Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Comedies - A.J. Hakari ""

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Favorite Underrated Comedies - A.J. Hakari

A.J. Hakari runs CINESLICE( and can be found on twitter here:
His reviews and general movie chatter are worth a look and I must admit he's turned me on to many a film.

Aaltra (2004) -- Bickering neighbors? Been there. Bickering disabled neighbors? Now you have my attention. When an accident leaves a well-to-do businessman and a slacker farmhand both paralyzed from the waist down, the two form an uneasy alliance and haul their wheelchair-bound heinders to Finland to track down the makers of the faulty tractor that made them that way. En route, the guys subvert all stereotypes about the handicapped being humble or piteous by being complete douche canoes to everyone they meet. Direct from Belgium, Aaltra is replete with shocks and uncomfortable chuckles, all of which are brilliantly executed and would've come across as tasteless in far less intelligent hands.

A Slight Case of Murder (1938) -- A recent discovery, A Slight Case of Murder isn't exactly an unknown picture, but I am surprised it's not mentioned in the same breath as other screwball greats of its time. This stage-born farce sees Edward G. Robinson's Remy Marko trying to go from bootlegger to businessman, only for his efforts to fail and his old life of crime to come a-calling. Doors slam, identities are mistaken, and character actors sound off with their silliest accents in what amounts to a hilarious and impeccably-timed farce. Some of the gags might be easier to spot coming in this day and age, but A Slight Case of Murder is still a real treat, one of the most well-oiled comedy of errors I've ever seen.

True Stories (1986) -- Prince made a violet-tinged musical melodrama. David Bowie made a social sci-fi satire. But when it was decreed that Talking Heads crank out a movie, frontman/director David Byrne turned to tabloid headlines as material for his tribute to America's weirdos. Byrne's narrator tours a Texas town's celebration of "specialness," observing such folks as a nice guy (played by John Goodman) with a "Wife Wanted" sign in his yard and a woman (Swoosie Kurtz) who's so rich, she simply has no need to leave her bed. True Stories is a film with a sweet heart, an odd philosophy, and, of course, a brilliant soundtrack. Oh, and if anyone from the Warner Archive gang is reading this, a Blu-ray upgrade would be an amazing Christmas present. Just sayin'...

Why Worry? (1923) -- Harold Lloyd is another comedy great whose work I've only just started to delve into. Safety Last! is a bona fide masterpiece, and The Freshman was an absolute delight, but although it's definitely less seen than those more prominent pictures, Why Worry? is just as packed with great gags and dynamic stunt work. Seeking to recover from various illnesses he doesn't really have, Lloyd's businessman seeks seclusion on an island paradise. Instead, he lands right in the middle of a revolution, which he, his nurse (Jobyna Ralston), and a local giant (John Aasen) end up working to topple. Why Worry? is Lloyd at his finest, combining the affectionate characterizations, funny set pieces, and daring physical feats for which he's deservedly become a silent comedy master.

The Wizard of Speed and Time (1988) -- Mike Jittlov's The Wizard of Speed and Time is a love letter to movies that's smart enough to know how tough they can be to make. Based on his own experiences in trying to get a feature film off the ground, Jittlov plays himself, an independent director caught in a bet between two producers as to whether or not he'll finish his contribution to a TV special on time. The Wizard of Speed and Time runs like a cartoon come to life, with broad characters and a wide-eyed reverence towards the magic of the movies. Jittlov's style is incredibly manic but earnest as can be, and even as goofy new heights are reached with every successive scene (often laced with homemade special effects), the flick's heart is never lost in the fray.

On YouTube Here:


SteveQ said...

I keep recommending Wizard of Speed and Time, but people get stuck thinking that it's done with computer graphics, because that's what they're used to! The 5 second bit where he rides a bicycle sideways on a wall just blows my mind.

Anonymous said...

The "Wizard" that Jittlov plays is pretty much like himself, too. I saw a screening years ago where he did a q & a afterwards. Quirky, low key guy. Too bad he never really got the chance to do much afterwards. There is also a short that the feature is based on. You can find it here: