Nothing becomes obsolete faster than a comedy. Yet, there are a few rare films that manage to endure – and are revered for decades following their initial release. So what is it that causes some movies to be so instantly forgettable, while others continue onwards and achieve legendary status? Well, I have a theory. If a comedy features a scenario that’s sufficiently bizarre, it doesn’t need to depend on the fashions and trends of its era. Since its humour is harder to date, the film becomes timeless. Let’s take a look at a few strange and funny films which were just weird enough to justify their own chapter in comedy history.
Famous for being Hollywood’s first memorable Batman since Adam West, Michael Keaton stars in this very offbeat tale about a pair of newlyweds who soon become newlydeads – and are sentenced to haunt a house for a period of 50 years. Soon, their new home is occupied by a New York couple with a teenaged daughter. Resenting their intruders, the two ghosts hire an exorcist-of-the-living to assist them in scaring these pesky humans away. Enter the demonic Beetlejuice – an eclectic, iconic, and incredibly bizarre character who spews catch-phrases that were oft-quoted by kids throughout the nineties.
Still incredibly watchable today, Beetlejuice avoids becoming irrelevant thanks to its original, fresh, and utterly unique scenario. It’s a ton of fun to watch Keaton cycle through his people-scaring practices. The film later spawned a Saturday morning cartoon which remained popular for years to come – which is arguably even more insane than the movie. I mean, just check out its intro.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Imagine being trapped in a single day – destined to live through the same twenty-four hours over and over. Such a scenario would be so entirely unpleasant that any one of us would be completely depressed if subjected to it. That’s what happens to Bill Murray, who is cast perfectly in the role of Phil the weatherman – a snarky, cynical, condescending nihilist who is forced to confront his own limitations once he’s imprisoned in a neverending Groundhog Day. Frost-bitten and mostly grey, this is certainly not the day of the year I’d pick to spend eternity in – and the same goes for Phil, who's gruff exterior is slowly whittled away as he’s confronted with the reality of his situation... again... and again... and again.
When it was first released in 1984, Ghostbusters instantly won a global following that still exists to this day. The debut adventure of Egon, Peter, Winston and Ray helped launch a toy line, a Saturday morning cartoon, a sequel, and several videogames. Audiences were enthralled by this story about four down-and-out paranormal detectives who suddenly find themselves at the heart of a very profitable ghost busting enterprise. No one had ever before witnessed nuclear-powered “proton packs” in action, as our heroes used ropes of energy to lasso an incredibly imaginative variety of supernatural beings. Thanks to enemies like Slimer and the Marshmallow Man, Ghostbusters became a benchmark which would be referenced for decades to come. From Michael J Fox’s the Frighteners, to the recent Paranorman – all owe a huge debt of gratitude to this hilarious, creative masterpiece.
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