Recommended: Lightweights, Tier 1

  • A Fish Called Wanda (1988) ... It's so hard to pick favorites, but this may be my favorite comedy. Dark without being too weird, and the cast and the performances they deliver are inspiring. Everybody is perfect.
  • About a Boy (2002) ... Hugh Grant's best role and possibly his best movie as well. Even with all the critical acclaim and good reviews from esteemed Listologists I liked this more than I expected. I think it's because everybody liked High Fidelity more than I did. The difference is that High Fidelity has an anemic heart while this movie has a huge pulsing heart. A very funny movie, but with a surprising amount of depth. It's amazing how Grant, in one voiceover, can describe his life and make it sound like he's the king of the world and then say the same things in the third act and make it sound like he has less than nothing. Toni Collette is nigh invincible as an actress. All I really look for in a child actor is to not irritate me, and Nicholas Hoult vaulted over that meager requirement by miles. One of the few "Dramedies" that hits the balance point perfectly. Who would of thought the American Pie guys had it in 'em?
  • Babe (1995) ... A sweetheart of a movie. While there are live-action talking-animal movies I don't hate, I never thought I'd find one I loved.
  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984) ... Eddie Murphy's film career has always been hit-or-miss as far as I'm concerned, but not only did I enjoy this when it came out, I enjoyed it again almost 20 years later. Murphy is so supremely likeable in this movie, as are Judge Reinhold and John Ashton. During the rewatch I finally noticed that John Ashton, who plays Taggart, also played Marvin Dorfler in Midnight Run. He's fantastic in both. And what do I discover upon further investigation? Martin Brest directed both movies. No wonder they have such a similar feel.
  • Big (1988) ... Like Babe (but without the talking animals), this movie is sweet without being cloying. Tom Hanks is perfect as the child in a man's body - just the right amount of fun, innocence, and curiousity.
  • Cold Comfort Farm (1995) ... On the strength of this movie alone, Kate Beckinsale should inherit the period-piece queen title from Helena Bonham-Carter (who is burning that bridge nicely with grittier roles). Every character in this ensemble cast is a delight, and they all have their moments to shine, but I think my favorite is one of the smaller parts: Harry Ditson as the movie producer Mr. Neck. His "introduction" scene cracks me up every time, when he meets three people and greets each of them differently depending on their station ("Mary" he said with respect but rogueish innuendo, "Elfin" with parental enthusiasm, and "Charles" with the heartiest of manly handshakes). A small thing, but wonderful, and this movie is full of such moments.
  • Galaxy Quest (1999) ... As good a Star Trek spoof as you could hope for. In fact, I can't think of a better spoof that wasn't made by Mel Brooks.
  • Groundhog Day (1993) ... One of my favorites. Bill Murray does such a great job of being a cad that you can't help liking, even at his caddiest. So it's just so easy to warm up to him when he starts to come 'round, because you're already halfway there anyway. I'm gonna go out on a limb and nominate this for best comedy of the 90s.
  • L.A. Story (1991) ... I saw this when it came out and why-oh-why was I the only one laughing in a fairly full theater? Sure, comedy is the most subjective genre, but come on! Ah well, your mileage may vary. That said, in my opinion this is the last great Steve Martin movie (although some of his subsequent movies have been pretty good).
  • Mary Poppins (1964) ... Our four-year-old has a hitting problem. She hits us, and that's a problem (fortunately she doesn't hit anybody else). So we've taken away all her movies that have even a shred of violence in them (which seems to be working wonders). Do you have any idea how hard it is to find kids movies with NO violence whatsoever? Thank goodness for Mary Poppins, perhaps the greatest kids movie of all time, and utterly violence-free. I rediscovered this as an adult, and I'm so grateful for it.
  • Midnight Run (1988) ... I had forgotten to list this and then I rewatched Beverly Hills Cop and noticed the connections (noted above). My favorite Robert De Niro comedy. In fact, I don't think he has enjoyed the same level of comedic rapport that he shared with Charles Grodin since. And I love the rest of the cast as well (Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Dennis Farina, Joe Pantoliano, all of whom vie for movie-stealing honors). A great road movie.
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947) ... If I were to hedge I'd say this is my favorite non-animated Christmas movie. But I won't hedge. It's my favorite.
  • The Princess Bride (1987) ... "Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." I suspect this is one of those movies where it helps to be indoctrinated by a pile of adoring fans. I was, and I love it. But even if you watch it alone for the first time, you'd have to have completely lost your taste for fairly tales to not get carried away at least a little by this wonderful movie.
  • Roxanne (1987) ... Steve Martin plays Cyrano de Bergerac, a small town fire chief with a three-inch nose. My favorite Cyrano offshoot, which isn't saying much. But it's also one of my favorite comedies from the 80s.
  • Sherlock Jr. (1924) ... My favorite Buster Keaton movie. To be fair I've only seen this, Our Hospitality and The General (which I really should rewatch before passing judgement). Great pacing, very funny, and technically jaw-dropping. It was all I could do to keep my eyes in their sockets during the movie-in-a-movie sequence. Made in 19-friggin-24. Must be seen to be believed. Sorry for ruining it for you by overhyping it, but I was so impressed.
  • Singin' in the Rain (1952) ... Awaiting a rewatch
  • Tootsie (1982) ... I have to rewatch this.
Author Comments: 

If you're going to use these lists for recommendations, you really should read how they're organized.

UPDATE: I've archived Tier 2 and Tier 3.

"Galaxy Quest (1999)...I can't think of a better spoof that wasn't made by Mel Brooks."

Not a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker fan?

Oh sure, come up with an example that forces me to rewrite my review. :-)

Actually, I'll probably leave it alone. I hadn't considered them, and I've enjoyed several of their movies, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm a fan.

I suggest you check out "Steamboat Bill, Jr." It's my favorite Keaton movie, and it, of course, contains the famous stunt where the wall of a house falls on him while he stands in the window.

I'll do that! Might be awhile before I get to it since my wife would like to see it too, and she's been kinda busy. I'm constantly re-ordering my Netflix queue according to what my wife is least likely to want to see. I'm starting to run out of wiggle room there though.

Jim, you might be aware of this already but Brad Bird the director of The Iron Giant is making a CGI film for Pixar called The Incredibles (2004)

Cool! I didn't know that. Hey, while I have you, what did you think of The Iron Giant?

I own the DVD and its an excellent film! A great movie for kids and adults. Doesn't make me ill in my stomach like some children's movies do.

BTW, I saw Princess Bride the first time without knowing anything about it (not even an IMDB lookup), and it instantly became one of my favorite movies ever.