Edgar Wright’s 100 Favorite Comedies
March 25, 2020 1:30 AM   Subscribe

Note from Edgar, March 2020: “To get you through these tough times, please enjoy a generous helping of SOME of my favourite screen comedies that I’ve enjoyed over the years. I could easily do another 100 so don’t say ‘Where’s so and so?’. Just sit back and enjoy the movies. Let us know below, which ones you raise a smile. (NB: No, I'm not so immodest to put my own on here. x)”
posted by valkane (36 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
what we do in the shadows is definitely one of the funniest films of the century.

not on this list, but. i rewatched hail caesar! yesterday. for some reason, i remember not liking it that much on first view; but it was absolutely hilarious the second time around. professor marcuse is the best. also: it's complicated.
posted by sapagan at 3:00 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


'The Awful Truth' is a wonderful, slightly overlooked Cary Grant screwball comedy, great to see it included here.
posted by benoliver999 at 3:03 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It's great to see A New Leaf on this list. Walter Matthau's spoilt, overgrown rich kid had me in stitches.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:25 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It’s not on this list, but if you have the chance to see Extra Ordinary (it just landed on UK Netflix, not sure where else it’s available) please do. It’s delightful.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:39 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I happened to run across "A Fish Called Wanda" last night and I was delighted at how well that movie has held up over the years. Kevin Kline is just stellar in that and I laughed almost all the way through it.
posted by Thistledown at 3:45 AM on March 25 [8 favorites]


i'm a bit surprised that never give a sucker an even break is not mentioned. it's terrific, surreal, crazy, etc. as one of the characters in the film said of the film: "This script is an insult to a man's intelligence - even mine...It's impossible, inconceivable, incomprehensible, and besides that, it's no good. And as for the continuity, it's terrible." oh, also has a great car chase scene.
posted by sapagan at 3:46 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I'm sure modesty prevented him from adding Shaun of the Dead to this elite group, but it certainly deserves to stand in their company.
posted by fairmettle at 3:47 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Being John Malkovich isn't a comedy. I mean I like my stuff dark, but no way.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:29 AM on March 25


No Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Fail!
posted by Beholder at 4:47 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


You, The Living. I don't remember laughing so hard in a theater.
posted by octothorpe at 5:23 AM on March 25


not on this list, but. i rewatched hail caesar! yesterday. for some reason, i remember not liking it that much on first view; but it was absolutely hilarious the second time around. professor marcuse is the best. also: it's complicated.


When I first watched it, I remember feeling enormously relieved because it was the lightest touch comedy the Coen's had done in a loooong time (I do worship at the feet of "Hudsucker Proxy". LONG LIVE THE HUD!). At any rate, at a time like this, it's definitely a nice comedy to lose yourself in.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:35 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


IDK if The Apartment is a comedy really, it gets quite heavy in places. It's as much a comedy as Mad Men is, but was actually made in the 1960s, rather than at a safe remove of 40 years. It's really worth seeing though. Just don't go in thinking light and easy.
posted by bonehead at 6:01 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Way, way too much Woody Allen, and yet no Richard Pryor. Pryor's concert films might be considered problematic now for some but I think Stir Crazy would fit on that list.

I've seen more than half of those movies so I've got that going for me. Oh wait, where's Caddyshack?
posted by fuse theorem at 6:24 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Also Animal House and Roxanne. I'll let someone else be brave enough to mention Hot Tub Time Machine and Bad Santa 1&2 and Sausage Party, but even if tasteless humor is ruled out, Roxanne should be on that list.
posted by Beholder at 6:49 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Animal House is there.

His Girl Friday is missing.
posted by nicwolff at 8:08 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I find interesting that out of 100 movies, only 9 are from non-anglophones cultures (4 French, 2 Chinese, 1 Czech, 1 Japanese, 1 Swedish). Again, these are Wright's personal choices and he's entitled to them, but the guy writes comedies for a living so one could expect more diversity: I understand that he really likes Woody Allen (and Peter Sellers, and Steve Martin etc.), but 5 Allen movies and not a single Italian one? I can't help thinking that it shows how the anglophone world tends to isolate itself from other popular cultures.
posted by elgilito at 8:19 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


No Caveman?!?
posted by fleacircus at 8:19 AM on March 25


IDK if The Apartment is a comedy really

It is, but a rather nasty one. I did love it. Billy Wilder in general is not a very friendly director, though still fun.
posted by sapagan at 8:38 AM on March 25


I can't help thinking that it shows how the anglophone world tends to isolate itself from other popular cultures.

