Friday, August 19, 2016


I love lists, which is why I'm going to comment on the otherwise forgettable "20 Best Comedy Movies Of All Time" at Splitsider.

Might as well put the titles in this post:

20. Office Space
19. Clueless
18. Rushmore
17. Anchorman
16. Wayne's World
15. Pee-wee's Big Adventure
14. Ghostbusters
13. Bringing Up Baby
12. The Great Dictator
11. Airplane!
10. The Jerk
9.   Raising Arizona
8.   This Is Spinal Tap
7.   Caddyshack
6.   Annie Hall
5.   Duck Soup
4.   Monty Python And The Holy Grail
3.   Some Like It Hot
2.   Dr. Strangelove
1.   Blazing Saddles

Some decent choices, but even bigger problems.  Rather than go over it film by film, let me give you my theory of comedy versus theirs.

There have been plenty of good comedies throughout the last century of cinema, but certain eras are better than others.  The best decades for comedy are the 1920s--when the great silent stars were at their peak--and the 1930s (and early 40s), when you had many of the best romantic comedies, often in the screwball genre, not to mention clowns like like the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and so on.

Whoever drew up this list, however, thinks the greatest comedies are, for the most part, films of the last generation or two--often poorly put together titles that people watch over and over for certain scenes, like Anchorman or Caddyshack.

Three out of four of their top twenty comedies came out since the 1970s.  More than half since the 1980s.  There's not a single title from the 1920s, and only two from the 1930s.  For that matter, there's one each from the 40s (The Great Dictator--why pick a Chaplin sound film when you've got his silents to choose from?), 50s and 60s.

Even among the more recent stuff, it's hard to understand why some made it while others--Tootsie, There's Something About Mary, even Wedding Crashers or The Hangover--didn't.

Really, it's a list best forgotten, so this will be the last time I ever talk about it.


Blogger New England Guy said...

A better title might be "A Millenial's Fave Funny Flics"

4:07 AM, August 19, 2016  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

And as the generations progress, the subjective choices of previous generations fade away. It's true in other realms too. In Music, where a top 100 list of songs would feature 15 Beatles tunes 20 years ago, now you might see 2 or 3. "Yesterday" will probably stay on such lists for another 50 years, but what else?

Theater seems a little more timeless. The great works of Shakespeare remain favorites century after century. Of course poetry suffers the most. There is no Millenial's list of top 10 poems.

5:29 AM, August 19, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DG wrote: There is no Millenial's list of top 10 poems.

Very true, but keep it in perspective. Fifty years ago, there was no list of top-ten tweets or top-ten internet memes. And who's to say that JLo's most profound tweet has any less value than "Othello"?

11:31 AM, August 19, 2016  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

I have always considered Caddyshack to be massively overrated, and this list is one more confirmation of that.

Not being much of a movie-watcher, I'm not remotely qualified to compile a list of this sort. But if we limit it merely to the 1970s and 1980s, there are plenty of movies that are funny all the way through (Beverly Hills Cop, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller), and many more that are funny for at least half the movie (Stripes). Caddyshack, as LG pointed out, merely has a few funny scenes.

11:35 AM, August 19, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Theatre's been around a lot longer than movies. We'll see (actually, we won't) what sticks around in the cinema. Most everything drops away--including in the theatre.

7:34 PM, August 21, 2016  
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