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listomatic: funny movies and why you suck

I hate snobs. Is that snobby of me?

What I mean is I hate culture snobs. Yes, I've already written about this before, but sometimes something irks me enough to dredge it up again.

I get it that you don't like Family Guy. You think it's stupid. Immoral. Politically wrong. Idiotic. Whatever. But that does not make the people who like the show less intelligent than you. It doesn't make you somehow smarter to say things like "Oh, my. Your taste in television sure is stupid. Pardon me while I go watch Everybody Loves Raymond." Are you really so smug in your superiority that you judge a person's intellect or worth by their sense of humor?

I never liked I Love Lucy or The Three Stooges. But I don't look down my nose at the people who do, because I realize that humor is a subjective thing. Unlike, say, music, where your taste in such can come about because of life instances (you know, that music speaks to me!) or other genres of entertainment, where a taste for something is acquired rather than just..there. I believe (and of course, your mileage may vary) that your particular sense of humor - what you find funny - is something you are born with, like a distaste for spinach or an ability to draw. Sure, it can be nurtured - my father loved puns and one liners and peppered us with them when we were little, which made our enthusiasm for such jokes grow. But a person who doesn't like puns (like my mother, for instance) would never find them funny. No amount of cajoling can tickle someone's funny bone if the inherent sense of humor needed for that type of joke just isn't there.

Mocking people for their sense of humor - or looking down at them as if they were a species below you - is nothing more than cultural elitism. It's snobbery. It's like people who think that owning all the records on the High Fidelity soundtrack make them somehow hipper, cooler, more beautiful and smarter than you, or who think that devouring everything Dave Eggers writes make them a better all around person.

Stephen King? How pedestrian Oh my god, there's an Adam Sandler movie on your shelf, we must break up immediately! Oh, if only she had loved Bright Eyes the way I do, I wouldn't have had to kill her. Etcetera.

I mean, I'm not coming after you with a searing email because you didn't once laugh at the same show I did. And while I may have posted that I didn't find last night's Simpsons funny, I don't think you're an idiot if you did. In fact, I envy you. I wanted to laugh. Why must you attempt to suck the joy out of other people's lives by telling them that things that bring them joy suck?

You're not a better person for having not laughed at Family Guy and you're not smarter or healthier or prettier because you make fun of those who do laugh at such shows. In fact, it kind of makes you a jackass.

As an aside, I have to say that since I stopped political blogging, the quantity of negative emails have done down, but the quality has not change one bit, in much the same way some people think the quality of things have gone downhill here since that magical moment in my blogging timeline.

On that note, and keeping with the topic at hand (and because I love making lists), my all time favorite comedy movies, a list which may or may not prove me to be stupid, shallow, inane, juvenile, a cretin, a jerk or a LOSER (make "L" with fingers placed on forehead here) or may explain why I think an unexpected, yet playful, string of profanities on talk radio and a silly little prank type thing is funny but some people don't, to the extent that they act like someone pissed in their bath water. But that's just me. I think pissing in bathwater is hysterical.

  • Big Lebowski
  • Airplane
  • The Jerk
  • This is Spinal Tap
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
  • Raising Arizona
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
  • Office Space
  • Monty Python/Grail
  • Pee Wee's Big Adventure
  • Orgazmo
  • Mallrats
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Nothing to Lose
  • History of the World Part I
  • Life of Brian
  • Friday
  • The Muppet Movie
  • Up in Smoke
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • Fear of a Black Hat
  • Slapshot
  • Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
  • Quick Change
  • Army of Darkness
  • Christmas Vacation

Ok, that's all off the top of my head. I'm sure I left quite a few out, but the absence of any Woody Allen movies is not by accident, I assure you. Not my cup of tea. Neither is Adam Sandler, though I might update the list to include Happy Gilmore.

[Note, there are some movies which, although they are comedies by nature, would go on my "most enjoyable movies" list, though not on the funniest list, i.e, Clerks, Sixteen Candles, Trading Places, Groundhog Day]

Word of the day: SUBJECTIVE.


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Over at A Small Victory, Michele [Read More]


Pardon me while I go watch Everybody Loves Raymond.

