As the years, and decades pass through the sands of time, the 1980’s are looked back on in ever more glowingly reminiscent terms. This is never more true than in looking back at the comedy films from that decade. They were quirky, and funny, and certainly memorable. The following list highlights some of the more notable of these comedies, and we hope that you enjoy this recap of some of the funniest films of the 1980’s as much as we did!
Honorable Mention: Clue (1985)
Film goers either hated this picture, or they loved this picture. We were split down the middle in critiquing ‘Clue’ therefore it gets an honorable mention in lieu of an ‘official’ invite to our exalted ranking. If we were to vote again next week, who knows?
#15. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
The late John Candy paired up with funny man Steve Martin in this hilarious road comedy that had audiences rolling down the aisle, until they got sad at the end. It’s a great film nonetheless, and a perfect way to view John Candy’s range of acting ability.
#14. A Christmas Story (1983)
“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” Became this Bob Clark directed film’s memorable quote. The kid is 9 year old Ralphie. The time is Christmas. The ‘toy’ is a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass, and a sundial. The movie is ‘A Christmas Story‘. Ralphie’s one desire is roundly rejected as too dangerous by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and yes, even the department store Santa. This is a family comedy that warmed as many hearts as cramped stomachs from laughter. A holiday treat, this film has survived the test of time.
#13. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
This was a raucous comedy about an eccentric group of undergraduate nerds at the fictional university, ‘Adams College’ trying their damnedest to fight the abject humiliating harassment at the hands of the ‘Alpha Betas’. A meat head jock fraternity, that fits every stereotype under the sun. It is the age old story of the little man versus the powerful oppressor, except that this story was damn funny. Kudos to this film.
#12. BeetleJuice (1988)
Let’s face it, Michael Keaton is perhaps the most underrated talent in Hollywood. His performance in this quirky, almost black, but not really, comedy is amazing. A young Geena Davis showed some chops, and a very, very young Alec Baldwin wasn’t terrible.
#11. Airplane (1980)
Airplane was, and still is, the mother of all slap-stick comedies. The modern proliferation of satirical film comedies has this film to thank for proving that this manner of comedy could not only hold it’s own, but excel at the box-office. How funny is this movie? Kareem-Abdul Jabbar made us laugh. That’s saying something monumental.
#10. Police Academy (1984)
In the world outside of cinema, perhaps police aren’t exactly the kind of people who make us laugh, however this 1984 film directed by Jerry and David Zucker, is pretty damn hilarious. With an ensemble cast that included Peter Graves, Leslie Nielson, Lloyd Bridges, and Robert Hays, ‘Airplane’ was simply one of the funniest properties of the 1980’s.
#9. SpaceBalls (1987)
Here’s the formula, if you add ‘Airplane‘, move the location to space, multiply it with a Star Wars theme, and have it be slightly funnier, the answer is = ‘SpaceBalls‘. This slap-stick comedy is among the very best ever. Mel Brooks (The Master of Slap-Stick), kind of out did himself with this picture. It’s flat out funny (even funnier when stoned). Another comedy classic with John Candy involved. We’re not surprised.
#8. Stripes (1981)
Without question, ‘Stripes’ is a Bill Murray classic. It’s a film that suspended the reality of actual military service for a moment, and simply made us laugh. A lot. With a supporting cast that included the late great Harold Ramis, Stripes is an all-timer, and we love it.
#7. Fletch (1985)
Director Michael Ritchie‘s 1985 film “Fletch‘ spent a great deal of time under the radar as the brilliant comedy film that it was. 1980’s funny man Chevy Chase delivered a sublime performance as newsman turned detective ‘Fletch’. Great daydream sequences, and hilarious sarcasm made this movie one of the best comedies of the 1980’s.
#6. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
Did we forget to mention that Chevy Chase was among the funniest men alive during the 1980’s? He certainly was. Unlike the aforementioned film, ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation‘ was a runaway smash box-office hit right out of the gate. It’s run on cable television cemented it’s legacy as one of the best comedy films ever. Directed by the multi-talented Harold Ramis, Vacation hit on a plethora of humorous family issues. Simply awesome.
#5. Back to the Future (1985)
Michael J. Fox‘s performance in 1980’s ‘Back to the Future’ was a colossal hit was up to par with some of the best of all-time. Eccentric supporting acting from Christopher Lloyd, as well as the nostalgic stroll back through the optimism of 1950’s America, made for a perfect cinematic marriage, and a very funny film. Looking back, perhaps the movie overstated the future the slightest little bit, but it did get some things right.
#4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was one of the many comedy films that were written, produced and directed by the incomparable John Hughes during his magnificent run in the 1980’s. It was also arguably one of his very best. The casting of Matthew Broderick was spot on perfect, as his portrayal of the precious teen Ferris Bueller was first rate and spoke to audiences in between their collective laughter. The film follows Ferris as he skips school to spend a wonderful day in downtown Chicago with his girlfriend Sloane, played by Mia Sara, and best friend Cameron, played by Alan Ruck. He toys, and manipulates his school’s Dean Mr. Rooney, and his parents. Broderick routinely broke the ‘fourth wall’ in speaking directly to the audience, in explaining his thoughts, and philosophies. Simply, a great film.
#3. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Beverly Hills Cop, was perhaps Eddie Murphy‘s best film in a career that has seen dozens of them. It was the original film in what became a 5 film franchise, the others coming with varied mixed reviews ranging from decent, to horrible. As the title implies, Detective Axel Foley is from Detroit, visiting Beverly Hills California in an effort to solve the murder of his childhood friend. Part of the comedy is in the culture clash, and methods of law enforcement between the two cities. The main comedy is Murphy’s irreverent, foul mouthed performance that suited his stage persona in amazing ways. This film wasn’t just funny, it lived in the highest levels of hilarity. An instant classic then, and now.
#2. GhostBusters (1984)
Without question the highest grossing film at the box office of all those listed here, with an estimated Domestic Lifetime Gross of $242,212,467. That’s a ton of coin. ‘Ghostbusters‘ was a cultural phenomenon. In addition it had a top ten single by Ray Parker from the soundtrack. Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Dan Ackroyd says that this was a stellar cast. Their collective performances, gave this movie an all-time comedy kudos.
#1. CaddyShack (1980)
‘Caddyshack‘ is number one for this reason alone, it is the one film on this list that almost every human being, to a person, loves and admires. This cult phenomenon was directed by the late great Harold Ramis, and has garnered an immense cult following. It’s been referenced by media outlets such as: ESPN and Time Magazine. It is widely considered one of the funniest sports comedy films ever. The plot follows Carl Spackler played by the great Bill Murray, the greenskeeper whose battles with the problematic gopher infestation is a thing of comedy lure. Carl’s hilarious methods in trying to kill the gopher took this movie to comedic heights that were unrivaled at the time. If you haven’t seen Caddyshack, perhaps it’s time that you did. You won’t be sorry. We guarantee it!