boxed-sets comedy film funny Humor Jackie-Chan Movies television The Internet Tom-Green top-100-movies turkey TV unfunny videos Will-Smith YouTube

Go to the Theater and See Hot Fuzz Right Now

Hot Fuzz Perhaps you shouldn't go right now, since I'm writing this at midnight on a weekday, but go at your earliest convenience. Hot Fuzz is the latest film by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, the guys who made Shaun of the Dead. If you haven't yet seen Shaun of the Dead, go out and get it - it's one of the funniest, most clever movies I've seen in a long time. You may not have heard of Hot Fuzz, it doesn't seem to be getting much advertising and didn't open in a large number of theaters. If you've seen a review, you might have heard that it's a buddy cop action movie spoof. Really, it isn't a spoof so much as an homage wrapped up in a bunch of postmodern cleverness. It's also a damn good film in it's own right. Let me explain. The movie doesn't just mock and ape other cop movies, like lame "comedies" such as Epic Movie. It is much to well written for that. At the same time it's much more specific, recreating iconic scenes from Point Break and Bad Boys 2 shot-for-shot after after characters have described the scenes just a few minutes earlier. It works and it's amazing how they pull it off. It reminded me of The Days of Rice and Salt when Kim Stanley Robinson slowly revealed how his characters wrote their own story in a form that describes the book itself. Like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz starts Pegg and Nick Frost. These guys play really well off each other and make a better "mismatched pair of cops who learn to rely on each other" than Lethal Weapon, Tango and Cash and Turner and Hootch combined. It's also one of the few movies where IMDB's Trivia and References pages are obviously not complete. Just go see the movie already!

