As we prepare to see Will Ferrell square up to Zach Galifianakis in THE CAMPAIGN, we thought we would take a fond retrospective dive into the comedy archives, and pull out a few ruckuses that have tantalised us over the years.
We’ll start with the kings of cerebral comedy themselves, ‘The Pythons.’
MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL (1975): King Arthur vs The French Knight
French Knight: ‘Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!’
King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his knights encounter many ridiculous obstacles in their search for the holy grail, although none more so than the French Knight (John Cleese). Well, there is a killer rabbit, but it could never come up with something as offensive as the jibe, ‘I fart in your general direction.’
Even if the rest of the film was mind-numbingly dull, which it isn’t, this brief linguistic throw-down alone would be enough to ensure MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL is branded onto your mind for a very long time.
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winner: The French Knight
This is based on the grounds that no human being could even come close to being as creatively cutting with their insults.
Louis Winthorpe III: ‘Those men wanted to have sex with me!’
This classic sees two of the eighties’ leading comedy performers, Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd lock horns in a war involving race, class, and a soiled Santa Claus costume.
When two corporate fat cats play God, using their sway to swap the lives of Billy and Louis, the two pawns are unwillingly pitted against each other. Billy’s streetwise and Louis has an expensive education under his belt, but which of them will come out on top?
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winner: Billy
Marlon: ‘If we keep shooting Joey, don’t you think he might get suspicious?’
This black comedy follows Joey Boca (Kevin Kline) and his relatively simple life of adultery and making pizza pies. When his wife and mother-in-law uncover the truth, they vow to kill Joey, but consistently fail, as their methods leave a lot to be desired.
A fantastic cast includes Tracy Ullman, Joan Plowright, River Phoenix and Miriam Margolyes, as well as Keanu Reeves and William Hurt as a pair of inept drug addicts who are hired to dispatch Joey, with catastrophic consequences.
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winner(s): Stalemate
Joey is outnumbered and outgunned, but he’s harder to kill than Freddy Krueger fueled by a Tony Montana-sized portion of cocaine.
Sanka Coffie: ‘You want to kiss my lucky egg?’
In this family offering, a freak accident prevents several Jamaican sprinters from competing in the Olympics, so they turn to a fantastically impractical alternative sport instead, in bobsleighing.
Jamaica are written off, and must battle the chill, as well as a group of smug Swiss scorn purveyors, in what is probably the most heartening film on this list, and maybe even on all lists.
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winners: The Jamaicans
Their unity in the face of adversity, and their relentless spirit, sees them crowned the moral victors.
Ernie McCracken: ‘You’re on a gravy train with biscuit wheels.’
If you haven’t seen this charming movie, from the Farrelly brothers (DUMB AND DUMBER), then do, if for Bill Murray’s performance alone. Murray ad-libbed almost every word of his performance, which the brothers agreed ‘made it funnier.’
KINGPIN charts the sinister rivalry between Ernie McCracken and Roy Muntz, in what is definitely the best bowling-related feature comedy of all time. And as you can imagine, it’s up against some pretty stiff competition.
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winners: Roy and Ishmael
A rather unusual tag team, these two underdogs prove that every dog has its day.
Fletcher Reede: ‘Audrey, great news; both my legs are broken so they can’t take me right to jail.’
A conversation about comedy greats rarely takes place without at least one member of the party bringing up the living legend that is Jim Carrey.
In LIAR LIAR, Carrey portrays Fletcher Reede, a lawyer who is unable to lie for 24 hours, after his son makes a birthday wish. This destroys him mentally and physically, and is perhaps most evident in a scene where Fletcher savagely attacks himself, because he’s frustrated with himself, for not being able to be himself. Oh, the wryly amusing irony!
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winner: N/A
In a physical fight with yourself, there can be no winners, only losers.
Terry Bohner: ‘There was abuse in my family, but it was mostly musical in nature.’
This mockumentary from the beautiful mind of Christopher Guest, was made after the terrific THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984), but achieved less notoriety. This is a travesty, as it is just as immense, and arguably boasts more well-rounded characters than the aforementioned cult classic.
Conflict arises between two of folk music’s biggest bands, when The New Main Street Singers open a concert for The Folksmen, and cover their song ‘Never Did No Wanderin’’ without informing them first. It’s a folk-off!
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winner: The Folksmen
Their one big hit, ‘Old Joe’s Place’ is better than the entire back catalogue of those plagiarising demons, The New Main Street Singers.
Miles: ‘You f**king derelict.’
Unlike the rest of our competitors, Miles and Jack are close friends, however, they frequently clash due to Jack’s insatiable appetite for the female of the species, or, as he puts it, his determination to ‘go deep.’
Miles’ intellectually neurotic disposition is in fundamental contrast to Jack’s simple, though endearing, demeanour, so they are constantly on completely different wave lengths.
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winner: Miles
Miles edges it, as he is the brains of the operation, and Jack has the meandering mentality of an adolescent boy.
Brick Tamland: ‘There were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident.’
The legendary San Diego news anchor (and champion of misogyny), Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), leads his band of juvenile imbeciles in a war for ratings against his rival anchor, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), and rival news teams (led by The Channel 9 Evening News team).
The battle gets physical, and culminates in a parking lot brawl, in which a perplexing array of weaponry is used to great effect, from what appears to be an antique table leg, to a hand grenade.
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winners: The Channel 4 News Team
They have a truly special weapon, and his name is Brick Tamland.
Jack: ‘My first religion is private property. Don’t trespass. Don’t touch my shit.’
Marion (Julie Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) are a struggling couple, who take a trip to France to work on their relationship. There they meet Marion’s judgemental family, and deal with her swathe of ex-boyfriends, much to Jack’s chagrin.
Creating a realistic depiction of a modern relationship, whilst also letting the culture clash spawn naturalistic and mirthful humour, 2 DAYS IN PARIS is a rare romantic comedy with spunk.
THN’s Officially Unofficial Winner: Stalemate
Marion is too carefree, and Jack is overly analytical. They are both doomed to lose at opposite ends of the spectrum!
THE CAMPAIGN is due for release Friday 28th September. You can read our review here.