Fasten your seatbelts as Peter Graves and Julie Hagerty encounter turbulence in an uproarious disaster movie spoof, which relies on an inflatable autopilot to fly food-poisoned passengers to hospital (“It’s a big building with patients”). Leslie Nielsen’s deadpan doctor prescribes first-class one-liners.
Truth is stranger than fiction in Chris Smith’s riotous underdog documentary about a hapless 30-year-old film-maker’s efforts to finance a semi-autobiographical epic about his formative years in Wisconsin. Smith treats his pipe-dreaming subject with warmth and affection rather than sneering mockery.
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Best in Show
Christopher Guest, co-writer of This is Spinal Tap, crossbreeds outlandish character comedy with largely improvised dialogue in a tail-wagging dogumentary, which ventures behind the scenes of the 125th Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. Fred Willard’s witless commentator repeatedly scene-steals from the barking-mad competitors.
Disguised as an anti-Semitic, homophobic television reporter from “glorious nation of Kazakhstan”, Sacha Baron Cohen cuts painfully close to the funny bone with a ramshackle jaunt through the US heartland. Social niceties are tossed into recycling well before a naked fight spills unceremoniously into a crowded hotel ballroom.
Girls just wanna have fun en route to the altar, only to be undone by an explosive bout of food poisoning that leaves Melissa McCarthy perched unceremoniously on a bridal shop sink caterwauling, “It’s coming out of me like lava!” Director Paul Feig officiates wedded bliss with potty-mouthed gusto.
Bringing Up Baby
The sparkling pairing of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn energise the high-tempo wordplay of Howard Hawks’ screwball comedy about a palaeontologist’s quest for a missing dinosaur bone, which is hampered by a free-spirited heiress and her pet leopard.
Carry On Camping
Barbara Windsor sheds her inhibitions during an aerobics session in the 17th Carry On caper, which refuses to let sleeping bags lie at the Paradise nudist camp. Director Gerald Thomas merrily unpacks Sid James’s cackle, Kenneth Williams’ flaring nostrils and Hattie Jacques’ matronly bosom.
Jane Austen would be totally buggin’ at Amy Heckerling’s reimaging of Emma. Alicia Silverstone plays a pampered daddy’s girl who realises almost too late that her stepbrother (Paul Rudd) is “kind of a Baldwin”. Identifying an unfashionable joke is as pointless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.
Handsomely shoehorned into figure-hugging red spandex, Ryan Reynolds gleefully delivers a swift kick to the nether regions of the Marvel franchise as a wickedly irreverent antihero. Machine-gun dialogue is peppered with filth, postmodern in-jokes and sly digs
at Reynolds’ good looks.
In a bleak, futuristic dystopia, enfants terribles Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro draw morbid inspiration from Sweeney Todd for ghoulish guffaws as their murderous butcher cuts unsuspecting apprentices down to size to feed meat-starved neighbours.
The final motion picture to star Chico, Groucho, Harpo and Zeppo Marx declares war between neighbouring kingdoms of Freedonia and Sylvania as a loose framework for set-piece tomfoolery involving a broken mirror, blaring radio and a motorcycle with sidecar. Barbed political satire lurks beneath the pratfalls.
Eagle vs Shark
Opposites attract in Oscar winner Taika Waititi’s zany 2007 debut feature. Bookmarked with quirky stop-motion animated sequences, this excruciatingly funny, off-kilter love story between a shrinking violet (Loren Horsley) and a shaggy-haired video-games salesman (Jemaine Clement) is weirdly wonderful and streaked with relentless optimism.
Playfully mislabelled as a true story, the Coen brothers’ snowy murder mystery commits multiple crimes against good taste as Frances McDormand’s pregnant police chief hunts a “funny-looking guy” in connection with a bungled kidnapping set in motion by William H Macy’s cash-strapped car dealer.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The perfect marriage of Richard Curtis’s hysterical, warm-hearted script and Hugh Grant’s bumbling, floppy-haired shtick blesses the highest-grossing British film of all time until The Full Monty caught the bride’s bouquet. John Hannah stops all the clocks with his melancholic recitation of WH Auden.
Captain’s log: Stardate 1999. This rip-snorting homage to Star Trek sets phasers to stunning when the jaded cast of a TV show become Earth’s unlikely saviours from alien invaders. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman give out-of-this-world performances.
Death becomes Bill Murray’s morose TV weatherman, doomed to repeat the same day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, until he experiences déjà vulnerability and realises the precious gift of everyday life. Sony & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” blasting from a clock radio heralds his soulful reawakening.
Tribal warfare between high school cliques kindles murderous intent in this twisted black comedy, which patrols the same corridors as Clueless and Mean Girls. Daniel Waters’ insanely quotable script (“I love my dead gay son”) still earns top grades. How very.
Jour de fête
In the guise of a lackadaisical and easily distracted postman, Jacques Tati delivers a first-class demonstration of clowning and slapstick as he pedals around Sainte-Sévère-sur-Indre until his beloved bicycle escapes for a hilarious solo tour of the bucolic idyll.
An elderly landlady (Katie Johnson) innocently derails the carefully oiled plans of security van robbers led by Alec Guinness’ criminal mastermind in Alexander Mackendrick’s rollicking 1955 caper. Screenwriter William Rose mines a rich vein of macabre humour, dispensed by inveterate scene-stealers Peter Sellers and Frankie Howerd.
