What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen? We all, of course, have our answer, but the very subjective nature of comedy makes it difficult to pin down what film actually reigns supreme in that territory. Some of us revel in more intellectual laughs, while others simply can’t get past the brilliance of the farting scene in Blazing Saddles. As difficult as the subject is to tackle, though, the Writers Guild of America recently felt free to give it a try.
At a recent event, hosted by This Is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride director Rob Reiner, the guild announced the 101 screenplays its members had picked as the funniest ever composed. So, which film came out on top? It was Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s 1977 romantic comedy masterpiece. The film beat out Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot – the American Film Institute’s choice for the best comedy ever made – as well as classics like Groundhog Day, Airplane!, Tootsie, and Young Frankenstein, all of which made the top 10.
Now, there’s no denying Annie Hall is a classic of the genre, or that Woody Allen is a master of the comedy form, but Annie Hall is, quite famously (as Birth. Movies. Death.’s Devin Faraci already pointed out earlier today), a film that took shape in the editing bay. Allen’s original script was transformed by both the shooting and cutting process, and the final film we know today simply did not exist in script form. This fact, plus the inclusion of improv-heavy films like This Is Spinal Tap, Bridesmaids, and Caddyshack on the list makes you wonder just what criteria WGA members were looking at when they cast their votes. That all of these movies are funny is not in question. That they’re funny for their scripts alone very much is.
As for the rest of the list, which you can read in full HERE, it’s full of give and take. Newer movies often win out over old classics, films that rely on peformances often triumph over pure joke writing, and films that enjoyed a higher box office profile often defeat pure comedic power. That’s the fun thing about lists like this, though, isn’t it? We get to argue about them forever.