Radically Different Films – Part 8


Read the entire series.

This is obviously part of an extensive series about exceptional films that you should have seen already. This time I take on some comedies.

As with all the mentioned movies these titles accomplished some surprising twists in their narratives. The draw of these films is in their stories, their DNA, their souls.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

This epic movie takes a single anomaly and blows it up to indict an entire society. The lure of easy money drives a collection of otherwise sensible people to lose their minds in a race to grab the cash. I love this movie because of the many wacky personalities along the way and the feeling that simply anything can happen at any moment.


Young Frankenstein

The Frankenstein story is lampooned in such an over-the-top fashion that it compels you keep watching. The silliness is so overt that it continues that anything-can-happen feeling.

Blazing Saddles

Again, not only can anything happen, but it does when the movie becomes another movie at the end. These experiments stand as interesting markers in movie history, when Hollywood decided to toss out the rule book and see what might happen.



If you thought the rules were tossed, you’d still need to brace yourself for this flight. They took a melodramatic movie of the week disaster script, the kind they shot a lot of in the late 70s, and they amped it up to absurd heights.

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The In Laws

Possibly my favorite comedy of all time, this story does not toss out realism but instead succeeds because of it. The unlikely plot mirrors CIA dirty deeds and covert shenanigans, but not to the point of slipping on banana peels. A fruit market is demolished however–spoiler.

Animal House

The best thing that National Lampoon ever managed to put together. It’s the story of a bad fraternity full of party animals who seem less harmful than their creepy fascist neighbors. The film doesn’t focus on any one protagonist, but is a true ensemble of characters who personify the clash of the 1960s, the rebellion against square culture and the militarists of the old guard.


A Fish Called Wanda

John Cleese gave us what is probably the funniest heist comedy of all time. The movie is serious and edgy, but populated by such crazy individuals that again you can never tell what’s about to happen next.

This is Spinal Tap

The song remains… loud. This film started the mockumentary trend, a fake doc that purports to expose Britain’s loudest rock band. Great people involved, and they really put the band together and played all the music live.


Bob Roberts

The mockumentary grows up and shows us the more sinister side of American politics. Completely underrated, this is my favorite political film.

Go to Part 9

Read the entire series.

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