This is going to be highly debatable, but here goes.
What are the best lowbrow comedy movies of the past 10 years? I am dubbing the past ten years “The Cinematic Lowbrow Comedy Years of Modern Glory” and one inglorious lowbrow comedy inspired the decade of flicks that are all merely subsidiaries of it there of. Were it not for this sensational comedy, I do not believe the golden age of lowbrows would have even existed. For it was epic and it was comedic and it was the one-and-only Old Skool. Sure, American Pie did its part to give grossness and stupidity a name, but the beginning of Lowbrow As We Now Know It (and love it) started with Old Skool– when Will Ferrell and friends broke the mold.
“You’re crazy, man. I like you, but you’re crazy.”
(beware: STRONG LANGUAGE! and does anybody else feel sorry for the poor miniature pony?)
1. Old Skool (2003) was just one of those movies that came out of nowhere unexpectedly and brilliantly and insanely and everythingly–> funny. You knew it was a comedy so when you popped in the DVD (or whatever), you were expecting a fun ride. “Will Ferrell, ‘the Night at the Roxberry guy,’ okay.” You shrug and are looking forward to the lark, thinking you will force yourself to chuckle in all the right places in order to divert the pains of your cruel life for a couple of blessed hours. Then you start watching it, and start realizing some crazy ass sh*** is going down! It warms you up in that little space in your brain reserved for whimsy, the cerebral cortex of amusement. Just when you start thinking “Hey, this is pretty good…”, the highly absurd starts to drop– it drops like a time bomb and you are rolling in the aisles, laughing out loud.
2. This movie started a string of movies with sort of a commonality pool of actors who appear in and out of each other’s latest flicks even if only in cameos: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Paul Rudd, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and Steve Carell. I think they were known as The Frat Pack. (history: Rat Pack begot Brat Pack begot Frat Pack, if you don’t know then you won’t go) Old Skool started it, but the best in this group of movies was Anchorman (2004), IMHO.
“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me.”
I said this once to a co-worker who obviously wasn’t familiar with the film. The joke dropped like a lead balloon and I don’t think he liked me very much after that. He was new and I think I freaked him out.
Did Ron Burgundy repopularize the mustache?
3. Steve Carell was the break-out star in Anchorman (Old Skool had already skyrocketed Ferrell into comedy-demigod status). He killed us with, “I love lamp” as well as about 20-30 other non sequiturs. After his turn in Anchorman, it was no big surprise that Hollywood investors gave the shot at a lead roll in a non-Will Ferrell vehicle to Steve Carell. The result was The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005). We laughed; our hearts were unexpectedly warmed; humanity agreed that Steven Carell is amazing; and The Office is like the best show ever.
THE LINE. The thing about all these movies is that I usually watch them with my husband and afterwords there is always one line that we think is particularly hilarious. So, (annoyingly enough, cuz we’re like that) we start repeating this line to each other like an inside joke. If we are out to dinner and waiting on our Carne Asada at Taquaria #9, we look deep into each other’s eyes and say “You’re crazy, man. I like you, but you’re crazy.” In The 40-Year Old Virgin, for us, it was a line from the character “Paula” played by a then unknown Jane Lynch (unless you had seen and fell in love with her in the highbrow and therefore ineligible-for-this-list comedy, Best In Show). She deadpans, “I’m very discreet and I’ll haunt your dreams.” Then I think she sniffs his hair.
4. A truth and indisputable fact about good, nay great, filmatic comedy adventures is that they get better upon repeated viewings. No truer statement can be made about the movie Napoleon Dynamite (2004). I think my initial feeling about the movie was, “What just happened there?” I think I watched it again just to figure it out. Then the laughs ignite like popcorn pops. Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… This film was milked. I think there’s actually a cartoon of it now, which is the surest sign of overwrought Hollywood milkage of something that was iconically great at one time (see Ghostbusters ). My cousin slept with his copy of Napoleon Dynamite through childhood and had back-up copies of it just in case of a disaster.
We like Tina, my husband and I. Also, I made up the word “filmatic.”
“Tina, you fat lard, come get your dinner.” He is referring to a domesticated Llama, “Eat the food!” The food in question is a pan of lasagna which is a better meal than what his grandmother and caretaker has left for him. I am also quite fond of the tator-tots-in-pant-side-pockets scene. My husband tried this at an all-you-can-eat buffet, en inspiration.
5. Fundamentally, I am actually against lowbrow. When these movies come out, I usually pronounce stubborning that they look gross and I never want to watch them. These movies never cease to reveal to all my hypocrisy. Thus was the case, once again, with the likes of Superbad. Oh snap, enter Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. I am segwaying right into Superbad and skipping over Knocked Up, which I surprisingly didn’t find that great. (Katherine Heigl, meh). However, Superbad was also a Seth Rogan thing that Rogan wrote and made a hilarious supporting role appearance in it.
