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Party on, Whitless Wonder
September 18, 2008 - John Whittaker
On Monday, I laughed, I cried, and I hurled.
With my afternoon chores done, I sat down in my favorite chair and looked for something on TV. After 10 minutes, disappointed, I wandered over to my DVD shelf to find something to watch when what, to my wondering eyes should appear, one of the funniest movies of 1992.
That's right, I rediscovered Wayne's World, also known as the fun that was Mike Myers and Dana Carvey at their comic peak.
Sixteen years, and at least 100 viewings later, that movie is still funny.
Yes, I laughed when they do the "asphinctersayswhat" bit. When Wayne's reading the questions to Vanderhoff with the comments on the back, I almost wet myself. I cracked up when Wayne goes off on his ex-girlfriend for buying him a gun rack for their anniversary. The selling out bit where Wayne and Garth talk about remaining true to their artistic selves while sight-gagging sponsors like Reebok and Pepsi is great. Who doesn't love Scooby-Doo endings?
Why is it, then, that an almost 20 year old movie still works while some movies that came out a few years ago (I'm looking at you, Clueless) just don't age that well?
Here are the Whitless Wonder's Top 5 Ingredients for a rewatchable movie.
1. For a comedy, the gags still have to make sense. Some movies, regardless of age, will always be funny. For example, Rodney Dangerfield walking through the Bushwood Country Club, farting and then asking, "Hey, did somebody step on a duck?" will always be worth a laugh. It's part of what makes Blazing Saddles so rewatchable for me - there's a well-delivered joke or sight gag every 30 seconds, and every one of them still works even though the movie is 30 years old and it's set as an 1850s Western. Same for Ace Ventura and Tommy Boy - Jim Carrey and Chris Farley are still as funny now as they were when those movies came out. On the other hand, if you tell me you can seriously watch Clueless and not have almost every joke take you back to ninth grade, I'll show you a liar.
2. You've got to tell a story. I can watch Hoosiers again and again because the story is so good. It's probably the perfect sports movie while at the same time telling multiple stories of personal redemption. And, I defy anyone to watch the last scene, where the camera pans up to the old, faded picture of the championship team on the gym wall as Gene Hackman says, "I love you guys" and not feel like it's dusty in their living room. Shawshank Redemption, A Few Good Men and Swingers are ultimately in this category.
3. One-liners. Rewatchable movies are rewatchable because the lines are great. From Bluto's speech in Animal House (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?) to the "O" Face in Office Space, great lines make great movies, regardless of when they were made. Even movies like Shawshank (I do think those two years were the worst for Andy) or A Few Good Men (You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall) have lines that stick in your head.
4. It can't look dated. Captain Ron is a movie you can't watch and take seriously now just because everybody looks so damned ridiculous in pastels and mullets. It looked cool in 1991. Now, it's just ridiculous. On the other hand, Caddyshack manages to retain a believable feel and look throughout the movie, enough so that it doesn't distract you from the unbelievable comedy that ensues when you have Ted Knight, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase in the same movie. Ghostbusters, for a 1980s movie relying on special effects, manages to hold up pretty well over time, which seriously surprised me the other night when I caught the end of it on SpikeTV.
5. Say something. Let's be honest - humans are, basically, intelligent creatures. We like to be stimulated. And, if you make a comedy that makes you think about the world you live in, then the filmmaker has done their job. Team America is a movie I can watch repeatedly because it's one of the funniest movies ever made, but it also makes you think. Who doesn't think about free speech a little differently after watching the South Park movie? If you can make me think while I'm holding back the urge to pee my pants from laughter, you've done your job.
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