Monday, August 31, 2009

Ben Stiller Is A Funny Dude

Saturday night we were having a rousting debate over which Ben Stiller movie is the funniest. We had just finished watching 2007's Farelley brother movie, "The Heartbreak Kid". While I thought the movie was funny, I didn't think it was one of Ben's best and a debate ensued. It would seem that in the last decade, Ben Stiller has emerged as an everyman, funnyman and as such, he has appeared in some of the best known comedies in recent history.

I did a little research and sure enough, this is a topic that has been hotly debated on the internets. I found many lists ranking Stiller's movies from best to worst; problem is I don't agree with any of them. Here's why.

The majority of lists top with the number one movie as:

Zoolander- ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Derek Zoolander, a self absorbed male model who begins to question his shallow existence as finds himself suddenly "out of favor" in the fashion world, replaced by a younger modeling rival, played by Owen Wilson. Personally, I think this movie was RIDICULOUS, over-acted and insanely silly, (like almost all Ben Stiller movies, which is undoubtedly the point). The positive on this one is that I did manage to get through the entire movie. Just barely, but not without thinking that was two hours of my life that I wanted back. His greatest movie ever??? That shit is just whack.

There's Something About Mary- This is one I whole-heartily agree with and this would most certainly be second on my list as well. Classic, hilarious with a great supporting cast, Matt Dillon has always been a douchebag, but who knew he could perfect his douchebaggery in this movie. The icing on the cake: Brett Favre and the entire cast's rendition of "Build me up Buttercup" during the credits.

Tropic Thunder-A great comedic film, but I would say it was Robert Downey Jr. AND Tom Cruise that stole the show here. I may even go out on a limb and say that Tom Cruise's surprise role provided me with far more laughs than any other, rendering him the effective show stealer. A true ensemble cast effort, Stiller was good but I wouldn't say this was his 3rd best starring vehicle.

Meet The Parents- Personally, I would place this movie somewhere in the top three, as Stiller's somewhat goofy straight man played perfectly to Robert Di Nero's off kilter-ex CIA agent soon to be father-in-law. Meet The Fockers- was great as well, but I think Hollywood missed the boat with a spin off on Streisand and Hoffman's performances as Stiller's aging hippie parents. They were Jewish comedy gold.

Along Came Polly- This gets my vote for #1 top Ben Stiller movie. Two reasons: Ben Stiller and Phillip Seymor Hoffman. The shart scene alone is worth the price of admission, and the scene on the basketball court with Hoffman. Add to the equation, Alec Baldwin as his creepy, Jersey accented, foul mouthed, inappropriate boss and Hank Azaira as a hilariously accented scuba instructor who steals his wife on his honeymoon. Aniston plays spacey, flighty Polly who somehow manages to bring Stiller's wound up tight, Ruben back down to earth. The tug on my heartstrings and the fully belly laughs produced by this movie renders this Stiller vehicle my favorite.

Dodgeball- Again, a waste of two hours of my life, but Vince Vaughn's sarcastic humor saved face. Stiller?? Redonkulous.... along with a lovable cast of goofballs you end up cheering for. The best thing about Stiller here; his finely chiseled pipes. Not bad for a pukey little skinny man.

While there are many others to choose from, lets continue the debate here. What's your favorite Stiller movie?


Bill Stankus said...

The only one of the movies of his I've seen is Tropic Thunder - and that was watched because of Robert Downey Jr. Downey, Cruise and Jack Black all had great scenes. Stiller was mostly invisible in the film.

This is not to compare the two actors - just the situations. All through the 1970s it seemed Elliot Gould was in a new film seemingly every month. I guess he was popular. Now, his films seem pedestrian and not much else. I suspect Stiller will be remembered the same way. A few years from now, when the hype is long forgotten, people will say, "Stiller? Oh yeah I kinda remember him."

Jimmy Bastard said...

For me it just has to be 'There's Something About Mary' if only for its supporting cast.

I remember a very long coach journey in Greece a few years back, the only DVD played continuously on a loop during the entire jaunt was 'Night at the Museum'.. in Greek!

