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Entries in Tim Robbins (1)

Monday
Jun272011

Nine quirky comedies that you probably missed... why nine? No reason.

Don't you hate it when you happen to catch a movie, and you fall in love with how quirky and charming it is, before you realize it's ten years old and there's no one to talk about it with? You get irate because no one bothered to tell you about this movie. How come no critics championed it's cause? No groundswell of internet fanboys came to it's rescue? Well, never fear, you may or may not have seen this list of movies  - All of these I saw by accident, either on a whim or because I was too lazy to change the channel, and they've all become favorites in their own way.

So... how many have you seen? How many are you going to see after taking my excellent advice? By the way, I hope these aren't as under-rated as I think they are, because they deserve a wider audience for sure. It's only my opinion... and it's my blog after all....

 

1. Pirate Radio (2009)

We stumbled on this movie by complete accident, and I couldn't have been more pleased. If you're a rock-n-roll lover and enjoy a look back at it's heydey when DJs ruled the roost and were almost as big as the stars they played on the radio, then this movie's for you. It tells the tale of the Pirate Radio station  that set sail in 1960s UK so it could play rock and roll for the hungry masses and skirt the obscenity and indecency laws of the day. Perfectly cast, Bill Nighy and Phillip Seymour Hoffman lead this ensemble of mostly British actors, who hit the perfect note of sixties unglamorous glamourous life. It's a coming-of-age tale that you'll totally wish was yours. I dare you not to envy the kid in the movie - talk about an education!

This movie has a great soundtrack as well - the best of sixties pop-and-roll - presented with the appropriate amount of devotion and enthusiasm. The music is as important as any character in the movie (and there are a lot of them). A few familiar faces show up including Emma Thompson, Rhys Ifans, and January Jones to deepen the cast even further. I really can't say enough great things about this flick. It is so good it actually made me cry at the end. Twice! (Yes, I'm a dork, but the music moves me, man).

Anyways, here's a favorite clip from the movie - along with the official trailer. Hint - if you can, see it on DVD so you can see the scenes they cut from the US version. 

 

 

2. Dick (1999)

This alterna-reality tale of the Watergate scandal is a totally underrated little film where two high school girls completely upset the entire US government when they unwittingly expose the Watergate scandal. In the movie, "Deep Throat", AKA the Bring-It-On-era Kirsten Dunst and post-Dawson's-pre-Brokeback Michelle Williams,  play it with all the budding adolescent angst and silliness that the real Deep Throat could only remember in a hypnotic state. While on a school field trip, they become the White House dogwalkers and stumble upon secret tapes, arrange encounters with Woodward & Bernstein (Will Ferrell & Bruce McCullouch) and dose Nixon with pot brownies. Good times... if only this was the real story... what a gentler nation we might be.

I really like both Kirsten & Michelle in this movie - Michelle is totally believable as the teen with a daddy crush on Tricky Dick. This was obviously made back when she still showed her sense of humor. Ryan Reynolds has a funny part as a dorky, horny Senator's son... hot as always. Anyways, go ahead and check out the trailer, you might enjoy a lighter look at our executive office corruption. 

 

3. Millions (2005)

I know it's surprising to find a movie with two kids as the main stars on any list I would be making, but this movie was too adorable not to tell more people about. Two little boys, who are grieving the loss of their mother, believe a bag full of money falls right into their laps. Each boy goes on their own journey deciding what to do with the money - sparking a heartwarming and often hilarious tale of how money changes people. This movie is too cute for words. Don't get me wrong, this is not pure comedy, but it's a moralistic tale for the ages starring little boys with British accents with money to blow and nothing but potential. How could it be bad? Go send Transformers 37 back to the RedBox and watch this one instead. 

 

4. The Madness of King George (1994)

Did you know that the man we were trying to detach ourselves from during the American Revolution was in the throes of madness and peeing blue? Well, folks, it's a little reported chapter of our world history, played out in this charming movie starring Nigel Hawthorne as King Edward III, Helen Mirren as his queen "Mrs. King"  and Rupert Everett as the conniving son trying to take over the throne in the wake of his father's mental illness. You know, typical family problems, the stuff every good tragi-comedy is made of. Ian Holm plays the doctor who has come to cure the King. If this sounds a little like The King's Speech, it kind of is... just set two hundred years earlier.

