Ideas for the Queue: Comedy
Ever get to the video store and draw a complete blank on what to see? Is your Netflix queue bare and empty? I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite films that you might not have seen. Last post we covered Thrillers/Dramas, this time we’ll look at Comedies. Now comedies are categorically less inclined to offer much in the way of substance or wisdom, but I prefer my comedies with some-thinking-required and so these are slightly more sophisticated and less like traditional comedies.
Stranger Than Fiction
I missed this film when it came out and only saw it a year or so ago. Aside from the fact that it was filmed in the Windy City (+1 in my book), I just love how creative it is. In addition to being a thoughtful romantic comedy in its own right, it explores existential issues and the way that we approach story narration in a very unconventional manner. It follows Harold Crick (Will Farrell) who is an unassuming accountant for the IRS. This is my favorite performance by Farrell, he is genuine and honest and is perfect for this part. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, and Queen Latifah round out the cast. This film is rated PG-13 for some brief language, subject matter, and a couple of derriers in a shower-room scene.
This is another unconventional comedy. It’s part thriller-part comedy and its a lot of fun. Michael J. Fox plays a guy who developed “psychic” abilities after he and his wife were in a car accident. He has turned it into a business where he convinces ghosts to manifest themselves in people’ s homes and he saves the day (and collects a check for doing so). Things get interesting when he notices a dark spectre around town, right around the same time people start turning up dead. This was Peter Jackson’s film that he made right before starting on the “Lord of the Rings” series, and his penchant for mixing comedy with thrills is evident here. No big names in the cast besides Fox, but the performances are solid. This film is rated R for violence/gore.
Lars and the Real Girl
The Uncommon Show reviewed this film in one of our first shows we ever taped, but I’ve got to include it here. While the Parson and the Cleaner missed the appeal of this film, it is one of my favorite indie films of the past few years. The film follows Lars (Ryan Gosling) who suffers from nearly complete alienation from society. He’s unable/unwilling to engage people in normal, everyday social interactions and is slowly withering inside. One day, a box arrives containing a “woman” that Lars has ordered on the internet. When I first read the plotline, I have to admit I was off-put but after watching it I realized my fears were unfounded (it’s rated PG-13 after all). It is a touching, funny film that deals with social alienation, something that more and more people in our fallen world are succumbing to. In my estimation, it uses a version of what the Parson teaches as The Doctrine of Accomodation to deal with it. The film is rated PG-13 for sexual references, but it is a pretty clean film.
You might remember this film more for the Oscar musical performance than for the film itself. If you remember, the two leads (pictured above) played the Oscar-nominated song for the show and later won the Oscar for Best Original Song. The TV producers cut off Marketa Irglova’s speech, so John Stewart brought her back out to finish when the show returned from the break. That is the kind of endearing awkwardness that is so characteristic of this film. The film blurs the line between reality and cinema as it follows a street musician who meets an attractive young woman while playing on the street and finds himself very interested in her, the rest of the film focuses on these two characters as they get to know each other and set about recording an album together. The irony is that John Carney, the male lead, really was a busker on the streets of Dublin and during the filming of this film, the two fell for each other and are still together. This film is low-budget and not very flashy, but it feels very honest and is a refreshing, unconventional romantic comedy. It’s rated R for language.
Waking Ned Devine
I guess you could call this a foreign film, since it was filmed in Ireland, but I’ve put it with the comedies because it’s a funny film! It all starts when one of the residents of a small, small town in Ireland realizes that someone in his town has won a huge lottery jackpot. The race is on to find out who it is and to cozy up to the new millionaire! This film is rated PG and is a lot of fun.
Waiting for Guffman
Let me just say this: if you liked “Spinal Tap” you will like “Waiting for Guffman”. It’s another Christopher Guest film with a lot of the same actors in it. Instead of British rockbands, this time they take a stab at community theater and it is hilarious. For those of you that aren’t familiar with this group’s style, they make “mockumentaries” which seem like documentaries but are really actors improvising funny scenes on camera. This is one of my all-time favorites. This film is rated R, but aside from a couple of sexual references and a couple of f-bombs, it’s harmless.
I hope that this gives you some ideas for your queue! Please add any suggestions that you have for Comedies in the comments below. I love to talk about favorite films. Thanks for taking the time to read this post.