Since I have done multiple movie posts here on the ol’ blog, I thought it might be fun to discuss some of my favorite underrated comedies. Some of these movies are more well known than others, many of them finding their audience well after their initial release and reaching “cult classic” status (never been a big fan of that term, but we all know what it means, so there you go). Others, not so much. You may well question how on earth anyone could possibly enjoy such a movie. In which case I say, “welcome to my twisted brain”.
Regular readers know that I often review films on my blog with my daughter, and we keep these films in the PG/PG13 range. Most of the films listed here, however, are aimed at adults, but there will be at least one family film. Ratings are listed with the films, so if you show any of these movies to your kids and warp them irrevocably or have to have a conversation you weren’t ready for, don’t blame me. There will also be a small blurb about each selection.
In any case, these are movies that I feel deserve a second look (or a first look, if you have never seen them. Or maybe a 20th if the movie happens to be a favorite of yours). Most of these movies can be found either through streaming services, You Tube, or in the bargain bin of your local used DVD store.
And now, because 20 is too many and 10 is not enough, here’s my list of 15 Favorite Underrated Comedies.
- Big Man On Campus (PG-13, 1989)
-A modernized version of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame set in UCLA. It’s a little patchy and there are some jokes that feel out of place, but this movie is highly quotable, and has a nice heart underneath all the silliness. This is one of those films where if you hear anyone quote it in public you need to make friends with that person. Really fun film.
- BASEketball (R, 1998)
–Airplane! meets South Park. Either that appeals to you or it doesn’t. This is a stupid, foul mouthed, sophomoric film about two slackers who make it big by inventing a sport and taking it National. It surprisingly tanked at the time, and let’s face it, it’s not genius filmmaking by any stretch, but it makes me laugh.
- Clue (PG, 1985)
-I am always surprised by how many people I talk to who have never seen Clue. Sure, it’s loosely based on a board game, but the writing is Marx Brothers sharp, and the cast is top notch all the way through. This also holds the (somewhat dubious) honor of being the only film released with three endings. If you watched and enjoyed Knives Out go check this out and see where they got their inspiration.
- Death To Smoochy (R, 2002)
-I know someone who claims that this is the worst movie they have ever seen. Which of course means that they haven’t seen enough movies, but I kind of understand why many people dislike this film. This is a dark comedy about big business, jealousy, insanity and moral failings set in the landscape of children’s television. It’s got a fairly misanthropic viewpoint, but the total commitment to their roles by Robin Williams and Ed Norton, along with the twisted genius of Danny DeVito make this worth seeing if you find humor in the unpleasant side of life.
- Dirty Work (PG-13, 1998)
-Norm McDonald is the main star of this one, so that might be all you need to know. The plot involves a revenge for hire business, and it’s full of inappropriate jokes. It’s not exactly good, but I found it funny. And ridiculous.
- Dracula: Dead And Loving It (PG-13, 1995)
-Unfairly trashed as one of the worst films of Mel Brooks’ career. Sure, it was clearly made on the cheap, and perhaps going back to the horror movie well was not the best idea, as this movie was always going to pale in the light of what Brooks had done before. Still, there are plenty of funny sequences and one liners that stand up well. When watched with an open mind, this one is highly enjoyable. It’s past time we reappraise this film!
- Drop Dead Fred (PG-13, 1991)
-Manic British comedian Rik Mayall (long live the people’s poet!) stars as an imaginary friend who has come back into the life of a grown woman whose life is falling apart. It’s a weird little film that manages to be both an anarchic comedy and an exploration of mental illness in adults. Think Beetlejuice meets Harvey and you’ve got some idea of what’s going on here.
- The Great Race (Not Rated, 1965)
-A slapstick melodrama based on the 1908 New York to Paris automobile race, which I just found out was a real thing, who knew? This is on record as the most expensive comedy ever made and, naturally, has the largest pie fight ever filmed. This is an epic movie that somehow feels quaint. It features not only the titular great race, but also carnival stunts, suffragettes fighting for women’s rights, the wild west, political uprisings in small Eastern European countries, and an explosive ending. Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk are both a treat to watch. This movie runs 2 hrs and 40 mins. so you’re going to need a full afternoon but this gem is well worth the time.
- Howard The Duck (PG, 1986)
-Part comedy, part science fiction, all gold. My favorite Marvel film, hands down. It’s goofy, a tad rebellious, and ludicrous. I love it. And for the umpteenth time, Beverly is NOT hitting on Howard, she is messing with him. Anyway, I will say that this movie is confused as to what it wants to be. It is alternately a kid’s movie, a science fiction film and an adult comedy. Which is why I like it.
- A Mighty Wind (PG-13, 2003)
-A delightful “mockumentary” about folk musicians from the 1960s converging for a one night only concert in New York City. This is a Christopher Guest movie, featuring his usual collaborators, and a catchy as all get out soundtrack. It’s almost impossible to watch these actors and not smile. As good as his other films are, this one is my favorite.
- Monty Python’s The meaning Of Life (R, 1983)
-This is the Python team’s most uneven film, and it purposefully goes out of its way to offend absolutely everyone. Yet I feel like people hold that against it for some reason. Sure, it’s got some real gross out humor in it, there are some very adult jokes, which can be a bit gratuitous, and some of the ideas are stretched well beyond the point of them being funny. It also contains some of the best material the group has ever written.
- Muppet Treasure Island (G, 1996)
-Largely overlooked by the public at large, this is a highly entertaining entry in the Muppet film catalogue. I laugh out loud every time I see it. Much like their Christmas Carol adaption, the movie sticks surprisingly close to the source material. The Muppets are a treat to watch, as is the amazing Tim Curry as Long John Silver. Most of the films listed in this post aren’t exactly family friendly, but this one most certainly is, and if your family hasn’t watched, do so on your next movie night. You won’t be disappointed.
- Quick Change (R, 1990)
-Okay, I haven’t seen this one in ages and I forgot it was rated R. Anyway, this is a Bill Murray picture about a disgruntled city worker who decides to pull of the perfect bank heist (dressed as a clown, no less), and get out of the big city. The movie follows both the heist itself, and the subsequent attempt at escape. It may not be one of Murray’s most famous or well loved films, but it is funny and entertains, and in this case, that’s enough.
- Strange Brew (PG, 1983)
-Okay, hear me out on this one, eh? I know a lot of people know this film, but there are many more who don’t. Apart from it being where we Americans (mostly) got our stereotype of Canadians, this is also one of if not the first film to feature Rick Moranis in a starring role. The film follows Bob and Doug McKenzie (characters from the genius SCTV television show), as they find jobs at a local brewery and unwittingly discover an evil plot by the brewmeister. Bob and Doug are beer swilling dunderheads, but they have hearts of gold. As goofy as this movie may be, its genius lies in that it is based on Hamlet, with the story being told through the eyes of the comic relief. Bob and Doug=Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, except they don’t die. This plot device is what keeps this film out of sheer dumb comedy status and makes it a cut above.
- The Wrong Guy (PG-13, 1997)
-This is a fun little movie with a quirky plot that goes something like this: Disgruntled employee threatens (in moment of anger) to kill boss. Boss is killed by someone else. disgruntled employee assumes himself to be prime suspect and goes on the run. He is not a suspect at all. Hilarity ensues.
This was fun for me. Hopefully you share a fandom with at least a few of these films, or maybe found something to investigate further. I’ll be back next week with more stuff. See you then.
P.S.- Yes, I mean it about Howard The Duck.