Actually, there is very little tragedy to this movie... it's a sweet tale of mental illness, government takeover, controversial medical treatments and true love. Helen Mirren is fantastic as usual. Worth the watch just for her if you have a little crush on her like the rest of the world. Seeing Rupert Everett prance around with a beer gut and bad hair is also entertaining, just sayin.' Check out the trailer below:

 

5. The Man who Knew too Little (1997)

I have no earthly idea why people didn't like this movie. I find it to have Bill Murray at his clueless-wonder best, stumbling through as a participant on a "reality" experience called Theater of Life. His brother needs to get him out of the way and enrolls him in a night of adventure where you get to improv a movie-like scenario in "real life". His performance gets mixed up with real espionage and mayhem, of course, and a movie is born. Alfred Molina, Joanne Whalley and Peter Gallagher round out the cast nicely in true campy style.  

This comedy of misunderstandings works because Murray is amazing when he plays a bumbling idiot. I believe him all the way! I insist that you go out and watch this movie immediately. (Actually I think you can watch it in parts for free on youtube if you're patient (and cheap) enough. ) However you do it... just watch it. You won't want to miss the best movie car chase scene ever - it gets extra hilarious right around the 2:20 mark! I've always wanted to do that!!

 

6. Wonder Boys (2000)

This kinda under-the-radar movie is jam packed with movie stars in a low-key turn with a slow burn of comedy. It's dry and it's heart-warming which is surprising considering ice queen Katie Holmes is part of the cast (pre Tom Cruise, I might add). Michael Douglas plays a pot smoking professor who's writing the never-ending novel. He's sleeping with Frances McDormand's character who is married ... to his boss. The prof takes in a wayward student, Tobey Maguire, with a secret, or two, or three and, you guessed it, shenanigans ensue. Robert Downey Jr is an amusing addition to the cast. Throw in a sweater owned by Marilyn Monroe, a dead dog and manuscript disappearing in the wind, a little suspenseful, quirky, gem of a movie. A nice surprise.

 

7. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

This is definitely one of the lesser known Coen Brothers movies, and it always surprises me when people say they haven't seen it. It's a Capraesque escapade of an up-and-comer who invents the hula-hoop while re-inventing himself. Tim Robbins plays a fantastic hapless hero, Paul Newman does a dastardly turn as a boss without a heart, and Charles Durning is an angel with a secret. Don't miss Anna Nicole Smith's cameo and Jennifer Jason Leigh doing her best His Girl Friday impression. She's not bad if I do say so myself (please read last sentence in your best Rosalind Russell/Mae West mashup accent). 

I love this scene where the world discovers the Hula Hoop. I have no idea why that kids is so darned mesmerizing, bug dang it, he is. Can't take my eyes off him... translation? Great and unexpected filmmaking.

 

8. The Commitments (1991) 

 Great soul music from Dublin, enough said. In the immortal words of band manager Jimmie Rabbitt, 

The Irish are the blacks for Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once and say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud.

It's that whole white potato famine blues meets post-teen sexual frustration that makes this such an endearing flick with a killer soundtrack sung by the cast and fictional band, the Commitments. It's hard to believe the lead singer, Andrew Strong, was only 16 when this movie was made... what a voice. Come to think of it, he probably would have won that tv show The Voice if it had been around then. He's no looker, but wow, can he sing! The rest of the cast is adorable too, btw. I liked this movie so much, I saw it twice in the same day at the theater. Then I drug my boyfriend back to see it again the next day. 


The Commitments - Try a Little Tenderness by algizdk

 

9. Down with Love (2003) 

If you're a fan of Doris Day & Rock Hudsonish movies, then you'll be unable to resist the charms of Renee Zelleweger as Barbara Novak and the dashing Ewan McGregor as Catcher Block in this super-stylized spoof on sexual identity in the sixties. The costumes are total Mad Men (pre-Mad Men btw), the dialogue is all double-entendrified and the overall effect is flawless. Not too cute, not too over the top and just clever enough to make this a fun classic you can watch with everyone AND your grandma. Watch the movie here

Check out this classic scene from the movie - and it's obvious  inspiration from Pillow Talk. By the way, if you haven't seen Pillow Talk... you should see that one too. Charming and innocent... and a little ironical in retrospect.