I don't think humor translates well across language. Drama, Action, yes, but not comedy. I have seen only one Italian comedy, a black and white film about a family who buys an ultra modern house packed with all sorts of gizmos back in the 50/60s. I didn't laugh once.
posted by Beholder at 8:46 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It's interesting - as much as I enjoy Wright's movies, I really actively dislike some of the movies he listed. I have no idea what that means.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:54 AM on March 25


No Eating Raoul?
posted by leonard horner at 9:49 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I've seen about half of these and enjoyed about 90% of the ones I've seen. He's not exactly looking for obscure gems on the list but it's still not a bad hit rate.

I will second that The Awful Truth is indeed one of the great Cary Grant comedies. The other being My Favorite Wife. (Not looking to be fighty, you're favorite Grant comedies are very good too! :) )

If you like the 30's style romantic comedies (where the gender stuff is often much better than the '50s versions) I would also recommend the Powell/Loy Love Crazy (once very hard to find, now streaming on Amazon Prime for $2, better comedy IMHO than the Thin Man movies) and the Jack Benny / Carole Lombard To Be or Not to Be.
posted by mark k at 10:00 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


From India/Bollywood:The 3 Idiots.
Great story line, awesome scenic road trip, song lyrics that are actually part of the story!
And those amazing dance numbers!

Misc: Repo Man; Wet, Hot American Summer; The Freshman(with Michael Broderick); Earth Girls Are Easy; Zoolander; Office Space; Local Hero; Knight's Tale; Get Shorty; BirdCage (with Robin Williams); Pirate Radio; Kung Fu Hustle; Box of Moonlight; Ghostbusters 1; Hamlet 2; Big Trouble in Little China; Bandits; Bubba-Hotep; Dogma and of course Hot Fuzz!
posted by Mesaverdian at 10:33 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I would have probably added Harvey and The Trouble With Harry...
posted by jim in austin at 10:35 AM on March 25


Edgar Wright on the list of movies he prepared, also copied from the very top of that post into the summary at the top of this very post:

...please enjoy a generous helping of SOME of my favourite screen comedies that I’ve enjoyed over the years. I could easily do another 100 so don’t say ‘Where’s so and so?’. Just sit back and enjoy the movies. Let us know below, which ones you raise a smile. (NB: No, I'm not so immodest to put my own on here. x)

We commenters on MetaFilter:

i'm a bit surprised that never give a sucker an even break yt is not mentioned

I'm sure modesty prevented him from adding Shaun of the Dead to this elite group

No Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Fail!

Oh wait, where's Caddyshack?

His Girl Friday is missing.

No Caveman?!?

the guy writes comedies for a living so one could expect more diversity

No Eating Raoul?

I would have probably added...

...old habits die hard I guess lol
posted by dubitable at 12:08 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Forget it Jake, it's MetaFilterTown.
posted by mark k at 12:53 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Not hard to figure out when Wright grew up, 18 movies from the eighties, that golden age of film comedy, and 17 from the seventies. Must have spent a lot of time at the movies as a kid. As it's a surprisingly unsurprising list of fairly standard favorites. Nothing wrong with that really, but from someone in the business of directing you might expect a few more unusual choices, but then maybe those all are on that undefined "other list" he could have made.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:18 PM on March 25


I've seen 71 of these. It's a perfectly fine list, but there's nothing about it that makes me want to rush out and see the ones I haven't seen. It's true that comedy is harder to translate across cultures than tragedy but here are some funny Japanese movies:

I was born, but... 1932
Mr. Thank You 1936
Pom Poko 1994

I particularly want to recommend "Mr. Thank You" because it's not very well known, but wonderful in every way.
posted by acrasis at 5:41 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I saw One cut of the dead recently and it deserves to be on the list. It took me a while to watch it because I’m completely burned out on zombies but it’s really way better than it looks.
posted by SageLeVoid at 6:26 PM on March 25


Great list! I would also include Caddyshack, Playtime, and his own movies.
posted by jwest at 7:05 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Edgar Wright on the list of movies he prepared...