Well, Superbad (2007) just had all the elements. I’m sorry, it was just really freaking funny. In these movies, this genre, all of the characters are nerds but there is always that one hilarious side-nerd. The side-nerd in Superbad was this kid who got somehow wrapped up with these cops (through hilarious hi-jinx!) sporting a fake ID that claims he is a 25 year old single-word-named man, a la Cher or Prince, called “McLovin.’” The cops, to whom he eventually propagates this identity, take him on the ride of his life! I am actually giggling as I type this. McLovin’!
LOTS OF BAD LANGUAGE. I DON’T APROVE OF BAD LANGUAGE BUT YOU HAVE TO BARE IT IN THE LOWBROW WORLD:
6. Pineapple Express (2008) is a golden gem of a movie (Seth Rogan and James Franco). You forgot how funny it was. Pot movies are pretty funny. By which I guess I mean Cheech and Chong and Harold and Kumar. This one’s pretty classic. And James Franco, yay. I heard that the James Franco character was based on the character that Brad Pitt plays in the Quentin Tarantino scripted EPIC MASTERPIECE True Romance (the super endearing “Floyd”– “Hey, Get some beer. And some cleaning products. Don’t condescend me, man. I’ll kill ya!”).
I think I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of Brad Pitt. And note the honey bear.
7. And finally, finally, finally we get to the latest and greatest. It had been years since Old Skool rocked the proverbial world of the whole proverbial world, as it were. Time had passed and we had come to expect mediocrity in comedies once again. Seth Rogen had lost his shiny glean. Then, along came polly. No wait, that’s Along Came Polly, hit-or-miss kid Ben Stiller (see the epically amazingly hilarious Zoolander, the giggle-inducing Meet The Parents, and then all the lack-luster strings of crap he does in between like Envy, Starsky & Hutch, and Duplex). So yeah, along came The Hangover (2009). This is the movie that gave us Zach Galifianakis, but more importantly it gave us hope for lowbrow comedy once again. Zach Galifianakis– even his name is funny. And if there were no The Hangover then there would have been no Bridesmaids, lowbrow for the ladies! And that would be sad because the world would have missed the major Wilson Phillips comeback.
Incidentally, I can’t believe I did a list like this and didn’t mention Jim Carrey, whom I love. The thing is that for Jim Carrey, I love his highbrow stuff such as The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Pet Detective and Dumb & Dumber– not so much.
So, there you have it. These were the best lowbrow comedies of the last 9 and a half years. It has been quite a journey.
Subnote: what is the meaning of the term “lowbrow.” Is this referring to your eyebrows? When something is hoity-toity, do you raise your eyebrows to it and when something is kind of raunchy, do you lower your eyebrows to it?
Okay, wiki says that lowbrow means someone who has uncultivated tastes. This leads me to believe that the term lowbrow is an ethnic slur. Who are these lowbrows? The bohemians?
Well, according to my research, the term started as a compliment. To call someone highbrow meant that they had a big forehead, and in the old days people with big foreheads were thought to be smart. This is actually still debated today whether big-headed (and therefore big-brained) people are smarter. Look at how aliens are depicted in pop culture. They are supposedly highly-evolved and therefor have tiny bodies and big ole heads. They are highbrows and we are apish lowbrows who like it when Will Ferrell injects himself with heavy tranquilizers or runs around naked.
Subnote 2: If I was going to do a post about the best highbrow comedies of the past ten years, I would put in a bid for all the Wes Anderson movies! Technically, it has been longer than ten years but if you haven’t checked out the Wes Anderson library then you are missing out, my friend. Check out: Bottle Rocket (which gave us Owen and Luke Wilson), Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaumns, The Life Aquatic, and The Darjeeling Limited. To me, each and every one of these movies are genius masterpieces. And I am going to die a death every minute until I finally get to see Moonrise Kingdom — at theaters now!
Subnote 3: The side-nerds rock! The side-nerds usually have a subplot, that is how you can tell they are the side-nerd. Old Skool‘s side nerd was Will Ferrel (he was having trouble with his wife). Anchorman‘s side-nerd was Steve Carell’s character, Brick. Brick didn’t really have a subplot; he was just a freak. The 40-Year-Old Virgin didn’t have one really. Napoleon Dynamite‘s side-nerd was his brother, Kip. Hahahaha, Kip. The side-nerd in Superbad was McLovin’. The side-nerd in Pineapple Express was that weird guy that made the birthday cake for his cat. And obviously the wonderful side-nerd in The Hangover was Zach Galifianakis.
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