far without some mention of Zombieland, Pulp Fiction or Young Frankenstein. Those are some of my favorites. Some other great ones that don't seem to be as well known are Used Cars, Real Genius, Quick Change, and Four Rooms.

Airplane probably wouldn't even make my top 100 comedy list.

Blogger JDC September 23, 2012 1:41 PM  

"Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos." - Walter

Pure genius.

Also, I openly and freely admit that Dumb and Dumber is one of my favorite comedies. There, I said it.

Anonymous Cat McClusky September 23, 2012 1:43 PM  

Moe, Larry, and Curly.

I laugh like a hyena scooting across a feather bed.

Blogger JDC September 23, 2012 1:47 PM  

I have always loved Slapshot as well (perhaps growing up in a dirty industrial town where people viewed a hockey arena as a holy sanctuary has something to do with it).

If you can watch the scene where the Hanson brothers make their Chiefs' debut without laughing, you have no funny bone.

Blogger JDC September 23, 2012 1:50 PM  

Dave's out, who's gonna take his place?

Blogger Spacebunny September 23, 2012 1:57 PM  

Vox doesn't like Young Frankenstein and never gets the reference when I quote it. A Fish Called Wanda and Grosse Point Blank are awesome and The Holy Grail is one of my all time favorites.

Anonymous Anonymous September 23, 2012 2:04 PM  

Clearly, modern culture has passed me by. Have none of you people seen Animal House? "you fucked up - you trusted us".

Anonymous Noah B. September 23, 2012 2:05 PM  

Everybody should know the "walk THIS way" quote. Marty Feldman was hilarious in that. The Holy Grail is amazing. The ending just about gets me every time. If I haven't seen it in a while, I keep expecting something else to happen.

Anonymous Mrs. Pilgrim September 23, 2012 2:08 PM  

The Man Who Knew Too Little

Oh hell yes. What's wrong with Ghostbusters or Groundhog Day, while we're speaking of Bill Murray?

And I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that we don't have Brewster's Millions mentioned here yet, considering the election.

Also, for parody-type works: My Name is Nobody, The Cheap Detective, and The Private Eyes.

Anonymous 691 September 23, 2012 2:45 PM  

Vox doesn't like Young Frankenstein and never gets the reference when I quote it

That's a shame.

Anonymous LixLibertas September 23, 2012 2:58 PM  

I enjoy a good spoof movie for subverting tropes, and for their absurdism. Most of them suck though.

And that more than anything else led to my drinking problem.

Anonymous Stickwick September 23, 2012 2:59 PM  

Had to revisit Tropic Thunder this afternoon. As good as Stiller is in Zoolander, he's far better here. And Tom Cruise as a sociopathic movie mogul is borderline brilliant.

Blogger WATYF September 23, 2012 2:59 PM  

Other movies that I found to be funnier than Airplane! include...

The fact that Tommy Boy isn't in that list is a travesty. :^D

WATYF

Anonymous JI September 23, 2012 3:00 PM  

Not to be too critical, Vox, but your comedic tastes tend toward the teeny-bopper. I'm guessing you haven't seen some of these movies since you were quite young, and that they might not seem so funny to you now.

Anonymous tiredofitall September 23, 2012 3:08 PM  

"Other movies that I found to be funnier than Airplane! include...

The fact that Tommy Boy isn't in that list is a travesty.
" - WATYF

Vox already admitted he wasn't a fan of the "fatty fall down" genre, so that pretty much cuts out Farley's entire collection.

@JI Word of warning, don't do a Google image search of the word "teeny-bopper" with safe search off. It's surprisingly filthy.

Anonymous Hong Hu Shi September 23, 2012 3:09 PM  

An Anonymous referenced Buster Keaton earlier. I like his stuff, but I like Harold Lloyd, the third of the great three (with Keaton and Chaplin) from the silent era. His talkie "The Cat's-Paw" is my absolute favorite, and it makes clear the true nature of American politics. Watch it, please!

Anonymous JCclimber September 23, 2012 3:23 PM  

Stripes?
Caddyshack?
Ghostbusters (part 1)?

where's the Bill Murray humor?

