We Need a Laugh: Top Ten Comedy Films
by Dennis Campbell
We are all in need of a laugh right now. As a community, as a nation and as individuals we are faced with something that hasn’t been seen since the turn of the twentieth century. Millions are left confined to their homes; thousands are sick and unfortunately there have been a few hundred deaths along the way. We go to movies for many reasons, but one of the biggest is for a distraction. Something to make us forget about the daily troubles we have. I can’t expect that this list will wash away all the fear or uncertainty you have right now, but if only for a few hours, perhaps one of these movies can make you forget and smile.
#10 Game Night (2018)
Of all the films on this list, this is the only one I was lucky enough to see in theaters. Although it is ranked all the way at the bottom, do not let that discourage you from checking it out. Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, this dark comedy tells the story of a group of friends who gather every week for a game night. The two leads of the film are Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, who play Max and Annie Davis. The action starts off rather quickly as the brother of Max, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), decides to stop by and starts an interactive mystery game where one person is kidnapped, and the remaining people have to find them. Only, Brooks is kidnapped for real and the others think it is just part of the game. What ensues is an often-hilarious ride where the protagonists are wildly outmatched but through their determination and support find a way to succeed.
#9 The Blues Brothers (1980)
If we’re going by films that mean the most to me, then this should be all the way at the top. Without question it is one of the finest musicals ever put to film and there are plenty of laughs along the way. To give you an idea how special this film is to me, just a few years ago I went as Jake Blues for Halloween. The film is a continuation of a popular Saturday Night Live skit that starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, two musicians who are on a mission from God to save an orphanage. At the start of the film we meet Jake as he is being released from prison, and while that may deter new viewers from liking him at first his transformation by the end of the film is one of the finer aspects of the movie. Without question though it is the music that stands the test of time. Featuring James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Cab Calloway the film gushes talent and every song will have you tapping your foot or singing along.
#8 Blazing Saddles (1974)
There could have been any number of Mel Brooks movies on this list. I debated, ‘Young Frankenstein,’ or ‘The History of the World, Part I,’ but in the end I settled with what I feel is his funniest movie. Starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder as Sheriff Bart and Jim ‘The Waco Kid’ the two form a duo that lead to many laughs in the film. Overall the movie is about a corrupt politician who tries to ruin the town of Rock Ridge by appointing an African American sheriff, as he feels the town would be outraged and leave in protest. It turns out that Sheriff Bart is good at his job and becomes an advisory to the people trying to ruin the town. As with most Mel Brooks films, this movie pushes the envelope constantly between what is offensive and what is funny. Almost always it is the latter. Nominated for three Oscars and being selected as the sixth funniest movie by the American Film Institute, this is one you cannot afford to miss.
#7 Harold and Kumar go to White Castle (2004)
We’ll run into this again later in the list, but this is an example of a movie getting its premise right the first time, then botching it in later sequels. The first of three movies starring John Cho and Karl Penn as the titular duo, they are twenty something stoners who get the munchies one night and decide to go to White Castle. However, what should be a simple journey ends up taking an entire day and involves everything from the pair having to perform surgery on a gunshot victim, to Neil Patrick Harris saving the day. It is a very simple movie that works wonders. Even though I don’t like White Castle, I always try to revisit the film one or twice a year.
#6 50 First Dates (2004)
To be very kind, Adam Sandler has a filmography of mixed reviews. His early work is generally well-thought of with his most recent works, especially, ‘Uncut Gems’ being praised. Between those two parts of his career though he managed to make some very bad films, so it is a breath of fresh air when a good movie pops up directly in the middle of that time frame. ‘50 First Dates’ tells the story of Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, Lucy and Henry. Lucy was in a car accident one day that left her with permanent brain damage. Her memory is such that she can only remember events leading up to the day of the accident. The thing is, she only meets Henry after the accident. Because of this he must win her love repeatedly, every single day. Most of the humor derives from Sandler failing, though underneath the comedy is a heartfelt story that will tug at your heartstrings.
#5 Beer League (2006)
This is the only raunchy film on the list. There are plenty of jokes in it that some might be turned off by, but for those who share the same sense of humor as its protagonist, Artie Lang, you’ll be in for a fun ride. Taking place in the sandlots of New York, the film follows a group of middle aged men who make up a softball team and are consistently one of the worst in their league. However, there is motivation to get better and defeat the favored team as Artie rallies everyone to overcome their shortcomings. While it is a hilarious film, it also works as a great underdog story. All throughout the film there are laughs, and the ending will leave you in stitches.
#4 Ted (2012)
There is really one main joke to this film, and that is that the stuffed teddy bear can talk and say offensive things. While that may seem to be a joke that gets old fast the movie uses the character Ted just enough to where his humor is not overdone. Set in Boston, the main characters are John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), Ted (Seth McFarlane) and John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). Now in his thirties, John is ready to move in with his girlfriend and leave his stuffed friend behind. Or that is what Lori hopes at least. As it turns out, John is too attached to Ted and he causes a rift between the two and John must choose between which life he wants. The life with his girlfriend or the one where he never grows up.
#3 Super Troopers (2001)
Much like, ‘Ted,’ ‘The Blues Brothers’ and ‘Harold and Kumar go to White Castle’ this is a film that nailed the premise the first time. What we have is a film about a highway patrol group of officers who are under the threat of being shut down by the state. Despite the very real threat of them not having a job the next day, the Broken Lizard Club (writers and directors) do their best to have fun. There are countless priceless moments in this film. Whether it is the officers disciplining a group of teenage stoners or playing jokes on one another, the laughter comes in waves that don’t seem to end. While the comedy is the main selling point to the film, there is a rather good love story between two different departments that helps culminate in the climax of the film. If we’re looking for what’s the funniest film on the list, and not just the most relatable, then this is it.
#2 Waiting… (2005)
Proof that this film is funny regardless of whether you are in the service industry or not comes from my experience with it. Before I was hired by the library I was shown this movie by my family one day and could not stop laughing. It tells the story of the staff of a restaurant called Shenaniganz. The staff is filled with colorful characters. From the wise dishwasher played by Chi McBride to the unstable chef played by Dane Cook. On a much smaller scale, the film follows the story of Dean (Justin Long) who has worked for the restaurant for four years. He has been in community college for that amount of time but still has not graduated. His co-workers share similar situations and often vent about the patrons they encounter, leading to much of the humor in the film. Dean does eventually find his place in the world, though it’s not where he initially thought it was. His growth is reason alone to watch the film.
TOP COMEDY FILM: Office Space (1999)
This movie is as high as it is for many of the same reasons as, ‘Waiting…’. For those who have ever held a job, this film will be for you. ‘Office Space’ captures the different characters in a work environment perfectly and satirizes everything about the mundaneness of work. The film follows Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) who is suffering from depression and is seeking the help of a therapist to deal with the struggles he faces at work. Much of the humor comes from making fun of what goes on in a work environment. There are the people who are overly enthusiastic and the boss who is supremely demanding without caring about their staff. If you have ever gone to work and heard the same thing more than twice about a project that was supposed to be done, then you’ll laugh cathartically at this film. What I said earlier about ‘Super Troopers’ being the funniest movie is correct, while this film strikes a chord the most. Not just for me, but for the large fan-base that turned this from a box office bomb to a cult classic. I’m sure you’ll love it too.
Until next time.
Dennis Campbell is a Circulation Clerk at the Willowick Library.
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