Funny Moments in Unfunny Movies

I often wonder how movies get made, specifically: how does a studio decide to film one script and not another? I think about this a lot because so many bad movies get made each year that the decision-making process must involve coin-flipping or developmentally disabled children. The worst, perhaps, are the unfunny comedies. A crappy action movie might still have good explosions, and a boring drama will at least show the clerk at Blockbuster that you are a smart person with discerning tastes. But unfunny comedies have no redeeming value. Even unfunny movies, though, can strike comedy gold once in a while. Below are five funny moments in some very unfunny movies. 1. Freddy Got Fingered This is a great example of an unfunny movie, winning the 2002 Razzie Award for Worst Actor, Worst Director, Worst Picture, Worst Screen Couple, and Worst Screenplay. Tome Green had his moments on MTV, but got pretty tiresome pretty quickly. None of those moments made their way into Freddy Got Fingered, except one: [youtube]v1YIT-HINKg[/youtube] "Daddy would you like some sausages" is a classic. The way the sausages seem to dance, the light playing off their string-bound casings like the laughter of children on a summer day... brilliant! But the rest of the movie is almost unwatchable. I apologize for making some of my friends watch it a couple years ago. 2. The Tuxedo I'm a Jackie Chan fan, but his American movies are pretty hit or miss. He and Owen Wilson were great in Shanghai Noon, but the sequel for some reason fell flat. The Rush Hour movies have been entertaining, but then there's The Tuxedo. The premise: Jackie Chan is just a normal guy who accidentally gets a secret agent's super-powered tuxedo. Hijinks ensue. With a setup like that, and a gifted physical comedian like Chan, you can't lose, right? Apparently you can. The movie just doesn't take full advantage of Chan, the plot is ludicrous and uninteresting, and the jokes aren't funny. Expect for one. Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt are trying to get into a fancy restaurant to spy on the bad guy or something boring like that.
Maitre'd: I'm sorry, you don't seem to be on the list. Jennifer Love Hewitt: Slip him some cash. Jackie Chan (trying to sound smooth): I believe you will find us listed under the name... Washington [hands the Maitre'd a single]. Maitre'd: [stares] Jackie Chan: Maybe it is listed under Lincoln... Washington... Washington... Me: [laughs for the first time in 45 minutes].
But after that, no more funny. Just to prove the point, this movie couldn't even wring a laugh from the violent death of James Brown: [youtube]rj4uMQU1tos[/youtube] 3. The Wild Wild West This is a terrible movie. What's worse, before the trailers came out, I had high hopes. I'm not a raving Will Smith fan, but I think he's underrated as an actor (see Six Degrees of Separation and Ali) because he always plays himself in action movies. He's a likable guy, so to tell you the truth I don't mind seeing Will Smith play himself in action movies. I also like the whole steampunk alternate-history concept. Now that I think about it, though, steampunk movies/cartoons/books are pretty much always disappointing. At any rate, Wild Wild West turned out to be pretty crappy. But there was one scene that was funny, mainly because it was so mean-spirited.
Evil Mastermind in Wheelchair: Mister West! How nice of you to join us tonight and add COLOR to these monochromatic proceedings! Will Smith: Well when a fella comes back from the dead, I find that an occasion to STAND UP and be counted! Evil Mastermind in Wheelchair: Miss East informs me that you were expectin' to see General McGrath here. Well, I knew him years ago, but I haven't seen him in a COON's age! Will Smith: Well, I can see where it'd be difficult for a man of your stature to keep in touch with even HALF the people you know. Evil Mastermind in Wheelchair: Well, perhaps the lovely Miss East will keep you from bein' a SLAVE to your disappointment! Will Smith: Well, you know beautiful women; they encourage you one minute, and CUT THE LEGS OUT from under you the next!
Don't believe me about the rest of the movie sucking? Watch below to see what Robert Conrad, star of the original television series, thought about the movie: [youtube]uKM5lo1oENI[/youtube] 4. Little Nicky Oh Adam Sandler. Your emotionally-stunted, speech-impeded man/boy characters were always so entertaining on Saturday Night Live. But they just don't translate well when stretched out to 90 minutes. Little Nicky is a classic case. Sandler plays the son of satan himself, and his brother is trying to turn the earth into his own hellish domain. Something like that... anyway, there's some sort of convoluted plot that doesn't matter. It's strange but not particularly funny, until Nicky's brother starts his huge demon-concert to steal people's souls (or something). The entertainment? Henry Winkler, covered in bees! [youtube]eLdjwGV5730[/youtube] 5. Scary Movie When Scream come out, it breathed new life into the horror genre by adding a sense of humor and self-awareness to a genuinely scary plot. Then about a thousand similar movies tried to ride its coattails. Then, the Wayans bothers tried to spoof it with Scary Movie. It is very hard to spoof a movie which is already a comedy. So it shouldn't be too surprising that Scary Movie was fairly flat. It wasn't actually that bad, but there were too few laughs per minute running time. Until the very, very end of the movie. I won't spoil it here, so no YouTube clip. You'll have to watch it yourself, the whole movie, so you can see the end. I guess you can skip ahead to the end but it will probably be less funny without context.

