But Maybe They Didn’t Mean “Ha-Ha” Funny: Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies of All Time

Bravo TV has just aired another of those “Top Whatever List” shows that are so ubiquitous these days. In this case, it’s the “100 Funniest Movies of All Time.” And it’s had me foaming at the mouth for a week. (The list is at the end of this post, if you want to foam for yourself.)

It’s not the prevalence of yahoo frat-boy sex/fart/pratfall movies on the list that’s irritating me. It’s not the obvious preference for relentless gag-a-minute flicks over smart, snappy dialogue. It’s not the fact that they included “The Birdcage” while somehow managing to overlook “La Cage aux Folles.” It’s not even the fact that they put both “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective” and “Arthur” in their Top Ten — yes, the Top Ten — while “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” clocked in at #40, and “Spinal Tap” earned a pathetic #64. Tastes differ, I get that. And I’ve certainly found the humor in more than one gag-a-minute yahoo comedy.

What’s irritating me about this list is the fact that not one single film on it was made before the 1960s.

Not one.

And damn few before the 1970s.

In other words, Bravo TV compiled a list of the hundred funniest comedies of all time, and didn’t include:

The Marx Brothers
Buster Keaton
Harold Lloyd
Charlie Chaplin
Billy Wilder

Ingrid has been very amused by how irritated this has made me, and by how much time and energy I’ve spent nursing my irritation. (By blogging about it, just for example.) I’m not completely certain why it’s bugging me so much myself. After all, Top Whatever lists always provoke arguments. (Maybe that’s the difference between the good Top Whatever lists and the dumb ones — the good ones provoke smart, interesting arguments, while the dumb ones provoke nothing but the spewing of bile.)

But it’s not just that the list is irritating, or even that it’s dumb and irritating. It’s that it’s such a Perfect Symbol Of Everything That’s Wrong With Our Society. Well, maybe not a perfect symbol — global warming and secret prisons and the imperial Presidency and the increasing popularity of eating contests are probably better symbols — but a good one, anyway.

It’s the willful ignorance of it that really bugs me. I find it hard to imagine that the people at Bravo have really never heard of “Some Like It Hot” or “A Night at the Opera.” It’s much more likely that they considered them, and decided instead to pander to the 18-34 demographic. They didn’t want their audience to skew old, so they stuck their fingers in their ears and went “La la la la la” and pretended that no funny movies were made before the 18-34 year olds were born (thus insulting both the over-34 crowd for being irrelevant and the 18-34 crowd for being ignorant).

And as a result, they went on record with the assertion that “Dumb and Dumber” deserves a place in the pantheon of cinematic comedy, but “City Lights” doesn’t.


Okay. Rant over. I’ll try to turn my outrage back to global warming and stuff now. Oh, yeah, here’s the list. Tell me what about it irks you the most!

100. Anchorman
99. The Birdcage
98. School of Rock
97. Happy Gilmore
96. Four Weddings and a Funeral
95. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
94. Waiting for Guffman
93. The Aristocrats
92. Father of the Bride
91. Revenge of the Nerds
90. Clueless
89. Slapshot
88. Team America
87. The Kentucky Fried Movie
86. Zoolander
85. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
84. Silver Streak
83. Sister Act
82. Tootsie
81. Half Baked
80. Lost in America
79. Three Amigos
78. Bananas
77. Flirting with Disaster
76. Ghostbusters
75. Dumb and Dumber
74. Trading Places
73. City Slickers
72. Moonstruck
71. Roxanne
70. The Nutty Professor (Eddie Murphy)
69. The Blues Brothers
68. Broadcast News
67. Kingpin
66. Dazed and Confused
65. Office Space
64. This is Spinal Tap
63. Manhattan
62. The Pink Panther
61. Election
60. When Harry Met Sally
59. Police Academy Series
58. Private Benjamin
57. Swingers
56. Young Frankenstein
55. Bull Durham
54. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
53. Dr. Strangelove
52. Meet the Parents
51. National Lampoon’s Vacation
50. The Princess Bride
49. American Pie
48. American Graffiti
47. 9 to 5
46. The Incredibles
45. Raising Arizona
44. Sixteen Candles
43. What About Bob?
42. Harold and Maude
41. Austin Powers
40. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
39. Mrs. Doubtfire
38. Best In Show
37. Dodgeball
36. Good Morning Vietnam
35. Beetlejuice
34. Rushmore
33. Clerks
32. Groundhog Day
31. The Big Lebowski
30. The 40 Year Old Virgin
29. Legally Blonde
28. Annie Hall
27. A Fish Called Wanda
26. Wayne’s World
25. Meet the Fockers
24. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
23. Big
22. Beverly Hills Cop
21. Shampoo
20. The Jerk
19. Wedding Crashers
18. Stripes
17. M*A*S*H
16. Old School
15. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
14. Napoleon Dynamite
13. Naked Gun Series
12. The Producers
11. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
10. Arthur
9. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
8. Blazing Saddles
7. The Wedding Singer
6. Airplane
5. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
4. There’s Something About Mary
3. Shrek
2. Caddyshack
1. Animal House

