Looking for semi-obscure, very funny movies
March 11, 2015 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Looking for movies like Oscar, Big Trouble, Brain Donors, The Six Wives of Henry Lefay and Clue.

Rough criteria:
Comedy - witty dialog, clever jokes, etc., (kinda classic comedy, more Mel Brooks then Judd Apatow)
Not necessarily a comedy-of-errors type, but including those as well
Not super famous (not super obscure either, unless really good). I love Mel Brooks' movies, but so does everyone else =c)
Bonus points for famous actors who are not well know for this role.
Year doesn't matter, I'll watch it in B&W if it's good.
English is prefered, but other languages work too if there are subtitles and it's really really good (e.g. 3 Idiots)

Note: if you have not see the aforementioned movies, I highly recommend them (esp. Oscar - Sylvester Stallone delivers a fine performance, as do all the others.)
posted by pyro979 to Media & Arts (76 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
4 Lions? I wouldn't call it super-obscure though. It also does have Benedict Cumberbatch in it in a role he's definitely not known for.
posted by hejrat at 7:39 AM on March 11, 2015

It's not that obscure, but His Girl Friday is remarkably unwatched given it's pedigree. Similarly, the Ealing Comedies fit the bill (Kind hearts and coronets and the ladykillers being stand outs).
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:40 AM on March 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

It's exactly like licking a shag carpet, one of my favorite movies.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:47 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure how obscure Waking Ned Devine is, but it's wonderful.
posted by bondcliff at 7:47 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Drop Dead Gorgeous. Possibly on the dark side, but it's a cult classic for a reason. (It's not super-obscure, but it is super hard to find, esp. if you don't have a DVD player.)

And it has some surprisingly high profile actresses: Denise Richards (who is actually funny in this), Kristen Dunst, Allison Janney (who KILLS in this movie), Kirstie Alley, and Amy Adams (in her first movie role).
posted by pie ninja at 7:48 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

A few of Steve Martin's comedies would fit this bill -- not only L.A. Story, but also The Lonely Guy and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.
posted by holborne at 7:50 AM on March 11, 2015

Oh lord yes to Waking Ned Devine!

Also try To Be Or Not To Be --- the original was made in 1942 with Jack Benny and Carole Lombard; it was remade in 1983 with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft: both versions are great.

Or for Steve Martin: Bowfinger
posted by easily confused at 7:51 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some of my favorite funny movies that I love and have watched so many times it always surprises me when someone hasn't seen them before:

Clue (you mentioned)
Slums of Beverly Hills
Death Becomes Her
Waking Ned Divine (on preview I see this has also been mentioned!)
Drop Dead Gorgeous (again!)
Wag the Dog
Thank You for Smoking
Best in Show/Spinal Tap/A Mighty Wind
posted by phunniemee at 7:53 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, I just thought of two others: The Ref and What About Bob. Both kinda hard-edged, but very funny.
posted by holborne at 7:58 AM on March 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

I'm not sure how obscure Waking Ned Devine is, but it's wonderful.

Coming here to say exactly that. On preview: yup. I think Super Troopers is really funny but it may be an acquired taste and/or local humor. I liked Butter which has a lot of people you've heard of in roles that are not their usual stuff. Not side-splitting but a nice easy comedy. I'm never sure if Harold and Maude is one of those movies everyone has seen or not, but I like it. I don't know why I hadn't seen Wet Hot American Summer but it holds up under rewatchings. Same with Half Baked. Classic stoner humor if you think Cheech and Cong are funny. I also think Never Cry Wolf is one of the most underrated comedies out there. Subtle humor, so maybe not what you are looking for, but great acting by Brian Dennehy and Charles Martin Smith.

The movie you are looking for, however, is clearly RRRrrrr!!! Featuring Gerard Depardieu, it's a wacky French comedy about cavemen. It is your new favorite movie.
posted by jessamyn at 8:00 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

What about the Thin Man movies with William Powell and Myra Loy? The dialogue crackles.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:03 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Maybe the film version of Noises Off? Great cast - Carol Burnett, Denholm Elliot, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, Julie Hagerty, John Ritter...
posted by girlpublisher at 8:07 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

The King of Comedy. Unusual movie. Funny but with a serious point about stalker mentality and fame. Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert DeNiro and Jerry Lewis.

I've always considered DeNiro's Rupert Pupkin in this movie to be basically another incarnation of his Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver.
posted by The Deej at 8:07 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Gotta rep for one of my all-time favorites: Crazy People, starring Daryl Hannah and Dudley Moore with a side of post-"My Two Dads"/pre-"Mad About You" Paul Reiser.

