By Thomas Sellers Jr.
’Tis the season to have joy and laughter.
As Thanksgiving is a week away and Christmas little more than a month away, I’m going to suggest a few comedies for you guys to enjoy. I must admit most of my favorite comedy movies of all time are adult based. They are for a more mature audience.
So my top 10 won’t be for holiday viewing and the family. But a few of my honorable mentions are Christmas based, such as “Bad Santa,” “Home Alone,” “Home Alone 2” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
When you can get a moment free and need a good laugh, I recommend grabbing your old VHS or DVD to watch these classics. If they are available on a streaming service, click on the icon. For this countdown, there will be no parodies. We’ll save them for a separate countdown of their own.
The rest of my honorable mentions are “Anchorman 2,” “Super Bad,” “Borat,” “Caddyshack,” “The Jerk,” “CB4,” “The Longest Yard,” “Bridesmaid,” “Role Models,” “Office Space,” “Old School,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “Wedding Crashers,” “The Hangover,” “American Pie,” “Raising Arizona,” “Anchorman,” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” “The Nutty Professor,” “Liar Liar,” “See No Evil, Hear No Evil,” “Moving,” “Police Academy,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Wayne’s World 2,” “Home Alone,” “Big Daddy,” “The Waterboy,” “Billy Madison,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” “Stepbrothers” and “Strange Wilderness.”
10. “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983)
This film introduced us to Clark Griswold and his lovely family. Later we would go to Europe and Vegas with the family. We even spent a Christmas with the Griswolds in their Chicago home, lighting up half of the Windy City.
But it was Clark’s (Chevy Chase’s) desire to give his family a special vacation to California’s Walley World, “America’s Favorite Family Fun Park.” The movie begins with Clark “purchasing” Wagon Queen Family Truckster. This ugly green monster is the perfect setting for a cross-country adventure that also introduced us to Cousin Eddie.
Running gags in this movie are the station wagon, Clark’s obsession with a beautiful woman in a sports car and him coming up short at every turn.
BEST MOMENT (spoiler alert): The park is closed when the Griswolds arrive. Clark snaps. He goes to buy a fake gun and hijacks Walley World. His family will get that dream vacation, even if Clark has to go to jail.
9. “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (1994)
Jim Carrey’s physical comedy genius is on display from start to finish in this classic. Absolutely everything he did in this movie was meant to make us laugh. Ace Ventura accomplished that goal while trying to locate “Snowflake,” the NFL’s Miami Dolphins mascot.
That was an excuse to put quarterback legend Dan Marino in the movie. He ended up helping out the sleuth by spotting the final piece of evidence to identify the real dolphin-napper.
It is so hard to pick out just one scene that is hilarious: The entire party sequence, Ace’s rescuing a small dog and his undercover stint at a psychiatric hospital.
BEST MOMENT: Ace arrives on the scene of a human murder involving “real” detectives. Ventura peeps the scene and gathers his evidence. As the police officers mock him and try to run him off, Ace absorbs their insults. Then he requests a moment to give his hypothesis. With the help of a sound-proof sliding door, Ventura delivers a moment that makes you cry a river of laughter tears.
8. “Tommy Boy” (1995)
Who knew a tragic moment could lead to a hilarious classic. The unforgettable duo of Chris Farley and David Spade team up in this buddy comedy. Farley brings the physical humor with his portrayal of Tommy Callahan. Meanwhile the sarcasm and wit come courtesy of Spade’s Richard.
After Tommy’s beloved father dies, the lovable dimwitted Tommy inherits a near-bankrupt auto parts plant in Sandusky, Ohio. What he doesn’t know is that his new stepmother and “stepbrother” are trying to sabotage him and the company. So Tommy and Richard head out on the road to try to save the company.
BEST MOMENT: When Tommy finally graduates college, he arrives home to be picked up by his father’s assistant Richard. Richard roasts Tommy in that exchange with quick wit. The moment humbled our main character. It set the tempo for the rest of the film. Then they realize they balance each other when Tommy employes them to act like bees are attacking them after the police pulls them other on a traffic stop. The officers left the scene and Tommy proved he could be a quick thinker too.
7. “Fear of the Black Hat” (1993)
This might be the one movie in this countdown you have to go research. It is worth the investigation. Back in 1993, this mockumentary about the growth of hip-hop music was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival. This masterpiece, “Fear of a Black Hat,” was written, produced and directed by Rusty Cundieff, who also co-stars in it. Cundieff plays rapper Ice Cold. He has two bandmates in Tasty Taste (Larry B. Scott) and Tone Def (Mark Christopher Lawrence). Their trademark is wearing outlandish headgear, hence the name N.W.H. They mock the backstage and off-the-stage lives of rappers from that era.
BEST MOMENT: Just enjoy all the music videos throughout the movie. The best ones come from the group’s breakup. Of course there is a period in which the guys get angry and dissolve the band. But it only opens doors for more insane comedy.
6. “Trippin’” (1999)
I was born in 1981. So you will notice a lot of these films were made in the mid to late 1990s. Graduating from Raleigh-Egypt in 1999, I have a special place in my heart for this movie because the protagonist Gregory Reed (Deon Richmond) is a senior trying to get across that stage, win over his crush and maintain a certain level of cool.
At the same time, “American Pie” was sweeping the country, becoming a comedy classic. While I do love that movie as well, “Trippin’” put me in mind of my friends and high school setting. I was a daydreamer like Greg. I chased my high school crush for several years before winning over her heart. And I realized me being fly was maintaining my own style. I stopped tripping over small stuff after a while.
