Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Groundhog Day vs 100

Recently I was talking to a friend and Groundhog Day came up. I think it's a well-done film, but he thinks it's the best comedy ever--perhaps the best film ever. There does seem to be quite a cult around this movie. (At least I like it--there are cults for films I can't stand.)

I said I could name 100 comedies better than Groundhog Day. He doubted it. Well, no one ever said LAGuy can't rise to a challenge. Here, off the top of my head, in no particular order (other than a vaguely chronological one) are the 100. Actually, there's a couple extra, in case I repeated myself:

The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, Our Hospitality, Sherlock Jr, The General, The Cameraman, Steamboat Bill Jr., Girl Shy, Safety Last, The Freshman, The Kid Brother, A Nous La Liberte, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, A Night At The Opera, It Happened One Night, My Man Godfrey, The Philadelphia Story, Trouble In Paradise, Destry Rides Again, Sons Of the Desert, The Thin Man, Pygmalion, Midnight, It's A Gift, Never Give A Sucker An Even Break, The Shop Around The Corner, Bringing Up Baby, The Awful Truth, The Major And The Minor, The Lady Eve, Hail The Conquering Hero, Sullivan's Travels, The Rules Of The Game, Ball Of Fire, To Be Or Not To Be, Road To Morocco, Arsenic And Old Lace, The Court Jester, Roman Holiday, Smiles Of A Summer Night, The Man In The White Suit, I'm All Right Jack, Dr. Strangelove, A Hard Day's Night, Some Like It Hot, The Fortune Cookie, The Graduate, Playtime, Paper Moon, The Producers, Diner, Monty Python And The Holy Grail, Life Of Brian, Take The Money And Run, Bananas, Sleeper, Love And Death, Annie Hall, The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie, M*A*S*H, The Bad News Bears, Airplane!, Broadcast News, The In-Laws, Slap Shot, The Kentucky Fried Movie, Splash, Tootsie, Heathers, Modern Romance, Lost In America, American Graffiti, Heaven Can Wait, Animal House, Local Hero, Ghostbusters, This Is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, Big, Being There, Arthur, Back To The Future, Dazed And Confused, Raising Arizona, Bull Durham, Life Is Sweet, Gremlins 2, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ruthless People, A Fish Called Wanda, Flirting With Disaster, There's Something About Mary, Dumb And Dumber, My Cousin Vinny, Waiting For Guffman, The Big Lebowski, Being John Malkovich, Toy Story.

25 Comments:

Blogger Yost said...

Splash? Gremlins...2?!

Stop drinking. Immediately. Seek help.

:)

10:36 PM, January 09, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Yost, I suppose these newfangled talkies are confusing to you.

Splash is a great romantic comedy--I'm not sure if Tom Hanks has ever topped it. (And John Candy is hilarious.)

Gremlins 2 is wonderful satire, full of gags. Check it out if you haven't seen it in a while.

Anyway, I listed 102 movies--just subtract those.

11:22 PM, January 09, 2007  
Blogger Jesse said...

As a longtime Chaplin-basher, I have to say you start out with your weakest material. I do like *Modern Times*, but not more than *Groundhog Day*. For that matter...*Splash*? *Tootsie*? *Dumb and Dumber*? Not that any of those are unpleasant to watch -- but better than *Groundhog Day*?

Then again, while I think *Groundhog Day* is a great movie, and I guess it's fair to classify it as a comedy, I'm not sure I'd call it a "great comedy." I mean, I didn't split my sides watching it. I probably laughed more during *Pulp Fiction*, which probably isn't on anyone's list of the great comedies.

I'd call *Groundhog Day* a great fantasy. The question for me isn't how it stacks up to *The General*, but how it stacks up to *It's a Wonderful Life*.

6:00 AM, January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Dave said...

I like Groundhog Day and most of the movies on thelist That I have seen(you'veobviously seen many more films). However, for a lot of the recent films (since 1985 say like Broadcast News), I would rate them as equivalent not better.

Also- I know your list was technically 100 comedies better than Groundhog Day not the best 100 ever but still I noticed a glaring omission- unless I missed it in the block of text, the greatest most subversive comedy of all time - Repo Man

7:15 AM, January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Todd said...

As I recall, the discussion came to a screeching halt when you finally, after MUCH prodding, blurted out "There's Something About Mary" as your first movie better than "Groundhog Day". In my mind, there was no need to continue. It was akin to someone telling me that "Battlefield Earth" was better than "Star Wars" - really, after that, what's the point in continuing?

However, you apparently DID continue, and in a big way. I must say, I'm am impressed (though a bit concerned) with your encyclopedically obsessive work ethic. And while there was much eye-rolling involved in re-entering this discussion, I did glance over your list.

Rather than attempt a point-by-point rebuttal (which would be impossible anyway as I've probably never seen half the movies on your list), let me summarize this way:

Take 1000 people.

Put half of them on a desert island with nothing but a TV, a DVD player, and a single copy of "The Bad News Bears".

Repeat for the other half, but strand them with "Groundhog Day".

Return after one month.

The results?

My half, the "Groundhog Day" half, will be hungry, tired, and in need of a power hose shower.

Your half will be dead.

All dead.

Having killed each other with their bare hands.

End of Discussion.

Todd

7:38 AM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

What's all this Splash hating? It's a delightful movie.

I obviously don't have to defend my Chaplin choices, but I'd like to note if forced to list my top five comedies, The Gold Rush would be in there.