Never underestimate an unflappably self-assured Delta Nu sorority queen, who appreciates the crucial role of ammonium thioglycolate in responsible perm maintenance. Every one-liner in this anthem to female empowerment bends and snaps deliciously to Reese Witherspoon’s will, abetted by the criminally versatile Jennifer Coolidge.
The Lego Movie
A socially awkward Lego mini-figure (voiced by Chris Pratt) refuses to “rest in pieces” as he embraces his destiny as saviour of the construction brick universe in Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s rambunctious computer-animated romp.
Life of Brian
Monty Python always looks on the bright side of life in a blasphemy-courting religious send-up, told through the eyes of a very naughty boy from Nazareth, who is mistakenly anointed the messiah.
Robert Altman’s subversive 1970 satire harnesses anti-Vietnam sentiment of the era to breathlessly tour the ramshackle ranks of a mobile army surgical hospital during the Korean War, which a distraught nurse likens to an insane asylum.
Me And You And Everyone We Know
Structured as tragicomic vignettes, Miranda July’s idiosyncratic vision of suburban Los Angeles life deftly stitches together the death of a goldfish and a surreal internet chat-room conversation with a whimsical romance between a luckless performance artist (July) and divorced shoe salesman (John Hawkes).
Lindsay Lohan abandons her moral compass when she joins the Plastics led by Rachel McAdams’ queen bee. Tina Fey’s schooldays smackdown is sugar and spice, perfectly embodied by Amanda Seyfried’s ditz. So fetch.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
King Arthur (Graham Chapman) rides roughshod over the legends to coconut shell clippety-clops, facing the Knights who say “Ni!” and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. John Cleese’s Black Knight loses his limbs but refuses to surrender to the lip-smacking hysteria.
Hans Christian Andersen’s “Ugly Duckling” fairy tale takes flight in 90s Australia to a rousing Abba-heavy soundtrack in PJ Hogan’s valentine to sisterly solidarity. Toni Collette lays all her love on us as the eponymous misfit.
The Philadelphia Story
The course of true love gathers no moss in George Cukor’s lustrous 1940 screwball comedy, casting Katharine Hepburn as the “unholy mess of a girl” distracted by her playboy first husband (Cary Grant) as she plans a society wedding to her new beau.
Mel Brooks’ outrageous 1967 love letter to Broadway elevates tastelessness to a whoop-inducing artform when two hapless impresarios (Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder) bet against their own sure-fire theatrical flop: Springtime For Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden.
School of Rock
Jack Black raises his goblet of rock and drinks excessively as a bogus substitute teacher, who encourages impressionable fifth graders to adopt an anti-establishment credo outside the classroom. Richard Linklater’s high-voltage musical comedy is note-perfect.
Sons of the Desert
Expertly choreographed slapstick flirts with character comedy in one of Laurel and Hardy’s finest japes, casting them as neighbours who foolishly deceive their wives so they can attend a lodge meeting. Hell hath no fury like a wife armed with crockery. Anyone for wax fruit?
There’s Something About Mary
Ben Stiller’s socially awkward schmuck pursues his dreamy high school crush (Cameron Diaz) and suffers myriad indignities with a trouser zip and tenacious Border terrier in Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s bad-taste love match.
This is Spinal Tap
Rob Reiner’s genre-defining mockumentary, improvised by the cast, turns the volume up to 11 on a heavy metal band who let puffed chests, overinflated egos and spontaneously combusting drummers get in the way of making sweet music.
Dustin Hoffman’s abrasive, tantrum-throwing New York actor rediscovers his humanity in a red sequinned dress as a bespectacled alter ego – soap opera actress Dorothy Michaels – in Sydney Pollack’s smart survey of gender politics. The script borrows Shakespearean plot devices (cross-dressing, mistaken identities) for heart-tugging rewards.
Pixar travels to infinity and beyond with plastic and pull-string inhabitants of Andy’s toy box, whose humdrum routine is thrown into disarray by the arrival of deluded Star Command peacekeeper Buzz Lightyear. Computer-animated wizardry conjures childhood nostalgia with wildly imaginative flourishes.
Galvanised by an endearing lead performance from Amy Schumer, who penned the script, this booze-soaked romantic comedy cheekily flashes its knickers at political correctness to craft a heart-warming and hilarious portrait of modern womanhood. Effervescent cameos from Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei are cherries bobbing in the filthy-minded cocktail.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
The cheese-loving everyman and expressive canine sidekick launch a humane pest-control business in Aardman Animations’ stop-motion marvel. Helena Bonham Carter embraces plumminess as the Giant Vegetable Competition hostess (“Call me Totty!”), who invites Wallace to size up her melons.
When Harry Met Sally…
Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan rigorously test the theory that “men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way” in Rob Reiner’s oft-imitated relationship comedy. We’ll have a double order of what she’s having.
Withnail and I
Misery loves company in Bruce Robinson’s squalid tragicomedy about a pair of embittered, alcohol-sodden actors (Richard E Grant and Paul McGann) on an ill-fated jaunt to the Lake District. Richard Griffiths’ lascivious uncle savours choice lines like lemon drops: “I mean to have you, even if it must be burglary!”
Men are neither seen nor heard in George Cukor’s waspish 1939 study of the female of the species in her preferred habitat – pampered Manhattan society. A cast led by Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell spits bile-drenched barbs with devastating precision.