Before we begin, I feel the need to clarify my thoughts on something. A list like this isn’t easy to assemble. I don’t mean that it is difficult in the grand scheme of life. Certainly there are more important issues that we deal with on a daily basis, and there are deeper things on which we can spend our time pondering. But quite frankly I find people who are unable to relax and have fun just a tad bit irritating. How one spends “down time” is an individual choice, and in 21st century America we have an abundance of options. I am fully aware that some folks are movie buffs and some find such entertainment mundane and beneath the pedestal upon which they have placed themselves. The latter group will find this list uninteresting. So be it. But the armchair critics and couch potatoes among you will hopefully find my choices worth the read, and will also appreciate the delicate complexity involved. So without further adieu…..the first five choices on the list:
AFI rated the Bill Murray/Chevy Chase classic ode to golf and class warfare at #71 on their 100 Greatest Comedies list. I suppose a lot of folks would have it rated higher on their list and mine. Sometimes I think enjoyment of a movie is all about timing. Where one first sees the film and under what circumstances, how many times they’ve seen it, what year it came out in relation to the viewer’s age, and other correlations. I was only 8 when Caddyshack was in theaters, and it was Rated R. But many people have come to adore it through the magic of television and video, and there are older films that I find immensely pleasurable, so the timing issue doesn’t fully explain why I rate it dozens of spots lower than the majority likely would. I also believe that everyone’s sense of humor is different and that we “get” certain things while others just go completely over our head. Bill Murray is someone whose humor just never really bowled me over, and his legendary performance in Caddyshack made his career. Actually, I would go so far as to say it IS his career. Anyway, I do enjoy the movie which is why it’s on the list. I just may not enjoy it as much as you do. And the sequel that was made eight years later which is disparaged by most, especially fans of the original…..well, I don’t think it’s all that bad, probably because I don’t have the first one on such a high pedestal.
99 E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
It wasn’t Spielberg’s first venture into the world of sci-fi (remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind??), but it is his most beloved. This is a perfect example of circumstances shaping one’s opinion. I’m not positive that E.T. was the first movie I ever saw in a theater, but I distinctly remember seeing it in a theater with my mother and sister, and I know it’s one of only three movies (we’ll get to the other two much later in this process) that have ever brought tears to my eyes.
98 Fast Times At Ridgemont High
If one needed to procure items for a 1980’s time capsule a copy of Fast Times would be a must. It is the quintessential high school flick and launched the careers of Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage, Anthony Edwards, and Eric Stoltz. There are 3 Academy Award winners in that list ladies and gentlemen. That’s impressive. I’m not a Sean Penn fan by any means, but with Spicoli he created one of the most original and enduringly funny characters in American cinema. And if Phoebe Cates never does another thing in her life (and let’s be honest…..her career after Fast Times hasn’t exactly been noteworthy), she will be immortal to generations of randy teenage boys who’ll never forget her coming out of that pool.
97 Risky Business
Once upon a time Tom Cruise was the living breathing definition of cool, and this is where it all began. Sure, he’d been in some other quasi-memorable flicks (Taps, Losin’ It, The Outsiders, Endless Love), but the roles were all pretty insignificant. With Risky Business, a tale about a high school boy-next-door type turning his house into a brothel while his parents are away on vacation, Cruise burst onto the scene and over 25 years later is still around. One key element to a good movie can be a memorable scene or two, and all anyone has to say to evoke a smile when it comes to Risky Business is “Old Time Rock n’ Roll” or “El Train”. That kind of positive notoriety is the envy of about 99% of all entertainment produced these days.
96 School of Rock
I typically shy away from holding newer movies in any kind of high esteem. I like to see if it has staying power, if it’ll make me laugh or give me as much pleasure the tenth time I’ve seen it as it did the first time I watched. There are exceptions to the rule though. I like Jack Black. He’s funny and creative. Put him in a role where there’s good music involved (and good music is the central backdrop of School of Rock) and the combination is irresistible.