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12 Best British Comedy Movies You Need To See

19 October 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

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British humor isn’t exactly everybody’s cup of tea, but those who enjoy it would have it no other way. Here’s a list of essential English entertainment that could make the queen lose her wig. For my money, it’s some of the funniest stuff ever committed to celluloid. We are amused, indeed!

 

12. A Fish Called Wanda

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Pythons John Cleese and Michael Palin reteamed for A Fish Called Wanda, a rare British comedy that feels like it could be a Hollywood production (in a good way). The presence of Jamie Lee Curtis and an Oscar-winning Kevin Kline certainly helps, and this Ealing-inspired comedy found international success.

Cleese stars as Archie Leach, a lovelorn lawyer who falls for con artist Jamie Lee Curtis, who’s in the country on a diamond heist. Despite a perfectly bumbling lead performance from Cleese, the film never becomes too British for its own good. As a romantic comedy, it’s perfectly crafted and damn near impossible to beat in terms of laughs, tight plotting and characterisation.

 

11. Four Lions

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Chris Morris, the firebrand broadcaster behind Jam, The Day Today and Brass Eye made his movie debut this year, tackling the topic of religious extremism and suicide bombing. Morris once again demonstrates his total lack of fear when approaching ‘difficult’ subject matter, as he presents the fundamentalists as a thoroughly incompetent bunch.

Morris is aided by a spot-on cast, who run the entire gambit from level-headed family man Omar (Riz Ahmed) to Nigel Lindsay’s batshit-insane radical Muslim convert. Yes, it makes you think, but more importantly the laughs come thick and fast, with a gut-achingly consistent strike-rate. The final marathon-based showdown encapsulates the movie perfectly: unbelievably funny, but also tense, fast-paced, and just a little bit touching.

 

10. Withnail And I

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Too often ‘cult’ movies have an air of ‘you had to be there’ that can be alienating for anyone who missed the joke first time round. Occasionally cult films have a tiny following for a reason. But none of these ideas (or any pre-conceived negative feelings you may have about Richard E. Grant) can affect your enjoyment of Withnail And I.

It’s grey, grim, grubby and occasionally depressing. You spend the best part of two hours with a couple of failed actors (one of whom is an alcoholic). But somehow, Bruce Robinson’s movie manages to be absolutely hilarious, and one that you’ll return to again and again.

Many of the movie’s best scenes occur when the down-and-out pair visit Withnail’s Uncle Monty in the Lake District, but the whole thing is jam-packed with ever-quotable lines, humorous situations, and more than a touch of the tragic.

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  • Michelle Bryer

    Snatch! Hello, how is that not a comedy?