Not sure how well it's aged, but Porky's was pretty funny when I was a kid...

Anonymous Papapete September 23, 2012 3:31 PM  

The original version of "The Producers" is a true classic. I'd also include "Bringing up Baby". A little known gem is "Will success Spoil Rock Hunter?"

Anonymous Daniel September 23, 2012 3:41 PM  

Grosse Pointe Blank is way up there. Every regulatory, science and accounting joke in Ghostbusters makes me laugh. The anthems in Bigger Longer and Uncut are great. But as a fully constructed work of laugh out loud comedy: Holy Grail. I broke down in tears during the scene in Lost Skeleton of Cadavra when the scientist loses complete track of the extremely simple plot without losing his sense of superiority.

Blogger mmaier2112 September 23, 2012 3:45 PM  

AMERICAN PIE? You have no soul.

Anonymous Anonymous September 23, 2012 4:03 PM  

You forgot "Raising Arizona," easily one of the funniest--and quirkiest--movies of the last forty years.

Blogger Syllabus September 23, 2012 4:03 PM  

"The Pink Panther"

I hope you mean the Peter Sellers series and not the Steve Marin atrocities.

Anonymous trk September 23, 2012 4:08 PM  

Big trouble in little china.

Anonymous kh123 September 23, 2012 4:30 PM  

Drug commercials, especially the portion that has all the listed side effects that may include, but not limited to, bleeding, palpitations, liver failure, and possibly in rare cases, creating the very problem that it's supposed to solve.

Ask your doctor if Phlogistor is right for you.

Anonymous Logan September 23, 2012 4:34 PM  

Cannot freaking believe that no one has mentioned Office Space yet! God knows how many times I've seen that movie, and I'm nowhere close to getting tired of it. Highly recommended!!

I do enjoy Airplane, but it's not nearly as good as the Naked Gun trilogy. As someone above said, the humour is similar, but much better done. I love pretty much anything with Leslie Nielson; Wrongfully Accused is fantastic. I consider the first Naked Gun film to be the funniest movie I've seen.

Anonymous the abe September 23, 2012 4:54 PM  

Super Troopers is one of those few movies I've watched that grows on you in spite of its warts. Kiss Kiss/Bang Bang is another one, as Val Kilmer only seems to shine when he's not the lead role and Robert Downey Jr. always manages to charm. As an adult, I'm hard pressed to name a pitch-perfect comedy. Although "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" was a perfect culmination of Kevin Smith's legitimate work.

British Humor is a slightly acquired taste, very much like the food. I still don't really take to awkward silence as comedy. Just goes to show even cultural siblings can be vastly different.

These days it's usually a case of movies being unintentionally funny rather than being comedies ;-)

Anonymous the abe September 23, 2012 4:57 PM  

Kentucky Fried Movie and Police Squad were far better as they were more experimental and less formulaic unlike their later work.

Anonymous Huckleberry - est. 1977 September 23, 2012 4:58 PM  

If we're going ole' timey, W.C. Fields' The Fatal Glass of Beer is pretty damn good. Agree with Ghostbusters, Office Space, and most of the rest.
Also, as another commenter mentioned, I cannot stand Airplane, but the first two Naked Gun films show Leslie Neilsen as a comedic genius.
Also, Spaceballs had its moments...

Anonymous Ain September 23, 2012 4:59 PM  

Balls of Fury and Zombieland

Anonymous CS September 23, 2012 5:01 PM  

"Who's that, then?"
"Must be a king."
"Why's that?"
"He hasn't got s*** all over him."

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the funniest movie of all time. I have to agree on that one.

Blogger Baloo September 23, 2012 5:08 PM  

I do humor for a living (I'm a cartoonist), so I guess I have some standing. I like the whole Airplane/Naked Gun style of humor, but like most humor tropes, it has to be done just right or it doesn't work at all. Funniest movie of all time might be Mixed Nuts, and Mad Mad Mad World is in the running. I guess I'm old-fashioned. Actually, I think a lot of half-hour TV shows are better than equivalent movies. That is, Abbot and Costello's TV show was better than any of their movies. And the 3 Stooges shorts better by far than their movies. And Benny Hill I find more reliably funny than Monty Python.

