A-List: Raunchy Comedies
By Kim Hollis
May 26, 2011
Yes, Bachelor Party is a great guilty pleasure of mine, and shows that wild, alcohol-fueled debauchery was just as crazy in the 1980s as it is for the boys of The Hangover today - and maybe more so. (I'm pretty sure that nowhere in The Hangover is there a situation where a prostitute might consider…relations with a cocaine-snorting donkey - though Kevin Smith certainly saw fit to bring it back for Clerks II.) Through it all, Rick maintains a level of sweetness - we know that his heart is really with his bride (Tawny Kitaen, before she lost her mind). I'm not 100% certain that all the gags hold up well today, but even so, there's a comfort that comes with knowing what's about to happen next - and watching Rick be completely adorable while he chases Debbie around with a kitchen utensil.
There's Something About Mary
It's pretty much impossible to talk raunchy comedy without including There's Something About Mary, the Farrelly Brothers' outrageously funny film that sent Ben Stiller's career into the stratosphere (and gave Cameron Diaz a nice little boost, too). During the summer of 1998, everyone was talking about the movie (well, it and Titanic, which was still going strong after several months in theaters) and I remember sitting in a very enthusiastic audience that guffawed at every gag (franks and beans!), making the experience communal and universal.
As with Bachelor Party, it helps to have a protagonist who's so easy to root for. Sure, Ted's initial motivations might be kind of creepy, but we quickly accept that Mary is just so special that it only makes sense that all kinds of suitors would do crazy things for the sake of catching her fancy. Diaz is at her most winning, and it's also a nice opportunity to see Brett Favre when Brett Favre was worthy of a lot more than disdain. Although the Farellys would come close to recapturing that same sort of sweetness combined with vulgarity in the Jack Black film Shallow Hall, they never quite attained the same heights they found with There's Something About Mary.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
It's hard to imagine that there was a time when Steve Carell was just a Daily Show correspondent who had made the leap to supporting roles in films like Bruce Almighty and Anchorman. A time when Judd Apatow was just a dude who had produced and directed two failed (but spectacular) TV series in Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. A time when Seth Rogen was just that dumpy-but-funny kid from those same TV series. A time when Jane Lynch was a member of Christopher Guest's mockumentary troupe but little known outside those circles. A time when Jonah Hill was happy to have a role such as "eBay Store Customer."
How the world has changed in the six years since The 40-Year-Old Virgin broke out as a surprise comedy hit, earning $177 million worldwide. Now, Steve Carell is synonymous with Michael Scott, though he has played that role for perhaps the final time. Apatow has just produced Bridesmaids and continues to grow his comedy empire. Rogen is a dude who can open a marginal superhero flick like Green Hornet to the tune of $33.5 million on its opening weekend. Lynch is an Emmy-winning superstar who has turned Glee's Sue Sylvester into a cultural icon. And Jonah Hill is a guy who keeps showing up like a bad penny (I can find him annoying, but at the same time he can pleasantly surprise).