Boomers Sure Knew Their Comedy, and These 10 Movies Prove It
No genre ages faster or harder than comedy, but the truly funny stuff will always stand the test of time.
Need proof? Here are ten classic comedies that show Boomers could really nail a punchline.
7.2 on IMDb
The presence of Bill Murray is a recurring theme on this list, and he kicks it off with a minor role in this 1980 sports comedy. Danny, a caddie at a prestigious country club, is vying for a prestigious scholarship but ends up caught between the club's snooty old money and the gauche nouveau riche. Although comedy legends Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield have bigger roles, Murray steals every scene as a groundskeeper at war with a gopher.
National Lampoon's Animal House
7.4 on IMDb
Every college comedy owes something to this movie. Food fights, toga parties, and pranking the Dean all happen while the filthy animals of the Delta frat house are supposed to be studying.
Is it offensive? Yes. Is it misogynist? Totally. But is it hilarious? Absolutely. Something can be problematic while still making you laugh, and Animal House proves it… though it's definitely not for the faint of heart. Toga!
Harold and Maude
7.9 on IMDb
The plot of Harold and Maude sounds less like a Boomer comedy and more like a contemporary HBO event. Harold is a morbid, death-obsessed teenager. Maude is a vivacious 79-year-old Holocaust survivor. Their unlikely friendship blossoms into an even unlikelier romance in this gloriously dark comedy.
Although it was a flop when it came out, Harold and Maude quickly became a cult classic and has only grown in popularity over the years. Perhaps it was just ahead of its time.
7.5 on IMDb
Dan Ackroyd is a clueless, privileged commodities broker and Eddie Murphy is a street-smart hustler. Their lives get swapped when they become targets of an elaborate bet by the broker's bosses, who want to see who will survive better when taken out of their element.
There's a lot of slapstick to this comedy. Some of the humour wouldn't fly today (ahem, blackface, ahem) but it's still very funny – and still painfully relevant when it comes to corporate greed and the tyranny of the over-privileged.
This is Spinal Tap
7.9 on IMDb
Any one of Christopher Guest's legendary mockumentaries could have made this list, but This is Spinal Tap was the first one to break the mould. Guest let the camera roll for hours as his actors improvised dialogue around the fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap. The result is a dry, hilarious, and genre-defining film that still brings the laughs 40 years later.
7.4 on IMDb
Dustin Hoffman stars as Michael Dorsey, an actor whose talent is undeniable but whose demanding nature makes him unemployable. Desperate for work, Michael invents a female alter ego and auditions for a soap opera while in drag.
Although any movie more than 40 years old is going to have problematic elements, Tootsie holds up better than most. That may be because the self-absorbed Michael suddenly finds himself on the receiving end of harassment and misogyny, and comes to appreciate how hard it is to be a woman in showbiz even as he falls for his female co-star.
Life of Brian
8.0 on IMDb
It's less famous than the delirious Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but Life of Brian pushed the English comedy troupe Monty Python into the land of satire for the first time – and they nailed it. Financed by Beatles member George Harrison (why not?), Life of Brian follows the rise and fall of everyday schmuck Brian, who gets mistaken for the Messiah after he's born in a stable adjacent to Jesus.
7.7 on IMDb
How offensive Blazing Saddles is probably depends on your point of view. Is the use of the N-word always problematic, even when it's being used to ridicule the stupidity and bigotry of the people saying it? If your answer is "yes", you should walk away from Mel Brooks' most enduring comedy… but you'd be missing out. Blazing Saddles is satirical while still being silly; it's pointed while not taking itself too seriously; and the cast is full of comedy legends spinning pure comedy gold.
7.8 on IMDb
Who you gonna call? Even if you've never seen this absolute classic, you know the answer to that one. Even decades of sequels, spinoffs, parodies, and reboots can't dampen the genius of this supernatural comedy. Alumni from renowned sketch shows SNL and SCTV make up a staggering portion of the cast, and the effects hold up surprisingly well.
7.7 on IMDb
Whether or not you think this movie should be on the list depends on your patience for stupid jokes – because Airplane! is joyfully, unashamedly full of them.
When a passenger plane falls victim to food poisoning and the pilot is too ill to land the plane, a traumatized ex-fighter pilot must battle his inner demons and take the wheel. But that plot is just a thin excuse for endless puns and one-liners about inflatable auto-pilots, drinking problems (you know – when you keep accidentally throwing drinks in your own face), disco, jive talk, and flop sweat. The always-magnificent Leslie Nielsen is a highlight in this stupid – and stupidly good – comedy.