Being waterboarded at Guantanamo Bay would have been a far less painful experience.

Cora said...

There's Something About Mary was his finest, for sure. But I also think he was hilarious in Night At The Museum and Reality Bites.

Zoolander didn't do it for me at all.

The Dental Maven said...

What self-respecting hockey fan doesn't love Happy Gilmore!?

B.E. Earl said...

One of my favorite early films with Stiller is "Flirting with Disaster", but for pure comedy it has to be "Something About Mary". Has to be.

Although if we were to include films he wrote/directed than "The Cable Guy" would be right up there. Very underrated and dark film.

Scott Oglesby said...

I do agree that Stiller is probably the funniest actor around right now. And I had such high hopes for Eddie Murphy. sigh. I think that ‘Something about Mary’ was his funniest movie and one of the funniest movies of all time. It was just so …unexpected? There was just something about Mary, damn it. I did love Zoolander though. One of the marks of great films of any nature is quotable lines. And that movie was chock full of lines that I still use today. And I did love ‘Tropic Thunder’ as well, but it wasn’t Stiller’s show, like you pointed out. Somehow I missed ‘Polly.’ It must have come out just as we moved or something so I’m going to download that ASAP. –Thanks!

Scandalous Housewife said...

Polly, Mary & Focker are most def my top 3. Zoolander would have been a great Sat. Night Live skit!

Jennifer and Sandi said...

I loved Zoolander...because I like stupid humor!!! Dodgeball has been sitting in our coffee table for months. So I shouldn't even waste our time to watch it?

Thank god I didn't pay retail for it!
- Jennifer

BeckEye said...

I LOVE Zoolander. It's hilarious. I think the overrated one is There's Something About Mary. It was just a gross-out film for the sake of grossing people out. Parts of it were funny, but I was SO disappointed when I finally saw it, after everyone told me how great it was.

Heff said...

"Something About Mary", in my humble opinion. You just can't beat zipping up your meat.

TROLL Y2K said...

Something About Mary was the last movie I saw before boycotting Hollyweird. Twas funny. He was okay.

Methinks that for comedy films it's all about the writing and the direction. Nobody on Earth thought Peter Graves, William Stack, Kareem Jabbar and Leslie Nielsen were "funny dudes" prior to the Airplane Movies, for example. Pretty sure none of them had even done a comedy.

Anybody can be funny if the writing and direction are crisp.

wigsf said...

Ben Stiller isn't funny.

Scope said...

Tropic Thunder (2008) - Ham overacting of entire cast was too jarring. Never got into this movie.

The Heartbreak Kid (2007) - Didn't see it.

Night at the Museum (2006) - Got the Blue Ray free. It was okay enough.

Madagascar (2005) (voice) - Didn't see it.

Meet the Fockers (2004) - Didn't see it.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) - Didn't see it.

Starsky & Hutch (2004) - Tried watching. Hammy overacting kills me.

Along Came Polly (2004) - Didn't see it.

Zoolander (2001) - Couldn't get to the remote control fast enough to turn that damn thing off.

Meet the Parents (2000) - Having "Met the Parents" a few times, CLASSIC!

Mystery Men (1999) - Meh.

There's Something About Mary (1998) - The movie was a game changer.

Zero Effect (1998) - I remember liking this movie the one time I saw it.

Happy Gilmore (1996) - Great bit part.

Next of Kin (1989) - I'm sure no one else has seen this. Classic bad 80's cop movie set in Chicago with a MONSTER cast. This IS my favorite movie on the list.

Chaka said...

I have always thought Ben Stiller was funny despite his many critics. I loved Along came Polly, but Phillip Seymor Hoffman stole the show in that one. My favorite Stiller movie is Mystery Men. I know it comes across as stupid upon the first viewing, but there are so many great movie quotes in it and it has a great cast. It gets better each time you see it (like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

I'm not a huge Stiller fan, he's like classic Bill Murray in that half of his movies are hilarious while the other half suck royally.

Of the Stiller flicks I've seen, I'll have to go with Meet the Parents as number one, with Dodgeball second.