If I had to sum it up, I'd say: 1) it's about a bunch of patients in a psych ward who go on to have successful careers in advertising while remaining in hospital, and 2) hello.
posted by divined by radio at 8:12 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Impostors! ( Stanley Tucci ) And it's a western but definitely in the same humor, Rustler's Rhapsody . (Tom Berenger)
posted by lawliet at 8:14 AM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

What's Up Doc with Barbara Streisand and Ryan O'Neil (Yeah, I know, but it was the 1970s) is sort of a screwball comedy that is way more enjoyable than you'd think any movie with the two of them could possibly be. It also has Madeline Khan in it, if that helps.

Rat Race is sort of a modern-day It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with a ton of famous people in it (John Cleese, Kathy Bates) sometimes in small roles and it's kind of crazy and funny.
posted by bondcliff at 8:18 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Generic greeting! Nose army. Beef diaper. Schizopolis!

Smell sign.

Remember: Be true to your teeth, and they won't be false to you.
posted by the matching mole at 8:18 AM on March 11, 2015

A New Leaf with Walter Mathau and Elaine May. Mathau spends pretty much the entire movie in one of those blazers with a school crest. Has to be seen to be believed.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:19 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you ever watched "Support your local Sheriff"? hilariously funny from end to end. The only reason it doesn't fit your criteria is that most of the main actors were not obscure. James Garner has never been better.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:23 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nobody ever talks about Flirting With Disaster but I found it really funny.

Likewise, Bernie was funny, but largely under-appreciated.
posted by Gilbert at 8:24 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Death at a Funeral. (the British one)
posted by fourpotatoes at 8:28 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Rustler's Rhapsody

A 1985 spoof of Westerns, starring Tom Berenger.
posted by DigDoug at 8:28 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've enjoyed State and Main, Joe vs the Volcano and have recently been introduced into After the Fox.
posted by tilde at 8:28 AM on March 11, 2015

Clay Pigeons. This is easily my favorite movie that Vince Vaughn has ever done. And Joaquin Phoenix is superb.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 8:30 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Top Secret! --brought to you by the people behind Airplane! And featuring Val Kilmer in his first starring role!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 8:35 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

"I know a little German… And there he is!"
posted by wenestvedt at 8:37 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Full Monty would seem to hit the spot as well (though may be too famous.. )

Mom's Night Out had the Mrs cackling madly. (Has Sean Astin .. )
posted by k5.user at 8:55 AM on March 11, 2015

Best answer: The Wrong Guy has a similar feel to the movies you've listed.

You might also enjoy Get Shorty and Be Cool.
posted by ODiV at 9:08 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh and To Be or Not to Be is great, stars Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks (though not written or directed by him).
posted by ODiV at 9:12 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you like Clue, give Murder By Death a try.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:22 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding Murder By Death...

My favorite semi-obscure silly Steve Martin movie is The Man with Two Brains (incidentally my mefi nickname is the David Warner character from that one). I've also always had a soft spot for Housesitter.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:27 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Unstrung Heroes. Starring Andie MacDowell, John Turturro and Michael Richards. Not a laugh a minute kinda comedy, as the premise is a bit sad, but I remember it as a happy story.
posted by clh at 9:27 AM on March 11, 2015

I really enjoyed The Boss of It All - it's in Danish but has English subtitles; plus, it's especially weird because it was directed by Lars von Trier, but not at all what you would expect from him

Also, Kevin Smith's New Jersey "Trilogy" (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Clerks II)?

Also, I definitely second British Death at a Funeral
posted by mrmanvir at 9:30 AM on March 11, 2015

Here's an additional recommendation for Waking Ned Devine.

Soapdish is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Full of "famous actors who are not well known for this role," including Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., and Whoopi Goldberg, among others. Fair warning, it does include a bit of transphobia, but that's not a major element of the film.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:32 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Radioland Murders! Pratfalls, death, terrible puns, mocking of the entertainment industry, loving satire of old time radio, and Ned Beatty.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:39 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Home for the Holidays is one of my all-time favorites. Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Dylan McDermott, Geraldine Chaplin... It is family dysfunction at its absolute finest!

I second The Ref. Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey... How can you go wrong? Again brilliant and hilarious family dysfunction.
posted by cecic at 10:02 AM on March 11, 2015

Welcome to Collinwod
posted by perhapses at 10:20 AM on March 11, 2015

The Hudsucker Proxy. Odd, obsucre, and extremely entertaining.
posted by Gneisskate at 10:23 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Eating Raoul
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:36 AM on March 11, 2015

Not very obscure, but 40 Year old Virgin & There's Something About Mary.

