ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)
A funny spook spoof. Opening scene where Lou uncrates the Dracula coffin is hysterical. Caution: some scary moments may frighten little ones.
ADAM'S RIB (1949)
A literate battle-of-the-sexes script with Spencer Tracy as a prosecutor facing off against wife and defense attorney Katharine Hepburn.
BRUCE ALMIGHTY (2003)
It’s time to evaluate the waterline on that glass, again. Is it half empty or half full? The half-full portion seen in Bruce Almighty has Jim Carrey at his most humorous and, gratefully, showing restraint when it comes to his quota of coarse comic calamity. The film also presents several messages aimed at reminding a movie-going audience that God exists, that each and every one of his creations is a miracle, that we are to be miracles for one another, that we should appreciate what we have, and that the true power, God’s love, is in us when we determine to turn our lives over to him. These are the themes director Tom Shadyac has incorporated into this very funny portrait of a man suddenly endowed with God’s powers. It’s a parable. Bruce is frustrated and therefore suspicious that God is picking on him. Who among us hasn’t had such moments? Have you never questioned God? Have you never raged at our Heavenly Father because of life’s ordeals? But the film helps point out the foolishness of these ravings. The half-empty portion, the downside of the film, concerns its lifestyle representations, including a few crudities, a couple of misuses of Christ’s name, some temperamental ranting that borders on blasphemy, and the lead couple living together outside marriage. PG-13 (Hope you’ll read the rest of the review.) - Use TVG. MOVIE REPORTER REVIEW
THE COURT JESTER (1956)
Danny Kaye is hilarious impersonating a royal jester in Medieval England. One of the great clowns, Kaye is well supported by Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury, and Mildred Natwick. "Oh, I see...the pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true."
DR. STRANGELOVE, OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964)
Peter Sellers, George C. Scott. Definitely adult subject matter here, but the powerful “absurdity of war” theme and outstanding droll comedic performances from Sellers, Scott, Keenan Wynn and Sterling Hayden, make this perhaps the best example of movie satire.
THE GREAT RACE (1965)
A comic spoof of old-time melodramas, with Jack Lemmon very funny as the dastardly Professor Fate, Tony Curtis stalwart as the Great Leslie, and Natalie Wood luminous as a suffragette. I think this film has some of the greatest sight gags of all time, plus a great sword fight between Leslie and the villainous Baron von Stuppe (Ross Martin). It also has the pie fight to end all pie fights. Most critics only give it 2 ½ stars. To that I say, pshaw. Rated G.
GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)
Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell. A cynical weathercaster finds himself waking up each morning having to relive the same day. Rated PG (some surreal violence and two implied sexual situations, but our hero learns life lessons, including the fact that promiscuous sex does not lead to happiness). A very funny modern-day parable with Murray at his best. An intelligent script full of pathos, humor, and character development. And not one profane word in the whole production (very rare for the '90s). PREVIEW REVIEW
James Stewart, Josephine Hull (Best Actress Oscar), Cecil Kellaway, Jesse White. A gentle soul by the name of Elwood P. Dowd likes everybody–including his invisible six-foot rabbit, Harvey. Very funny and very touching.
IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963)
I know a lot of critics debate this, but for my money, this is the funniest movie ever made. A non-stop laugh-a-thon as a group of motorists learn of a fortune buried 200 miles away. Besides all the visual and verbal gags, and its constellation of comic greats, Mad World also contains some of the best car chases and stunts ever filmed. Rated G.
MR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION (1963)
Roger Hobbs (James Stewart) takes a vacation with the family. Dated, but fun to view the sensibilities of the early ‘60s.
THE MOUSE THAT ROARED (1959)
Peter Sellers. English satire concerning small country declaring war on U.S. in order to get federal relief from America. (Evidently, it’s now mandatory viewing for Third-World dictators.)
NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS (1958)
Andy Griffith, Don Knotts. Want a really good laugh? This is full of them. Andy's a country boy drafted into the army. Myron McCormick as the frustrated sergeant is outstanding.
THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963)
Jerry Lewis is in top form as the lovable Professor Julius Kept and his alter ego, Buddy Love. A comic version of Jekyll & Hyde with Lewis providing some of his greatest sight gags. (Caution: contains one scary scene where the kindly professor transforms into a beast before becoming Buddy Love). Though Eddie Murphy’s remake is funny, it derives much of its humor from crude bodily functions and sexuality rather than wit.
THE ODD COUPLE (1968)
A very funny Neil Simon comedy about two very different men (Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau) sticking together out of necessity. Rated G, there are a couple of sexual innuendoes, but the material is tame by today’s standards. Mr. Simon mines laughs from witty life-observations, rather than from bathroom humor.
THE PARTY (1968)
Peter Sellers (terrific) stars as a good-hearted bumbler who accidentally destroys a movie set, and then manages to do the same to a fancy party given by the film’s producer. There are a few risqué moments, but it’s pretty tame by today’s standards. Not rated.
RAISING HELEN (2004)
Kate Hudson plays Helen, an up-and-coming assistant to a modeling agency boss (Helen Mirren). But her career plans are put on hold after her sister (Felicity Huffman) and brother-in-law are killed in a car crash, leaving her to care for their three kids, ages 5 to 15. She gets help from another older sister, the bossy Jenny (Joan Cusack), and a pastor (John Corbett), who falls in love with Helen while guiding her down life's new path. Raising Helen is one of the few-and-far-between films the Christian community is always saying they want. Witty, involving, even perceptive, it is a movie that thoroughly entertains without crudity, profanity or exploitive sexuality. Rated PG-13. MOVIE REPORTER REVIEW
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF (1969)
James Garner, Walter Brennan, Joan Hackett, Jack Elam, Bruce Dern. Rated G. This western send-up with Garner hired as town sheriff is often hysterical.
THOU SHALT LAUGH (2006)
In an era when laughs are so often mined from anatomical & scatological riffs, here comes a refreshing and, glad to add, funny alternative. Thou Shalt Laugh features humorous observations by several stand-up comedians who share more than just the ability to tickle the funny bone – these guys (and gal) are also Christians. Followed by several worthy sequels. PREVIEW REVIEW
WHAT'S UP DOC (1972)
Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal star in this always-amusing screwball comedy.
WIDE AWAKE (1998)
A young boy enters 5th grade while dealing with the death of his beloved grandfather. The boy, terrifically played by young Joseph Cross, learns forgiveness, compassion and faith. PG (1 obscenity from the lead's best friend; 1 mild obscenity repeated over and over as the lead runs from a bully, but when he passes a cross with the suffering Christ on it, the boy apologizes; 1 expletive from the football coach; the boys innocently examine a magazine featuring a bikini-clad woman, but I did not feel this was exploitive and the picture is not predominantly shown to the audience - the youngsters are merely curious about the opposite sex; deals poignantly with the loss of a grandparent). PREVIEW REVIEW
YOURS, MINE AND OURS (1968)
Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda. Based on a true story of a widow with eight kids who marries a widower with ten. Lucy is very funny in this film for the whole family. The 2005 remake is geared more toward children with adolescent slapstick that includes the sliming of the cast with green, pulpous goo. The ’68 version showed the two devout Catholic families in prayer and married in a church by a minister, signifying that faith was a part of their lives. No such tableau is painted in the newer adaptation. Sensing the depiction of a Catholic family might somehow distance people of different faiths, the screenwriters avoided any religious significance altogether.