What You Should Be Watching: Post-Holiday Gifts to Yourself

By the time Christmas is over, you're going to have some gift cards to spend and some returns to make. Forget buying books or CDs with your Borders gift card (dude, CDs are so 2005) - instead, stock up on some television show boxed sets. Instead of shoveling the driveway or doing whatever people do in the winter in places where it doesn't snow, stay inside and rot your brain AGAIN with these hours upon hours of television goodness. All commercial-free! The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThis is hands-down the best Holmes series out there. Jeremy Brett (as Holmes) basically turned himself into a raving lunatic to bring us the most true-to-story Sherlock possible, and the writers of this first series worked hard to keep true to Doyle's works as well. Fans of House and CSI will appreciate the original "so clever it hurts" character after which Greg House and Gil Grissom are often cited as being modeled after. Brett is a sexy bastard as well. There's other Granada Television (of Great Britian) Holmes series starring Brett, such as The Return of Sherlock Holmes and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, which are also good but Adventures is the place to start. The original 13 episodes, included in this set, had the best scripts and Brett was still at the top of his game. As the later series came about, the quality of Holmes stories left from which to choose became a stumbling block for the writers. Brett also started losing his mind a bit and his health got worse. By the time The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was shot (the final series), Brett was literally having to be propped up in order to appear in the shows. But this first series is can't-miss. Sets are amazingly accurate, Brett and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke as Watson give spot-on performances and the scripts couldn't be more accurate. Investing in this series will definitely up your geek cred by letting you discuss Holmes with your bookstorecoffeeshop buddies as if you've actually read the books. Freaks & Geeks Freaks & GeeksI'm a sucker for all things 80's and also for all things geek, so when I picked this box up I immediately joined the ranks of the fans crying "why was this show cancelled?!" The show is about the Geeks - Sam, Bill and Neal - and the Freaks - Daniel, Nick, Ken and Kim - who go to high school in Michigan in the 80's. Their paths both parallel and cross, as Sam's older sister tries hard to get in with the loser/stoner Freaks while trying to shed her actual identity as a Geek. The acting is great and the writing is even better. It stands to reason, as writer Paul Feig has gone on to work on shows such as Arrested Development, The Office and Weeds. And the show's executive producer, Judd Apatow, worked on The Larry Sanders Show, The Ben Stiller Show, and was co-creator of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. So how did this amazing show get canceled so quick? The Jocks, of course. No one wanted to watch a show about those kids no one talked to in high school. Well no one but the millions of people who identified with said kids - but they aren't the ones in charge. Put this one in the pile with Newsradio and Arrested Development as "shows that were too good for television" and trust me on this one. And, if you're buying it from Amazon, don't be afraid to bundle this purchase with the Undeclared boxed set too. Undeclared is sort of a follow-up to this show, also created by Feig and Apatow. Different characters and different time frame, and it takes place in college, but the quality is still there. The Simpsons (Seasons 1-9) The Simpsons"But I've already seen all of the episodes of The Simpsons!" I know you have, Spiff, but I think you can watch them again. Each boxed set comes with over 9 hours of episodes PLUS commentary on every episode. The first couple of seasons got off to a rocky start, but once the writers and actors hit their grooves the show became a classic. Now that the show is in season 18, people are complaining that the air is slowly leaking out of the Simpsons bag. Fair enough, but this didn't become one of the top television shows ever for no reason. For those of you who feel a little left out when your pals start quoting every line, picking up the boxed sets and watching every episode through will not only make you more culturally aware but kill a lot of time. For those of you who are doing the quoting, the commentary for each episode is worth the price of the set. And watching The Simpsons without commercials sort of takes away the pain when an episode isn't wowing you right out of the gate. Seasons 4 through 12, I think, are the best to look for (obviously, they've only released up to 9) so if you're not seriously into it you can pass up the first few seasons. This may not be a series you can watch again and again but you can be sure that if your current Netflix selection is a little dull or if you need some indoor activity for these insanely long hours of winter darkness, popping in a few episodes of The Simpsons will bring you a few dozen hours of solid comedy television. The Office (UK) The OfficeI can't believe how people love The Office (US) so much and keep telling me they're not interested in the UK version. The ORIGINAL version. Starring Ricky Fucking Gervaise for God's sake. What's your hangup? Sure, Steve Carell is awesome and that kid who plays Jim is alright but they can't replace the original. Gervaise is, to put it in words you will understand, "off the hook" - an even goofier boss. And Tim (the UK's Jim) is more sad (and played by Arthur Dent!), Gareth (Dwight) is more pathetic and the entire office has a bit more of that very creepy and depressing vibe to it. Now, I'm not knocking the US series. From what I've seen of it, it's cool. Plus it's on TV right now which is more than we can say for the UK version. But you've got to see Gervaise doing "the dance" and see Mackenzie Crook (Gareth) wearing bike shorts. You've got to see the pub quizzes and the Christmas parties and "the kiss." Everything you love about the American version is here and perfected the first time around. The UK show only lasts 2 seasons (with a Christmas special) and is quite neatly wrapped up with no loose ends. Trust me on this one - it's like the difference between American Coke in a can and Mexican Coke in a bottle (made with real sugar). The American version is great and handy but if you can get your hands on the "original" it'll be pure enjoyment. The Kids in the Hall (Complete Set) The cleverest sketch comedy show ever. Took forever to get these shows to DVD so count your blessings and pass the Tim Horton's. Newsradio (Seasons 1-4) When was the last time you thought about this show? Oh...every time I mention it on this blog. Right on. Well, what are you waiting for? Jeeves & Wooster (complete set) I said it before in this entry and I'll say it again - Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry kick ass. This is one of those shows you can watch over and over again and not get bored. Like Holmes, it's a perfect adaptation of classic British literature. It's fun to watch and it makes u look sm4rt. Arrested Development (complete set) I know it's almost a cliche to say this is the funniest show on television ever (American television - see The Office (UK)) but it really is friggin' hilarious. It goes by so fast, you have to watch it a couple times to fully appreciate it. Which is why you need the boxed set.

