"Why so serious?"
September 3, 2017 4:49 AM   Subscribe

"... The Joker’s catchphrase was the most common response to BBC Culture’s poll of 177 critics last year to determine the 100 greatest films of the 21st Century. Very few comedies made that list, apart from Wes Anderson’s confections and a few Pixar romps. That canon of modern classics showed how very often ‘what makes us laugh’ is neglected when assessing cinematic greatness. [...] So this year BBC Culture decided to get serious about comedy. We asked 253 film critics – 118 women and 135 men – from 52 countries and six continents a simple: “What do you think are the 10 best comedies of all time?”" The result: The 100 greatest comedies of all time. posted by sapagan (131 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Young Frankenstein should definitely be higher on that list. And I'd personally put Holy Grail above Life of Brian.
posted by Fizz at 5:00 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


1. Borat
posted by superelastic at 5:05 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


This feels like one of those things where ballots (and not seeing the size of gaps) produce weird results. Like why is Ghostbusters so low but Groundhog Day so high? I like both movies and they are tonally different, but not like in different universes or anything.

Anyway, this list somehow managed to remind me that Ivan Reitman made something like eight straight bad movies and now I'm depressed.

I'd put Army of Darkness on here
posted by selfnoise at 5:36 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


I think comedy is really very culturally specific, and so tends to lose lustre over time as relevance fades, and it's aped better or more successfully.

Which makes me really applaud Dr Strangelove; it's still holds up super well as comedy (never understood the fuss about Some Like It Hot, it's perfectly cromulent, but there's no way I'd put it up as entertainment for someone not interested in film or the history of film). Duck Soup, too, has held up well in my opinion.

Never got Tati, found him too laboured to be whimsical.

I must say, I think some - many - of these are chosen by critics because they think they should be funny, rather than are actually genuinely funny to a viewer today... The flipside of course is stuff like The Hangover... I mean really? That's one of the hundred greatest comedies? (then again The Party is on there, which is basically The Hangover of its day)

There was a superlative comedy on the tip of my tongue that I scanned the list for, but by the time I got to the bottom I had forgotten what it was in my tsunami of opinion! (it wasn't on there). Disappointing to see not a single Asian film or filmmaker on there.
posted by smoke at 5:45 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


I remembered! Dirty Rotten Scoundrels! Come on!!
posted by smoke at 5:46 AM on September 3 [18 favorites]




Life of Brian is usually above Holy Grail on critics' lists. Its a coherent movie with cultural thematic messages. Holy Grail is a series of sketches with the same characters. While I think the first half hour or so of Holy Grail is the funniest thing ever filmed, it drags a bit after that and its not brilliant as a movie. It might top a list of funniest filmed media, including sketches and Youtube videos, though.

The one omission for me was Jackass. As far as I can tell its unique both cinematically and in the way it finds its laughs. Its one of the rare comedies that improved for me when viewed as an adult. Its so evocative of hysterical laughter, shock, dread, schatenfreude, and pity (e.g. the scene where Steve-O dejectedly explains that he turned down the toy-car-in-ass bit because he would be ashamed to tell his parents) that my original objections to it (juvenile, cheap laughs, gross out humor) were swept away.

I haven't seen Some Like It Hot or Playtime and I turned off Annie Hall after 20 minutes, so I probably can't judge the list as a whole.
posted by Hume at 6:01 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Wolfdog: "Clouseau interrogates the staff"

"Not anymore" has been a catchphrase in a family ever since that movie.
posted by octothorpe at 6:04 AM on September 3 [9 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought Pulp Fiction was a comedy.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:04 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


Someone wrote a book not long ago called 'The Wisdom of Crowds.' If I understand it correctly, the idea is that if you poll a group on, say, the oscars, that the groups results will more accurate than any of the single voter.

Lately I've been thinking that this doesn't work for 'actual value.' The last few years I've been studying the NHL draft, because who doesn't? For at least 20 years, the NHL has hired a bunch of scouts called Central Scouting to do a consensus valuation on undrafted (mostly 17 year old) hockey players. If you use Central Scouting to draft, you would have, likely, the worst team ever. I've spend some time thinking about this, because who doesn't? and have decided that consensus voting works the opposite for 'actual value,' than it does for 'opinion,' like the oscars. That, say, smoke's list would be much better than asking 257 film critics the best comedies in film history, and would only get worse by adding my opinion to smoke's, then a third to create a consensus.
posted by rakish_yet_centered at 6:20 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


I'll have to check out some of the older movies on this list. I think Some Like It Hot didn't really age that well, at least to my jaded brain. The Party was pretty good.

I also don't think King of Comedy was really a comedy, although it was about comedians. But I guess if you can call Pulp Fiction a comedy...

(And I was going to hold my tongue about omissions, but Zoolander is on that list. It made me wanna hurl, I got knocked the fuck out, and I'm not even supposed to be here today, even though I'm the Sausage King of Chicago.)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:31 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


What's the average age of the pollee's here? 94 and dead? I'm shocked that movie critics are apparently still on board with MASH, a movie I find to be irredeemably cruel and not particularly funny. Also no Kiss Kiss Bang Bang?
posted by cyphill at 6:50 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


Does Team America have more going for it than I remember?
posted by dismas at 6:51 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


I've seen 54 of these but pretty heavily weighted toward the older ones. At some point in the '90s most film comedy just went past me; I've never found the humor in stuff like The Hangover or anything that Judd Apatow has done.
posted by octothorpe at 6:57 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


I agree that Jackass is an omission. It is one of the best explorations of body humor that I have ever seen. It is practically Rabelaisian. And the toy car scene is amazing- the deadpan from the radiologist: "Never tell anyone about this. I know and he knows. That is already too many people."

