A Top Ten Comedy Movies List?

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The New York Times Magazine had a big comedy issue this weekend, more of which I’ll comment on later. But one of the stories was about the top 5 desert island comedy movies of the people they interviewed. Naturally, there’s going to be some overlap - though not much. But they do create a potential Top Ten. Here it is:

  1. This Is Spinal Tap (which was on the list of four: David Cross, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard and Ricky Gervais)
  2. Tie with 3 mentions

  3. Dr. Strangelove
  4. Dumb and Dumber
  5. Tie with 2 votes

  6. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  7. The Jerk
  8. Animal House
  9. The Big Lebowski
  10. Young Frankenstein
  11. Groundhog Day
  12. Laurel & Hardy’s Sons of the Desert.

Of those interviewed, two of them had the most common taste: Catherine O’Hara and the creators of the online short Le Montage.

Of course, three of those asked had the most idiosyncratic lists:

  • Judd Apatow:
    Welcome to the Dollhouse, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Punch-Drunk Love, Terms of Endearment and Borat
  • Bernie Mac:
    Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again, Back to School, What About Bob? and Bad Santa
  • Ze Frank:
    The Party, The General, A Day at the Races, Caddyshack and The Perfect Human

How off is the top ten? Is there any one from the three more distinctive lists that should have made it?

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Posted by Erik on 11/14  at  03:32 PM

To clarify, the NYT criteria was not “Top 5 Comedy Movies”, but “Which five comedies would you want to take with you if you were stranded alone on a desert island?”.  A subtle, and perhaps meaningless, distinction. (Also, how many of these lists were ghostwritten by publicists, gardeners, NYT interns??)

I think “Comedy” is too broad a category, much like saying “Top 5 Music CDs”. Sub-genres such as black,farce,mockumentary,
parody,satire, etc. could be used to avoid comparing “The Apple-Dumpling Gang” to “Orange County”.


Personally, I would like to see more representation of the Earnest series, but that’s just me.

Posted by Jack on 11/14  at  04:06 PM

I think Fast Times at Ridgemont High should get more respect than it does because while it might seem as if it does get respect, most non-comedy people dimiss it out of hand without realizing it was THE seminal teen comedy.

And if there’s going to be a Laurel and Hardy, I would say The Music Box ranks higher than Sons of the Desert.

Waiting for Guffman trumps Spinal Tap in my book. I don’t laugh at Spinal Tap the way I used.

And while I’m not too sure how it could be listed, but I seriously think the Our Gang/Little Rascals shorts are pretty decent.  Some stink—they were pumping them out like crazy—but some are real gems.

Posted by Mike on 11/14  at  06:11 PM

I don’t have any major disagreements with the list, with the exception of “Dumb and Dumber”.  If I had to choose one silly, slapsticky movie in that vein, I’d probably go with Super Troopers.

It’s sort of surprising that none of the Monty Python movies made the cut.  I also would’ve expected Office Space in there as well.  I’m glad Todd Solondz at least got an honorable mention.  His movies are so darkly hilarious, but I don’t think a lot of people would place them firmly under the Comedy heading.

“40 Year Old Virgin” was certainly one of the funnier movies in the last few years, though it wouldn’t be one of my desert island five.

Posted by Zachariah on 04/05  at  07:14 PM

It is incredibly hard to come up with a top comedy movie list of, well, all time - desert island or not. Personally, Big Lebowski, Dr. Strangelove, Office Space, Super Troopers and Monty Python and the Holy Grail would be my five. But it’s good to see some honest classics on the list, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them.

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