Making a “greatest movies” list is always difficult. Movie quality is subjective, after all: Which is “better,” the psychological depth of Citizen Kane, the relentless comic timing of Some Like it Hot, or the kinetic thrills of Raiders of the Lost Ark? By their nature, such lists are open documents, demanding debate. And that’s especially true of a list of movie comedies. The things that make us laugh are extremely personal and highly subjective. When someone tells me they don’t think Caddyshack is funny, I can’t help but judge them. (I, in turn, have felt the cruel judgment of close friends when I admit that I can’t stand Anchorman.)
Still, a new list by Time Out London takes a good stab at compiling the 100 funniest movies ever by specifically building their list from the opinions of over 200 comedy professionals: Stand-ups, comedy writers, and other professional funnymen (and women, too!). The list certainly could have benefited from installing a quota. I can understand putting Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s South Park movie high on the list, but do Team America: World Police and BASEketball really deserve their places?
Which brings up another problem — which, depending on your perspective, might actually be a positive thing — about the list: Quite a few of the movies seem to have earned their slot more because they contain a few extremely memorable scenes. (That’s certainly true of Team America, which has three or four of the funniest bits in movie history, but is unbearably draggy for much of its running time.) The list also suffers/benefits from Undeniable Britishness: Two Monty Python movies are in the top five.
But it makes for a fun read. Even more fun: Time Out had all of its contributors include their own comedy top ten. (So now you can know just how much Edgar Wright loves Raising Arizona.) And the most fun thing about lists like this is just seeing the wonderful juxtaposition of apparently dissimilar films. You might think it’s funny to see Mean Girls (No. 90) right behind The Great Dictator (No. 89), but if you think about it, the two movies are strikingly similar: Gleeful mistaken-identity romps that suddenly go off the rails when they get really preachy at the end. (Tina Fey = Charlie Chaplin?)
Readers, what do you think of Time Out’s best-comedies list? Yeesh, those Brits do love their Woody Allen, don’t they?
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