Internet Infidels Video Store - Comedy
I know, I know. A Beavis and Butt-head movie is a bit out of place on a page dominated by Monty Python and Woody Allen movies, but Beavis and Butt-head Do America has a few scenes that will bemuse freethinkers. While the two morons are trying to trek cross country, they accidentally end up on a bus full of nuns, and even mistake confessionals for port-a-potties. Beavis giving confession is priceless.
Mike Judge, the creator and voice of MTV's insouciant Beavis and Butt-head characters, made his feature film directorial debut with this full-length B&B misadventure, which finds the boys going on a cross-country adventure after their all-important television set is stolen. Fans of the now-defunct TV show will obviously enjoy this film the most, though almost anyone with a passing awareness of the characters will find something to chuckle about. (The funniest recurring gag finds beleaguered B&B neighbor Tom Anderson constantly sabotaged by the guys while on vacation.) Celebrity voices are fun to pick out, particularly that of David Letterman, who rather appropriately plays Butt-head's long-lost father. - Tom Keog
Some critics and filmgoers have hailed this 1989 comedy-drama as Woody Allen's best film, and while that's certainly open for debate, a good case can be made that it's the most ambitious and morally complex of Allen's films. It's the kind of movie that provokes heated philosophical debate about the role of God in our lives, the nature of guilt, and the circumstances that would allow a seemingly good, law-abiding family man and successful professional (Martin Landau) to commit a murder with no risk of being caught. Could you live with yourself under those conditions? Allen explores this complicated issue in the context of an extramarital affair that Landau's mistress (Anjelica Huston) threatens to expose, while developing a second story about a documentary filmmaker (Allen) who reluctantly makes a film about his brother-in-law (Alan Alda), a TV sitcom producer whose vanity is seemingly unlimited. From serious crimes to misdemeanors of personal behavior, Allen ties these stories together to create a provocative and unsettling study of divergent moralities and the price we're willing to pay to preserve our personal comfort and happiness. It's a sobering film, but a fascinating and funny one as well, unfolding like a thriller in which the question is not whodunit but rather, would you do it if you knew you could get away with it? - Jeff Shannon
Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep star in this amusing and interesting look at the afterlife. Once you die, you must defend your life, which was videotaped, in a celestial court of law. Somewhat humanistic message in that it is the conquering of fear, and not fear of the Lord, that gains heaven.
Chevy Chase is back as a Fletch, an L. A. (Los Angeles) reporter in LA (Louisiana) when he inherits a plantation home. When his plantation becomes contaminated and his attorney is murdered, Fletch must solve the case. One of the suspects is a crooked televangelist. Freethinkers will particularly enjoy Fletch's "faith healing" on the evangelists' national television show.
Hannah & Her Sisters (1986)
Woody Allen plays a hypochondriac producer who finds out one day that he might have brain cancer. This sets off a chain of events, in which Allen turns briefly to religion (his Jewish father saying, "Yeah but why Jesus Christ? Why couldn't you have been a Buddhist?"), and culminates in his decision to either kill himself or to accept the fact that things are actually okay even though God doesn't exist.
"Woody Allen's 'Hannah and Her Sisters,' the best movie he has ever made, is organized like an episodic novel, with acute little self-contained vignettes adding up to the big picture." - Roger Ebert
While not a great movie, Leap of Faith shows many of the tricks crooked evangelists use, as exposed by James "the Amazing" Randi. Steve Martin is Jones Nightengale, the charlatan minister, and Debra Winger plays his "partner in crime."
Jonas Nightengale, an evangelical huckster, decides to set up camp in Rustwater, Kansas, a small farming town hard-hit by drought, where one of his vans has broken down. Saying the people of Rustwater have no extra money to waste on phony miracles, the sheriff urges Jonas to move on; the minister, however, sees a town in trouble and he knows that means a quick profit from people desperate for hope. With the help of well-researched assistants, who have combed the town for information and gossip, and a manager who feeds him cues via a radio transmitter, he easily convinces people of his powers. But then, one night, Jonas Nightengale performs an actual miracle, and suddenly his world is turned upside down.
Writer-director Woody Allen's 1975 comedy finds the familiar Allen persona transposed to 19th-century Russia, as a cowardly serf drafted into the war against Napoleon, when all he'd rather do is write poetry and obsess over his beautiful but pretentious cousin (Diane Keaton). A total disaster as a soldier, Allen's cowardice serves him well when he hides in a cannon and is shot into a tent of French soldiers, suddenly making him a national hero. After his cousin agrees to marry him, thinking he'll be killed in a duel he miraculously survives, the couple must hatch a ludicrous plot to assassinate Napoleon in order to keep the coward Allen out of yet another war. Allen and Keaton show what a perfect comic team they make in this film, even predating their most celebrated pairing in Annie Hall. Working so well as the most unlikely of comedies, of all things a hilarious parody of Russian literature, Love and Death is a must-see for fans of Woody Allen films. - Robert Lane
The first of the "Python Trilogy", Holy Grail is a satire of the King Arthur legend. Freethinkers will be amused by the monk's practice of self flagellation and the method of determing whether or not a woman is a witch.