Sums it up perfectly right there. Personally, I always feel like a clod that I don't get Family Guy. I can't imagine picking on someone for liking it when I could just as easily pick on myself for not liking it.

And no one better hate on you for including the first Muppet Movie on your list, or I'll sing "The Rainbow Connection" just as poorly and loudly as I can at them until they shut up.

Chicks don't seem to dig the three stooges. It's a fact of life.

Your list mirrors what mine would be, except I would Add A Shot in the Dark in place of Pee Wee. I KNOW what they were trying to do, it just didn't tickle my funnybone.

Subjective is the best way to describe it. My wife and I simply do not find the same things funny. I loved Waynes World and Napolean Dynamite - she thought both of them were just plain dumb. And we won't even talk about Harold and Kumar go to White Castle.


for a second there, I got the Everybody Loves Raymond visuals when I read the line about greased up naked guy.

I think I need to just calm the frack down.

Great List!

The dueling scene in Quick Change is about the funniest damn thing I have ever seen.

Good list! I would probably move onto it, Clerks, The Great Race and The Ladykillers.

True sad fact: Chicks just don't get the Stooges.

Oh and don't forget Caddyshack - comedy classic.

While you were watching that low-brow show "Family Guy" the rest of us cultured people were watching the poignant, yet heart-warming, "Riding the Bus with My Sister"... and reading Ace and others tear it apart.

I just could not bring myself to watch that. The commercials were bad enough. Maybe I should do a post on the worst movies about retarded people.

Both Sheila and Ace live blogged the Rosie movie.

2 more:
-Python/Life of Brian
-Dumb and Dumber...the hot pepper scene always leaves me unable to breathe...


oops, just saw Brian on there already.


I think your list is spot on Michele except that I would add There's Something About Mary and Raising Arizona.

Raising Arizona is sixth ont he list, jwl.

Something About Mary was...ok. I really don't like Ben Stiller and that colors my opinion of every movie he's in.

Hey Lois, remember that time I forgot how to sit down?


Exactly. It's the absurdity of the scenarios that make it so funny.

"Christians don't believe in gravity."

Only fifteen days until the Team America: World Police release.

Dumb and Dumber...the hot pepper scene always leaves me unable to breathe...

That happened to me last week when I saw Kung Fu Hustle. There's a chase scene straight from Looney Tunes that had me LOL to the infinite degree.

It never makes sense to argue or pontificate about something that affects someone as viscerally as humor. Exactly what response would you expect from that? 'Upon carefully carefully considering your argument and assessing all of your points, I must say "BWAHAHAHAHAH!!!" That Raymond fellow truly is the shit.'

As a connoisseur of fine comedy, I find your omission of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back to be most disheartening. /tongue-in-cheek

Now come on. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was comdey gold!!! Though not as funny as Dogma and still below Mallrats.

I liked 10 of the films on the list. I am wracking my mind to think what I would add...

I'm not going to comment on your list (which is the whole point, after all, that humor is subjective). What's more interesting to me is that 70% of the movies were released between 1975 and 1995. That twenty year period is slightly less than half your life. I suspect that most of us are the same - the things we thought were funny before we were teenagers don't last, and once we get past a certain age, things the youngsters think are funny don't do it for us anymore. Then again, maybe it's a function of the list being off the top of your head or a deterioration in comedy lately, and in either event I'm talking out my ass.

God, I hated Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

Kevin Smith movies by ranking, in order of genius to dreck.

Chasing Amy
Jay and Silent Bob
(didn't see Jersey Girl)

You have a point, Fred. Some of the movies from my youth that I thought were hysterical (Kentucky Fried Movie, for instance) haven't held up. And some of the more recent funny movies, I found more on the "enjoyable" list than laugh out loud funny, like Napoleon Dynamite.

For what it's worth, the Woody Allen movies from about Annie Hall on - i.e., the 20 or so times he's re-made the same movie - are really more entertaining than funny anyway. I enjoyed them - not thatI have the most elevated taste myself - but they're definitely not everyone's thing. Whereas the pre-1977 Woody movies are more like Mel Brooks/Peter Sellers-style slapstick and have a lot more in common with the rest of your list.

BTW, I always thought Everybody Loves Raymond was a classic example of a show TV snobs looked down on, along with the whole rest of the family-sitcom genre.

