Comedies are supposed to be funny. And sometimes, they are. However, in rare instances, the funniest movies out there aren't branded as comedies. We'll call these movies "sneaky funny." They're written to be funny, but presented in such a way that you would never walk into the film expecting to laugh, which is much of what makes the movie so funny in the end. Never mind that the five movies below are well done across the board. They're FUNNY. Really funny. Funny in a way that makes you want to grab Adam Sandler and shake him and scream, "Why can't you do something like this instead of just talking in goofy voices?"
1. Bottle Rocket Wes Anderson can be a lot to take, especially a few years into his career. His dryness comes through and saturates everything he touches. His movies have so much quirk that they practically wrote the blueprint for Juno and Michael Cera's whole career. However, in the beginning, there was Bottle Rocket. It wasn't overtly funny, and it was back before the Wilson brothers became caricatures of themselves. It's still dry and quirky as hell, but in a way that was new and fresh in 1997.
2. Ocean's Eleven By all accounts, this shouldn't be a funny movie. It has too many stars, and it's a remake set in Vegas. It should have sucked, but it didn't. The plot was solid, the stars somehow didn't outweigh the story, and, most importantly, the characters got to lampoon their own images a bit, which is what really sells the comedy. It's subtle in some instances (Andy Garcia as casino owner) and not-so-subtle in other (Scott Caan and Casey Affleck as the Mormon brothers). However, the MVP award should be split between Brad Pitt and the late Bernie Mac, in which they bring some of the biggest laughs be playing (slight) exagerations of their personas.
3. Fight Club This movie was definitely not a comedy. The book wasn't written to be funny, and a schizophrenic with an anarchist alter ego isn't funny in and of itself, but the writing is comic gold. Virtually every interaction between Pitt and Norton has at least one quip that allows you to forget momentarily that you're dealing with a seriously depraved individual here. Of course, the trailer below doesn't do the comedy justice (though it's a bad ass movie without the humor), so if you haven't seen it yet, run, don't walk to the DVD store.
4. Fargo Has such a serious movie ever been put in such a comedic setting? You set this film in 1970's NYC and it would read like Taxi Driver. You put it in 1980's Minnesota, and you can't take a thing serisouly amid all the polite people and their accents. Movies where people get fed into wood chippers shouldn't make any references to Arby's if they want me to keep a straight face.
5. Boogie Nights Like Fargo, Boogie Nights is a bit of an epic story that has no business being as funny as it is. Cocaine addiction, suicide, murder, and rape all permeate the film. But all that gets undone by the ridiculousness of the characters, namely John C. Reilly's Reed Rothchild and Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Scotty J.