Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Comedies - Josh Johnson ""

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Favorite Underrated Comedies - Josh Johnson

Josh Johnson is one of the filmmakers behind REWIND THIS which recently had its premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. The documentary is about how home video changed the way the world consumed films and the gigantic cultural and historical impact of the VHS tape.
Here is a recent interview with Josh about the film: 
Follow Josh on Twitter here:

This movie tends to get lumped in with a lot of the lackluster spoof films that got released in the early 2000's, but it is actually one of the funniest comedies of the past 20 years. Eddie Griffin plays the title character, a special agent in the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., an afrocentric spy agency out to stop a villainous entity known only as "The Man". The supporting cast is excellent across the board, with Neil Patrick Harris being a standout as the lone white guy within the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., each player stepping in to deliver solid laughs without stealing the show from Griffin. The soundtrack is great, the jokes are inspired, and the satire (while a bit on the nose) hits some sensitive issues with full force.

The Belushi/Ackroyd team-up that nobody seems to like. Widely criticized at the time for daring to switch up the duo's established strengths, it is the strange dynamic
between the comedy team that makes it so fascinating now. John Belushi plays an uptight family man, in a frustrating and stifling marriage. Dan Ackroyd plays a beer-swilling maniac with a penchant for destruction. The whole film takes place over the course of one wild night of escalating madness as the two neighbors get to know one another. The entire enterprise is filled with a darkness, a desire to pervert and warp the common view of the American dream. It has loads of laughs, but they all stem from discomfort, a popular form of comedy today. At the time, audiences weren't ready for it. There was a lot of resentment, feelings of betrayal. It is due for rediscovery, it feels more relevant today than ever before. Let it do bad things to you.


O.C. & STIGGS(1985)
Robert Altman is rightfully considered one of the major visionaries of the cinema. When people talk about his essential works, they don't often speak of this zany comedy he made in the 80's. It is an odd fit for Altman's sensibilities, but that is what makes it such a uniquely enjoyable experience. The two title characters wander around, performing unusual pranks, always fighting against the banality of suburbia. Their chief target is Randal Schwab, a wealthy local businessman, whom they feel represents everything wrong with the world. The overlapping dialogue and deadpan delivery give one the feeling they are floating along a river while watching the film progress. This films idea of heroism is represented by musician King Sunny Ade, who makes a bizarre cameo that is almost too weird to believe. Strange, iconoclastic, and really funny. A truly underrated comedy.

Remember the bizarro comedy in which George C. Scott believes he is Sherlock Holmes after the death of his wife? Most people would say no to that question. Which is really unfortunate. An effective character study on top of being a yuckfest, this film deserves to be a heralded classic. For whatever reason, it has been languishing in relative obscurity for decades. It contains a powerhouse performance from the always powerful Scott, who carries off ridiculous behavior with believability and charm. Like most great comedies, there is an undercurrent of tragedy running throughout. You'll laugh the whole time, but you'll have plenty to think about after the credits roll.

THE TEN(2007)
I vividly remember seeing this movie on opening night with my brother, and we both laughed uproariously to the point of feeling pain in our sides. As we walked out we thought we had seen a new comedy classic. But then.....nothing happened. David Wain's absurdist take on the ten commandments turned out to be a little too odd for the mainstream, but not quite subversive enough for the comedy underground. It fell between the cracks during its initial release, and hasn't developed as much of a cult following as I thought it would. Regardless of this fact, the movie kills. Each of its ten segments has plenty of unexpected delights, but a segment involving a romance between Paul Rudd and Diane Wiest really tickles my oddball funnybone. Whether you enjoy wordplay, sexual innuendo, surrealist escapades, or traditional slapstick, there is more than enough of all of these for you.


SteveQ said...

I thought I was the only one who liked "O.C. and Stiggs!" (except the five people who read the comic from which it originated)

Roger said...

I'm also a big fan of O.C. - thanks for that shoutout. I tracked it down back in the early '90s on VHS and think it must have been dismissed because 1) presumed behind-the-scenes production trouble and 2) it just wasn't one of those brilliant Altman films but a teen comedy!

It got lost in the decade in which every 3rd film was a teen comedy but it transcends the genre. Keep up the good work!


Hal said...

Big fan of UNDERCOVER BROTHER myself. I'd recommend DARKTOWN STRUTTERS (75) to fans of U.C. as well (it didn't quite make my list, but it is worth a look)