Friday, November 14, 2014

A Series of Genres: Comedy Part Two

For me, some of the best comedies are films with a group of witty people that can rift off each other. I believe that to be true for filmmaking in general. Time and time again, I see films made by a group of close knit friends do better than films made by professional strangers. Genuine chemistry between actors come from good friendships off screen. In this next part of the exploration of the comedy genre, I want to look at the different ensemble of cast members that have created great comedies.
  • Monty Python: Monty Python (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin) started out as a British television sketch comedy act in the late 60’s, known as Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Their film debut was in 1971 with the film And Now for Something Completely Different. Four years later they produced one of my all-time favorite comedies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This film is a parody of the Arthurian Legends that turn the story of an epic into a farce. See the silliness in the trailer here. There follow up film was Monty Python's Life of Brian, a film that was a mockery of the times surrounding Jesus’s life. A funny parody that taught us to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”
  • Marx Brothers: These five brothers (Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo) had a knack for entertaining people. The family started off with vaudeville acts on Broadway, then they graduated to film in the 1920’s. The three eldest brothers Chico, Harpo and Groucho became the stars of their act in the mid 1930’s when Gummo and Zeppo decided to pursue other careers. I personally have only watched one of their films, Duck Soup. Duck Soup is known for popularizing the famous mirror gag or mirror scene. A scene that has been copied many times even by Bugs Bunny.
  • The Brat Pack: Named after the Rat Pack, this cast of “teenagers” (Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy) frequently appeared in John Hughes’s coming-of-age films. The Brat Pack film that sticks with me the most is The Breakfast Club; a story of five teens and their Saturday morning detention. What I like about The Breakfast Club is that the film gives an opportunity to connect with every teenage. Each student in the film represents one of the main clique in high school. Also the film has one of the best endings. Other Brat Pack films include Sixteen Candles, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Pretty in Pink.
  • The Frat Pack: A group of comedic actors who either act like frat boys or portray frat boys in the movies. (Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, and Steve Carell) This group of guys is led primarily by Ben Stiller, and his films. There are a couple of filmmaker I mention in part one that have worked with many of the actors in this group. The Farrelly Brothers have worked with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson in films such as There's Something About Mary, Shallow Hal, and Hall Pass. The other is Judd Apatow, who has produced many of the films starring the Frat Pack. Judd Apatow is actually the connecting person between this group and the next on my list, via his film The 40-Year-Old Virgin starring Steve Carell.
  • Team Apatow: A group named, well, after Judd Apatow, a producer known for making stoner comedies, as you may recall from part one. The actors that belong to this group have had many roles in Judd Apatow’s films. Actors such as, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Craig Robinson. Most of these actors have become close friends with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and have made many films together.
Hopefully, this will tide you all over until I reveal my top five in part three.

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