My two cents: one of the funniest movies of recent years was "Bowfinger." One of the few I can really remember laughing out loud at.

I guess I was poking fun at people claiming to have highbrow humor because they don't watch Family Guy and then praising Everybody Loves Raymond.

But what do I know? I thought Nothing to Lose was hysterical. People have disowned me for less.

MIchele: I recently ran my own comedy tournament of 32 films representing 32 different comedy "conferences". The Final Four ended up with The Life of Brian, Dr. Strangelove, Duck Soup, and Raising Arizona. Dr. Strangelove vs. Duck Soup in the finals, and Dr. Strangelove the eventual winner.

I'm not sure whether it represents a triumph of snobbery over middlebrowism (other field-of-32 competitors included dumb fun like Caddyshack, Airplane!, Animal House Trading Places, and the South Park movie), but I think people respond to quality and depth of humor as well.

Excellent list, but it'asmissing some classics from theold days:

1) The Philadelphia Story

2) Bringing Up Baby

3) My Gal Friday

4) Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

OK, so I'm a huge Cary Grant fan...

Good choices - some that may be worthy of consideration:

Top Secret! - Val Kilmer's Best.Role.Since.Real.Genius

Real Genius - Val Kilmer's Best.Role.Ever

Rustler's Rhapsody - Funny amusing, not funny slapstick .... Bonus - as part of a Tom Berenger FilmFest, you can't beat a lineup of : Platoon, The Substitute II, Sniper, then Rustler's Rhapsody.

Submitted for your consideration: The Wrong Box. Not out on DVD, but one of the funniest movies ever made.
And if you're willing to consider older films that stand up well, almost any Marx Bros., but especially A Night at the Opera.

I'd throw Spaceballs onto the list as well.

Slightly off topic but since someone brought up Kevin Smith.

He's got a review of Revenge of the sith up on his site, complete with spoilers. I was already stoked about the movie and hoping that it was going to be good, and after reading his review (i know, i know he got married at Lucas's ranch, there must be something going on there)I want to see it even more.

I might even go opening night (oh the Horror)

btw I don't think anyone saw Jersey Girl but have you ever seen JSBSB on Weed! (my way of suggesting Half Baked)

If you can't laugh when a character is hanging from the nostril of a president on Mount Rushmore saying, "Look, I'm a booger," you can't laugh at anything.

Excellent list, by my taste.

A few others I'd throw out for consideration, off the top of my head:

Ruthless People
The War Of The Roses

Let he who is with out sin... kick the first ass!

A Compendium Of Quotations (please delete if the length is annoying, I just needed some escapism today):

The Big Lebowski- No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of.
Airplane- Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?
The Jerk- First I get my name in the phone book and now I'm on your ass. You know, I'll bet more people see that than the phone book.
This is Spinal Tap- In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, an ancient race of people... the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut- Ok, now let's try to get an answer from someone who's not a complete retard... anyone?
Raising Arizona- Say that reminds me, how'd you get that kid so darn fast? Me and Dot went in to adopt on account a' somethin' went wrong with my semen, and they said we had to wait five years for a healthy white baby. I said, "Healthy white baby? Five years? What else you got?" Said they got two Koreans and a negra born with his heart on the outside. It's a crazy world.
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World- Where did you get that funny accent? Are you from Harvard or something?
Office Space- No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man.
Monty Python/Grail- This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheeps' bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.
Pee Wee's Big Adventure- Nobody hipped me to that, dude.
Orgazmo- How would Christ benefit from me putting my tongue in someone's mouth?
Mallrats- It's impossible, Lois could never have Superman's baby. Do you think her fallopian tubes could handle the sperm? I guarantee you he blows a load like a shotgun right through her back.
Young Frankenstein- Well this explains the music.
Blazing Saddles- Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, but it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age
Nothing to Lose- The 'freeze motherfucker' part was scary and he led me to believe that if I moved my ass, it might be blown off.
History of the World Part I- She's right! We all talk like Maurice Chevalier!
Life of Brian- How shall we fuck off, O Lord?
Friday- I grab a dog. I choke him and I kick the shit out of him. All day long got my foot up a dog's ass. Just bang, bang, bang up his ass. That's my pleasure.
The Muppet Movie- I am the owner.
Up in Smoke- Uh, I wonder what Great Dane tastes like, man.
A Fish Called Wanda- You are the vulgarian, you fuck.
Fear of a Black Hat- He gonna knock Kriss Kross out the box, cuz he's gonna be upside down!
Slapshot- That man traveled fifteen hours by bus to say that?
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure- You killed Ted, you medieval dickweed!
Quick Change- We're all gonna die! We're all gonna die!
Army of Darkness- Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun.
Christmas Vacation- I had to have it replaced, because every time Cathrine revved up the microwave, I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for about a half-hour or so.

