It’s a slow week for notable new film releases, so let’s take a look back at seven hilarious movie comedies that flew under the radar.
1. Starting Over (1979)
In his long film career, Burt Reynolds was in a lot of terrible movies and a handful of great ones. Starting Over is probably his best. Reynolds is at his most charmingly human as a recently divorced man trying to date again. In addition to terrific supporting performances by Charles Durning and Candice Bergen, there is a phenomenal script by James L. Brooks (who went on to produce The Simpsons, Broadcast News, As Good As It Gets and all other kinds of greatness), and steady, elegant direction by Alan J. Pakula.
2. The Wrong Guy (1997)
In The Wrong Guy, Dave Foley plays a man on the run who actually isnât being chased at all. For a good stretch, The Wrong Guy is the funniest Hitchcock homage since High Anxiety, packed with absurdly funny scenes (watching Foley crouched inside a dumpster while police officers sing around a trash can fire is worth the price of rental alone.) The ending is ungainly and slow-paced, but the first hour is full of solid laughs.
3. Movers and Shakers (1985)
This Hollywood story scripted by Charles Grodin is the most imperfect movie on this list, but a fascinating specimen in and of itself. Grodin plays a screenwriter tasked with adapting a sex manual into a major motion picture and Walter Matthau plays a producer assigned to oversee the film. The story never quite takes off, but itâs worth seeing for Steve Martinâs cameo as an aging Latin lothario named Fabio so eerily similar to Billy Crystalâs Fernando, we can only assume the two comedians came up with similar characters at the same time Crystalâs was the one that stuck. (This one might take some tracking down because itâs not on DVD.)
4. Little Murders (1971)
Based on Jules Feifferâs play of the same name, this comedy came out the same year as A Clockwork Orange and shares the same black-humored, risk-taking spirit. Directed by Alan Arkin and featuring a great performance by Elliot Gould, Little Murders was Feifferâs reaction to a violent decade of assassinations. Forty years after its release, it can now be seen as a hilarious and shocking American classic.
5. Jiminy Glick in Lalawood (2004)
Martin Short reprised the character of Jiminy Glick from his Comedy Central series to create a low budget, mostly improvised comedy. Itâs a scattershot enterprise, but worth watching just to see Shortâs David Lynch impression, one of the most esoteric moments Iâve ever seen in an ostensibly mainstream comedy.
6. The Fortune (1975
7. Real Life (1979)
I hesitate mentioning this film because a lot of comedy fans are already acquainted with Real Life, but just in case you haven't seen Albert Brooks' prophetic masterpiece, track it down and watch it today. It is the perfect movie about reality television and it arrived nearly twenty years before the reality TV craze started. All in all, one of the best comedies ever made.
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