Steve Martin in The Jerk.

Arthur, the 1981 version with Dudley Moore and John Gielgud

A Fish Called Wanda, Galaxy Quest, Pink Panther movies, Woody Allen's Bananas, Animal House.
posted by theora55 at 10:37 AM on March 11, 2015

the man who knew too little is a great bill murray movie from the late 90s (with alfred molina!) that most people overlooked due to him not being 'cool' at the time.
posted by noloveforned at 10:50 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another semi-obscure but very pleasant and funny Bill Murray movie is 1990's Quick Change. It's also a great NYC time capsule.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:25 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

I love The Dream Team and I am kind of surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet.
posted by Duffington at 11:30 AM on March 11, 2015

Let it Ride meets the criteria and one of my favorite movies. Also from that era Brewster's Millions .
posted by Benway at 11:49 AM on March 11, 2015

Ah, I am reminded of another film that had the ensemble cast of unexpected: Scavenger Hunt
posted by k5.user at 12:03 PM on March 11, 2015

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies! May not be obscure enough, and in French, but the subtitles are good and I thought it was hilarious. By the same team that made The Artist.
posted by arha at 1:01 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding Schizopolis and Quick Change. For some reason (and some people will probably hate me for saying this), Quick Change makes me thing of After Hours; both would go in the comedy of errors category.
posted by nobeagle at 1:20 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Otto Preminger's Skidoo is a bizarre late 60's drug fueled comedy featuring Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Mickey Rooney, Groucho Marx (with music by Harry Nilsson); it might, however, be too obscure/difficult to find.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:22 PM on March 11, 2015

FYI, there exists Can I Stream It, where you can easily check in one place a title's availability on various services. Sadly it doesn't help much with Skidoo (unless you have a Netflix DVD subscription).
posted by achrise at 1:33 PM on March 11, 2015

OMG, nthing Quick Change -- great movie. You'll appreciate it even more if you live or have lived in NYC.
posted by holborne at 1:35 PM on March 11, 2015

I also liked Oscar.
I think you would like My Favorite Year if you haven't seen it.
posted by Glinn at 2:53 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gregory's Girl and Local Hero (links to Ebert reviews). Whilst the former is probably more laugh out loud, the latter will get more bonus points in your scoring system due to appearances from Burt Lanacaster, Peter Capaldi and Fulton Mckay.
posted by Jakey at 3:04 PM on March 11, 2015

Someone already said it, but "Bowfinger" is hilarious.

Also, "Bubble Boy" is an underrated gem.
posted by tacodave at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2015

Maybe it's just because I was a kid at the right time, but I have soft spots in my heart and funny bone for Foul Play. (Tangent: when I was a senior in high school the opera was doing the Mikado and I wanted to see it, but didn't want to go alone, so I asked basically all my friends until somebody agreed to see it with me. Aside from the fact one of the guidance counselors from our school did a double take when she sat down next to us in the last row of the mezzanine, the best moment in the entire opera for me was when the overture started and my friend leaned over and whispered her epiphany: Ohhh, this was in Foul Play!")

His Girl Friday, mentioned above, contains one of the cinema's best inside jokes. Cary Grant describes the fiancé of his ex-wife (whom he still loves), played by Ralph Bellamy, as "like that film actor, Ralph Bellamy." Bellamy was by that point well known for playing the fiancé who gets dumped. You could do worse for a screwball comedy search than by starting with his name.

William Powell is in a bunch of great movies aside from the Thin Man series. He's paired up with Myrna Loy in I Love You Again and with Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey. Cary Grant is paired with Myrna Loy in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and with Katharine Hepburn (most famously) in Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story.

Directors to look for: Howard Hawks, Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder.

If you haven't seen The Lady Eve just stop whatever you're doing right now and watch it. The first two paragraphs of Roger Ebert's essay about it are so spot on. Also Some Like It Hot.

And yes, Burt Lancaster is so very, very insane(ly funny) in Local Hero. Also Peter Capaldi makes running funny, which I wouldn't have known could be possible until I saw it.
posted by fedward at 3:15 PM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Some Like it Hot
The Philadelphia Story
How to Marry a Millionare

(Check out screwball comedies on Wikipedia)

Clearly you've got your Mel Brooks opus to choose from.

