It’s a wonderful day for birthdays, with literally too many to choose from. Nicole Richie, Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bell Air, Ricki Lake. But in the end we went with Liam Gallagher, Bill Murray, Leonard Cohen, and Larry Hagman – all celebrating today, with cakes, jelly, and tears. Should be wonderful. Hence we thought we’d get a bumper gift for all of them to share, and after much discussion it boiled down to a toss up between Paris Hilton, or a funny montage of guys looking for dates, which we were alerted to by Interestment Family member Spencer. In the end we got them both. Happy Birthday chaps!
No room for these guys…
We’re not going to lie, here in the luxurious Interestment offices, we are big fans of romantic comedies. We like to mix laughter with crying as much as the next man/woman, hence we decided that it was high time we compiled a list of our favourite films that throw jokes and romance into a massive bowl and mix them around with a metaphorical wooden spoon. It was a very emotional process, and popular favourites like Pretty Woman, Love Actually, and anything starring Renee Zellweger were dismissed within seconds. In Zellweger’s case, it was because she always looks like she’s about to say something really mean for no apparent reason. Hugh Grant also missed out, leaving these ten giants amongst little people…
1. Groundhog Day
We’re big Bill Murray fans, we loved him in Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack, and the one about trying to get off with Scarlett Johansson on holiday. But his greatest turn comes in Groundhog Day, a film that couldn’t even be ruined by the looming presence of Andie MacDowell. He plays the part of a grumpy weatherman going through the same day over and over again, slowly wooing the aforementioned MacDowell, and as romantic comedies go, it’s basically the best one, which – somewhat ironically – we could watch repeatedly.
2. Annie Hall
It was a tight call for Woody Allen, with both Hannah and Her Sisters and Manhattan almost barging in, but Annie Hall just nicks it. Allen plays his usual bumbling neurotic, who somehow always manages to punch well above his weight, and Diane Keaton – who, by the way, was in practically every single film released in the 1970s – is the object of his lust and affection. It’s quite bittersweet, and features a classic Christopher Walken cameo, playing a total nut-job. Eagle-eyed viewers might even catch a glimpse of a young Jeff Goldblum and Sigourney Weaver.
3. Coming to America
Whether Murphy’s depiction of an African prince is anywhere close to the reality is debatable, but you can’t argue that the film was probably the last of the great Eddie Murphy turns. The premise finds him pretending to be skint in order to snare a woman who will love him for his spellbinding personality, as opposed to his phenomenal wealth, and the barber shop scenes find the comedian playing about four different characters at once. Here at Interestment, we’re particular fans of the Soul Glo family, featuring the guy from ER.
4. Chasing Amy
He’s gone a bit rubbish in recent times, that Kevin Smith. But for a brief period in the 1990s, he was like the old Judd Apatow, churning out little diamonds like Clerks, Mallrats, and this – the story of a heterosexual man falling madly in love with a complete lesbian. Jason Lee – now a very active Scientologist– puts in a great performance as a gobby best friend called Banky, and Smith even managed the miraculous feat of making Ben Affleck come across as likable. Cracking movie, if a little bit rude.
5. The Seven Year Itch
The oldest film in the list, this one features Marilyn Monroe at the very height of her gorgeousness. It includes the famous scene where her dress blows up, and everyone can see her boxers shorts. It’s the story of a husband alone-at-home, desperately fighting the urge to have a great big affair with the sexy model renting the flat upstairs. Cue numerous fantasy sequences, and a man driven to the edge of insanity by the insatiable rumblings in his underpants. A great afternoon watch.
One of the most touching films about wine ever made, Sideways is something of a middle-aged, middle-class road movie. Two best friends go on a stag weekend, one who can’t quite let go of his former relationship, the other who fancies jumping a few more bones before entering into holy matrimony. Then they meet a couple of dreamy young women, and it all takes a rather interesting turn. Gently funny, and sometimes a little bit moving, Thomas Haden Church is particularly good as the randy groom-to-be.
7. When Harry Met Sally
The one with that scene – you know, the one where Meg Ryan fakes the orgasm, then the old woman orders whatever she just had. Which would be very upsetting for the old woman’s equally elderly and female lunch partner if she were to have to endure watching her friend of fifty years reaching a magnificent over-the-top climax right in front of her. Nitpicking aside, it’s one of the great romantic comedies, mainly thanks to sterling work from Billy Crystal, who squeezed this one in during the short period at the beginning of his career when he wasn’t unbelievably annoying and Hollywood.
8. Knocked Up
The best of the Judd Apatow movies so far, although it was run pretty close by The 40-Year-Old Virgin, this finds a stoner accidentally impregnating a successful career woman during a drunken one-night-stand. Like with all of Apatow’s movies so far, the real romance – or, as it’s now known, bromance – takes place between Seth Rogen and a whole host of male counterparts, including the guy who went out with Phoebe in Friends.
9. High Fidelity
John Cusack has been painted as thinking woman’s crumpet, and here he’s a rather bitter commitmentphobe with a humungous record collection. He has starred in other decent rom-coms, like Grosse Pointe Blank and The Sure Thing, but this one trumps both of those, mainly because it’s a little bit better. Jack Black, who tends to split the consensus as an actor, puts in the performance of his damn life – excluding School of Rock, and Nacho Libre.
