Bracketology #2: The Greatest Comedy Film of All Time
The Purpose: To determine the greatest comedy film of all time
Once again Retrospace sets its sights on proving the unprovable. We are, through a rigorous scientific method, attempting to conclusively determine the single greatest comedy film of all time. As you may recall from the previous Bracketology post, this is no easy feat. Hundreds of hours of deliberation, testing and reanalyzing data were spent to present you with our findings.... to once and for all settle the debate of "what is the greatest comedy film of all time". At last we have an answer.
Over a hundred movies that could be contenders for the Best Comedy Film Ever title were selected. This ruled out objectively awful movies like Deuce Bigalow and Are We There Yet? which have no business even being in contention.
I employed a “bracketology” approach to the process; very similar to NCAA basketball tournaments. There are four initial brackets, with each bracket beginning with 16 comedies which are pitted against each other and evaluated (see the criteria below). In addition, the 16 are seeded with 4 top seeds - a preliminary rating system was used to determine the seeding.
Each movie was evaluated based on a series of standards. The two movies in competition were rated on these standards, with the victor being determined by who had the greatest number of W’s (wins). A tie was settled by the highest IMDb rating.
I don’t see how you could say a comedy film is good if it’s not worth re-watching. This wouldn't be a good criteria for all genres of film (i.e. Schindler's List may be a great movie, but rather hard to re-watch). However, I think a comedy that's worth its salt is something that can be watched again and again without getting stale.
Without a novel personality on screen there’s not much reason to watch…. Exhibit A – A Night at the Roxbury
This goes without say, I think. A comedy that isn't funny (i.e. DC Cab, Best Defense, Doctor Detroit) is by definition a shitty comedy.
A famous quote from a critic of The Beverly Hillbillies: “One joke, nine years.” Indeed, a lot of comedies are uproariously funny, but don't have a stitch of originality. In other words, they're just riding off another comedy's creativity. For instance how different was Bustin' Loose from Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Silver Streak? They're all pretty much the same movie.
When you’re judging the acting on a comedy, I think it’s important to not focus on dramatic Academy Award winning performances; you’ve got to look at comedic timing. How well do these actors and actresses deliver their lines? Funny Farm and Foul Play were lousy movies, but Chevy Chase's comedic genius somehow elevates the final product.
When we watch a comedy, much of our judgement stems from how entertained we are.... and for a large segment of the population, both male and female, sex appeal is a huge factor in calculating its entertainment value. You can't discount it, especially considering the fact that the majority of comedies employ the device. It's a cheap thrill, but a thrill nonetheless.
When football players are graded by scouts, one category looked at is always something called “intangibles”. It cannot be easily explained, yet you know it to be true. This player is simply someone you want to have on your team regardless of his numbers. In the case of comedies, the film that is just intrinsically superior, with no explanation necessary, gets the win.
Note: In the event of a tie, the IMDb rating was used to determine the winner.
Caddyshack ends up the champion. Disagree if you like, but the numbers are hard to argue with. Click here to view the brackets.
If you're interested, you can click here to view the data used to seed and play the brackets.
I'm glad to finally put this question to rest. I'd be interested in hearing your comments on the topic.