Turkey’s Top Export? Comedy

If you take a look at the CIA World Fact book, you'll see that Turkey's top exports include apparel, foodstuffs, textiles, metal manufactures, and transport equipment. What the United States government doesn't know, or doesn't want you to know, is that Turkey tops the world in a commodity not listed here: comedies. In our ongoing quest to discover the greatest comedies of all time, I decided to take a look at what IMDB had to say. IMDB does have an official list of the top 50 comedies, but I wanted more. Many lists include 100 movies, so I went to the Advanced Search and searched for all movies in the genre "comedy", with at least 1000 votes, excluding TV movies, TV shows, and direct-to-video releases. The first thing I noticed is that IMDB's search is broken, apparently "ignore TV series" really means "litter the results with lots of TV series." The next thing I noticed is something even the CIA couldn't discover: Turkish dominance of the top 3 comedies of all time. At number 1, with a rating of 9.2, is Babam Ve Oglum (2005), also known as My Father and My Son. At number 2, with an 8.9 rating, is Tosun Pasa (1976), with Hababam sinifi (1975) just a notch below at 8.8. The Turkish dominance is finally interrupted by Dr. Strangelove (1964) at the number 4 spot. I have never seen any of these films, or any Turkish comedies for that matter. But these aren't just simple flukes - they each have more than 1000 votes, and it's hard to see why they are not included in the official top 50. What makes these films so funny? Let's take a look as a memorable quote from Tosun Pasa:
Saban: [Scared] Who are you? Real Tosun Pasha: Ibrahim Pasha from Cairo is in your order, Sir! Saban: [Seriously] Who made you a pasha, sir? Real Tosun Pasha: It was with your order, Pasha! Saban: So I made you a pasha, Mr. Ibrahim? Real Tosun Pasha: Yes, Pasha! Saban: [Mockingly] Hey Ibrahim, are you Seferoglus' pasha? Real Tosun Pasha: Sorry, you lost me, sir. Saban: [Laughs] Come on Ibo, you can't fool me!
Ha ha ha heh... heh... Hmm. Perhaps there is a cultural divide. You see, pasha is a title granted within the Ottoman Empire. It was an honorific originally limited to military commanders but later used for civilians as well. Pashas rank above beys and Aghas but below khedives and viziers. There have been a number of important Pashas, for example Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt put down a rebellion of Wahhabis in Arabia and later fought in the Greek War of Independence. He was the adopted son of Muhamad Ali, though few people know that since it was left out of the film. Let's take a look at the plot summary for Babam Ve Oglum:
Sadik is one of the rebellious youth who has been politically active as a university student and became a left-wing journalist in the 70's, despite his father's expectations of him becoming an agricultural engineer and taking control of their family farm in an Aegean village. On the dawn of September 12, 1980, when a merciless military coup hits the country, they cannot find access to any hospital or a doctor and his wife dies while giving birth to their only child, Deniz. After a long-lasting period of torture, trials, and jail time, Sadik returns to his village with 7-8 years old Deniz, knowing that it will be hard to correct things with his father, Huseyin. (source)
Now that sounds funny. I can only imagine the death-during-childbirth scene takes place in fast-motion with a "Benny Hill" soundtrack, much like the examples Mr. Wallz has uncovered. I kid. Actually, all three of these movies sound pretty interesting, and if I ever finish my thesis, I'll try tracking them down. I do have to suspect, though, that their high ranking is due in part to a small, but sizable Turkish minority on IMDB who very passionately love their domestic film industry. Has anyone seen any of these three? Any Turks or Cypriots out there care to clue me in? I'd like to know: what's so funny about Turkey? [youtube]vsQrKZcYtqg[/youtube]

