A team of British researchers, who have managed to quantify “funny”, have issued the definitive list of the top ten funniest movies of all time and the hands down winner with a rollicking 3 laughs per minute was the 1980 Abrahams/Zucker hit; “Airplane”. The film is best remembered for ruining the word “surely” for the English Language as it immediately illicits the iconic Leslie Nielsen comeback “And don’t call me ‘Shirley.”
Long recognized as one of the most hilarious films of all time, the influential movie rating website “Rotten Tomatoes” (www.rottentomatoes.com) ranks the film at an astronomic 98% on the “Tomatometer”.
Number Two in the list was The Hangover, directed by Todd Philips. This 2009 flick about three groomsmen who inadvertently misplace the groom during his bachelor party. It scored an impressive 2.4 laughs per minute, according to the panel. In contrast, however, “The Hangover” only achieved a “Tomatometer” level of 78%, although the audience approval figure climbed to a most respectable 87%
Another Leslie Nielsen vehicle directed by Abrahams and Zucker; “The Naked Gun -From the Files of Police Squad!” got the bronze with a laugh/minute count of 2.3. This cinematic treasure applied the same wacky, absurd sense of humor of “Airplane” to a “Dragnet”-style cop show. It garnered a whopping 89% on the “Tomatometer”.
The tale of a pair of under-aged teens trying to procure alcohol for a party where they hope to improve their dating record; 2007’s “Superbad” is in the fourth spot on the UK group’s chuckle checklist. The film was directed by Greg Mottola, who also directed in television with the critically adored “Arrested Development” as well as the movies “Adventureland and “Paul”. Superbad scored 88% on the “Tomatometer”, so again the British group appeared to pick a winner with their ranking of 1.9 laughs/minute.
The fifth movie on the list will be a surprise to many as it may be one of the most tasteless flicks ever to make it to the big screen. The movie, known universally as just “Borat” was actually entitled “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” It was as outrageous as it was wickedly funny, garnering a laugh per minute score of 1.7. Featuring stand-up comic Sacha Baron Cohen, who has more nerve than an Amazing Wallenda, the film scored a huge 91% on the trusty “Tomatometer” and a whopping 97% on the “Makes Your Flesh Crawl” meter.
Here are the next five movies on the list along with their “Tomatometer” ™ and Audience Approval (AA) ratings.
6. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – 1.6 L/M – TM 67% – AA 84%
7. American Pie – 1.5 L/M – TM 61% – 63%
8. Bridesmaids – 1.4 L/M – TM 90% – AA 76%
9. Shaun of the Dead – 1.3 L/M – TM 91% – AA 91%
10. Life of Brian – 1.2 L/M – TM 96% – TM 91%
The blue-ribbon panel who made up the list were comprised of members of a British movie subscription service called “Lovefilm”. Their findings were published in the UK newspaper “The Telegraph”. The only question now is, “What was ‘American Pie’ doing in that group when Rotten Tomatoes gave Monty Python and the Holy Grail a TM of 95% and an AA of 94%?”
If you disagree with the list, make your own and send it to me in care of The Pipestone Flyer. The only criterion is the list must be compiled on a scientific basis at least as rigorous as this British one. That shouldn’t be too hard.