Anonymous Anonymous September 23, 2012 5:09 PM  

Someone mentioned Slapshot, I agree.

I also throughly enjoy Major League, every time I see it.

"JUST a bit outside."

"Haywood is coming up to the plate, who is now leading the league in every offensive catagory, including nosehair."

"Oh no, no. Too high, it's too high."

Also wanted to plug "Caddyshack" as well.

"Hey, doll. Could you scare up another round for our table over here? And tell the cook this is low grade dog food. I've had better food at the ballgame, you know? This steak still has marks from where the jockey was hitting it."

Comedy doesn't get much better than jokes about low quality steak!!

farmer Tom

Anonymous paradox September 23, 2012 5:16 PM  

Hopefully the "Arrested Development" movie will be as funny as the sitcom. Well at least as good as the first two seasons.

Blogger The Bechtloff September 23, 2012 5:31 PM  

I loved the part in Airplane! where a bunch of guys are looking at Playboys and the Preist is looking at Boy's Life mag.

I really liked it when I first saw it, but then I was like 11 or 12 then. It's worth seeing if you never have, but it is pretty overrated.

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 23, 2012 5:38 PM  

Hooray for Captain Spaulding!
The African Explorer!
He's brought his name undying fame
And that is why we say, Hooray, Hoo-
ray for Captain Spaulding!
The African Explorer!
He's brought his name undying fame
And that is why we say,
Hooray, Hooray!

For political comedy, "In the Loop" is pretty awesome. Also, I finally got a look at the "Gangnam Style" video that everyone is talking about, and it's pretty funny. The exuberance alone kills you, and it's got some witty moments.

You have to sort of treat "Airplane!" more like a piece of music than a film, and just let it wash over you. What's notable about it is not this or that particular gag, but its sheer relentlessness. Think of it as the comedy version of Ravel's "Bolero."

Doesn't like Young Frankenstein, eh? I can give you the name of a good deprogrammer. It's not too late to be cured of this affliction.

Anonymous MendoScot September 23, 2012 5:45 PM  

Not sure how well it's aged, but Porky's was pretty funny when I was a kid...

"Has anyone seen Mike Hunt?"

Ahh. Adolescence. Such a spicy time. But who can forget the Taliwacker.

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 23, 2012 5:46 PM  

As usual, war is unforeseeable.

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 23, 2012 5:56 PM  

"Doctor Strangelove" is undeniably hilarious, and it has some incredible lines in it ("He'll see the Big Board!"), but I've always been annoyed at it, even angry at it, because of its smug, superior, superficial take on the situation at the time. More than any other satire I can think of, "Doctor Strangelove" did actual damage to this society by giving smug highbrows and middlebrows the perfect excuse to dismiss the major problems of the era as absurd. Granted I wasn't there at the time, but I get the rather strong sense that it was the attitude cultivated by cultural rally-points like "Strangelove" that helped make it possible for an entire half of the political culture to, say, write off a figure as serious as Ronald Reagan without so much as a second thought. The ability and will to do a thing like that strikes me as dangerous for democracy, and it's part of what's given us the hideous MSM we all know and despise today.

Blogger Syllabus September 23, 2012 6:03 PM  

"As usual, war is unforeseeable."

As is the Spanish Inquisition.

Blogger Christina September 23, 2012 6:39 PM  

I was under the impression that Airplane! was one of the first movies to portray alot of this "stupid" comedy, introducing farting on screen for the first time.

I don't think its fair to label the comedy as "overdone" when it had never been done before this movie.

This genre certainly isn't my favorite - I like subtle, satirical humor over stupid is as stupid does. However, will give Mel some props for being the father of the stupid-is-as-stupid-does comedic genre. He was a novelty for an era used to Jimmy Stewart comedy.

Anonymous Angel September 23, 2012 7:00 PM  

Notting Hill was a comedy? I would think that was too romantic comedy for you.
I loved the room mate :)

Leslie Nielson is comedy gold. The Deadpan golden boy.