I think the only reason The Life of Brian ranked higher than The Holy Grail is that British film critics of a certain age love the Latin lesson scene ("The people called Romans, they go, the house?").

I am also surprised that Playtime was ranked so highly. It is my favorite Tati movie, and one of my favorite movies period, but most people usually pick Les Vacances de M. Hulot over it. I wouldn't call it conventionally funny, but it is one of the best films ever made about Paris, and if it is a critique of modernism (certainly parts of it are), it is so lighthearted and joyful that you hardly even notice.

Airplane! absolutely deserves to be in the top 10, and I'm glad to see What We Do in the Shadows get recognized as one of the best comedies made in recent years.

If you're putting Buñuel films on your ballot for best comedy, you're just showing off.

I've never understood why Some Like it Hot always tops these lists. It's humor is extremely dated, and it's not even Billy Wilder's best comedy. I would make Doctor Strangelove number one, move Duck Soup up, and get rid of Annie Hall entirely. Personally, I also think that The Mouse that Roared was better than The Party, and that Victor/Victoria should probably be on this list.

Of course, any time you watch a Wilder comedy, there's always the fact that you have to simply ignore so much about the gender roles they portray, which are absolutely of their time, but also usually horrifying. I always say that the one thing that redeems The Major and the Minor is that most of those little punks probably died on Okinawa or somewhere.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:00 AM on September 3 [7 favorites]


Does Team America have more going for it than I remember

Fuck yeah?
posted by nubs at 7:09 AM on September 3 [17 favorites]


Trouble in Paradise is too low. It's genuinely funny, playful, arch, and knowing, unafraid of slapstick or sophistication, with some wicked moments. It also pretty much laid the groundwork for using sound as an element of a gag.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:12 AM on September 3


"The 100 greatest comedies of all time"? Why can't they name these things properly. You'd think the BBC has watched Doctor Who at least; "all time" is a pretty big measure. How about "The 100 greatest comedies so far"?
posted by Catblack at 7:12 AM on September 3 [12 favorites]


Don't find Jackass funny in the least because it comes way too close to vicious pranks in real life as entertainment for my tastes (which at a certain point late 90s got to be a real thing--I knew people inspired by Jackass who went out with video cameras trolling people in real life and it too often got too mean spirited and deliberately transgressive of other people's personal boundaries as art for me).

It's a really interesting observation and line of thought for me how comedic tastes and popular ideas about humor shift and evolve. I think humor in particular is an especially volatile cultural commodity. The novelty for jokes wears off quickly and once a joke stops being funny, it's pretty stark and can be hard to even reconstruct why the joke was considered funny at the time. Personally, I dislike most mean spirited humor and wish we had a more sophisticated comedy of ideas (not sure what that would look like but I feel like I'd know it if I saw it).

Anyway, yeah, seems more like a list of movies with a reputation for having been very funny once than a list of films a modern viewer would necessarily snort milk out of their noses over today.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:20 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


Catblack: "The 100 greatest comedies of all time"? Why can't they name these things properly. You'd think the BBC has watched Doctor Who at least; "all time" is a pretty big measure. How about "The 100 greatest comedies so far"?

Whenever you see the phrase "greatest of all time" or "immortal" or "forever" or similar, you can almost guarantee that it's about something with a short shelf life. Your favourite college football play (or chariot race victory) probably won't be remembered in 100 years, let alone 1000.
posted by clawsoon at 7:27 AM on September 3


I think older movies dominate the list because they are funnier in memory; time elides the boring parts but keeps the highlights. Related: these movies were popular when the reviewers were first discovering films and their own critical voices, possibly as teenagers, so they became the standard by which all other comedies are measured. And as time goes by, less seems novel, so the movie where one first saw some technique, like physical comedy or wordplay, gets credit for being more original or groundbreaking or whatever. See also: lists of the greatest rock songs.
posted by carmicha at 7:31 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


People really think Blazing Saddles is funny? I actually watched it recently (for the first time) and I barely made it through the movie. It had things to say about race, class, etc., but it was not very funny.
posted by oddman at 7:33 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Your favourite college football play (or chariot race victory) probably won't be remembered in 100 years, let alone 1000.

I don't know- that time back in 327 when M. Rufius Felix took the season championship for the Reds in a record number of races was pretty epic.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:37 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


Do men and women find different films funny?

Article summary: The overall statistics say no, so let's do some data mining so that we have at least something with which to reinforce stereotypes.
posted by clawsoon at 7:38 AM on September 3 [9 favorites]


I think most interesting parts of this is the analysis of where critics differ and the individual top 10 lists from each critic. It's interesting to me that US critics find Dr. Strangelove funnier than Western European critics. That tracks with my own experience of finding it funnier than Some Like it Hot as an American. I'm not surprised that women find Clueless to be funnier than men do -- not only is it a female centered comedy, but they're also more likely to know Emma then men are.

When you look at the individual lists -- it's interesting to see what movies get grouped together for what critics. There might be some movies that I'll check out now because a critic who listed four of my favorite comedies will make me more likely to check out the two or three I don't know than someone who listed movies that I enjoyed, but didn't love.