BEST MOMENT: Greg has two best friends. One of them, June Nelson, is starting to sell illegal stuff for the neighborhood kingpin. That kingpin has a couple of henchmen who decide to get into a roast battle with Greg and his friend Fish. Fish (Guy Torry) steals this scene with one-liner after one-liner.
5. “3 Strikes” (2000)
DJ Pooh validated his comic genius with this film. With a solid cast of Faizon Love, Brian Hooks, Mike Epps, David Alan Grier and George Wallace, Pooh’s writing and directing came to life in this underground classic.
Staying current with the new three-strikes laws passed, Pooh writes a comedy starting Hooks as Rob Douglas. Douglas is just released from jail. The state adopts a three-strikes rule for felons that involves serious penalties. Rob has two strikes. Focusing on trying to better his life once he steps out of jail, Rob is scooped up by a friend who just happens to have a gun. Also that friend is wanted. Once that friend pulls the gun on the police, Rob is off to the races. He spends the movie trying to clear his name.
In the process, Pooh hides so many wonderful jokes within the plot. You have to be alert and have that zany sense of humor to get the hidden humor.
BEST MOMENT: David Alan Grier should have won a Best Supporting Actor Award. He commands each scene as the gun-happy detective. When an unarmed Rob is involved in a standoff with the police, he tries to give himself up. Grier’s character can clearly see Rob is surrendering peacefully. But he shouts, “Look out, he’s got a gun!”
4. “Grandma’s Boy” (2006)
Happy Madison Productions has provided me with countless hours of laughter. The company spearheaded by Adam Sandler reached the pinnacle in 2006 with this entry. The late Doris Roberts is the grandmother of this film. She is adorable and super funny in her role. She takes in her grandson Alex (Allen Covert) after he hit some hard times. This middle-age man who creates video games and enjoys recreational drugs has three new roommates.
The setup and settings provide for an hour and 34 minutes of comedy gold. The teenage premise is for adults only. It is edgy and daring for the 94 minutes.
BEST MOMENT: Because the movie is called “Grandma’s Boy,” lets pick one of Roberts’ best moments. Lilly brewed a special brand of tea. The first-time brew left her and her friends loopy. Because she was so hungry, Lilly made ice cream sandwiches. She literally took light bread and placed layers of vanilla ice cream between two slices.
3. “Friday” (1995)
This all-time great comedy was penned from the start by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh. The gentlemen did a great job because we have so many great quotes from the flick. The only one I can share in a family-friendly paper is “Bye, Felicia!”
But that one-line will trigger countless other great quotes from “Friday.” Ice Cube, DJ Pooh, Chris Tucker, Tom “Tiny” Lister, John Witherspoon, Nia Long, Bernie Mac and more provide contest energy and flow to this 24-hour period.
Who knew a day in the neighborhood on one porch could be so hilarious. This classic is described as a modern day Cheech and Chong. Director F. Gary Gray debuted with the challenge of bringing this stoner-buddy comedy to life. He hit a grand slam with his first at bat. Finally there was a hood movie that displayed the lighter side.
BEST MOMENT: When Deebo rolls up on Craig and Smokey, he uses his influence to get Smokey to help him rob Craig’s next door neighbor. That whole scene is simply funny.
Later Deebo rides back up to the Jones house on his bicycle. The guys go through the routine of hiding their valuables from Deebo. Joined by Red (DJ Pooh), he decides to tuck his gold chain into his shirt. Bad choice — Deebo jacks him yet again. The aforementioned bicycle was courtesy of Red, too.
2. “Coming to America” (1988)
This is a great movie. It has the right amount of drama. A beautiful romance develops throughout the nearly two-hour film. Director John Landis does a great job of bringing the screenplay of David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein to life.
Here’s the plot: Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country. As his 21st birthday approaches, he is about to endure an arranged marriage. But Akeem avoids it for now and gets his father, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones), to allow him to go to America. Akeem and his sidekick Semmi head to Queens, New York. Akeem spots the woman of his dreams in Lisa (Shari Headley). Because Akeem wants his future wife to love him for who he is, he has to keep up a false life of being a poor exchange student working at Lisa’s father’s McDonalds knockoff.
Full of iconic moments, we have an unknown Samuel L. Jackson robbing McDowells. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall taking on multiple characters in the barbershop is brilliant acting (shoutout to makeup artist Rick Baker). And we all love Mr. Randy Watson.
BEST MOMENT: Let’s tug on the heart strings here, when Akeem lifts up the veil to reveal the love of his life.
1. “Happy Gilmore” (1996)
Adam Sandler found a winning formula in the late 1990s — hard, non-stop humor with a romantic element, featuring hidden commercials and pop-culture tributes. The peak of this style and movie that helped give birth to Happy Madison Productions was “Happy Gilmore.”
The reason why this movie is No. 1 on my countdown: It’s the only film I had to watch four times in order to see the entire movie. I would literally black out from laughing so hard at a scene that the rest of the movie was a blur. I still turn red in the face with tears streaming down the cheeks when I watch just clips of this wonderful gem.
A hockey player turned golfer sounds like a dumb premise. But it serves as the foundation for the greatest comedy ever put to film. The great antagonist in Shooter McGavin, iconic cameo with Bob Barker and memorable performance by Chubbs (Carl Weathers) are just awesome.
Thank you Julie Bowen, Christopher McDonald, Richard Kiel and the rest of the cast for the masterful job.
BEST MOMENT: It is known as the rhyme scene.
Shooter McGavin: Just stay out of my way or you’ll pay, listen to what I say.
Happy Gilmore: Hey why don’t I just go and eat some hay. I can lay by the bay, make things out of clay, I just may, what’d ya say?
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for Journal West 10 Media LLC. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.