Otherwise, Dodgeball rocks! Anchorman is awesome. A very good friend in the news field, has even done time as an anchor, said it was dead on. That...is terrifying LOL.

I will add a vote for Pootie Tang. Though most of it was clearly written, even acted, while extremely high...it is clearly a movie about alpha game.

Anonymous Angel September 23, 2012 7:06 PM  

I don't know if we are only doing movies, but we just got into a new show on Tru Television called Impractical Jokers and you cannot watch and still be in a bad mood. Only male lifelong friends can make someone lick a large female strangers toes and think that is funny.

Wipeout is something we enjoy as a family. I don't know, watching people get punched in the face or flipped off large ballons just gives us the giggles.

Last, Reno 911. Classic LE laughs. Too close to the truth :)

Anonymous Wendy September 23, 2012 7:07 PM  

I have always loved Slapshot as well...

"Dave's a killer!"

"Dave's a mess."

Youngblood is unintentionally funny, mostly because of Keanu Reeves.

Anonymous Mrs. Pilgrim September 23, 2012 7:10 PM  

And Benny Hill I find more reliably funny than Monty Python.

Agreed.

"As usual, war is unforeseeable."

As is the Spanish Inquisition.


NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

Anonymous Tom B September 23, 2012 7:17 PM  

Before I changed majors in college to religion I was a film student, the one script I wrote was a semi-fianlist at the Austin Heart of Film festival in 1998, and I worked on the one season of "Pointman" as a PA, so I have some props in this I guess.

Airplane is a great movie IMO, but far from the best of the genre. Chaplin's "Modern Times", almost all of the work of Keaton, Lloyd, the Marx Brothers (my favorites), W.C. Fields (my second favorite), Ernie Kovacks, Monty Python, Mel Brooks, and the one "Bob and Doug McKensie" film "Strange Brew" are all better. Heck, Zucker, Abrams and Zucker made a better film back a few years ago called "Brain Donors", which was a semi-remake of the Marx Bros. "A Night at the Opera".

What Airplane does well is play head games with the disaster movie genre, which might make some of the jokes predictable yet it comes as a shock that someone actually, FINALLY told the joke. (Think the "shit hits the fan" gag.) So its on my top 20 comedies, but probably not my top 50 movies. IMHO

Anonymous Tom B September 23, 2012 7:26 PM  

Christine,

The first film to introduce a fart onscreen was Blazing Saddles.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick September 23, 2012 7:29 PM  

Also, for parody-type works: My Name is Nobody, The Cheap Detective, and The Private Eyes.

I also agree with this list except for The Cheap Detective but only because I haven't seen it.

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 23, 2012 7:35 PM  

Speaking of these gatling-gun style comedies, the one to really look for is "The Kentucky Fried Movie" (also I think Zucker Bros.)

It runs hot and cold, and a lot of it ages badly, but the thing not to miss is the 20-minute parody of "Enter the Dragon," called "A Fist Full of Yen." It's screamingly funny.

"These are lost, drunken men, who don't know where they are and don't care. And THESE are lost, drunken men who don't know where they are, and DO care. And these are lost men who know where they are, and care, but don't drink."
"Wait a minute, I don't know where I am, but I care."
"Guards! Take this man out of that cell, and put him in THIS cell! And give him a drink!"
"What do you drink?"
"I don't care."



Anonymous FUBAR NATION (Ben) September 23, 2012 7:37 PM  

FUNNIEST. SCENE. EVER.

MONTY PYTHON:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jO1EOhGkY0

Anonymous Stickwick September 23, 2012 7:46 PM  

Youngblood is unintentionally funny, mostly because of Keanu Reeves.

As is Sudden Death with Jean-Claude gosh Darn. Where else are you gonna see death by industrial dishwasher?

Anonymous Other Josh September 23, 2012 8:26 PM  

Chris Farley's movies were pure physical comedy genius. Almost Heroes (not to be confused with Almost Famous), Tommy Boy, and Black Sheep are all hilarious movies.

If your looking for clever, witty humor that delights the movie critics, these aren't for you. For physical comedy, perfectly setup comedic situations, and classic one-liners - these movies are awesome!