But Maybe They Didn’t Mean “Ha-Ha” Funny: Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies of All Time
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7 thoughts on “But Maybe They Didn’t Mean “Ha-Ha” Funny: Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies of All Time

  1. 1

    Well, Shrek at Number 3 says it all.
    This list was created for ten year old boys who’ve only seen a couple dozen movies. It’s so obviously insincere. What’s the byline? I suppose they’re too ashamed to reveal themselves.
    You know, you have to protect yourself from this crap. It’s like turning on the TV and torturing yourself with the advertising!

  2. 2

    What irks me the most about this list?
    I’ll tell you what irks me the most about this list. It doesn’t even have the sole saving grace of most “Top 100” lists, that of arrogance, of telling me that the writers of it think they know better than I do.
    It’s not willful ignorance, it’s salesmanship. How many copies of “Some Like It Hot”, and at what price, do you think they’re selling these days?
    This list is obviously meant for people to take along to Blockbuster when they’re out of ideas. “Oh, here’s one we haven’t seen!”
    BTW, I borrowed Chaplin’s “Gold Rush” from the library for my kids a while back (the boys are 8 and 10). Literally, I mean literally, rolling on the floor laughing. These are kids who have been bombarded by media for years, and Charlie had them in *tears*. They were amazed. They want more.
    Never give up hope.

  3. 3

    I didn’t see this special – I manage to miss a lot of stuff on TV I _want_ to see – but my girlfriend – who sees a _lot_ of stuff on TV while recovering from chemo – saw it and was fuming about it in *exactly* the way you are.
    The extra lame thing about this is that the American Film Institute has been making “100 best X of the century” specials that really are of the 20th century, with historical awareness and everything; this is just an attempt to gain unearned cred from those.
    (Now, there are some pretty decent movies on this list, but the idea that you can do a “100 funniest movies evah” that includes lame remakes of actually funny movies (“Father of the Bride”), multiple Jim Carrey movies, multiple Ben Stiller movies, etc, suggests that their methodology was to hang out at the mall with a clipboard and ask people for the name of the funniest movie they’d seen in the last 12 days.

  4. 4

    Tell me what about it irks you the most!
    How many of them I’ve seen — I vainly pride myself on being outside the mainstream, yet somehow almost half of them made it into my viewage (counting the two I walked out on). Some of them truly are funny, but some are not only not (especially the two I walked out on) but I’m not even sure they’re comedies — Election? Broadcast News? Funny in spots, but that’s not why they were made, and certainly not the funniest movies ever.

  5. 5

    What irks me the most is that I work with a lot of 18-34 year olds and many of them are seriously lacking in cultural education prior to, say, 1990. Like you say, how about something before 1960? Did people not have senses of humor before then?
    A coworker and friend of mine, who is in his 40s, was just discussing the merits of the new James Bond movie with a coworker in his late 20s. The elder coworker said something like, “It was based on the first book” and the younger one said, “There are books?” I blame Top 100 lists for this.

  6. 7

    This is vaguely reminiscent of the origin of Richard Thompson’s “Thousand Years of Popular Music” CD — which is really worth a listen, by the way. Apparently, the project came about in 1999 when some big magazine, possibly Playboy, polled a bunch of well-known musicians for their ideas about the “best popular music of the millennium,” to be featured in an article in early 2000. Thompson realized that what they really meant was “best popular music of the last 50 years or so,” but being the iconoclastic sort he is, he took them at their word, and compiled a list of his favorite pop tunes from the Dark Ages forward. They completely ignored his entry, of course, but having put in all that effort, he then went on to make the CD, so it wasn’t a total loss.
    Ok, my pet irk is that there’s just no way “Something About Mary” should be on this list at all, and the number-4 spot is just ridiculous. Ben Stiller has made some great movies — I think “Flirting With Disaster” richly deserves a spot on the list, for example. But he’s also made some serious stinkers, and they don’t get much more embarassing than “Mary,” in my humble opinion.

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