I will add from Nothing to Lose: PLEASE DON'T KILL ME FREAKY JASON!

Nothing to Lose would definitely make an underrated list. And thanks for reminding me of Quick Change, I need to go rent that again (he's gone off the deep end in real life, but I think Randy Quaid deserves a lifetime achievement award).

Humor translates very poorly across cultural boundaries. That includes from one country to the next (you should see what they think is funny in Singapore, for example), but also across the years as we change personally.

Certain types of people also subordinate humor to some other aspect of their worldview, most often politics or their need for personal validation at the expense of someone else. Unfortunately, there's no law saying they can't get on the Internet, and the anonymity provided by that medium emboldens them to tell us what they really think.

I count myself lucky that I like to laugh, and that most of the things I enjoyed laughing at when I was a kid are still funny to me. I've just layered the new stuff on top. For example, The Great Race (mentioned by someone else further up) and Young Frankenstein have been favorites ever since the first time I saw them, while Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (another movie mentioned in this thread) only got added to the list relatively recently.

And now, I can't resist mentioning a couple of my own favorites that aren't already on the list. Best In Show (because I love dogs) is up there with This Is Spinal Tap, and Halleliujah Trail comes from the same era as The Great Race. I also don't have much use for Woody Allen, but his movie Small Time Crooks, with Tracy Ullman, was pretty funny.

The dueling scene in Quick Change is about the funniest damn thing I have ever seen.

It's bad luck just seeing a thing like that!!!

Flores por los muertos!

No, that can't be our plane. If it were our plane, it'd be crashing.

For my part I would have to add "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "Animal House".


"Mother pus-bucket!"

I've actually incorporated that into my cursing repetoire.

And Michele, your list kicks ass. Reason 2,242 I kept coming here after the Great Political Divestiture of 2004. :)

You've already got Spinal Tap on your list - I'd add Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, and A Mighty Wind.

These movies are a perfect embodiment of wit and subtle humor, made all the more enjoyable when you realize that they are completely ad-libbed. The plots and characters are outlined, but no dialogue is scripted. Christopher Guest just let the cameras run and would end up with sometimes 80 hours' worth of film which he would have to edit down to a watchable movie. I'd love to see the out-takes.

I read recently that Guest said he is through making 'mockumentaries'; he just doesn't find them funny any more, and that was his reason for making movies - to entertain himself as much as anyone else. I have to respect that, but....boy - I wish he'd change his mind.

The Princess Bride and Monty Python-Grail...all time favorites

I have a soft spot in my heart for Ed and His Dead Mother, with Steve Buscemi and Ned Beatty.

Sorry Michele. Clearly, I need to fix my reading skills because I did actually read your list before I posted. What is most embarrissing is that I have lost count the number of times I thought someone was a twat for doing what I did. Too bad about the Ben Stiller loathing. I am indifferent to most of his work but I thought he was brilliant in Mary.

Great list Michele, I was going to say that Spaceballs needed to be on the list but No One of Consequence beat me to it. Although I can't believe Tommy Boy didn't make the list...one of the greatest comedies ever!!! Also, I can't recall whether any of the Naked Gun movies were up there, those-along with the original Police Squad episodes-were as brilliant as Airplane for sure.

I am happily surprised someone else rememebers "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World". What a collection of some of the greats of the comedy world. And as mentioned earlier, The Marx Brothers ("Duck Soup, Night At The Opera, Day At The Races")were able to not only hit the slapstick buttons, but Groucho's verbiage is golden.

Your mileage may vary, but I find it interesting there are more movies on your list which I find funny (some very funny) then not.