Words Fail Me
October 7, 2010 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Looking for witty movie recommendations.

I was compiling a list of favorite movies recently, and realized that many of them fall into the same camp – dialogue-heavy, convoluted movies, with a light tone, but generally a darker subject matter. For example, high on my list were the recent movies In Bruges and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the older The Lion in Winter and The Philadelphia Story . Many of the movies by Tarantino, Mamet and the Cohen brothers also make the list, though they don’t always have the same lightness of touch. So can anyone help me broaden my horizons with other well-written films?
posted by rtimmel to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Withnail & I
posted by elsietheeel at 8:10 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Kind Hearts and Coronets.
posted by chihiro at 8:14 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know you already said the Coen brothers, but have you included Raising Arizona? (A lot of people leave that one out; not sure if it's because it's old or because of the presence of Nic Cage.) Anyway, it's my favorite of theirs and, I think, excellent.
posted by phunniemee at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2010

Kind Hearts and Coronets. Cleverest movie ever.
posted by copperykeen at 8:20 AM on October 7, 2010

The Long Kiss Goodnight
The 51st State

Don't really qualify for "dark subject matter" but do for great, witty dialogue:
Shirley Valentine
Educating Rita
posted by ceri richard at 8:32 AM on October 7, 2010

In The Loop.
After Hours.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:32 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by Sticherbeast at 8:34 AM on October 7, 2010

Yes, definitely In The Loop.

Also, Heathers is very dark and very witty - 'Swatch-dogs and Diet Coke-heads' anyone?
posted by mippy at 8:35 AM on October 7, 2010

Whit Stillman movies (Metropolitan is a good place to start). Early Hal Hartley movies (Trust or the The Unbelievable Truth are good entry points). Aything written by Aaron Sorkin might be to your taste.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:36 AM on October 7, 2010

The Brothers Bloom is pretty great.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:39 AM on October 7, 2010

His Girl Friday.
posted by Catseye at 8:40 AM on October 7, 2010

Oh, definitely seconding The Brothers Bloom. Massively underrated movie.

Brick, by the same director, is also pretty great.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:42 AM on October 7, 2010

I enjoyed Tin Men, Bad Santa and Rounders. My favorite Coen Bros. film is Miller's Crossing for it's wit and cynicism.
posted by acheekymonkey at 8:47 AM on October 7, 2010

The Ref meets your criteria, and it's on my short list of greatest Christmas movies ever.

What is the matter with you? I thought mothers were sweet and nice and patient. I know loan sharks who are more forgiving than you. Your husband ain't dead, lady. He's hiding.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:07 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

A Film With Me In It fits your criteria to a tee. I stumbled across it on Netflix streaming one night and thoroughly enjoyed it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:08 AM on October 7, 2010

Anything by Preston Sturges is great, but my favorite is The Palm Beach Story.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:19 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
I Heart Huckabees
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:20 AM on October 7, 2010

I would recommend Truly, Madly, Deeply.

You also might check out this previous Ask on Movies Like Plays, as some of the recommended movies might work for you.
posted by gudrun at 9:40 AM on October 7, 2010

Stage Door (Lucille Ball, Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Ann Miller, and so many others, all in one movie!)
Dangerous Liaisons
Bug (Not exactly light. But it was adapted from the play by Pulitzer-winner Tracy Letts, and died in the box office after being erroneously marketed as a monster movie).
posted by hermitosis at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2010

North by Northwest, a perfect combination of spoken wit and action.
It Happened One Night.
Thirding Kind Hearts and Coronets as one of the funniest films ever. The focus always seems to be on Guinness in recommendations of this film but there are some really good and very dark witticisms from Price too.
posted by biffa at 9:57 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like the film adaptation of Six Degrees of Separation for these reasons (dialogue-heavy, convoluted, light-ish tone, but ultimately dark subject matter).
posted by heyho at 10:04 AM on October 7, 2010

Maybe Jim Jarmusch, particularly Dead Man, Down By Law, and Night on Earth. Also Ghost Dog fits in more with In Bruge or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
posted by chrisulonic at 10:12 AM on October 7, 2010

I take it you checked out other films by the same authors... In case you missed The Last Boy Scout, don't!

I strongly recommend I Went Down to any fan of In Bruges.

You should check out Bone--it fits your criteria and they really don't make 'em like that anymore. Same for Mother, Jugs & Speed.

Longer shots: Hurlyburly, Jerry and Tom, Miami Blues, Prizzi's Honor, Sleep with Me, Walking & Talking, The Daytrippers, Human Nature
posted by heatvision at 10:19 AM on October 7, 2010

2nding Heathers and Closer
Angels in America (an HBO mini-series)
Wonder Boys
posted by zoomorphic at 10:52 AM on October 7, 2010

I'd second Closer. Natalie Portman as a stripper always wins.
posted by bodaciousllama at 10:57 AM on October 7, 2010

Forgot to mention one of my favorite movies: Shadow of the Vampire. It gets tagged as either horror or drama everywhere, but it's really quite funny; it has Eddie Izzard in it, FFS. When one of a dozen really awful things happens, the film is awfully flippant about it, or else the camera just heads somewhere else. The acting and production design are unbelievably good; these roles are IMO as rich as almost any had by Malkovich or Dafoe. I'm not nuts about the ending and there's weird editing in a few spots, but from the commentary it seems like the director (E. Elias Merhige, of Begotten) did everything precisely. I normally love allegory, but this film is one case where I have no idea what the filmmaker is on about and don't care at all because it's great fun just being what it looks like.
posted by heatvision at 11:33 AM on October 7, 2010

Ken Loach's "Looking For Eric" might very well fit your bill. It's funny, it's full of earthy wit and yeah, it definitely has a dark side.
posted by Decani at 12:25 PM on October 7, 2010

ARGH! Wrong link! Here's "Looking for Eric". Although "Sideways" might suit you too!
posted by Decani at 12:26 PM on October 7, 2010

The Ice Storm (although this movie is pretty heavy)
Buffalo 66
Lars and the Real Girl
Punch Drunk Love
Pontypool (also scary movie... but the most dialogue heavy and clever one i've ever seen)
The Wackness
Lonesome Jim
Lost In Translation
The Brothers McMullen
posted by photoboothsupermodel at 3:52 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Thin Man, and it's sequels.

Charlie Wilson's War (doesn't get wordier and witter than Aaron Sorkin)
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:36 PM on October 7, 2010

It's = its. Sorry.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:37 PM on October 7, 2010

Waiting for Guffman, and other Christopher Guest movies might be along these lines.
posted by questionsandanchors at 4:59 PM on October 7, 2010

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