There really hasn’t been a lot to laugh about the last year or so. The planet has been ravaged by a deadly pandemic because a random Chinaman decided to eat a tasty bat. Millions of stupid Americans think that Donald Trump actually won the election and that America needs a king, not a democracy. A rabble of loons decided that it was a good idea to try to sack the legislative body of the most powerful nation on Earth and are surprised that they are being arrested and sent to prison for this little bit of mischief.
Over 500,000 Americans are dead because the former Idiot In Chief refused to recognize the pandemic because he thought it would “make him look bad politically”. Worst of all, tens of thousands of businesses have been impacted or closed, and this includes our beloved movie theaters. Therefore, here at Ruthless, we have been dusting off our DVDs and watching some of our favorite comedies.
Getting this list down to just 10 movies is a thankless task and there will be a lot of second guessing as I’m leaving some great movies off of the list. So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 Ruthless Comedies, in no particular order.
The Life Of Brian came out a few years after the Holy Grail masterpiece, and to no great surprise, it was not well received by viewers or critics. Many, especially the religiously impaired, could not look past the blistering blasphemy and recognize what a wonderful work of craft this film was. The obvious satire of the life of Jesus was just icing on the cake of an expertly written and delivered, naughty school-boy humor film.
There are too many memorable scenes to list them all, but the ‘Biggus Dickus’ sketch has to be the most gut-busting few minutes of hilarity ever put up on the screen. Michael Palin (Pontius Pilate) had a real struggle staying in character as he trolled and taunted his palace guards with his lisping tirade about Biggus Dickus. It was just too funny for words, and must be seen to be totally appreciated.
This is it, this is the one, the funniest comedy ever made. This great film is a low-budget masterpiece, a comedy that is outrageously original and hopelessly hilarious. Move over Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove as these six Python actors played no less than 36 parts. Every single line uttered is devastating archery, from the unladen swallows to the final assault on the elusive castle.
The jokes are endless, rapier-sharp, and never to be forgotten. The dialogue is so crisp and grin-inducing that you need to “Go get a glass of water”, because it leaves you breathless. Every line is unique, memorable and quotable. There will never, ever be another movie like this one, and thank Goat for this masterpiece.
Airplane! is surely (don’t call me that!) one of the greatest works of movie comedy ever made. From the beginning announcement of the “Red Zone and White Zone” overhead proclamations to the ending disembarkation off of the traumatized plane, every scene and every line is hilarious. “Give me Ham on 5 and hold the Mayo” is just one outrageous pun of many that glorify this wonderful movie. Sure, the gags are predictably corny and sometimes hackneyed, but what a face-busting movie this is.
Airplane! is the ultimate spoof movie, bringing to an end a decade of disaster movies that we were plagued with in the 1970’s. The parodies, puns and one-liners elevate Airplane to the top tier of silly, laugh-out-loud movies with memorable quotes and gags that never grow old.
Young Frankenstein, a comedy gem by Mel Brooks was a comedy spoof of the horror classics Frankenstein, and The Bride of Frankenstein, that in my opinion is only eclipsed in excellence by one other comedy that I can think of. It is hard to imagine that this movie is 40 years old, but it passed that milestone this week. It is no accident that my own personal Top 10 comedy movies of all time include 2 Mel Brooks films and 3 British ones. I can only ontologically perceive of one film that is a greater comedy than Young Frankenstein, and that is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and that movie *IS* the holy grail of all comedies.
How can we mention Young Frankenstein and not mention Mel Brooks in his prime, as he certainly nailed it with both Blazing Saddles and this face-splitting comedy with 106minutes of joy. Gene Wilder, who helped write this film was great as the hysterical Doctor, but what made this hilarious film so great was the supporting cast, they have no peer in comedy cinema. There were seven, count ’em, seven great supporting actors and actresses in this film. With the tremendously effective acting was the use of stunning black and white filming and the original sets from the Frankenstein classics. The result was a comedic masterpiece.
The Blues Brothers was no mere hybrid, but a kaleidoscope: a crazy mixture of a comedy, musical, action movie, urban documentary and love story that worked so well that it should be one of the all time favorites of anyone who loves cinema. The plot by Landis was simple: Jake is released from prison and reunited with his brother Elwood. After visiting the Orphanage where they were raised and learning of a looming tax lien, they visit a Baptist Church, experience redemption and inspiration to reform their band, raise the money to pay the taxes, and save the Orphanage.
