Comedy is hard. I understand that. It’s also subjective. Something I find absolutely hilarious might be completely devoid of humor to many other people, and vice-versa. Keep that in mind as you read this list I have put together of the only joke I found to be funny in 10 films that are otherwise complete wastes of time, in my opinion.
I included a clip of several of them so you can see for yourself how funny they are. Let the fun begin.
Mr. Freeze’s Prescription in Batman and Robin
Batman and Robin is to comedy what guano is to bats. Every joke falls flat, especially the ones that escape Mr. Freeze’s mouth. Maybe it’s the fact that every single thing he says seems to have an ice pun attached to it or the fact that by the end of the film my brain has started to melt as a result of the pure insanity I’ve just witnessed for nearly two hours, but something Freeze says at the end is actually pretty funny.
After defeating Mr. Freeze in a thoroughly silly battle, Batman switches to dramatic mode and pleads with Freeze to remember his doctor roots and help Batman’s friend who is dying of the same disease as Freeze’s wife. Freeze is touched by Batman’s plight, and he opens a canister on his suit and pulls out two blue vials of antidote. As he hands them to Batman he says, “Take two of these and call me in the morning.”
That always brings a smile to my face because it’s both funny and touching. It shows that Dr. Victor Fries has returned to some degree and it’s actually a clever line that’s delivered with sincerity rather than audacity, like most of the others in this film. Sadly, too little too late to save this farce of a film.
The Shooting Gallery in Despicable Me
I don’t understand why this movie is so popular. It had an intriguing setup with two evil geniuses matching wits and trying to one-up each other. But the movie failed to deliver on that premise and instead devolved into a lame Kindergarten Cop ripoff. Whenever a scene was dragging and the filmmakers could tell the jokes weren’t working they would desperately throw in a few minions to make funny faces and try to generate a laugh. It didn’t work on me.
The only joke that did work is the one when Gru takes his adopted daughters to a carnival and they try to win a stuffed animal by knocking down a spaceship in a shooting gallery. They give it their best effort and finally manage to hit the ship with a little ball. But the ship stays standing, so the operator refuses to award the prize to them. Gru, seeing the injustice of it all, pulls out a huge weapon and proceeds to vaporize the spaceship (along with the rest of the shooting gallery), thus winning the stuffed animal.
This joke works because it takes the time to infuse it with emotions and it shows that Gru actually cares about these girls. He’s not just using them as means to an end anymore. If the rest of the movie had been this involving and funny, I would have loved it.
The House Burning in Fletch Lives
This whole movie feels like a bunch of deleted scenes or retreads of jokes that actually worked in the first film. The televangelist scenes come the closest to being funny, but they’re a little too telegraphed for my taste. You can see the punch line coming a mile away.
The one exception to all of this mediocrity is the moment halfway through the film when Fletch returns to his plantation home in the South. His deadpan voiceover describes the scene perfectly: “When I got back, there was a cozy fire in the fireplace – and on the roof, and on the porch. It was great.” In other words, his house was on fire! The hilarity comes from the mismatch of the calm voiceover and the horrific visuals. This movie could have used a lot more of that cleverness in other parts.
The 10 Commandments in The History of the World Part 1
This movie is absolutely terrible. Never has so much filthy comedy been so boring. Its one redeeming moment comes when Moses appears on Mt. Sinai carrying three stone tablets. He tells the Israelites, “The Lord Jehovah has given unto you these 15…” and then he accidentally drops one of the tablets, which shatters into a million pieces. He pauses and then continues dramatically, “10, 10 commandments for all to obey!”
It’s a simple joke, and it would be better if it was actually part of a larger story, but I’ll take what I can get from this astonishingly unfunny attempt at comedy by the usually good Mel Brooks.
The River Fight in Robin Hood: Men in Tights
The river fight between Robin Hood and Little John in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is big, awesome… and ripe for parody, as Robin Hood: Men in Tights gleefully points out.
The setup is the same in both films. Robin wants to cross a river and Little John wants him to pay a toll. Robin refuses. But in this situation, the river is about two feet wide and Robin could easily get across without a fight. But it’s the principle of the thing, he says, so they commence fighting with staffs. These must be the most brittle staffs ever because they keep breaking in half until finally they’re so small that all they can do is whack each other’s knuckles.
For the finale, Robin knocks Little John into the river, which is more like a puddle, and Little John screams that he can’t swim. Bewildered, Robin pulls him out, saving him from certain death. It’s a great scene surrounded by long stretches of clumsy innuendo and forgettable attempts at humor. I say skip everything but this scene. It nails its target.
