by Randall Cleveland, SketchFest Artistic Director
When people think of “Sketch Comedy Movies”, they’d usually jump right to the (usually mediocre) sketches that get turned into feature-length films like A Night at the Roxbury, The Ladies Man, or Superstar. It’s really pretty rare that someone sets out to make a feature made up of a series of shorter sketches, and a lot of the ones that do exist don’t age well – often they’re fueled by pop culture references and parodies.
But if you’re looking to scratch your sketch comedy itch, here are some great full-length sketch comedy movies that stand the test of time and are sure to make you laugh.
- Monty Python’s And Now For Something Completely Different – This collection of the “Greatest Hits” of the groundbreaking sketch comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus is one killer joke after another. It really condenses everything that made Monty Python work into one bizarre, madcap package.
- Mel Brooks’s History of the World Part 1 – This is one of Mel Brooks’s funniest and smartest movies. It’s a series of comedic vignettes surrounding Mel getting in trouble at various times and places throughout history. Learn why it’s good to be the king during the French Revolution, or see the second-most famous representation of the Spanish Inquisition in sketch comedy history.
- Kids in the Hall’s Brain Candy – The beloved Canadian sketch comedy group The Kids in the Hall’s only foray into feature length filmmaking still holds up as a funny, weird, somewhat experimental 90s comedy.
- Wet Hot American Summer – Calling this one “sketch” might be a bit of a stretch, but I think it qualifies. You’ll see a lot of recognizable faces (younger than you remember them!) from Stella, The State, UCB, and SNL in this send-up of summer camp movies.
- Coffee and Cigarettes – This is comedy Jim Jarmusch-style. The depressing arthouse filmmaker made this series of vignettes where semi-fictional versions of the celebrities playing them sit in a café and smoke and talk about life with each other. The humor is dry as hell, but it has some funny moments.
by John S.
Movie Postmortem is a series that reviews certain films which showed promise but misfired, critically and/or commercially, upon release. Join us in our attempt to find out exactly what the hell happened.
THE CASUALTY: Bridget Jones’ Baby
THE CASE HISTORY: England 1996. Helen Fielding publishes a book about a hapless thirtysomething London bachelorette and her misadventures in work and love. Predating the Sex and the City book and cable series, the novel is titled Bridget Jones’ Diary and becomes a popular hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Naturally, a movie adaptation looms.
by John S.
On the surface, Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch could not seem to be more different. The former’s oeuvre is largely highlighted by matter-of-fact, propulsively-linear movement. The latter’s is mainly characterized by surreal tangents and dreamy abstractions that can be downright enigmatic. However, look deeper and you will find solid common ground. Hitchcock and Lynch’s films often tackle themes of deceptive facades and the dangers of peeking beneath to discover the truth. These dovetailing themes are never more evident than in Rear Window and Blue Velvet, two movies that may approach the old chestnut of “nothing is what it seems” from different avenues, but end up being classic cinematic kindred spirits.
by Robert Horton
The Breaking Point, a noirish 1950 Hemingway adaptation, received a deluxe DVD/Blu-ray release this month, courtesy the Criterion Collection. An interesting film in its own right, it’s also part of the very entertaining cinematic afterlife of Hemingway’s allegedly “worst” novel (which is not his worst novel). So I take the release as an excuse to write about this afterlife, and the literary original.
To Have and Have Not is a curious book. Ernest Hemingway, already a celebrated figure in American letters, assembled the novel by taking two two short stories and expanding on their main character, a Key West charter-boat captain named Harry Morgan. The book, published in 1937, begins with the two stories and then launches into another plot, so it has a built-in episodic structure. In the longest section, Morgan—left high and dry by someone who commissioned his boat and then skipped out on paying—reluctantly takes a job ferrying a group of bank robbers out to a rendezvous point at sea. This structure can (and has) been criticized as a clunky stapling-together of different pieces, but its radical shifts and disjointedness actually fit Hemingway’s modernist inclinations. Even in the longest section, we’re occasionally jerked out of Morgan’s point of view and into the mind of somebody else—a startling technique, especially when the interior monologue flips to Morgan’s wife Marie, who has her own vivid view on their economically humble lives. Read More