Another thing that sticks out for me in this thread -- are we only judging comedies by how much they make us laugh? I think a lot of the movies on this list are good movies, but they don't necessary make me laugh out loud every single second. I love The Apartment. As someone who has been suicidal and who has been the person who sat with another suicidal person -- it speaks to me in a lot of ways that I haven't found in other movies dealing with suicidal people. However, I don't think it's a laugh riot, even though it is a comedy. There are a lot of other movies on this list that I really enjoy in ways that aren't only about how much they make me laugh -- Singin' in the Rain, His Girl Friday, The Princess Bride, etc.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:39 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


The Bronze. I know it's not on the list, I don't even have to look, but it's one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, and despite being recent, is definitely on my personal top ten list of favorite films. (Omg best love scene ever!) And despite what clawsoon and catblack have to say, I do think it will be funny for all time, universally, until all the protons decay and existence becomes nothing but a howling void populated with nothing but the occasional 'atom' of positronium.
posted by sexyrobot at 7:41 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


No The Thin Man? List fail!
posted by tocts at 7:44 AM on September 3 [9 favorites]


I must say, I think some - many - of these are chosen by critics because they think they should be funny, rather than are actually genuinely funny to a viewer today

Dunno which you're thinking of, but I'll attest that all those Lubitsch and, yes, Tati films belong on that list. Screwball comedies/comedies of remarriage are still excellent. I just watched Kind Hearts and Coronets last night! (It is true that several of the older films—Kind Hearts and Playtime are both like this!—are a lot slower paced than what modern audiences are apt to expect, and the humor in many (Playtime is not like this!) lies less in discrete jokes told on camera.
posted by kenko at 7:45 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


I also have zero problems with the Lubitsch films on this list. Ninotchka is wonderful.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:47 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


If what originated the list was the dearth of comedies in a post-2000 list, why make a all-time comedies list that is mostly going to repeat the same titles on every other list? I get that recently a lot of straight comedies are not as good, and the better ones might fall more into dramedies which are comedies depending on where you set the cutting point, but allowing critics to bring up Airplane, The Pythons, Mel Brooks, etc seems a cop-out.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:49 AM on September 3


Comedy is weird. I watched Blazing Saddles last month and still found it hilarious. Granted, I've seen it so many times that there is an element of anticipatory humor for me, waiting for my favorite jokes. Same with The Jerk--materialism and new money gauche will always be relevant and the potential source for comedy.
posted by radicalawyer at 7:51 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


My personal list:
• Blazing Saddles
• Young Frankenstein
• Monty Python and the Holy Grail
• Ghostbusters
• Office Space
• Airplane
• City Slickers
• The Jerk
• Mrs. Doubtfire
• The Three Amigos
• Trading Places
• Coming to America
posted by Fizz at 7:54 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


This'll end in murder.
posted by Artw at 8:02 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I think older movies dominate the list because they are funnier in memory

Or, you know, people might have Turner Classic Movies or some similar stream coming into their lives and they actually watch old movies alongside new movies, and so it's not that anything is "funnier in memory" but rather that things are funny when they are experienced.

I was pleased to see a lot of pieces on this list that I wanted to see there. I don't consider it to be anything dogmatic or definitive, but it's nice that others appreciate the same comedy that I do.
posted by hippybear at 8:08 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Unless I missed it, not a single John Hughes movie?!? No 40 Year Old Virgin? What is up with this list.

And I would put the Hangover and Zoolander way, way, higher - but perhaps all of the movies I think are funny are really culturally specific. I don't find old movies funny at all, maybe with some Woody Allen as an exception, but definitely not Annie Hall. Is that even a comedy?
posted by rainydayfilms at 8:09 AM on September 3


I'm not getting Annie Hall at #3 at all. Best thing I can remember about it is I once took a date to a screening, and we left halfway through.

Also if you are a film critic putting The Exterminating Angel on your list of favorite comedies for the BBC I can only applaud your refined trolling style.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:27 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


As gawd is my witness, I will never understand the popularity of Some Like it Hot. I try and I try, but I just don't get even a chuckle from it.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:29 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


"Why so white?"

I mean I know why, but it's still annoying to see this and so many other publications put out something branded as universal, when really only a narrow range is included.
posted by cashman at 8:32 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


List lacks Kung Fu Hustle.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:33 AM on September 3 [15 favorites]


No Shakes the Clown?
posted by lagomorphius at 8:35 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


List lacks Kung Fu Hustle.

It's no Shaolin Soccer.
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on September 3 [10 favorites]


(I also had a thought about 'universal' humor the other day...you know what kind of humor is probably actually universal? Toilet humor. Like, you could fly your UFO to the Andromeda galaxy, walk down the slowly extending ramp, and step in alien poop, and all of the aliens would probably laugh at you.)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:45 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


Comedy is even more a matter of taste than most arts, so that's probably why so few of them get enough of a consensus to end up on compilation lists.

Plus, there's kind of a fine line. I mean, I was also surprised at first to see King of Comedy on there, but it is kind of a comedy, just not the usual Jerry Lewis style one. I still probably wouldn't peg it as primarily a comedy, but I can see how someone might.

Of course, by that reasoning, there are more comedies on the overall best movies list, too.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:48 AM on September 3


Team America: World Police is listed 38 films past The Jerk. If the computer science guys running this Turing test want to know where their machine gave itself away, that's it.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:54 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


BBC lists annoy me much less than most lists, but seeing "The Exterminating Angel" in a list of comedies makes me wildly exhilarated (I love that movie, not that I've ever laughed while watching it).
posted by acrasis at 8:56 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


The Emperor's New Groove outranks anything on that list.
posted by SPrintF at 9:01 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


How about "The 100 greatest comedies so far"?

"Have you lived here your whole life?"

"Not yet."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:06 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


No The Thin Man? List fail!

As far as I can tell there's no Myrna Loy flick at all. This is so wrong. Another Powell/Loy vehicle, Love Crazy, should also be on there.

People really think Blazing Saddles is funny?

Yes. Belly-laugh hilarious.
posted by mark k at 9:08 AM on September 3 [7 favorites]


Clueless but no Clue?

