“Comedy is the soul of man.” “Laughter is always the best medicine.” Those phrases reflect the importance of comedy. Hollywood has produced countless comedic movies, and the ones you’re about to read about are 20 of the best works of cinematic humor made since the days of silent film.
We unfortunately cannot name all of the best comedy films in a list of just 20, but still the ones listed are wonderful examples of rich comedy writing, directing and acting.
20. Raising Arizona (1987) Dir. Joel Coen
After Blood Simple (1984), the Coen Brothers wanted to do something more lighthearted and funny; this choice resulted in the most surreal, entertaining and creative picture the duo made in the ‘80s (not including Crimewave, which was actually directed by Sam Raimi). Unfortunately, this awesome cinematic jewel is little known, even among viewers familiar with Joel and Ethan Coen.
Herbert I. “Hi” McDunnough (Nicholas Cage) is a long-time criminal with an extended string of prison sentences who falls in love with Ed, short for Edwina (Holly Hunter), a policewoman. After passing one last sentence in jail, Hi decides to live a straight life and proposes to Ed.
Now living in a trailer in the desert, the happily-married couple wants to have children but discovers a serious problem: Ed is infertile and, with Hi’s criminal record, they cannot adopt. Edwina starts to show signs of depression and Hi became worried about their situation, even thinking about a return to crime. But then they hear about the “Arizona Quints”, the sons of Nathan Arizona (the late great Trey Wilson), a millionaire in the furniture business.
When the couple kidnaps one of the babies, Hi and Ed experience a series of misfortunes, which include Hi’s prison pals Gale (John Goodman) and Evelle Snoats (William Forsythe) spending several days in their mobile home after escaping from jail, as well as pursuit by Leonard Smalls (Randall “Tex”Cobb), a bounty hunter who wants to sell the baby on the black market.
Raising Arizona was received with mixed reviews by the critics; however, over time, the reception of the Coens’ second feature film became more positive, and it now enjoys a cult following and a position in the American Film Institute.
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