6. Funny Farm (1988)
This film stars 80s comedy legend Chevy Chase in what is his most underrated film. The setting is typical for Chase, everything goes wrong a la the Vacation movies. But here, there’s a different feel to it. That has to do with its director, the celebrated George Roy Hill. Known for classic films Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, The Sting and Slap Shot, Hill was a master storyteller. Though he had never done a comedy like this one, he treated it as any drama or caper he had done before.
Previously Chase had worked with many talented directors like Harold Ramis, Amy Heckerling and John Landis; Hill was different, and it shows. The Oscar-winning Director had a style that blended well with silly comedy and as a result makes for a pleasing watch. Chase plays it subdued as opposed to his usual goofy and whacky manner. He’s never recognized for his acting ability, but if he was then this performance would be emphasized in his lengthy filmography.
7. Armed And Dangerous (1986)
When it comes to comedies, it doesn’t get better than John Candy. His brand of humor always makes audiences laugh. Alongside him is the always funny Eugene Levy. Both men came from SCTV and are familiar with the other’s style which is why their chemistry is off the charts. While they co-starred in other films before, here they display themselves as a strong comedy team. They play security guards who stumble on to a big case that might promote them to police officers.
Meg Ryan appears in one of her earliest film roles and was a step away from becoming a major movie star that began with her memorable role as Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally… Rounding out the cast are some famous character actors: Robert Loggia (Big), Tony Burton (Duke from the Rocky movies), Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul), Larry Hankin (Home Alone) and the one-and-only Tiny Lister (Friday). But it’s Candy and Levy that hold the movie together and are responsible for it’s many laughs including Candy poorly reading lips at a party.
8. Memories Of Me (1988)
While Gung Ho was directed by Opie Cunningham, this movie was directed by The Fonz – Henry Winkler. He took the director’s chair for his first theatrical film that stars the hilarious Billy Crystal and the legendary comic Alan King. Crystal co-wrote the screenplay with prolific screenwriter Eric Roth who wrote the scripts for Forrest Gump, Munich, A Star Is Born and Killers Of The Flower Moon. The film is about an estranged relationship between a father and son. It’s got the right amount of laughs with a heartfelt story.
Crystal is great as always but plays it straight to King’s mirth. JoBeth Williams plays an important role and holds her own with both stars of the film. Peek up from your phones for a very quick cameo from James Bond himself, Sean Connery. While a talent at directing, Winkler would direct one other film, a buddy cop movie with Burt Reynolds and an eight-year-old-boy. But audiences would always know him as an actor. Recently he finally won an Emmy for his role on the HBO series Barry. Not bad for The Fonz. Aaaaaaaye!
9. Ruthless People (1986)
Danny DeVito has successfully been playing slimy characters throughout his career. But no one slimier than Sam Stone, a man who refuses to pay a kidnapper’s ransom to get back his wife played by the enchanting Bette Midler. DeVito hates his wife so much; he’s hoping the kidnappers will kill her. The kidnappers, Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater, are two normal people in desperate need of money when they find themselves in this ridiculous predicament. Check out Bill Pullman is his film debut as a simple-minded criminal. The following year Pullman would appear in the Sci-Fi spoof Spaceballs.
The film was directed by the trio responsible for one of the funniest movies of all-time Airplane! – Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker (A.K.A. ZAZ). While they directed the film, they didn’t write it. In fact, this was their first collaboration where they didn’t write the screenplay. In addition, this would be ZAZ’s final directing collaboration together as each would go off to do different things. First, they would team up to write the first Naked Gun movie. Then Jim Abrahams would do Big Business and the Hot Shots! movies. David Zucker would focus on the Naked Gun movies and his brother Jerry would direct the highly successful non-comedy, Ghost. Ruthless People is a hidden gem and the last time ZAZ was behind the camera.
10. Punchline (1988)
In the second Tom Hanks film on this list, he gives an incomparable comedic performance as a stand-up comedian. Movies and TV Shows about stand-up comedy rarely get it right. It’s safe to say this is the most accurate portrayal of stand-up and that’s due in large part to the performance of Tom Hanks. When he’s not on stage, he brings pathos to the role and a seriousness about his stand-up career. This was a major turning point for Hanks. Shortly after this role, he received his first Oscar nomination for the classic high-concept comedy Big. Then his roles became more nuanced and though he would always be funny, the characters had more depth.
Sally Field plays a sort of love interest who happens to be married to the always entertaining John Goodman. The comedy club stand-ups are played by actual stand-ups: Taylor Negron, Max Alexander, and Damon Wayans. And among them, Hanks feels like he belongs.