Tragedy.
posted by schmod at 9:14 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


Clue is truly one of the greatest comedies ever created in English-language filmmaking. It's so often overlooked I feel like it's a conspiracy at this point.
posted by hippybear at 9:22 AM on September 3 [11 favorites]


Weird Al Yankovic's UHF is the greatest comedy of all time.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:24 AM on September 3 [7 favorites]


I'm happy that Jake and Elwood made it, but where is Sgt Hulka? What are we going to do without our big toe?
posted by MikeWarot at 9:24 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Weird Al Yankovic's UHF is the greatest comedy of all time.

Supplies!
posted by hippybear at 9:25 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


[Finished reading list, most of which I have seen] You can quibble with the order (I recently saw both "Dr. Strangelove" and "Some like it hot" and no way I put "Some" at number 1), but the only movie I would expel from that list is "Arsenic and Old Lace", which is mugging at an egregious level. And, upon mature reflection, I'd switch out "The Exterminating Angel" in favor of "The Milky Way", which is actually funny. And if you put "Sullivan's Travels" on your list (and you should) you need "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" as well.
posted by acrasis at 9:28 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


What's the average age of the pollee's here? 94 and dead?

No, I just checked, and they're all edgy millennials.

Which explains both MASH and Borat.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:43 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Arsenic And Old Lace is a brilliant stage play that was malformed by its movie adaptation. The world could use a new filming of that same old material that would make the result actually funny, because I've seen more than one stage production that had me laughing until it hurt, and the movie fails in nearly every way.
posted by hippybear at 9:44 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Searches thread for "Super Troopers"... nothing... you're all sadly and terribly wrong.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:47 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


The first reviewer hasn't laughed since 1972.

Anyone who votes for 'This is the End' should never be allowed in a cinema again, and certainly nowhere near a film review.
posted by biffa at 10:05 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I would remove a some of the chronologically later entries. It kinda feels like they just slapped together a bunch of seminal older comedies and then some high recognition newer ones. Best in show isn't bad, but doesn't deserve a spot on a list of best evers. Harry met Sally is a great romantic flick but is kind of a so-so comedy. I think some better newer stuff got skipped over, I would put Four Lions and/or Supertroopers somewhere in the top 50.
posted by Query at 10:31 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Arsenic And Old Lace is a brilliant stage play that was malformed by its movie adaptation

Speaking of one that wasn't, I might put Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf in the list. Comedy is a broad church, and I think a portrayal of lacerating co-dependent emotional sparring probably fits on one of the pews somewhere.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:39 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


smoke - Disappointing to see not a single Asian film or filmmaker on there.

Ctrl-F "Tampopo". 0 results... unfortunate.
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 10:43 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Raising Arizona needs to be about 31 spots lower on the list
posted by Lucinda at 10:44 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


This is more like arguing over a banana creme pie instead of a plate of beans.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:45 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I've been trying to figure out why I spend so much per month on Netflix, yet almost never watch it. So, as an experiment, I searched for all these movies on Netflix (the streaming service). Of the 100 movies on this list, these are the only ones available on Netflix:
in the loop
hot fuzz
mean girls
best in show
pulp fiction
young frankenstein

6 out of the 100, and most of those 100 are older, and are probably cheap to procure, but who knows in these days of electronic rights. (To their credit, a lot of the movies are on the Netflix's CD by mail service).

I think it is time to reevaluate how I spend my money. It is starting to become clearer that Netflix has very little to offer that I am actually interested in.
posted by eye of newt at 10:47 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Ctrl-F "Tampopo". 0 results... unfortunate.-- cowcowgrasstree

Yes. Itami's The Funeral and A Taxing Woman are also hilarious.
posted by eye of newt at 10:53 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the absence of Undercover Brother and, especially, Hollywood Shuffle is telling.

But all those Lubitsch films belong on there. I promise, not one of them did I see at the time they came out.
posted by praemunire at 10:54 AM on September 3


Quick Change is missing, and is one of the four or five movies (along with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Young Frankenstein, and Holy Grail) that have literally had me rolling on the floor clutching my sides in laughter.
posted by darkstar at 11:11 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Hot Fuzz, Zoolander, and Top Secret all need to be higher. Team America and MASH should be removed. I have spoken.
posted by dame at 11:16 AM on September 3


Also slapstick is not actually funny.
posted by dame at 11:17 AM on September 3


Slapstick CAN be funny but as a genre of comedy it generally isn't funny IMO. The trick is to have surprise and plot-forwarding both happening in the slapstick moment, which is rarely achieved.

Comedy is a difficult and rare breed, with few universals. I'd love to see some kind of study about what is actually considered universal in comedy, but I doubt it could be achieved satisfactorily in much the same way that beer or wine has any universal list of good/bad. It's a matter of taste.

We can all agree, I think, that Adam Sandler hadn't been funny in at least a decade if not much longer.
posted by hippybear at 11:27 AM on September 3


The Blues Brothers should be much higher. Hot Fuzz and A Fish Called Wanda absolutely earned their place on the list (although I think they should be higher too).
posted by coberh at 12:08 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Quick Change is missing

Whoever owns the rights to QC seems to have gone out of there way to make it difficult to buy. There is no European DVD from what I can see and I have had problems accessing it for a long time.
posted by biffa at 12:57 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Also slapstick is not actually funny.


*takes a swing at dame, misses, overcorrects, stumbles out of room, across hallway, through other room, past confused secretary, falls out open window*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:58 PM on September 3 [15 favorites]


See, that was not only slapstick but it was also funny AND it furthered the plot.

Oh, "what plot" I hear you say?

