The same formula doesn’t work for everyone; comedy is very personal. “Dumb and Dumber”, for instance, makes my son laugh till his stomach hurts, but there is something about it (mainly Jim Carrey) that I find incredibly annoying.
Here’s a look at the top five movies that make me laugh like no other. It’s also a follow-up piece and completes an interesting top ten that began on Wednesday, with the five movies that always make me cry. They go nicely together, don’t you think?
5. Young Frankenstein (1974) – The incredibly silly monster spoof from Mel Brooks has an all-star cast with some of comedy’s best, including Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman and Peter Boyle. The movie is chock full of humor from start to finish, but my favorite scene is near the end and involves a very important confession from Leachman’s character Frau Blucher.
4. The Jerk (1979) – Steve Martin in his heyday starred in this funny movie. He also wrote the screenplay, which had him playing the adopted white son of African-American sharecroppers, who grows to adulthood unaware that he was adopted. Like “Young Frankenstein”, “The Jerk” has too many hilarious moments to count – “I’m picking out a thermos for you” and “I don’t need anything but this, and maybe this” come to mind – but my absolute favorite is when Martin’s character is working in a gas station and comes to a startling conclusion.
3. Airplane/The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1980 & 1988) – These slapstick comedies count as one on my list because they share the same literal humor, they were created by the same writers/producers, and both star the hilarious Leslie Nielsen. Airplane’s finest moment probably was the “You can tell me I’m a doctor” conversation with Nielsen and Peter Graves, while The Naked Gun’s moment came when Frank Drebin (Nielsen) impersonated an umpire at a baseball game in an effort to save the Queen of England, but was mistaken for someone else.
2. Fletch (1985) – Yes, Chevy Chase was once funny. Hilarious even. And in late 70s and early 80s, after being the first lured away from “Saturday Night Live” to pursue a movie career, he made a string of excellent comedies. In “Fletch”, Chase starred as undercover reporter Irwin Fletcher, who’d impersonate a cast of characters for his various assignments. Here’s a scene where he’s impersonating a doctor, and actually has to perform like one.
1. So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) – Surprised? This crazy Mike Meyers ditty may be my favorite comedy ever. How did I come to that conclusion? It’s purely scientific; it’s the one movie I can watch over and over, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, each time it is on. Mike Meyers is at his humorous best in his dual role as father and son, but so are the supporting players, Anthony LaPaglia, Alan Arkin, Nancy Travis, Amanda Plummer, and the surprising list of cameos by stand-up comedians. Here’s a scene were Charlie (Meyers) and Tony (LaPaglia) visit Alcatraz, and run into a very funny tour guide.
Selecting a top five in this category was more difficult than I anticipated. So I don’t leave out those that just missed by a smidgeon, here are five honorable mentions: I came very close to selecting scenes from “Animal House”, “Groundhog Day”, “The Pink Panther”, “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters”.