We’re up to our sixth day with sick kids underfoot and the TV is getting a MAJOR workout. After endless episodes of X-Files, Doctor Who and Living With Boys I felt like lightening up. So I rented Galaxy Quest. It wasn’t quite as good as I remembered, and the seven year old was totally confused by the concept of actors playing actors on a TV show who are mistaken for space warriors by aliens and co-opted into leading their race into war, but it was still quite fun (for me).
And it got me thinking about other movies I could show them that might raise a laugh. So I clicked on a few preview trailers and suddenly realised how dodgy the special effects were, how muddy the colours seemed and how … dated comedy can become. I dare you to watch the short for Caddyshack and not go WTF?
It reminds me of being a teen and laughing until I cried over The Young Ones, then viewing it as an adult and thinking … hmmmm, what was so funny again?
Still desperate for a laugh I consulted Reader’s Digest’s The Top 100 Funniest Movies of All Time and dug out these gems (though most not suitable for kids, I’d imagine):
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975) The inventive British sketch comedians (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle) do battle with the Arthurian legend, complete with a Trojan Rabbit and a Holy Hand Grenade. Tradition loses. We win.
PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) A tired businessman (Steve Martin) tries desperately to get home. Nobody listens, except a lumpish, insensitive passer-by (John Candy.) Disaster follows. The cast plays it for reality as well as laughs, thanks to director John Hughes.
A FISH CALLED WANDA (1988) A shaggy fish tale, written by former Monty Python veteran John Cleese, who also stars in this caper gone mad. Fellow Pythonite Michael Palin helps enormously, as do Jamie Lee Curtis and a frantically stuttering Kevin Kline.
GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) Egomaniacal weatherman Bill Murray spends a night in Punxsutawney, Pa., where the local groundhog is supposed to see his shadow and predict how long winter will last. Trouble is, Murray gets caught in a time trap, and keeps repeating the day, minute by minute, day after day. Scrooge becomes saint, but not before some funny and wise interludes, supervised by director Harold Ramis.
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL (1994) Blithe British comedy about a young man (Hugh Grant) who can’t commit until he meets an unattainable woman (Andie MacDowell). With a choice supporting cast, under Mike Newell’s direction.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998) Indeed there is, as played by Cameron Diaz, and Ben Stiller has craved it since high school. Now that she’s a lady every other man does, too. Sophomoric? Yes. Hilarious? Absolutely. Matt Dillon helps.
A few I’d add: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Ruprecht and his fork is THE BEST) and Life of Brian.
Any suggestions for other movies that are guaranteed to put a smile on someone’s dial?