“Crime – together we can crack up laughing at it”
While obviously there’s usually nothing funny about crime, these comedies however make us guffaw at both sides of the law.
dir. David Zucker – ★★★★★
The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad (to give it its full title) gives Airplane! a run for it’s money in the laughter count, which shouldn’t surprise really because it’s from the exact same team of people.
Leslie Nielsen plays Frank Drebbin, an inept cop who doesn’t let that stand in the way of trying to stop an assassination attempt on the Queen of England. Drebbin encapsulates nearly every onscreen good guy cop that was the staple of television back in the day and it’s in this first film, rather than the sequels, where his character is nailed to perfection.
Again, the joy is from the deadpan and earnest delivery of the most juvenile and hilarious dialogue mixed together with some great slapstick and visual gags, although be warned, it’s impossible to laugh guilt free at OJ Simpson’s contribution nowadays.
dir. Joel Coen – ★★★★★
From the ridiculous to the sublime. Set in the Prohibition era, Gabriel Byrne plays Tom Reagan, an advisor and confidante to crime boss Leo (Albert Finney) who has to try and keep the peace and manipulate his way carefully when Leo’s reign as boss is challenged by Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito) as the police are of no help, merely bystanders as the turf war plays out.
A lot of the humour comes from Tom’s attempts to get his way and avoid the trouble which seems to follow him at every turn. Again, like in every Coen film, all the supporting characters are brilliantly drawn and the actors all have plenty to get their teeth into, not least the slang the Coen’s created for the film, at one stage even claiming it was historically accurate.
The film is also so beautifully shot by Barry Sonnenfeld and scored by Carter Burwell, so much so in fact that’s it’s elevated beyond most comedies you’ll see.
dir. Phil Lord, Christopher Miller – ★★★★
22 Jump Street is a hilarious piss-take of overblown Hollywood sequels while also being one, a joke which in lesser hands could have been horrible. The film really does have its cake and eat it by being ridiculously self-aware, taking every single opportunity to make fun of itself. This time the two cops have to go undercover in a college, as opposed to a High School, trying to infiltrate a drug ring whose main trade is students.
Hill and Tatum really work well together for some reason and rarely look like they’re trying that hard, and the film has some fantastically put together set pieces and well worked routines and let’s not forget it also has the greatest end credits sequence ever, probably.
Richard Shepard – ★★★½
Now don’t get me wrong, my rating is probably a little generous and a lot of critics slammed this on release but there are some worthwhile moments depending on your inclinations toward cockney gangster films, particularly where the protagonist talks and swears a lot. Jude Law gives probably his second best performance after The Talented Mr.Ripley playing the titular Dom, a larger than life gangster who is released from prison after doing the “decent” thing in serving his time rather than ratting out his employers. Dom, however, is a very volatile man and it’s not long before he’s losing control, most memorably when he meets old boss Mr. Fontaine (Damien Bichir) who he feels owes him big time and past and present transgressions begin to come back on him.
The problem with the film is it’s a game of two halves, when Dom decides to seek out his daughter and make amends the tone of the film shifts dramatically and that will either come as a relief or a disappointment. Richard E.Grant is great as Dickie, his old friend and enabler, and when these two are onscreen together everything flows, Emilia Clarke, however, as his daughter is unfortunately much underutilised. All in all, worth it just for Jude Law’s performance alone.