The Pimp Car in RoboCop 3
RoboCop 3 was a really bad idea. The first one was great and the second one had its moments, but the third one was where they really ran out of ideas and just tried to make a parody of the first film. Except they forgot to be funny.
The only thing even resembling a funny joke is when RoboCop needs to pursue a bad guy, and the nearest vehicle is a pimp’s car. So he goes ahead and commandeers the gaudy pink vehicle. My favorite part is when he takes a quick look at the fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror before heading out. It’s like he’s saying to the audience, “I know this is ridiculous. Let’s just have some fun, okay?” And for a brief moment, I do.
“It Wasn’t Me” in Rocket Man
After spending the entire movie watching the most annoying person in the world, Fred Randall, mug at the camera and repeat the insipid catchphrase, “It wasn’t me!” whenever something bad happens, we finally get to see that running gag have an awesome payoff.
Fred reaches Mars and goes on a spacewalk with his flight commander. The two are attached by an air hose for emergency reasons. You do not want to be attached to Fred in any way, believe me, because while they’re out, nature takes its course and Fred passes gas. There is no escape for the commander. A giant bubble works its way into his suit and he gags desperately. To add to the commander’s suffering, Fred has the gall to say, “It wasn’t me.” The commander shrieks in response, “What do you mean it wasn’t you? We’re 35 million miles from the nearest person!”
It doesn’t even come close to making up for the painfulness of this movie, but it always cracks me up.
The Divot in Space Jam
How do you make Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Bill Murray unfunny? Put them all together in Space Jam. Even as a kid I didn’t find this movie entertaining. The only actor who managed to have a hilarious line is Wayne Knight.
After Michael Jordan is sucked thought a portal down a golf hole right in front of Knight’s eyes, Knight desperately tries to find him by digging an enormous hole right on the golf course. When another golfer demands to know what he’s doing, he responds, “I’m fixing a divot.” And the golfer actually believes him! I love this moment for being the one truly comical cartoony moment in a movie that’s supposed to be full of them.
Captain’s Log in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Star Trek V is a failure for many reasons. It is both ambitious and sloppy. Plus, the deck was stacked against it. The writers’ strike, the inability to get Industrial Light and Magic to do the special effects, and William Shatner’s insistence on taking on writing and directing duties all combined to create a perfect storm that ruined any chances this film had of being good.
But there is one good thing that came out of all this. The Enterprise is coming apart at the seams. Everything on the ship is malfunctioning. And then at one point, Captain James T. Kirk is giving an official-sounding Captain’s Log voiceover when suddenly, something breaks and he tries to restart a couple of times before finally giving up. It turns out that even the Captain’s Log recorder, which isn’t connected to the ship, isn’t working properly.
This joke works partly because, to the best of my knowledge, prior to this we’ve never seen the device that Kirk delivers a log entry into. It’s funny to think of that piece of hardware failing to perform such a simple duty when the captain has some important exposition to give the audience. Instead, we have to make do with dialogue between characters to fill us in on plot details. If they had used the “broken ship” jokes more sparingly and subtly like this they could have been funny running gags, similar to the ones in The Empire Strikes Back involving the Millennium Falcon.
The Photo Booth in Superman III
You can’t fault the first three Superman films for their creativity – especially when it comes to where Clark Kent changes into his Superman uniform. He uses revolving doors, he jumps out of a window while no one’s looking, and he climbs into a photo booth. Wait, what? A photo booth? Whatever. The logic of this move is questionable, especially when you realize that he went into the photo booth right as a kid put money into it to start taking pictures. Not a smart move for the Man of Steel. But he makes up for it by grabbing the photos before the kid can see them, tearing off the ones of him shedding his Clark Kent costume so only the one of Superman remains, and returning that one to the kid.
Amazingly enough, this is the cleverest joke in the whole film. And it comes during the opening credits. It’s all downhill from there, and it’s a long way down, I’m sad to say. Thank you, Superman III, for that one bit of genuine comedy. You still have a lot to apologize for, though.
The Eye of the Beholder
I don’t expect you to agree with everything on this list. Maybe you genuinely enjoy some of the movies I’ve denigrated. That’s totally fine with me. Whatever makes you laugh. I hope you’ve enjoyed my perspective on these films and the backhanded compliment I gave each of them. It’s all in good fun.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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