Keep watching to find out!
posted by hippybear at 1:02 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


People believe slapstick isn't funny because The Three Stooges aren't funny and that's their definition of slapstick. In the right context, slapstick, or as we prefer to call it, Physical Humor is as good a source of humor as any.

I was remembering the first movie I was allowed by my parents to see alone in a theater: "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", and how much 8-year-old me enjoyed all the physical humor, the pratfalls, Jonathan Winters singlehandedly destroying a gas station, but after 3 hours, the ending kind of lost me as the overloaded rescue ladder tossing off comedians just made me cringe and seeing a moment later that they had all survived their falls and were sharing a hospital ward and laughing at Ethel Merman slipping at a banana peel just didn't work.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:13 PM on September 3


It's interesting how much the list splits for me into "yes, that movie is extremely funny" and "ugh why is that movie on this list?"

I'd rank The Jerk higher, and I'd include the new Ghostbusters rather than the original. I've always found the original really uncomfortable because of all the casual sexual harassment. I also don't find Woody Allen at all funny and now can't think about him without my skin crawling.

The big thing on the list I agree with is the high ranking of Dr. Strangelove.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:13 PM on September 3


I think the most I ever laughed at a film was seeing Mars Attacks! in the cinema. I still wouldn’t put it in my top 10 comedies, but god it made me laugh at the time.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:23 PM on September 3 [4 favorites]


For me that was Top Secret! dubbed into German as they used regional German accents for different characters which made the whole thing more hilarious than it ever could have been in English. So odd how that works sometimes. *still chuckling about it 30 years later*
posted by hippybear at 1:28 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Semi-related, there's going to be a re-release of 19 "Horror Classics" on DVD/BluRay with artistic covers, including Young Frankenstein. So funny it's scary, or so scary it's funny?
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:02 PM on September 3


Not a bad list, could've been a lot worse, but where the hell is Repo Man?
posted by equalpants at 2:09 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


People believe slapstick isn't funny because The Three Stooges aren't funny and that's their definition of slapstick.

I think Peter Sellers isn't funny. Give me some credit.
posted by dame at 2:33 PM on September 3


The Three Stooges aren't funny

Those are fighting words! Just for the original three. I'll give you that later versions weren't nearly as funny.
posted by ElKevbo at 2:33 PM on September 3


*takes a swing at dame, misses, overcorrects, stumbles out of room, across hallway, through other room, past confused secretary, falls out open window*

I laughed out loud just reading that.
posted by octothorpe at 2:42 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


People really think Blazing Saddles is funny? I actually watched it recently (for the first time) and I barely made it through the movie. It had things to say about race, class, etc., but it was not very funny.

yes: people really think Blazing Saddles is funny.

in NZ they showed blazing saddles on tv with loads of cuts, and when it came to the famous fart scene (five minutes of cowboys farting) they cut all the fart sounds. Made it like a pina bausch scene, people raising and lowering their buttsin contemplative silence w/ contorted expressions.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:57 PM on September 3 [5 favorites]


Team America shoudl be removed

MADNESS
posted by Sebmojo at 2:58 PM on September 3


i've never ... seen... such acting!!
posted by Sebmojo at 2:59 PM on September 3


MetaFilter: people raising and lowering their buttsin contemplative silence
posted by hippybear at 3:01 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


I'm just happy that The Music Box is on the list. 30 minutes of pure Laurel and Hardy at their best. Such a gem. A master class of physical, character, and yes, slapstick comedy.
posted by jasper411 at 3:08 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


People really think Blazing Saddles is funny? I actually watched it recently (for the first time) and I barely made it through the movie. It had things to say about race, class, etc., but it was not very funny.

Have you considered the possibility that you're secretly a replicant?


The big omissions from this list, for me, are The Whole Nine Yards and (as already mentioned) Clue. I like History of the World Part 1 well enough to consider it for this list, too, but Mel Brooks is already pretty well represented on this list. I also find This Is Spinal Tap to be moderately funny but massively, massively overrated and feel like it could stand to drop about 40 spots on here.

I suspect MASH the movie is really on there as a substitute for MASH the TV show, which is SO funny that it ought to be included on this list even though this is a list of movies.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:51 PM on September 3


Why comedy is not universal.

As evidenced by this very thread.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:15 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


I watched The Exterminating Angels on TCM about a year ago, and it's a fascinating movie, but I didn't think of it as a comedy.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:16 PM on September 3


I saw MASH the movie after seeing the TV show for years and was really shocked at how not funny it was. I'm not even sure that it was meant as a comedy; it's not really a genre that Altman did much in and he really wasn't good at it here if he even was trying.
posted by octothorpe at 4:17 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Screwball comedies/comedies of remarriage are still excellent.

Oh I agree completely - the Hawks comedies stand up a lot better than Some Like it Hot, as well, I reckon.

While we're on Woody Allen, Annie Hall is such a shitty pick out of his early films. Bananas is twice as funny, easily. I was surprised no Jackie Chan films made the list, too.

Also Stepbrothers? WTF, it's a terrible movie, not even Mckay's best by a long shot.
posted by smoke at 4:25 PM on September 3


Came here to stan for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. And while we're on the subject of Steve Martin, Roxanne is wayyyy underrated.

Re the Coen Brothers, I'd make a case for O Brother, Where Art Thou (and Intolerable Cruelty but I can accept that I'm probably alone in that).

Glad to see that Hot Fuzz got its own spot on the list and they didn't default to letting SotD stand in for Wright's whole body of work.

People believe slapstick isn't funny because The Three Stooges aren't funny and that's their definition of slapstick.

