This list of the 150 funniest movies of all time from Ranker.com inspired me to put together a top list of my own. I’ll limit mine to 10.
10. Being There – My top ten reads like a slapstick movie fest, except for this little gem that entertains with its understated comedy. Peter Sellers may be best known for Pink Panther comedies, but his role in Being There outshines them all. Playing Chance, the gardener, whose simple expressions are mistaken for pure genius, earned Sellers an Oscar nomination.
9. O’ Brother Where Art Thou – From the many Coen Brothers movies out there, The Big Lebowski often gets the highest praise when it comes to comedy. It is one of their best, but nothing made me giggle more than the three ex cons in O’ Brother Where Art Thou. This tribute to Homer’s The Odyssey is a hoot and a half.
8. Stripes – Stripes plays out like one long funny Saturday Night Live sketch and marks the beginning of the movie relationship between Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. Murray playing the role of a lovable loser who joins the army after his girlfriend dumps him worked perfectly. He made quite a name for himself in silly comedies before he became a fine and serious actor.
7. The Jerk – There aren’t too many funnier roles than Steve Martin’s in The Jerk. The imbecile who was raised by poor black family in the south, yet didn’t know he was adopted, is a role Martin was born to play, and it is him at his early finest before he took the path to more serious roles like Bill Murray. And the script, which Martin also wrote, has so many quotable lines that I still use today.
6. Groundhog Day – Even though the same day was played over and over in his deliciously funny film, it’s one of the only movies I can watch over and over again without getting tired of it. Another terrific Bill Murray vehicle.
5. His Girl Friday – How can I list my favorite movies of any genre without including a Cary Grant film in the mix? He may have been funnier in Arsenic and Old Lace, but the overall script was more hilarious in His Girl Friday, and when you add in a marvelously funny Rosalind Russell, it’s way over the top good.
4. Young Frankenstein – Mel Brooks’ hilarious script and casting of Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Marty Feldman all blend together to make this movie a true comic classic. And let’s not forget Peter Boyle, who played the monster to perfection.
3. Fletch – Chevy Chase made some fine movies in the 70s before he suddenly wasn’t funny anymore. Fletch, the investigative reporter from Los Angeles was the funniest of all his movies by far. The characters he created while undercover were hilarious and the script, which was based on the series of novels by Gregory MacDonald was top-notch. Every time I think of Mr. Poon, I laugh out loud.
2. The Naked Gun – This Airplane motivated comedy was the first and funniest of all the Police Squad movies and even inspired a television series. Leslie Nelson, who apparently acted the same in his movies, delivers the role of Lt. Frank Drebin flawlessly. It was only in the 1980s that we found his performances funny.
1. Airplane! – This is the slapstick comedy that started it all. It was the parody of all parodies with the greatest one-liners of all time. And a deadpanned Leslie Nelson delivered most of them. Yes, I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.