Comedy Film Festival 2012

“Blazing Saddles”

The townspeople of Rock Ridge welcome Sheriff Bart (Clevon Little) to their town in "Blazing Saddles" (Warner Bros., 1974)

The townspeople of Rock Ridge give a warm welcome to Sheriff Bart (Clevon Little) in “Blazing Saddles” (Warner Bros., 1974)

“Blazing Saddles” (Warner Bros., 1974). The final entry in this year’s comedy film watching project is the bawdy, off-color, distasteful, ludicrous, politically incorrect and totally awesome Western spoof “Blazing Saddles.” Set in the American Old West, evil railroad baron Hedley Lamarr (played by the great Harvey Korman) decides that he wants to run his railroad through the town of Rock Ridge. In order to make the town unlivable for its citizens and to force them to leave, he arranges for an African-American to be the Rock Ridge’s new sheriff. Sheriff Bart (played by Clevon Little) and “The Waco Kid,” his newly-found sidekick (played by Gene Wilder), decide to take on the railroad baron and save the town in their own unique way. The film’s bold use of racial stereotypes and crude language reflect a different era; however, in context, it’s writer and director Mel Brooks at his silliest. Supporting cast includes Slim Pickens as Hedley Lamarr’s dim-witted henchman Taggart, Mel Brooks himself in multiple roles (including Governor William J. LePetomane, an Indian chief, and an actor playing Adolf Hitler), and the always fantastic Madeline Kahn doing a spot-on Marlene Dietrich impersonation as the nefarious German songstress Lili von Shtupp. Written by Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor and Alan Uger. Directed by Mel Brooks. “Candygram for Mongo!”

Thanks for following along with me this year. Looking forward to more great movie watching in 2013!

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“Tootsie”

Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie" (Columbia, 1982)

Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie” (Columbia, 1982)

“Tootsie” (Columbia, 1982). This classic 1980s romantic comedy is still as great as ever. Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, an out of work actor with a reputation for being difficult. In an act of desperation, Michael decides to audition for a role in a soap opera dressed in drag using the name Dorothy Michaels. He (well, Dorothy) not only gets the role, “she” becomes a national sensation. Things get even more complicated when Michael/Dorothy begins to fall in love with his/her beautiful co-worker Julie (played by Jessica Lange) and Julie’s father begins to fall in love with Dorothy. The hilarious supporting cast includes Bill Murray, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Sydney Pollack (who also directed the film), and Geena Davis (her first feature film). Written by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal. Directed by Sydney Pollack. “I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man.”

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”

Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas in "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (RKO, 1948)

Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas in “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” (RKO, 1948)

“Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” (RKO, 1948). Building a home never is and never was easy. In this great comedy, Mr. Blandings (expertly played by Cary Grant), his wife (played by the wonderful Myrna Loy), and their two daughters are living in a cramped Manhattan apartment. After a visit to Connecticut, they decide to buy a charming yet decrepid estate. Nothing goes right from start to finsh, not to mention extra challenges thrown at Mr. Blandings from his employer to suspicions of inpropriety with his wife and their lawyer (played by Melvyn Douglas). A really fun movie and an interesting treatise on the so-called “American Dream.” Based on the novel by Eric Hodgins. Written for the screen by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. Directed by H.C. Potter. “It’s a conspiracy, I tell you–against every boy and girl who were ever in love.”

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“Safety Not Guaranteed”

Aubrey Plaza, Karan Soni and Jake M. Johnson in "Safety Not Guaranteed" (Big Beach Films, 2012)

Aubrey Plaza, Karan Soni and Jake M. Johnson in “Safety Not Guaranteed” (FilmDistrict, 2012)

“Safety Not Guaranteed” (FilmDistrict, 2012). This indie romantic sci-fi comedy (yes it’s all of the above) is a clever and thought-provoking take on love lost and love found. Three employees of a Seattle lifestyle magazine (played by Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson and Karan Soni) go on assignment; their task is to interview a guy in a remote Washington town (played by Mark Duplass) who recently placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel. As the plot unravels, everyone has to look at the past, present and future potential of their own relationships–and determine if it’s better to risk it with a partner or go at it alone. And, does time travel even exist? Good stuff (and definitely made for grown-ups). Written by Derek Connolly. Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Recipient of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. “I don’t know, I’m not a freakin’ storm trooper.”

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

Matthew Broderick in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (Paramount, 1986)

Matthew Broderick in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (Paramount, 1986)

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (Paramount, 1986). No other filmmaker captured the thoughts and emotions of 1980s American teenage life better than writer/director John Hughes. In “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Hughes creates the ultimate brainiac teenage fantasy–faking out your parents, skipping school with your girlfriend and best friend, sticking it to the ridiculous school principal, having an incredibly epic day and getting away with it. Matthew Broderick plays Ferris, Alan Ruck plays his best friend Cameron, Mia Sara plays his girlfriend Sloane, Jennifer Grey plays his jealous little sister Jeanie/Shauna, and the crazed school principal is played brilliantly by Jeffrey Jones. It was so much fun to watch this film again. Written and directed by John Hughes. “Hey, Cameron. You realize if we played by the rules right now we’d be in gym?”

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!”

Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley in "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" (Paramount, 1988)

Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley in “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” (Paramount, 1988)

“The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” (Paramount, 1988). Another silly spoof from the creative team that brought you “Airplane!” and “Top Secret!” This time, they lampoon cop shows. Leslie Nielsen plays Detective Frank Drebin from the Los Angeles “Police Squad,” a division of the LAPD. While investigating the shooting of a fellow cop, Drebin uncovers a dastardly plot to kill Queen Elizabeth on an upcoming visit to Los Angeles. Also along for the ride are O.J. Simpson (really), Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy and Ricardo Montalban as the villianous Vincent Ludwig. Ridiculous, juvenile and fantastic. Based on the short-lived “Police Squad!” TV show from 1982 (which is also worth checking out). Written by Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Pat Proft. Directed by David Zucker. “Frank, they’re not here for you. ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic is on the plane.”

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“Annie Hall”

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in "Annie Hall" (United Artists, 1977)

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in “Annie Hall” (United Artists, 1977)

“Annie Hall” (United Artists, 1977). “A nervous romance” (or, perhaps as it should be called, “a neurotic romance”). Woody Allen plays Alvy Singer, an obsessive New York comic who meets and falls in love with Annie Hall, played by Diane Keaton, a charming and insecure nightclub singer. One of Woody Allen’s best films, this semi-autobiographical analysis of an ended love affair is both very sad and very funny. Definitely made for grown-ups and definitely worth watching. Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman. Directed by Woody Allen. “Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat, college.”

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