A few years back we were at my in-laws for christmas and my FIL got a Stooges DVD collection as a gift. After the feasting, he really wanted us to stay up and watch some of it with him. They were in their heyday when he was a kid. I had seen a few clips here and there but never really sat down and watched them. So we start watching and my FIL is just losing it, giggling like I've never heard him and having a blast. My wife and I sit there blank faced, occasionally smiling and chuckling to humour my FIL. It was silly and irreverent, but definitely not what I consider funny.

Part of what makes the Coen Brothers great is their use of physical comedy in really effective doses. The first time I saw this scene from Intolerable Cruelty in the theatre I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe.

A Fish Called Wanda would be No. 1 on my list.
posted by dry white toast at 4:29 PM on September 3


I would add, Brain Donorsis not on this list. That wasn't a well known movie, but my god... John Tutorro doing skapstick fast talk law is about the best thing ever. Is it the best movie? No... but it beats the snot out of a bunch of the films on this list. They don't even show a quarter of the WTFLOLWAFFLES stuff that happens in these scenes - let alone the entire movie.

Also missing: Clue... which... this is metafilter - this group should especially love that movie.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:28 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


"Clue" was pretty good, but it is being held responsible for every "movie based on a board game" ever since; also for the half dozen people who, like me, saw "Murder by Death" when it came out 8 years earlier, the fond memories of that one of Neil Simon's silliest works with the almost-impeccable casting tended to overshadow it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:49 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I do love "Clue" and "Murder by Death," but where o where is The Wrong Box? A perfect little gem with an excellent cast. I love it enough that I have tracked down and bought the dvd.
posted by MovableBookLady at 5:54 PM on September 3


This is a pretty good list, but the movie that is always on top of my list of Funny Movies Everyone Has Apparently Forgotten is Pandemonium. Starring Tommy Smothers, Pee-Wee Herman, Phil Hartman, Carol Kane... need I go on?

To this day, my mother and I can quote that movie back to each other.

You are frightened of the night?

Baloney!

You are frightened of baloney?

posted by yhbc at 6:13 PM on September 3


Some of the best comedies of the 21st century don't have a lot going on - outside of the comedy. They're super fun, but the improv and infinite takes that go into making a Will Ferrell movie don't exactly have sweeping cinematography. Having a shot that takes the crew an hour to set up doesn't leave much room for Paul Rudd and Melissa McCartney to throw something out there and see if it sticks.

I just wish "good" movies were more fun and mainstream comedies had a little more going on with the direction, cinematography, art direction, etc. Who is this generation's Jacques Tati? Who's making physical and situational comedy that could be screened in an arthouse?

Also, for a post that starts our critiquing the lack of comedies in a list of best films of the 21st century, there sure is a lack of comedies from the 21st century in everyone's responses and suggestions. Maybe the list of 21st century movies was lacking comedies because there aren't that many GREAT comedies from the past few decades. We certainly haven't listed any so far short of Borat.
posted by thecjm at 6:49 PM on September 3


They're super fun, but the improv and infinite takes that go into making a Will Ferrell movie don't exactly have sweeping cinematography.


Except Talladega Nights.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:54 PM on September 3


when it came to the famous fart scene (five minutes of cowboys farting) they cut all the fart sounds.

That silence sounds amazing. I remember the old muting censorship, one time in particular. In an episode of The Simpsons, Leopold snarls at the students of Springfield Elementary to "listen up you little FREAKS!" Whoever was censoring that episode decided to mute the last word, but only muted the middle - so the beginning and ending sounds could still be heard.

Yep, that episode aired with the line "Listen up you little F**KS!"
posted by Paragon at 7:14 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Caddyshack is 65th? I thought the Brits out of all people would appreciate a gem of a movie about golf.

No Major League? Maybe it's just me, I'm the one who loves good sports comedies.

Airplane! is too low.
posted by Sphinx at 7:44 PM on September 3


Any such list which does not contain Police Academy 3 - Back in Training cannot be considered a list with gravitas.
posted by Wordshore at 8:09 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I feel like Billy Wilders One Two Three should have made it. Also the Aussie classic The Castle.
posted by Start with Dessert at 9:09 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


My Top Ten, but unranked:

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (if you have not seen this movie, do yourself the biggest favor you can do and see it immediately)
A Fish Called Wanda
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Galaxy Quest
American Psycho
The Princess Bride
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Blues Brothers
The Producers
Men in Black
posted by tzikeh at 9:21 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Not abusing the edit window to say: wow, not much overlap.
posted by tzikeh at 9:24 PM on September 3


Great googly moogly, I was just about to ask about "The Castle." Well played, Start with Dessert.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:33 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Intolerable Cruelty but I can accept that I'm probably alone in that

Intolerable Cruelty is inexplicably unappreciated.

This list is one of the few of its type where I am indeed familiar with most of the items and as far as I'm concerned it's a mess.
posted by mark k at 11:13 PM on September 3


Toni Erdmann is laugh-out-loud funny, but I'm actually not sure that it is a comedy.

I loved Top Secret so much when I was a kid. I have no idea whether it holds up, but I'm always surprised and happy when it turns out that other people like it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:25 AM on September 4


I was just typing how Toni Erdmann didn't really do much for me. It didn't seem very funny; I'd say it was snicker-out-loud funny every thirty minutes or so, which works out to like five chuckles because it's looooong. It's not quite a comedy but not quite a realist art drama, and the combination wasn't so great. Sort of like a petit four with jizz on it.
posted by fleacircus at 1:55 AM on September 4


When I was a kid, I had just seen Star Wars and the local PBS station decided to broadcast old Alec Guinness movies. My favorite three were Kind Hearts and Coronets (on the list), The Lavender Hill Mob, and The Man in the White Suit. Guinness' comedy chops were pretty dang good.

