Saturday, November 22, 2008

Frat Party

I like to laugh. I like urbane and witty repartee, I like squirmy, uncomfortable humor, I like screwball and romantic comedy. But I also really like good, old idiotic chuckles. Juvenile, bad-taste, borderline offensive silly slapstick -- often the kind of shit that you'd associate with frat boys. Which is precisely why the Frat Pack cracks me up. Though I'm often confused on the particulars of full membership status (Jon Favreau -- why not?) I do know enough to pick out my favorite major movies.

It's a tough call to pick my favorite Ben Stiller flick, because I also hold a strong affinity for Farrelly Brother movies, and still think that the first fifteen minutes of There's Something About Mary is some of the funniest film ever. But even though the Farrellys have also worked with Jack Black, they aren't really considered in the core of the Frat Pack, and I do have a Stiller flick that I think I like even better.

Zoolander got buried at the box office when audiences flocked away from the stupid comedy in the wake of 9/11. But it's still one of the silliest and most satisfying on Stiller's resume. It's a family affair, with his wife and dad both turning in funny performances, and even features a cameo by his mom. Will Ferrell nearly steals the show, and it's at least once a week that I wail "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" Also, the world would be a poorer place without the Blue Steel.

Close on the heels of Zoolander comes quite possibly the most packy of the Frat flicks -- Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. With the notable exception of Owen Wilson, this film features nearly all the full-fledged packers and even a fine assortment of pledges. It may even be the film that drew Steve Carrell into the craziness, and his Brick -- particularly when killing a man with a trident or holding pants parties -- is a true highlight. There's also Christina Appelgate, who shows off fine comedic timing as Tits McGee. But Anchorman is primarily a Will Ferrell vehicle, showcasing his loud, obnoxious outbursts and stupendously self-involved stupidity.

If there's a movie more underrated than Zoolander, it's probably Anchorman, which is probably the one of the single most quotable flicks ever. (Go back to your home on whore island! I'm 72% sure that I love you. Smelly pirate hooker.) It's not high-brow, but it sure does make me laugh. As much as I laughed at Talladega Nights, and enjoy Elf (again, that Favreau guy pops up on the periphery), and yeah, I still bounce my head to that Roxbury song, Anchorman ties down the number one spot for Ferrell for me.

And, of course, I can't talk about the Frat Pack without talking about the tall cool one, Vince Vaughn. Written by his pal Jon Favreau, Swingers launched motor-mouth Vince into full-fledged stardom. And I do love Swingers with its Rat Packy vibe, trip to Vegas, and freelance feel. But the pairing of Vince and Owen Wilson was given a warm reception by the public at large and its charm, and Vince's, is undeniable.

Wedding Crashers has its problems. There's an abundance of humor that's homophobic and therefore somewhat offensive. And yet, how can you NOT love Todd Cleary?

Everything about this breezy romantic comedy clicks, and even though Owen is the "lead," Vince more than holds his own. Those plaid pants. The motorboating on the stairway. The dancing. The freaking out about stage four virgin clingers. Getting shrapnel plucked from his ass. It's good shit. It's the kind of thing that makes you wish you had hung out more with Seamus O'Toole and Bobby O'Shea at those frat parties back in the day.


Ellen said...

Will Ferrell: yes. Ben Stiller: no.

I can appreciate your love of silliness, though Ben Stiller just leaves me cold. But that's the thing about low brow humor--it either hits your funny bone in the exact spot or it doesn't.

There's Something About Mary didn't make me laugh much. Maybe it's generational. Case in point: Adam Sandler. I know that people younger than me think he's hilarious. I think he had two funny minutes in his whole career and the rest of the time he's just talking in a baby voice. I don't get it.

And I'm honestly not a humor snob. Bring out Martin Short as Ed Grimly, or better yet, the character from the synchronized swim bit, and I can fall over with convulsions. To me, it doesn't get much funnier than this:


Don Capone said...

I have two words for you Susan:
Old School

SusanD said...

I do dig Old School, Don. Ferrell naked is always funny.

Ellen -- I don't know if it's generational, but I definitely think Dane Cook is, and I'm too old for him. I just don't get him -- to the point where I think my nephews are stupid for thinking he's funny. Painful. So I understand the Adam Sandler divide. But given you don't like him, you won't like what's coming next...