Comedy Leads in Movies

Who’s funny? Who’s not? And where do you draw the line?

I always thought Cary Grant was a great light comedy actor. Nobody lost his dignity better.


I gotta agree with Mike Nelson on Sandler and Carrot Top.

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Gene Wilder and Bill Murray for deftly handling their material and elevating most of their respective films.


Two of the finest. Gene’s sweetness runs out of his pours. His love, his pain, his energy, he bursted with those qualities. You forever loved Gene even when he wasn’t as sympathetic. Ditto Bill who oozed likability while jabbing at somebody. Ghostbusters (1984) and Groundhog Day (1993) were hoisted largely on his shoulders. He carried those pictures to new heights. Likewise Gene on The Producers (1968), Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971), Blazing Saddles (1974), and Young Frankenstein (1974). The pair were originals and captured the screen totally. It wasn’t entirely about the joke for them. The essence of the people they played and by extension their presence onscreen mattered too.

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Or fought back from defeat so valiantly. Grant rarely stopped moving. He’d be ridiculous gladly and rise up to be absurd again. The man was unflappable and fearless in his craft. No one so absorbed their own screen persona as ably and totally as Cary Grant. John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, and James Cagney were close. Cary may have beat them all.

He and Pryor could not save Another You. I saw that on Showtime streaming recently and it is the worst movie, old or new, I’ve seen of late. Such a sad way for both of them to end their career, not counting the Lost Highway cameo. Very painful “comedy.”

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Hence my use of

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Ironic how the lead actress won the Oscar for a film that came out the same year and same studio, Fisher King, a MUCH better comedy.

So far people have only mentioned who’s funny.

Here’s who’s NOT.

Will Ferrell. He’s an asinine idiot who couldn’t be funny if his life depended on it. His idea of funny is being a giant man-child which wears thin after about the first minute or two, if not less time.

Jim Carrey is hit or miss for me; I’ve seen him be hysterically funny. I’ve also seen him be painfully UNfunny. Same goes for Mike Myers and Dana Carvey; when they’re on, they’re great, but when they’re off… whoo boy. Adam Sandler is more funny than not to me, but he still has moments where I look askance and wonder what the h-e-double hockey sticks he was thinking making a particular film.

Now for the people who I consider to ALWAYS be funny when they’re in comedy movies? Buster Keaton, Tim Curry, Gene Wilder, Rick Moranis, Mel Brooks, all of the Marx brothers, Leslie Nielsen… I’m not AS fond of the three Stooges as I am the Marx brothers, but you can’t really argue with the evidence when it comes to them, so I’ll add them to the list… Bill Murray (his attitude on set aside, he never fails to be funny), Jim Belushi, Dan Ackroyd… I’m sure there’s more but that’s all that immediately come to mind. I’d add Carol Burnett, except I’m not entirely sure if she ever did any MOVIES as opposed to sketch comedy shows; if that’s allowed then she and Vicki Lawrence are an immediate add.

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Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler are all people I much prefer in five-minute sketches rather than 90-minute movies. They each only did one movie I really like: Elf (sorry) and Man on the Moon. Uh, can’t think of one for Sandler… I really don’t like his movies much.

Agree with all the names in your third paragraph.

Carol Burnett did do a few movies… Annie, The Four Seasons… and I remember seeing her in a movie titled after an Erma Bombeck book, but with no resemblance at all I could see to the book (and not funny).

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I loved that version of Annie as a kid, and Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan was a huge reason why. She was an excellent villain in that movie.

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I am personally not going to say who’s not funny. I don’t think its really for me to say.
Just because comedy like most forms of art and entertainment are subjective, and I am not looking to drop a deuce on what could of be someone elses favorite comedian or comedic actor.

With that said though one of the first names that came to mind as a favorite for me is Simon Pegg. He’s nailed most the comedic roles I’ve seen him in even without Edgar Wright or Nick Frost in his corner.