Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Comedies - Sydney Wegner ""

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Favorite Underrated Comedies - Sydney Wegner

Syndey is a rad cinephile that can be found on letterboxd here:

Her current four favorite films there are FITZCARRALDO, THE MALTESE FALCON, JAWS and TRUE STORIES - which is a badass group.

She also writes for Isle of Cinema, so read her there. She did this recent piece on SORCERER which is worth a look:
Also, follow her on twitter @WildPalmCity.

1. AIRPORT (1970, George Seaton)
There are some films that emerge in a certain genre, but evolve and change with time, like a fine wine. Airport may have started its life as an epic thriller/drama, but it has since bloomed into a perfect comedy. I have a pure and complete love for all disaster films, and this is where it started. Airport popularized every cliché of the genre and therefore deserves the highest honor of #1 on my list. Burt Lancaster's hair...Dean Martin knocking up a young stewardess...George Kennedy as a smartass mechanic...I don't care what anyone says, this is a fantastic film.

2. THE CRAZY FAMILY (1984, Sōgo Ishii)
I watched a bootlegged VHS copy of this many times as a kid and recently managed to score a low quality, poorly translated DVD on eBay. It revolves around a Japanese family who have just moved into a new home. The father is convinced his wife, daughter, and son have "the sickness" (code for insanity!), and after Grandpa moves in, dad's attempts to keep them all sane make things infinitely worse. It's quite beautifully directed, has a killer punk soundtrack and a deliciously dark sense of humor that may or may not give you bizarre and uncomfortable nightmares. I implore you to track it down.

3. THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT (1951, Alexander Mackendrick)
Before he was a colonel on the River Kwai, a KGB agent, a Saudi Arabian prince or a Jedi, Alec Guinness was humble little Sidney Stratton, a brilliant scientist with an insane idea to make a fabric that never gets dirty and lasts forever. Endlessly charming and delightfully quirky, he shines in this film as much as his bright-white suit. There are funny scenes and incidents of course, but the vintage portrayals of SCIENCE! make it even more entertaining. It's also full of striking imagery and inventive uses of light and shadow, adding an otherworldly sci-fi quality. (I'm also going to cheat here and add a 6th film to my list: Alexander Mackendrick's other must-see, THE LADYKILLERS.)

4. RED HEAT (1988, Walter Hill)
A totally overlooked buddy-cop flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi as a Russian militia man and a Chicago cop, respectively. There's plenty of comedy involved, but even parts that aren't supposed to be funny make me laugh. The film opens in a Russian bathhouse where Arnold assassinates one of the the you know right off it's going to be ridiculous. Arnold and Jim are great, proving that if you give them roles where they aren't to be taken seriously, they do pretty darn well. It's about as cliché as they come, but full of action, horrible accents, stupid one-liners, and a happy ending to boot. So what's not to love?

5. THE CASTLE (1997, Rob Sitch)
The focus of this Australian film is the Kerrigan family, an endearing yet...intellectually challenged group of 7. They love each other deeply and take great pride in their home, which is a total dump located directly below an airport. When the airline wants to kick the family out to make room for a new runway, Mr. Kerrigan decides to fight back. It might be impossible to make it through this film without grinning in delight. If your kids (or parents) can handle a few F-bombs, watch it together.

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