Could this be the funniest movie ever made? By any rational measure of comedy, this medieval romp from the Monty Python troupe certainly belongs on the short list of candidates. According to Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide, it's "recommended for fans only," but we say hogwash to that--you could be a complete newcomer to the Python phenomenon and still find this send-up of the Arthurian legend to be wet-your-pants hilarious. It's basically a series of sketches woven together as King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail, with Graham Chapman as the King, Terry Gilliam as his simpleton sidekick, Patsy, and the rest of the Python gang filling out a variety of outrageous roles. The comedy highlights are too numerous to mention, but once you've seen Arthur's outrageously bloody encounter with the ominous Black Knight (John Cleese), you'll know that nothing's sacred in the Python school of comedy. From holy hand grenades to killer bunnies to the absurdity of the three-headed knights who say "Ni--!," this is the kind of movie that will strike you as fantastically funny or just plain silly, but why stop there? It's all over the map, and the pace lags a bit here and there, but for every throwaway gag the Pythons have invented, there's a bit of subtle business or grand-scale insanity that's utterly inspired. The sum of this madness is a movie that's beloved by anyone with a pulse and an irreverent sense of humor. If this movie doesn't make you laugh, you're almost certainly dead. - Jeff Shannon
Only Monty Python could satirize religion like this, and get away with it. This is a story of Brian, a first century Nazarene whose life strangely parallels that of Jesus. Ancient political and judicial practices are also lampooned - witness a man about to be stoned for saying "this halibut is fit for Jehovah." And who would have thought that Pontius Pilate had a speech impediment? A must view for all freethinkers or anyone with a sense of humor, or should I type humour.
"Blessed are the cheesemakers," a wise man once said. Or maybe not. But the point is Monty Python's Life of Brian is a religious satire that does not target specific religions or religious leaders (like, say, Jesus of Nazareth). Instead, it pokes fun at the mindless and fanatical among their followers--it's an attack on religious zealotry and hypocrisy--things that that fellow from Nazareth didn't particularly care for either. Nevertheless, at the time of its release in 1979, those who hadn't seen it considered it to be quite "controversial."
Life of Brian, you see, is about a chap named Brian (Graham Chapman) born December 25 in a hovel not far from a soon-to-be-famous Bethlehem manger. Brian is mistaken for the messiah and, therefore, manipulated, abused, and exploited by various religious and political factions. And it's really, really funny. Particularly memorable bits include the brassy Shirley Bassey/James Bond-like title song; the bitter rivalry between the anti-Roman resistance groups, the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea; Michael Palin's turn as a lisping, risible Pontius Pilate; Brian urging a throng of false-idol worshippers to think for themselves--to which they reply en masse "Yes, we must think for ourselves!"; the fact that everything Brian does, including losing his sandal in an attempt to flee these wackos, is interpreted as "a sign." Life of Brian is not only one of Monty Python's funniest achievements, it's also the group's sharpest and smartest sustained satire. Blessed are the Pythons. - Jim Emerson
Who can honestly admit that they didn't almost die from laughter upon first hearing Python's "Every Sperm Is Sacred?" which is a riotous satire of the Roman Catholic Church's policy on family planning. Of course, they do manage a shot at the Protestants' own method of family planning in a subsequent scene. And who can forget the Pythons' method of "praising god," namely, "Oh, you are so big. We're all real impressed down here."
Perhaps only the collective brilliant minds of the Monty Python film and television troupe are up to the task of tackling a subject as weighty as The Meaning of Life. Sure, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, and their ilk have tried their hands at this puzzler, but only Python has attempted to do so within the commercial motion picture medium. Happily for us all, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life truly explains everything one conceivably needs to know about the perplexities of human existence: from the mysteries of Catholic doctrine, to the miracle of reproduction, to why one should avoid the salmon mousse, to the critical importance of the machine that goes "Ping!" Using fish as a linking device (and what marvelous links those aquatic creatures make), The Meaning of Life is presented as a series of sketches: a musical production number about why seed is sacred; a look at dining in the afterlife; the quest for a missing fish (there they are again); a visit from Mr. Death; the cautionary tale of Mr. Creosote and his rather gluttonous appetite; an unflinching examination of the harsh realities of organ donation, and so on. Sadly, this was the last original Python film, but it's a beaut. You'll laugh. You'll cry (probably because you're laughing so hard). You may even learn something about The Meaning of Life. Or at least about how fish fit into the grand scheme of things. - Jim Emerson
If Interiors was Woody Allen's Bergman movie, and Stardust Memories was his Fellini movie, then you could say that Sleeper is his Buster Keaton movie. Relying more on visual/conceptual/slapstick gags than his trademark verbal wit, Sleeper is probably the funniest of what would become known as Allen's "early, funny films" and a milestone in his development as a director. Allen plays Miles Monroe, cryogenically frozen in 1973 (he went into the hospital for an ulcer operation) and unthawed 200 years later. Society has become a sterile, Big Brother-controlled dystopia, and Miles joins the underground resistance--joined by a pampered rich woman (Diane Keaton at her bubbliest). Among the most famous gags are Miles's attempt to impersonate a domestic-servant robot; the Orgasmatron, a futuristic home appliance that provides instant pleasure; a McDonald's sign boasting how-many-trillions served; and an inflatable suit that provides the means for a quick getaway. The kooky unthawing scenes were later blatantly (and admittedly) ripped-off by Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. - Jim Emerson
Gerard Depardieu is Tartuffe in this film version of the Moliere classic. Tartuffe is a crooked, minister who dupes a wealthy Frenchman and his family.
Truman (Jim Carrey) thinks he's an average middle-American insurance salesman in Anytown, USA, however, he's actually the star of the biggest television drama in history. This excellent comedy, directed by Peter Wier (The Spanish Prisoner), manages simultaneously to explore the existentialist dilemma of living authentically while exposing the contradictions of free will in a universe where the eyes of God are constantly upon us. And in this film, the Omnipotent is a jealous God! This film is one of those rare times when Hollywood gets it right.