Anonymous Other Josh September 23, 2012 8:28 PM  

Steve Martin's "The Jerk" is also a good late-night movie for sleep-deprived nites.

Anonymous willneverpostagain September 23, 2012 9:21 PM  

Spaceballs.

"I'm a Mog, half man, half dog. I'm my own best friend."

Anonymous paradox September 23, 2012 9:34 PM  

willneverpostagain September 23, 2012 9:21 PM

Spaceballs.

"I'm a Mog, half man, half dog. I'm my own best friend."


I'm surrounded by...

Anonymous Tiger8Roy September 23, 2012 10:25 PM  

My top ten in random order:

There's Something About Mary
Dumb and Dumber
Caddyshack
Hollywood Knights
Animal House
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
This is Spinal Tap
City Slickers
Weird Science
Happy Gilmore

Anonymous Monkey Boy September 23, 2012 10:30 PM  

Airplane is very patchy, it has large stretches where it isn't funny such as the disco scene. Naked Gun is the funnier film within the gag comedy format.

Anonymous JP (real one) September 23, 2012 10:52 PM  

A few off the top of my head

Raising Arizona
Better Off Dead (some Game elements in that movie)
Oh Brother Where Art Thou

Anonymous Sexual Chocolate Imperion September 23, 2012 11:46 PM  

What? No love for 1941 ?

Raoul Lipschitz: I'd like to thank all the GI's for helping make tonight's evening such a... a memorable occasion. Maybe in the future we can have some Negroes come in and we'll stage a race riot... right here.

Now that is pure comedy!

Anonymous stg58 September 23, 2012 11:57 PM  

Wow. Not surprised it wasn't mentioned, but "Don't Start The Revolution Without Me" merits a place on the list. Who doesn't like to see Gene Wilder and Donald Sutherland ruthlessly skewer French people?

Vox, you have some really fucked up ideas of what is funny. Sorry, bro.

Anonymous Major Asshole September 23, 2012 11:58 PM  

Another vote for Spaceballs.

And I'm glad to see Raising Arizona - Cage's best film by far.

Anonymous paradox September 24, 2012 12:00 AM  

One of my favorites... Rocketman.

Anonymous kh123 September 24, 2012 12:32 AM  

Didn't see this mentioned anywhere. For shame.

Also, Top Gear's attempt to go where no man has gone before.

Anonymous kh123 September 24, 2012 1:04 AM  

Honorable mention.

Anonymous Grinder September 24, 2012 1:43 AM  

Step Brothers, Office Space, Superbad, Austin Powers, Rat Race.

Anonymous kh123 September 24, 2012 1:59 AM  

Last but not least: Paving a road in 24 hours, in 2 parts:
[1]
[2]

Anonymous Andrew September 24, 2012 4:08 AM  

Princess Bride? No one? Really?

Anonymous VD September 24, 2012 5:28 AM  

Princess Bride? No one? Really?

I didn't find it to be funny at all. In general, I don't find Billy Crystal, Mel Brooks, or Gene Wilder to be amusing. I remember watching Princess Bride with a girl who loved it and being somewhat bewildered at the parts she obviously found hysterical. This review pretty much sums up my opinion of it:

The tone falls disconcertingly between straight action adventure and anachronistic Jewish spoof; the leads are vacuous; the absurdities sometimes forced and obvious.

I think there is a clear divide between people who enjoy Jewish humor and people who don't. I don't. For example, I thought Seinfeld was an incredibly tedious show and don't know if I ever managed to sit through an entire episode of it.

I don't think its fair to label the comedy as "overdone" when it had never been done before this movie.

I agree in that sense of the word. But the movie's form of humor is very ham-fisted and could reasonably be described as "overdone" in the sense of being "overcooked".

Doesn't like Young Frankenstein, eh?

Not in the slightest. If you notice, on my list, there is a complete absence of parody movies that are primarily based on previous movie tropes. I don't find movies like Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, or Scary Movie to be funny, as I find little humor in predictable references to the movie to which we already knew it was referring.