Of course nobody will agree on the list. From my point of view, some of the entries weren't comedies so much as dumbedies, but humour is so variable. Some people want strung-together gags and that's fine. Some people want a strong story as a frame and that's fine too.

And yes, I can get either of my brothers to say, "not any more" by leading with "that's a priceless Steinway!"
In Graham Chapman's autobiography, he talks about Sellers having no confidence in his comedy to the point where he depended upon other people (who didn't really know better) to tell him if something with any good. Allegedly, this led him to reshoot scenes to their detriment. More's the pity.
posted by plinth at 4:47 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


No love for planes, trains and automobiles?
posted by genuinely curious at 5:48 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


So, out of 100 movies, only 11 are in another language than English? And the 3 top non-English language comedies happen to be quasi-silent Tati movies, which have been critics' darlings for decades but hardly representative of French comedy (and calling Playtime a comedy is a stretch: it's experimental and beautiful in its own way, but I don't think it has many people laugh in the past 50 years). It's not a "Best of" list, but a list of the English-language comedies critics have watched, with some other movies added for balance so that the list can be called "international". It's not surprising, since non-English language comedies are rarely watched, appreciated, and commented outside their own linguistic areas. It's completely nonsensical that, say, the multi-decade-rich tradition of Italian comedies is represented by only two movies. And what about the absence of non-Western films, including those from China, India and Japan? All these pop culture lists suffer from the same problem: because the English language is dominant at international level, English-language works are mechanically overrepresented, reinforcing the idea that English-language works are better, when in fact non-English language works can actually be dominant locally. There should be a better approach than that.
posted by elgilito at 6:05 AM on September 4


The individual lists are fascinating - and drawn from a hugely various range of sources. I'm no good at such things, so it's nice to be reminded of things that wouldn't immediately spring to mind that I adore - for example, Elaine May's A New Leaf. The compiled list seems to be an example of what must be a known statistical fallacy (I'd even bet it has a name). For example, the critics who chose a Woody Allen movie that wasn't Annie Hall chose from a range of different films, so Annie Hall got the nom (I'm not sure that it's a comedy at all - the first of his Late Unfunny Films, following the Early Funny Movies, and superseded by his extraordinary run of movies in the early 80s from which Zelig or Radio Days would be much better nominations). Similarly, Playtime is a film beloved of critics (and I agree with them - it's one of my personal top ten movies), but Les Vacances... or Mon Oncle are much more appropriate for this list. Lots of non-English films are mentioned, but not enough of them cluster significantly to make the list. One Singaporean critic's list is composed entirely of non-English language movies, which might be a political statement, or it might say something about Singapore or possibly just about that critic. But most, if not all, of those films appear just once, in their list.

Another thing is to what extent films are chosen to represent directors who the critic think ought to be in the list - which is something that I suspect explains the Annie Hall/Playtime effect.

A film I'd put in is The Happiest Days of Your Life which appears precisely once in the critics' list.

But the individual lists (as with the BFI list that appears every decade) is where the interesting stuff is.
posted by Grangousier at 6:24 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Another thing is that if this were music, I'd rush off to Spotify and make a playlist of interesting-looking things, but because it's movies one can't reliably find a lot of them - especially the ones that one might not have heard of before.
posted by Grangousier at 6:28 AM on September 4


For anyone who's scouring this thread for viewing ideas, here are the movies people have mentioned so far that they thought should or could have been on the list:

A Taxing Woman
American Psycho
Army of Darkness
City Slickers
Clue
Coming to America
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Four Lions
Galaxy Quest
Ghostbusters (2016)
Hollywood Shuffle
Intolerable Cruelty
Jackass
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Kung Fu Hustle
Love Crazy
Major League
Mars Attacks!
Men in Black
Mrs. Doubtfire
Murder by Death
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
One Two Three
Pandemonium
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Police Academy 3 - Back in Training
Quick Change
Repo Man
Safety Not Guaranteed
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Shakes the Clown
Shaolin Soccer
Super Troopers
Tampopo
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The Bronze
The Castle
The Emperor's New Groove
The Funeral
The Happiest Days of Your Life
The Milky Way
The Mouse that Roared
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
The Thin Man
The Three Amigos
The Wrong Box
UHF
Undercover Brother
Victor/Victoria
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
posted by rory at 6:34 AM on September 4 [7 favorites]


All these pop culture lists suffer from the same problem: because the English language is dominant at international level, English-language works are mechanically overrepresented, reinforcing the idea that English-language works are better, when in fact non-English language works can actually be dominant locally. There should be a better approach than that.

Yes, and more precisely still, US films dominate the world market like no other film industry can, so when you ask any number of reviewers for lists, the commonalities are likely to be from the US film industry since those are the films the largest amount of people will have seen. That mass market films lean heavily towards celebrating conventions also doesn't hurt in tallying up more support.

The BBC is moving in the right direction, asking more diverse groups of critics from more places around the world, but short of setting minimum qualifications surrounding what these critics have seen to ensure they are all dealing with the same sets of possibilities, then there really isn't much that can be done about avoiding long lists of the usual titles. Not that they'd want to anyway since those are the movies most readers are familiar with and want to see repeated back to them as "bests" regardless of any broader understanding of film history.