I think Jesse has a point about Groundhog Day. While it definitely is a comedy, it's got a lot less laughs than, say, Kingpin or Top Secret!. (I actually considered putting Pulp Fiction on the list, but I didn't think I could shoehorn it in.) Ironically, in the same conversation with Todd (he's given away his name, no reason I should hide it), he also expressed displeasure with It's A Wonderful Life. For the record, I think IAWL is better than GD.

Dave, you're right, Repo Man certainly could have made the list. (Note I tried to avoid films made in the last few years. I wanted to make sure I'd had time to think about them.)

Todd, I'm sorry you don't recognize the brilliance that is There's Something About Mary.

Let me note, however, if I had to make a list of films you don't want when you're stuck on a desert island, every day the same as the last, #1 would be Groundhog Day. Don't get me wrong, I understand the metaphor of the film--how real change comes from inside--but it doesn't matter how much you change, you're still stuck on that island. (Bad News Bears, on the other hand, is about overcoming adversity and giving the finger to the rest of the world, even when you're beaten. That could come in handy.)

10:52 AM, January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My issue is the inclusion of "Stand By Me" - is that really a comedy?

Am I the last person to figure out that "Groundhog Day" is one of the best Buddhist movies ever made?

12:52 PM, January 10, 2007  
Anonymous John said...

Where's "Libeled Lady?" William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow each give great comedic performances in that one.

2:31 PM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The list is certainly not exhaustive. I know I could have mined the screwball era a bit more. At least you get Powell and Loy in The Thin Man--I could have included the first two sequels as well as Libeled Lady. And Dinner At Eight (which I guess you'd call a comedy) for Harlow alone.

(On the other hand, I'm not quite as enamored of Spencer Tracy's comedies, even though some are quite famous.)

3:50 PM, January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the real answer here is somewhere in the middle. That there are lots of comedies better than GD, but that LaGuy most likely undervalues it - in that it's at least as good as plenty of films on the list and not obviously "worse." The big issue has already been addressed in that it's tough to evaluate the success of some of these as "comedies" vs. "films." I believe there's a ton more belly laughs in "Kentucky Fried Movie" but it's quite tough for me to call it a better "film."

GD is really a tight script that delivers. It's essentially a Twilight Zone episode, but it doesn't struggle to fill up three acts the way that many TZ-esque pictures do. I do think the film has heart and the conclusion is both satisfying and earned.

As far as the arguments of the films on the list - The Bad News Bears, There's Something About Mary and Gremlins 2 are indeed classics - each brilliant in their own way. (It's a Wonderful Life as well even though it's not officially on the list) Splash, Dumb and Dumber and Tootsie seem difficult to justify for this list. I suppose Smiles of a Summer Night deserves to be there, but I do think its reputation is greatly inflated. I'm also not a big fan of The Thin Man or Arthur but can't deny their reputation. My Cousin Vinny also doesn't do much for me (wasn't that courtroom finale old when they did it on Happy Days?)

4:03 PM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

While I picked comedies I like (more than Groundhog Day), the list is also biased toward well-known films--my personal top 100 might be more idiosyncratic.

Anonymous, if you can't deny the reputation of Arthur or The Thin Man, then I'm stupefied that you think it's tough to justify Tootsie. Like it or not, it's widely acknowledged as a modern comedy classic. In the AFI list a few years ago of the top 100 comedies of all time, Tootsie was #2.

5:15 PM, January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Tootsie has a big reputation. I was merely getting to the movies discussed already on this thread (Jesse mentioned Tootsie) before venturing off into my opinions on the ones not yet discussed.

6:05 PM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger Tom and/or Maureen said...

As LAGuy said, there must be lots of others one could think of. For example, if you've got one Ealing film in there, why not "Kind Hearts and Coronets"?

9:14 PM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I like a lot of the Ealing comedies, and I put what I guess is my favorite on the list. Kind Hearts And Coronets (along with The Lavender Hill Mob) is perhaps the most often mentioned, but I think it's a bit overrated. It's fun to see Alec Guinness in all the roles, but they're mostly a bunch of cameos. The rest of the story is well done, but I'd prefer more Guinness.

10:02 PM, January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the motion for Bad News Bears.
How 'bout Little Miss Sunshine? It's in my top five now. I've never before watched any DVD w/overdub by the director. With Little Miss Sunshine, I watched the director overdub, and then again with producer overdub. Couldn't get enough.

2:54 PM, January 11, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Little Miss Sunshine certainly has a shot at the Oscars, but I intentionally didn't choose anything from the 21st century.

5:07 PM, January 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what about the greatest sports movie of all time, Slap Shot.

On the other hand, you get serious props for mentioning Kentucky Fried Movie



.

4:39 AM, January 12, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

What about Slap Shot? It's on the list, right before Kentucky Fried Movie.

4:55 AM, January 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein anybody!?!?!?!

11:00 AM, January 12, 2007  
Anonymous D W Griffiths said...

"I'd prefer more Guinness ..."

The Ladykillers.

Plus you get Danny Green: "I said - I said nobody was to do Mrs. Lopsided!"

3:24 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what about the greatest sports movie of all time, Slap Shot.

Wow, it ISright there. How'd I miss that? Does this mean that I'm now officially Middle Aged and in need of glasses?

6:11 AM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger DJ said...

It is indeed one of the best, and most accessible Buddhist-themed movies ever made. And one scene in particular elevated it into the pantheon. It's where Murray is trying to save the life of the homeless guy (after several previous lifetimes (daytimes) first ignoring him, then giving him money, then food). Compassion in action.

Another good one is "Blue" by Kieslowski. Freedom and interconnectedness, if not interbeing.

BTW, if "Blue" is Buddhist, and "Red" is Christian, what are we to make of "White"? Someone no doubt will figure it out, inshallah.

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