Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Comedies - Kevin Clarke ""

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Favorite Underrated Comedies - Kevin Clarke

Kevin Clarke works at Scarecrow Video and  is one half of the almost award-winning comedy group/film-making team The Entertainment Show ( They've made a feature length post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy comedy, STEEL OF FIRE WARRIORS 2010 A.D. and an epic six episode "TV" series, ADVENTURE BUDDIES, both of which can be seen in (most of) their entirety at He's also one of the filmmakers behind HAMBURGER DAD, which is on Amazon Instant right now:

"Underrated" is a hard word to define. Can a bonafide cult-hit like WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER be considered "underrated?" From my experience working in a video store, when someone comes in asking for a great comedy, this is the first one I recommend, and nine times out of ten they have never seen it, even with all the future famouses peppering the cast. Plus, I think this is the best comedy of the last 15 years, so even if it were "overrated," I would consider it underrated.

TOP SECRET! (1984)
The funniest and most under-appreciated movie of the Zucker/Abrams/Zucker's oeuvre. The silliest movie ever (well, since DUCK SOUP, anyway ). AIRPLANE and THE NAKED GUN are great, but this is the master class on parody filmmaking and visual gaggery. And remember when Val Kilmer was hilarious? With not one, but TWO perfect jokes centered around boots!

Hands down the funniest (and therefore best) Alec Baldwin performance ever. His delivery of "Everything is turning all orange…and silver!" is sublime.
Also this bit:

"Freeze, I'm a cop!"
"You just shot me!"
"That was a warning shot, and it happened to hit you!"

Woody Allen made these two tonally divergent and mostly forgotten masterpieces back to back. EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU is probably my favorite Allen film, an effortlessly charming musical that recalls the magic of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire and the wackiness of the Marx Brothers.

DECONSTRUCTING HARRY, on the other hand, is an acerbic black comedy about a sociopathic author (played by Allen himself) who's burned every bridge he's come across. It also contains some of the director's best magical realist visions, such as an actor who is out of focus, and a trip to hell.
These are both sadly out of print on video and have yet to receive even decent transfers on DVD (or, God forbid, Blu-Ray).

Woody (to another man in Hell): What did you do?
Damned Man: I invented aluminum siding.

FREAKED (1993)
We need more comedies like this ingenious live action cartoon from Alex (Bill S. Preston Esq.) Winter. It's sad that audiences have seemingly outgrown their ability to enjoy weird, unironic silliness like this. The spiritual ancestor of the Garbage Pail Kids trading cards (way more than the abysmal "official" GARBAGE PAIL KIDS movie) and the gross-out craze of the late '80s.

Shane Black's already forgotten love-letter to/almost parody of film noir mysteries and screwball comedies plays like a self-reflexive THIN MAN or HIS GIRL FRIDAY that turns on a dime from comedy to action to drama and is not afraid to let itself get weird. Robert Downey Jr. (pre-IRON MAN super fame) has never been better as the movie's unreliable (and often forgetful) narrator, and Val Kilmer shows he can still be incredibly funny (see TOP SECRET! above), if he decides to be. Maybe this will get more attention once IRON MAN 3 is a huge hit, or maybe they'll finally make that sequel I've been wanting, but probably not.

REAL LIFE (1979)
Albert Brooks did a parody of reality TV twenty years before reality TV that also doubles as a brilliant satire on unchecked ego and Hollywood kissassery. Albert Brooks is a wizard or something.

LOONEY TUNES (1930s and 1940s)
Maybe I'm crazy, and I know that LOOONEY TUNES aren't underrated in the usual sense, but I feel, due to the sheer pop-culture ubiquitousness of the characters, and the significantly lesser knock-off/"sequel" series' (TINY TOONS, ANIMANIACS, LUNATICS, THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW), the world has forgotten that the original theatrical shorts are some of the silliest and most bat-shit insane comedy films ever made. Modern filmmakers should take a cue from these shorts and learn how to cut loose from the shackles of common sense once in awhile.

STELLA: The Complete Series
The surreal adventures of three idiots named Michael, Michael and David. From the genius minds of three guys named Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black and David Wain. The Most criminally underrated television comedy ever.

1 comment:

Ned Merrill said...

Happy to say I saw WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER in a theater when it was released in 2001. Small crowd to say the least, late night show in Times Square. While I enjoyed the film then and still do now, I'm not part of its cult, per se. Same goes for POOTIE TANG, which I also saw in a Times Square theater that Summer in one of the small screening rooms with a small crowd. Both got good reviews at the time from the Village Voice, as I recall, whom I trust more than the dailies, which I is why I sought them out. I liked both, but I'd be lying if I said that I knew both would become cult comedy classics of the '00s.

Big fan of MIAMI BLUES, which I came to late--about 5 years ago. Baldwin is on fire in this one. Funny to see him so young and fit here.

KISS KISS BANG BANG has a special distinction of being one of the films I projected during my short time as a projectionist in graduate school. Good one, though I have not revisited since '05.