During their quest, the felonies and sheet metal damages pile up as Jake and Elwood dodge the authorities, Illinois Nazis and a jilted lover. All of this occurs between numerous musical and dance numbers that are without peer. In addition to having killer music, this movie is also drop-dead hilarious in the spirit of another comedy classic, Animal House. How was it possible for two milquetoast white guys from SNL to bring The Blues alive? They did it, and boy how did they do it.
I’m still waiting on the DVD to review this one, even though I’ve seen it numerous times already. Like Animal House, Blazing Saddles is a movie that would never get off the ground in today’s sensitive world. This movie is relentlessly vulgar, distasteful, racist, irreverent and just a joy to watch. What Mel Brooks got away with in this film is amazing and I love him for it.
Animal House is a movie that was not taken seriously when it was made. The expectations were low, and Donald Sutherland, the one big star, (Kevin Bacon’s first movie!) took a paltry lump-sum of $30,000 for his role in the movie. No university or college would let them shoot the movie at their campus until the University of Oregon gave them a break after someone read the script and thought it was hilarious. The movie was made and the rest is history.
Of course, a film like Animal House could never be made today. Animal House is rude, vulgar, violent (that poor horse), sexist and racist, and hardly a role model for a serious college student. This was a time when tuition and beer were cheap (3 qts. of Old Milwaukee Beer for $1 at Walgreens), fraternities were white and the girls still wore girdles and garter belts. The movie has not aged as well as other coming of age movies, but it is still side-splitting hilarious.
Withnail & I is in my personal Top 5 movies of all time for re-watchablity and scathing dialogue. Armed with this splendid script, Richard E. Grant executes a tour de force as a relentlessly angry-at-the-world unemployed actor and raging alcoholic. He and his sidekick in misery, “I” (Marwood), played by Paul McGann, form a blistering tandem that scour the countryside, just looking for some peace of mind.
The acting and word-smithing in Withnail & I is just stunning. The British dry humor has seldom been better and this is only Richard E. Grant’s second film, but clearly his masterpiece. What is so amazing is that Grant portrayed a drunk, and Grant is a tee-totaleer. He never, ever broke character. This is a film that requires multiple viewings to appreciate, but it is well worth it. The film is a comedy, but has a sort of tragic sadness to it.
The Coen Brothers, Ethan and Joel have for some time been among the GODS of directors and writers, and for good reason. The Brothers Coen are legendary for attention to detail in their movies, with gorgeous sets and cinematography.
Their visual style and the development of their stable of actors and movie characters stands alone in modern day cinema. Within their resume of delicious movies, there is one standout in character development, both major and obscure, and that movie is The Big Lewbowski. Within the magnificent performances, including another tour de force by John Goodman, we have one that towers above the rest…The Dude, an icon created and owned by one Jeff Bridges.
While Leslie Neilson was a hilarious supporting actor in the great comedy Airplane, he is the front and center star of the even more outrageously silly gut-buster, The Naked Gun.
Even following the great Airplane, The Naked Gun is unique with its inane slapstick. Yes, other movies have car chase scenes, but with a Student Driver accompanied by the great and totally unflappable John Houseman?
The cast of characters and cameos are stunning, and nowhere is this more evident and enjoyable than in one of the greatest movie sports scenes, the baseball game between the Angels and the Seattle Mariners. In the broadcast booth alone, we have no less than Curt Goudey, Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, Jesse Ventura, Dr. Brothers, Mel Allen, Jim Palmer and Dick Engberg. Their deadpan was exquisite.
HONORABLE MENTION: [EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to much angst, criticism, threats of physical violence and even vulgar graffiti in the Break Room at Ruthless Towers, I have been coerced to include more movies that didn’t make the Top 10.]
- Best In Show
- My Cousin Vinny
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
- Bad Santa
- Major League
- The Odd Couple
- The Producers
- The Pink Panther
Yes, I realize that I left off a lot of funny movies, so if you are still not satisfied, then I invite you to write your own damn list and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.