It was a very close call, coming up with the final spot on the list, with The Wedding Crashers, Some Like it Hot, and even Hitch starring Will Smith all very nearly muscling their way in. But in the end, we knew we’d have to go with a Tom Hanks vehicle. After all, he was the romantic lead of choice for much of the 1990s – Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Philadelphia – but in the end we went for his 1984 classic, Splash, the story of a man with love issues going out with a mermaid. Great special effects, Daryl Hannah, and a wonderful turn by the late, great John Candy.
Some really great ones just missed out
What a decade, the 1990s. It came directly after the 1980s, and featured a gigantic backlash against massive earrings, AIDS, and big feathery haircuts. Instead, everyone just necked magic mushrooms and sat around pretending to be from Manchester. That’s right, Manchester. Or as it was known then, Madchester. Because everyone was mad for it. And the cinema was a whole different kettle of fish too. You couldn’t smoke down the left hand side anymore, and shiny films like Mannequin were replaced by intense social studies like Boogie Nights, Falling Down, and Edward Scissorhands. It was a magnificent decade for films, so coming up with the four that most encapsulate it was a very emotional, sometimes heartbreaking exercise. Die Hard 2, The Big Lebowski, Scream, Basic Instinct, Jacob’s Ladder, and Goodfellas all fell at the very last hurdle. Our top four ended up looking like this…
1. Point Break
One of the finest films ever made, this has it all – big waves, bank jobs, Gary Busey, and Keanu Reeves career peaking throughout. It is amazing. Reeves plays a young FBI agent attempting to infiltrate a gang of bank robbers lead by the peerless Patrick Swayze, who is on dynamic form as Keanu’s male crush, Bodhi – a big blonde man who fears nothing, not even his own watery death. “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price – it’s not tragic to die doing what you love,” he deadpans at a beach party, sort of killing the vibe.
2. Groundhog Day
Of many fine Bill Murray performances, this is the finest. The tale of a man reliving the same day over and over again, it features Bill descending into madness, before realising his deep inner love for Andie MacDowell. It’s beautiful, and hilarious, as he goes about correcting his mistakes, killing himself, robbing people, and – presumably – spending three or four days slowly explaining to MacDowell how annoying she is. The comedy of the decade, just above Kingpin.
3. Pulp Fiction
Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest cinema films ever made – by which we mean, it should be watched in the cinema. It was a close call, with Reservoir Dogs, True Romance and Jackie Brown all super-excellent films, but in Tarantino’s strongest decade, this was his real masterpiece. In a single stroke, he managed to dig up Travolta’s career rotting remains from a Hollywood roadside, as well as make Samuel L Jackson the coolest man on the planet. It also just keeps Goodfellas off the top four, as the best ensemble film of the decade.
The high point of Elizabeth Berkley’s career, this is one of the most preposterous films ever – and one of the most fantastic. Berkley plays a lapdancer climbing the Vegas showgirl ladder, selling little bits of her soul along the way, as well as thrashing around sexually in a swimming pool in the greatest intercourse scene ever filmed. It just beats Basic Instinct – another tale of lust and deception – to the fourth spot. An underrated gem.
Bill Murray Live from Second City
Mr T, at 57 today, is still the toughest man on the planet. He could beat absolutely anyone up, including Osama Bin Laden, Lennox Lewis, Vin Diesel, Roy Keane, Russell Crowe, Grant Mitchell, Phil Mitchell, Peggy Mitchell, The Terminator, Stuart Pearce, Conan The Barbarian, Conan The Destroyer, Saddam Hussain, Rocky I, Rocky II, Sawyer from Lost, Sigourney Weaver, Mel Gibson, Barry Grant, George W Bush, Bruce Lee, Mike Tyson, and Wayne Rooney. In fact, the only person he might have a problem with is Don Logan. Hence, we thought we should buy the big bruiser a gift, so we sat in a big circle, either holding hands, or gripping thighs, and talked long, deep and hard. It boiled down to a toss up between a small silver chain that he could wear around his neck, or a clip of a rather young Bill Murray doing stand up. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Mr T!
Hollywood deny fairy tale ending…
While we all go bananas with joy at the thought of Mickey Rourke rising from the ashes like a big fat phoenix with extensive facial surgery, it seems that the pipe smoking women of The Academy couldn’t give a hoot. They did the same thing with John Travolta in 1994 – denying him his triumphant comeback Oscar for Pulp Fiction, instead giving it to Tom Hanks for his impression of George W Bush in Forrest Gump. And last night, it went to another man playing a politician – Sean Penn in Milk.
That isn’t to say that Penn is completely undeserving, he is. Some might argue that he’s a brilliant actor. Unfortunately, he seems like such a real life cretin. And now he’s positioning himself as the Meryl Streep of the Best Actor world – nominated every single year, lurking in the shadows, the default winner if no one can decide who should get it. He’s already done it before – when Bill Murray would have made for a better winner in 2003 – and this year, he can probably thank the Academy members who couldn’t bring themselves to forgive Mickey Rourke for being so rude to them in the 1980s.
Don’t worry, Mickey, you’re still our number one.