The Greatest Comedies of All Time

A few weeks ago JessB mentioned she had seen a list of the 100 greatest comedies (I think it was Bravo's list) and that it was pretty lacking. The full list can be seen here, in Manroom Magazine, and no, I didn't just make up Manroom Magazine, it actually exists. At the time a few of us remarked that although constructing a definitive list would be difficult, we could come up with 100 that were, on average, much better than the Bravo list and even the fancy important AFI list. So I am issuing two challenges:
  1. To all Unsought Input writers: I am seeking your input to a list of the greatest comedies. Write a follow-up post with some of your picks.
  2. To all UnsoughtInput readers: give us suggestions and critique our choices in the comments section.
The rules:
  1. They have to be filmy, theater-style movies. No short films, made-for-TV movies, etc.
  2. They don't have to be American like the AFI list, but they do have to have actually played somewhere in the U.S. at some point, available on DVD, etc. Art house is fair game, but "screened at Professor Lindski's seminar class on Polish cinema of the 1920s and 1940s" is not.
This won't be easy. Comedy is very subjective, and we're not even going to further constrain the judging criteria by asking for the "funniest" or the "most biting social satire." To get us started, I'll throw out a few picks of my own. Here are ten movies I would put on the list, in no order. I'm sure I can come up with more. We'll decide on the final list through a scientific process of bickering. Waiting for Guffman (1996) - In my opinion, this is the best of the Christopher Guest mocumentaries, even though Spinal Tap was more influential and A Mighty Wind and Best In Show both made more money. Blazing Saddles (1974) - Nothing is funnier than racism. Hey, where the white women at? [youtube]yZF_zPkWbhY[/youtube] Ghostbusters (1984) - When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child, and I loved Ghostbusters. When I became a man, I put aside childish things, yet I still think Ghostbusters is a brilliant movie. I think Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis just disproved the Bible. Sullivan's Travels (1941) - A film producer sees the suffering of his fellow man and decides to abandon his comedies and make a moving film about the plight of the poor. Eventually he discovers that escapist entertainment really is valuable. Although it might seem like the film ends on a high note, I've always thought it was ambiguous - the protagonist learns this while watching cartoons with fellow inmates in a starkly-lit scene filled with exaggerated, haggard laughter. I put this one in to show I'm more cultured than you. Rumble in the Bronx (1995) - For all the Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton on other lists, I can't understand why Jackie Chan never gets any love. He is the best physical comedian alive and has incredible timing. This movie has the perfect intersection of these talents, vague ideas about American culture, and poor dubbing. Watch Jackie fight the most ethnically diverse gang in the history of New York City: [youtube]-rEwedJNQ4A[/youtube] Being John Malkovich (1999) - A movie about a puppeteer and a sweaty portal into an actor's head. In my opinion the chase scene through Malkovich's subconscious is the best chase scene filmed. Rushmore (1998) - I liked The Royal Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket, but I think this is the best Wes Anderson film. Co-written by Owen Wilson. I can't think of a comedy that makes better use of music, or better use of Bill Murray. [youtube]rWjXBJf3fGo[/youtube] Roujin Z (1991) - I've enjoyed a number of anime movies and series, but I tend to find comedic anime somewhat tiresome. Perverts trying to obtain panties... nerds getting embarrassing nosebleeds around women... women stumbling in such a way that you see their panties, causing said nosebleeds... it's only funny so many times. Roujin Z, on the other hand, is sort of a parody of the giant robot / mecha genre of anime that takes jabs at how modern society treats the elderly. What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) - I was really considering not mentioning any Woody Allen movies because they fill up everyone else's lists faster than a page fills an Congressman's heart with lust. So out of spite I am recommending What's Up, Tiger Lily?, one of the few Woody Allen movies that doesn't show up on any lists and the only Woody Allen movie to make me actually laugh out loud. Shaun of the Dead (2004) - This movie manages to reference every zombie movie ever made, get you really interested in the characters, kill off almost all the characters, and still be as funny as hell. Seriously, if you are ever really looking to kill some time, read the IMDb trivia page for the references to other movies. There we go - ten movies to start us out. Now post more of the best comedies and get bickering!