I do think Gene Wilder would have made a very good dramatic actor, though. I always found him much more sinister than funny.

Anonymous VD September 24, 2012 5:34 AM  

I should also mention that I thought Enchanted was a much better movie than Princess Bride. And funnier as well.

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 24, 2012 7:48 AM  

"I don't find movies like Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, or Scary Movie to be funny, as I find little humor in predictable references"

That's a perfectly fair polestar for mapping one's own taste; I don't share it completely, but I think it's reasonable.

I would add, though, that the peculiar genius of Mel Brooks at his finest (really only in about four or five movies, plus Get Smart) is not in the parts where he makes overt references and parody citations, but in the places where the parody framework comes completely untethered, and the whole bizarre contraption accidentally floats off into the stratosphere. Unlike straight-up parody like Scary Movie, which isn't all that funny it's just product, the greatest Mel Brooks moments are weirdly weightless, and usually have very little to do with the source material...

"He vas my... BOYFRIEND!!"
"(shrugs) She's a bass."
"It is now my honor to present the laurel, and hearty handshake, to our new..."
"You'll be surprised, you're doing the French Mistake."
"Germans, go into, your dance."

That stuff is just too damn weird for a mere parodist to have cooked up.


Anonymous Rock Throwing Peasant September 24, 2012 9:22 AM  

I liked "The Jerk."

I think what fails in Airplane is that everyone is wacky. It's like what changed from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie to the later ones. The first one worked, because the one pirate was odd. The later movies failed, using all the same elements and characters, because everyone became part of the joke. Everyone had their moment of wackiness, making all of them less effective.

Anonymous Trey September 24, 2012 9:27 AM  

One of the things you have to remember about Airplane is that actors like Leslie Nielsen (who went on to do mostly comedy after that), Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, etc., were all known for straight, tough-guy roles. When the movie was released -- just after the time of the various Airport films it lampooned -- the impact of those actors playing comedy added to the humor of the film. So I'd suggest it was a lot funnier when released than audiences find it now.

Anonymous Viking September 24, 2012 9:47 AM  

If you liked "A Fish called Wanda" you will probably also like "Fierce Creatures."
Same cast, same kind of humor.

Anonymous Daniel September 24, 2012 10:11 AM  

Trey
...the impact of those actors playing comedy added to the humor of the film. So I'd suggest it was a lot funnier when released than audiences find it now.

Yes to this. I was pretty young when I saw Airplane!, but a few years before I had been bored to tears when my sisters hogged t.v. night to watch the original Airport, and I also recognized Stack and Bridges and Graves from war and spy movies and t.v. shows.

I instantly recognized a much older Commander J.J. Adams as Dr. Rumack, and that was like a kick in the head.

The overall effect was like watching Schindler's List played up with snappy puns. Robert Hays drinking problem was subversive, too: that just wasn't something you made fun of in my house growing up.

A movie that made fun of a plane crash was new to me back then. I don't think it was ever intended to be something that stood the test of time. Some of the jokes are golden, but a 20 minute highlight reel would certainly gather most of 'em.

The gay jokes wouldn't be made today: certainly not from the same perspective.

Blogger WATYF September 24, 2012 10:13 AM  

Vox already admitted he wasn't a fan of the "fatty fall down" genre, so that pretty much cuts out Farley's entire collection.

If it weren't for the fact that the vast majority of humor in Tommy Boy wasn't "fatty fall down", then you might have a point. Much like Airplane!, the bulk of the humor is found in the dialogue.

WATYF

Anonymous Daniel September 24, 2012 10:33 AM  

I do think Gene Wilder would have made a very good dramatic actor, though. I always found him much more sinister than funny.

I really hated Bonnie & Clyde, but Wilder's small part as the undertaker, although comedic, plus Willy Wonka's unsettling lunacy, and, finally his haunting bit as the Fox in the Little Prince (which I saw when I was very young and still think of as a horror movie), all prove your point: his best work was sinister and unsettling.

Anonymous John Regan September 24, 2012 10:38 AM  

I can't believe no one mentioned Ace Ventura Pet Detective and The Mask, Jim Carrey's early film forays.

