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Looking for movies with stock comic characters!
March 13, 2009 11:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm directing a farce with a bunch of high-schoolers, and would love to give them some movie suggestions to look at for characters. They are pretty classic comic archetypes, but my brain is reeling a bit trying to think of all of them, and though I'd put it out to the hive mind. The only catch is that I can't really suggest any R-Rated movies, because most of them aren't old enough to watch them...

I'm looking for non-R-Rated movies with these types of comic characters:
-An over-emotional young woman (cries at the drop of the hat, gets really excited about other things...)
-A very happy-go-lucky person who ends up being the mastermind of an evil plot
-A young, bright eyed all-american honeymooning couple (a la the couple in Rocky Horror)
-an overdramatic fortune teller
-the ultimate hollywood agent- a real ball buster
-a completely oblivious older woman, who is unruffled by just about anything
-a self-important high society rich woman
-an over-the-top, over dramatic Frenchman
-a totally over-extended and over worked servant

Thanks, everybody!
posted by rawredmeat to Media & Arts (22 answers total)
 
-A very happy-go-lucky person who ends up being the mastermind of an evil plot

Sounds like Seymour in Little Shop to me.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:54 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Overdramatic fortune teller - Pee Wee's Big Adventure
posted by electroboy at 11:56 AM on March 13, 2009


"-a completely oblivious older woman, who is unruffled by just about anything"- The Countess De Lave in The Women.

"a self-important high society rich woman"- Sylvia Fowler also from The Women.
posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:01 PM on March 13, 2009


Well, obviously no one movie is going to cover all those, so here's a few suggestions for farces:

Noises Off
Soapdish
Murder By Death


For overdramatic Frenchmen, you could do worse than the original Pink Panther movies. I believe all these are sub-R movies.
posted by Skot at 12:07 PM on March 13, 2009


The Princess Bride
posted by kch at 12:12 PM on March 13, 2009


For the Frenchman:

Jacques Villeret's character from OR anything at all with Louis de Funes.
posted by mkb at 12:15 PM on March 13, 2009


-A very happy-go-lucky person who ends up being the mastermind of an evil plot
-A young, bright eyed all-american honeymooning couple (a la the couple in Rocky Horror)
Kenneth the Page on 30-Rock (tell them to rent Season 1- Episode 3, "Blind Date" has Kenneth playing poker out of his league; and Season 1 - Episode 18, "Fireworks" has Kenneth trying to spy on a rival exec).

-A young, bright eyed all-american honeymooning couple (a la the couple in Rocky Horror)
Amy Adams in Junebug
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:29 PM on March 13, 2009


Seconding Noises Off, which is PG-13.
Clue is pretty good too.
posted by ecorrocio at 12:29 PM on March 13, 2009


It's been a while, but isn't there a pretty good overdramatic fortune teller/gypsy in the Lon Chaney version of The Wolf Man?
posted by Atom12 at 12:45 PM on March 13, 2009


Also, the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup."
posted by Atom12 at 12:46 PM on March 13, 2009


The Man With One Red Shoe
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:51 PM on March 13, 2009


One, Two, Three is a farce with some similar characters. I advise watching it--it is a classic farce, not a modern wannabem
posted by Ironmouth at 12:53 PM on March 13, 2009


Hudsucker Proxy is a pretty good source for archetypal characters as well.
posted by electroboy at 1:00 PM on March 13, 2009


Great idea to use movies, but remember that some/most students are going to have a generation gap and won't easily connect or adjust their ears to older wonderful material like The Marx Brothers, or Mel Brooks. I'd also suggest sticking to truly farcical movies because the tone, pace, etc., is so important, rather than pulling a character study out of a non-farce movie.

The newer version of The Producers with Lane/Broderick comes to mind first.
posted by rainbaby at 1:14 PM on March 13, 2009


The "Buttons and Mindy" segments on Animaniacs are a perfect example of the "totally over-extended and over worked servant" category. It'll be great for showing physicality, too, as there's no dialogue in these (at least, not between the two main characters).
posted by ocherdraco at 1:17 PM on March 13, 2009


I came in here to recommend Clue as well.

You've got the french maid, the uptight butler, the old army man, the bumbling professor, the black widow, the older society woman, etc. It's quite funny, and definitely well in farce territory.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:24 PM on March 13, 2009


Some TV shows fit the bill pretty well. I have really enjoyed some of the episodes of Frasier where the group goes off somewhere on vacation-- these episodes are classic "French farce" with mixed signals, misunderstood motivations, and characters running back and forth between their bedrooms. There is a ski-lodge episode, and a cabin in the woods episode that fit the bill here.

Fawlty Towers is also great for some stock characters-- the overextended servant, and the high-society woman come to mind.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 1:47 PM on March 13, 2009


the ultimate hollywood agent- a real ball buster - I know you said no R-rated or mature content, but Ari Gold from Entourage plays this archteype directly.

a completely oblivious older woman, who is unruffled by just about anything - Maggie Smith, in Gosford Park.

an over-the-top, over dramatic Frenchman - Makes me cringe to say this, but Steve Martin in the Pink Panther travesties.
posted by ASoze at 1:48 PM on March 13, 2009


You Can't Take It With You is pretty funny. It's dated but it's directed by Franck Capra so it's worth watching just for that. Also, it's an adaptation of a stage play so should fit your needs well.
posted by airplain at 3:06 PM on March 13, 2009


How 'bout What's Up Doc? --- great performances by Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neal, and especially Madeline Kahn.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 5:23 PM on March 13, 2009


Yes, Fawlty Towers definitely. Also, trust your students to handle some of the classics, like Duck Soup, even if they are older and in black and white. So, try Bringing Up Baby, which puts a new spin on the over-emotional young woman, and it also has a self-important high society rich woman. For the over-the-top, over dramatic Frenchman, skip the Steve Martin Pink Panther versions and go back to the original - Peter Sellers, and if I had to pick one movie let it be A Shot in the Dark, which is better than the original Pink Panther. Amy Adams in Enchanted is another case of an over-emotional young woman.
posted by gudrun at 5:30 PM on March 13, 2009


This is all perfect- thanks so much everybody!
posted by rawredmeat at 5:33 PM on March 13, 2009


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