...I could easily do another 100 so don’t say ‘Where’s so and so?’....

...We commenters on MetaFilter:

...

...old habits die hard I guess lol



Well that certainly shut down this thread abruptly - - silencing is golden.
posted by fairmettle at 1:18 AM on March 26


Some more suggestions for the second hundred (just off the top of my head):

Used Cars
The Big Lebowski
Captain Ron
The Life Aquatic
Grosse Pointe Blank
Murder By Death
Kelly's Heroes
Spaceballs
Galaxy Quest
The Odd Couple
Mean Girls
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
M*A*S*H*
Stripes
Caddyshack


Also, I'm not too proud, I'm a big fan of Hot Tub Time Machine (the first one. The second was drivel)
posted by valkane at 4:25 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


some funny Japanese movies

Dandelion/Tampopo (1985)

provided you haven't already seen it, like 20 times. But even then.

The netflix series Midnight Diner is a string of perfect (tapioca) pearls too.
posted by bonehead at 7:53 AM on March 27


They Came Together is so, so, so funny. Glad to see it on the list.
posted by Twicketface at 8:28 AM on March 27


In Every Frame A Painting, Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou had a video essay specifically about Edgar Wright's greatness at visual comedy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FOzD4Sfgag.

It'd be interesting to know if Wright's personal taste in comedy films also tends towards good use of visual comedy; is anybody familiar enough with the films above to reckon one way or the other?
posted by vincebowdren at 2:03 PM on March 31


It'd be interesting to know if Wright's personal taste in comedy films also tends towards good use of visual comedy; is anybody familiar enough with the films above to reckon one way or the other?

I've seen most of the movies, missing a few of the most recently released, and I'd say the overall theme of the group is less perhaps big visual comedies, though there are quite a few of those, and more that Wright favors a certain kind of comedic boldness in his selections, with only a few films being "lighter" comedies. The list, in other words, is strong laugh based, which is perhaps the most typical way people rank comedies, but not at all the only way to do so. I figure he might have chose these films because they are, for the most part, funny in the most immediate kind of way, for those who enjoy them, rather than making a list of films that might be seen as treading a different kind of line between comedy and drama or the way "funny" is integrated into the stories.

What it seems Wright enjoys with these films is more just their exaggerated take on reality and pleasure in the unexpected writ large. While there are a few selections like Gregory's Girl, The Apartment, Sideways, and Nuts in May, which relies on a more low key roughly "naturalistic" character humor, most push the reality of their worlds much further or have some strong elements of excess built in that exist alongside the more naturalistic side. Annie Hall, for example, mixes comedic character driven moments with scenes breaking the fourth wall and moments of broad comedy of more hyperbolic views of events.

Even the movies with relatively tame visual comedy still seem to lean towards a sense of exaggeration in some part of their set up, taking a more or less normal type of character and/or situation and turning up the volume on it a few extra notches to give it a level of remove from real life in a way that leans more towards the absurd. Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Risky Business, The Graduate, Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice are all a bit like this in slightly different ways.
More films on the list go much further than that pushing towards broad absurdism in a visuals, character, situation and wordplay, sometimes with something of a purpose to it, like Harold and Maude, and sometimes just taken to extreme for its own sake like Airplane!.

The list contains a variety of different kinds of visual humor (as well as a variety of other kinds of humor too of course). Some of the films are brashly excessive, like Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, or even the Buster Keaton films, where the laws of physics don't seem to fully apply to the reality of the movies, where others like the Tati films he lists, or Roy Andersson's Songs from the Second Floor and You the Living, have a drier kind of exaggerated effect. If in Keaton's movies he seems to bend reality with his interactions with the materials of normal life, in Tati and Andersson it's more that the setting of normal life is distorted which requires the characters to adjust themselves to fit to their worlds, while some other films have fantastic characters trying to fit themselves into a mundane world, like What We Do in the Shadows, or relatively mundane characters bumping into a fantastic element of the world and adjusting to it, like Being John Malkovich. Wright really seems to like that intersection where the mundane meets the extraordinary in any context, which is indeed a key element of his own films.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:49 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


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