Of course AV is a silly spoof, but unlike almost every other comedy movie it seems to sustain its humor at a good pace for the whole two hours. In both cases I think this has something to do with a meaningful [albeit absurd (AV) or fantastic (Mask)] plot, which I think a lot of comedy movies either neglect or lose track of while they try to get laughs.

Anonymous E. PERLINE September 24, 2012 11:10 AM  

When I was young I found a lot of things funny. As I grew from childhood, my tastes in humor changed. For example, "Airoplane" was populated by stupid characters. Now I find that to be "stupid" was too expensive a shortcoming. It can produce fatal results today.

Even when the Monty Python group was in its hayday I didn't think it was funny. They were comic actors (not natural comedians) who got by using amateur material. A lot of their humor was in puns. (Puns are not worth a damn in humorous writing.) They also must have spent a lot of rehearsal time talking in falsetto. They probably thought this would be hilarious to the public. Since the public was stuck in stupid, maybe it was.

The Gods Must be Crazy was more than a one-joke movie. The liberal creators must have thought the characters were the most darling aboriginals, as cute as a bug. I guess this misperception was before the massacres and the tortures and the kidnappings, etc.

The French consider themselves sophisticated in all things but their humor still embraces Jerry Lewis, doesn't it?

Anonymous ck September 24, 2012 11:24 AM  

Christian Slater's character in Heathers deserves serious consideration, being that it is the ultimate portrayal of a Sigma. It would be interesting to see Vox opine on the Slater character, particularly in Alpha Game.

Anonymous JP (real one) September 24, 2012 1:09 PM  

In addition to being overrated and not very funny, the Princess Bride pushed "true love"/white knight crap like almost no other movie.

My friend and I used to talk about the Raising Arizona/Princess Bride test: ask someone which movie was funnier, and you could tell a lot about the person.

As for most of the 90s comedies mentioned here (Ace Venture, There's Something About Mary, etc.), I can't believe anyone over 12 would find them funny.

Anonymous JP (real one) September 24, 2012 1:14 PM  

And I guess the non-interest in Jewish humor explains the lack of any Woody Allen movies. Not even What's Up Tiger Lilly?

Anonymous Fellow Traveler in Berkeley September 24, 2012 2:01 PM  

What?? No love yet for Trading Places?

Anonymous tiredofitall September 24, 2012 6:52 PM  

If it weren't for the fact that the vast majority of humor in Tommy Boy wasn't "fatty fall down", then you might have a point. Much like Airplane!, the bulk of the humor is found in the dialogue. - WATYF

Yeah, that's some quality dialogue.



Anonymous fin-tastic September 25, 2012 1:26 AM  

1. Spaceballs
2. Napoleon Dynamite
3. Swingers
4. Wedding Crashers
5. The Hangover
6. The 40 Year Old Virgin
7. Wayne’s World
8. Bridesmaids
9. The Breakfast Club
10. Hot Tub Time Machine (great movie to watch drinking with your bros)

Honorable mention: The Naked Gun movies, American Pie, Elf, Annie Hall, the Breakup, Zoolander

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 25, 2012 6:42 AM  

"My friend and I used to talk about the Raising Arizona/Princess Bride test: ask someone which movie was funnier, and you could tell a lot about the person."

What was it you thought you could tell about the person? What if they didn't think either one was funny?

fin-tastic: "1. Spaceballs... 10. Hot Tub Time Machine"

"Madman, that is meager eating."
-- St. Ronan the Cleric to Mad King Sweeney

Anonymous JP (real one) September 25, 2012 10:45 AM  

Though it's not technically a comedy, Pulp Fiction is up there as far as dialogue goes--some really humorous and off-the-wall conversations throughout the flick.

I never watched anything Tarantino did after that. I figured his schtick worked really well for a few movies, but would soon get repetitive.

Blogger Galt-in-Da-Box September 26, 2012 12:04 PM  

Funniest movies I ever saw:
Monty Python & the quest for the Holy Grail
Big Lebowsk
Office Space
City Slickers
Blazing Saddles & History Of the World
Beavis & Butt-Head Do America

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