Beyond all that, comedy as an alleged genre has such ill-defined borders while carrying the unavoidable connotation of "funny" as central to it, that it isn't surprising that many of the choices are more about funny than film. What got a laugh rather than what may have been better filmmaking or may have some greater meaning as one might expect when celebrating greatest films of other sorts is pretty much par for the course in these kinds of rankings. People like them, so they keep doing them even if the end results are fairly predictable and limited.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:45 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


It turns out that Time Out made a similar list in January. They give a review of each entry, but for those who just want their list on one page, here it is:

100. Meet the Parents (2000)
99. Mean Girls (2004)
98. Pulp Fiction (1994)
97. Hot Fuzz (2007)
96. Safety Last! (1923)
95. The Graduate (1967)
94. Local Hero (1983)
93. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
92. Harold and Maude (1971)
91. There's Something About Mary (1998)
90. Superbad (2007)
89. The Gold Rush (1925)
88. The Mask (1994)
87. Broadcast News (1987)
86. School of Rock (2003)
85. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
84. Love and Death (1975)
83. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
82. Old School (2003)
81. Slap Shot (1977)
80. The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
79. Office Space (1999)
78. The Great Dictator (1940)
77. As Good As It Gets (1997)
76. Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994)
75. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
74. Kingpin (1996)
73. Best in Show (2000)
72. Way Out West (1936)
71. Mr Hulot's Holiday (1953)
70. The Cable Guy (1996)
69. Top Secret! (1984)
68. The Party (1968)
67. Take the Money and Run (1969)
66. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
65. Heaven Can Wait (1943)
64. GoodFellas (1990)
63. Bananas! (1971)
62. Wayne's World (1992)
61. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
60. Midnight Run (1988)
59. Clueless (1995)
58. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
57. Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
56. It Happened One Night (1934)
55. Toy Story (1995)
54. The Man With Two Brains (1983)
53. Bedazzled (1967)
52. The Odd Couple (1968)
51. Sons of the Desert (1933)
50. Raising Arizona (1987)
49. In the Loop (2009)
48. The King of Comedy (1982)
47. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
46. The Producers (1967)
45. Rushmore (1998)
44. Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
43. The Blues Brothers (1980)
42. His Girl Friday (1940)
41. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
40. The Pink Panther (1963)
39. Coming to America (1988)
38. Nuts In May (1976)
37. Elf (2003)
36. The General (1926)
35. National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)
34. When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
33. A Night at the Opera (1935)
32. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
31. ¡Three Amigos! (1986)
30. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
29. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
28. Zoolander (2001)
27. Blazing Saddles (1974)
26. The Castle (1997)
25. Bridesmaids (2011)
24. Play It Again, Sam (1972)
23. Tootsie (1982)
22. Ghostbusters (1984)
21. Young Frankenstein (1974)
20. Four Lions (2010)
19. Duck Soup (1933)
18. Dr Strangelove: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)
17. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
16. Trading Places (1983)
15. Some Like It Hot (1959)
14. Dumb & Dumber (1994)
13. The Naked Gun (1988)
12. The Big Lebowski (1998)
11. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
10. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
9. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
8. Team America: World Police (2004)
7. Withnail & I (1987)
6. The Jerk (1979)
5. Groundhog Day (1983)
4. Annie Hall (1977)
3. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
2. Airplane! (1980)
1. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
posted by rory at 6:51 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Ctrl+F "Oscar"

0 of 0

List is worthless.
posted by FakeFreyja at 7:35 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


No Brain Candy? "Ya know, the pills are made of monkey cum."
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:42 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Smile! It's free!
posted by hippybear at 9:54 AM on September 4


I nominate Bandits and A Mighty Wind.
posted by carmicha at 2:20 PM on September 4


No Being There?
posted by emelenjr at 2:37 PM on September 4 [2 favorites]


What this list and this thread needs is some Elmore Leonard and Get Shorty.

The thing I don't like about general comedy lists that humor is not monolithic. Harold and Maude and Airplane! are two of of my favorite films of all time it that's the only list I'd really put them on together. Harold and Maude is my favorite movie of all time, but is it funnier than Airplane!? I don't think so. I'd prefer a list of serious comedies so you could have fifty Being There's that aren't pushed out by Animal Houses. Shouldn't Midnight Run count?

Like always, The Jerk is criminally overlooked and underrated. I'd be okay with The Hangover at 100. I laughed so hard at the movie I was in tears the whole time. I'm fine with lists like these having lowbrow entries, I just usually disagree with the ones they pick. (Maybe because I don't see a lot of them.) This Is The End also had me in tears, as Did Something About Mary (#81.)

Putting aside the whole gross Woody Allen factor, I think Annie Hall is important as snapshot in time of certain places and things, but I don't think it's funnier than Take The Money And Run, not by a longshot

And I guess this is where I admit I liked Groundhog Day fine but don't think it's ike the greatest thing ever.

No The Thin Man? List fail!

"Want a drink?" "What do you think?"
posted by Room 641-A at 7:19 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Oops. Any love here for The Other Guys?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:20 PM on September 4


Play Time isn't all that funny, but it's one of the greatest movies ever made.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:51 PM on September 4


I came in to transform into a 5000 foot tall spiky green rage monster due to the exclusion of Clue and I am glad to see that has already been covered, but there are still flames on the side of my face.

HOWEVER.

I will still turn into the aforementioned monster due to the absence of another Christopher Lloyd classic: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Unacceptable!
posted by zeusianfog at 12:43 PM on September 5


"Want a drink?" "What do you think?"

The Thin Man drinking game -- having to finish your drink and start a new drink every time Nick or Nora pour a drink.

Also, never confuse The Thin Man with The Third Man. That leads to confusion and disappointment.
posted by hippybear at 8:49 PM on September 6 [4 favorites]


What's up Doc?
Fletch
Network, since wikipedia calls it a straight comedy
THE IN-LAWS!!

I won't argue about placement but I'm sure I could find four movies on the list to swap out with these.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:27 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


Wot, nothing by The Great Man?!

Suggestion: It's a Gift (1934).
posted by On the Corner at 12:58 AM on September 8


I can't believe so many of you people don't like Annie Hall. It's great!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:43 PM on September 20


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