Your Spinal Tap/Waiting For Guffman/Best in Show/Mighty Wind collection too

And there are quite a few darkly funny Coen Brothers movies

Lily Tomlin movies are a good resource

Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion

Cold Comfort Farm
Strictly Ballroom
The Matchmaker
Withnail & I

3rding Wet Hot American Summer
Wanderlust made me laugh so hard (though I lived in a commune so I don't know if it's really that funny or if I just related to it strongly)
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 3:24 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Slither. James Caan, Peter Boyle, Sally Kellerman, Louise Lasser, and three sinister camper vans. It's extremely funny and hardly anyone I know has seen it.
posted by OolooKitty at 4:40 PM on March 11, 2015

Woody Allen's 1966 What's Up, Tiger Lily?
posted by at at 5:08 PM on March 11, 2015

My Name Is Nobody is a western starring Terence Hill and Henry Fonda. If you like that, you'll probably like any of Trinity series of spaghetti westerns, with Terence Hill as Trinity.
posted by bricoleur at 6:12 PM on March 11, 2015

Strange Brew!

Also nthing My Favorite Year and Schizopolis.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:21 PM on March 11, 2015

Two old ones: Million Dollar Legs and Hellzapoppin.
posted by gteffertz at 6:33 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ok, here's an off the wall answer. The (new) Whinnie the Pooh movie. Now I wouldn't normally have watched it without kids, and most of it is the standard kid Disney shock, but towards the end of the movie they set a trap for the Backson and once that gets set, they pull off a scene and set of jokes that is on par with the classic Who's on First? I saw it in the theater and nearly died from laughter, and when we bought it I took the opportunity to roll on the floor laughing - literally.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:25 PM on March 11, 2015

In descending order of confidence, based on your criteria:

The Tall Guy with Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson.
What's Up, Doc with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal.
Undercover Brother with Eddie Griffin and Dave Chappelle.
Heathers with Christian Slater and Winona Ryder.
posted by Mothlight at 9:00 PM on March 11, 2015

No Sleep 'til Madison with Jim Gaffigan and one the guys from the Sonic commercials.

Stuck on You with Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear.

Thanks for asking this question!
posted by eelgrassman at 9:49 PM on March 11, 2015

2nding Noises off. And if you get a chance to see the play, do. By the third act, I generally can't breathe I'm laughing so hard (and I've seen it many times).
posted by kjs4 at 10:42 PM on March 11, 2015

nthing the aforementioned Romy & Michele, Cold Comfort Farm, Top Secret!, Flirting With Disaster, Crazy People, Quick Change, Slums of Beverly Hills, Hudsucker Proxy, Murder by Death, Death Becomes Her & Election. I don't know what counts as "obscure," so I'll just add movies I know are funny:

- Addams Family Values
- Johnny Dangerously (gets the "Bonus points for famous actors who are not well know for this role.")
- Coneheads (no, really!)
- My Cousin Vinny
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:05 AM on March 12, 2015

I thought of a bunch from the 80s after my original reply: Ruthless People, Raising Arizona, Amazon Women on the Moon (more connected sketches than continuous movie, but funny), I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. The first Major League (big points for stars not known for their roles). The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
posted by fedward at 7:26 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Murder By Death is like a proto-Clue, but it's been a long time since I watched it so I can't remember if it quite lived up to the greatness of the title.
posted by maryr at 11:06 AM on March 12, 2015

In The Loop - the language is almost Shakespearean and it rewards a second watching. From the people who brought you The Thick of It and Veep.
posted by cybertaur1 at 11:27 AM on March 12, 2015

Another hilarious Woody movie that isn't as well known: Play It Again, Sam
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 11:27 AM on March 12, 2015

The Pentagon Wars is true, amazingly absurd, and has some great lines. Sheep specs!
posted by cnc at 11:56 AM on March 12, 2015

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

trivia: If Mark McKinney's CEO character seems to have a similar voice cadence to Dr. Evil, it's because they're both impressions of Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.
posted by bluecore at 5:20 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding Johnny Dangerously! It will equip you with the excellent and highly-versatile line "My [X] did [Y] once...once." which will literally never get old.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:06 PM on March 15, 2015

Response by poster: So much work to do... Thanks all.
posted by pyro979 at 5:30 PM on March 16, 2015

Just thought of a great one: Without a Clue, with Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (but with the roles comedically reversed..."Holmes" is actually a drunk actor employed to deflect attention away from Watson, who is the real brain of the pair).
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:02 AM on March 18, 2015

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