Move This to the Top of Your Queue: Five Must-See-Now Comedy Classics

Posted by Maximum Fun on 26th August 2011

It’s so frustrating. All week long you’ve been looking forward to Friday night so you could relax and watch that special comedy film that’s been sitting in your queue for months – the one that your friends constantly quote and praise. But just as you settle in and bust out the popcorn, you notice that the movie has disappeared from your queue. The streaming service of your choice no longer has the rights to show it.

Okay. Now you’re feeling disappointed. Somewhat like Otto (Kevin Kline) in this scene from “A Fish Called Wanda.”

Thankfully, there is a solution. Multiple services have been granted access to the Netflix API and publish information from the company’s database about which movies and shows will soon be added to or depart from the streaming lineup. (And they seem to be publishing this information with the company’s tacit approval). So now you can discover in advance when the streaming rights to your film will expire.

But what’s that you say? You don’t have time to scan all of those services each week? That’s why you have friends like us!

A team of intrepid MaxFunsters has joined together to sort through those listings, identify the gems that you shouldn’t miss and – most importantly – tell you when you need to watch them in order to avoid DISAPPOINTMENT.

Click here to see our list of five great must-see-now comedy classics, along with clips, the reasons why they are unmissable and the date when each will disappear from your queue. Happy streaming!

Expiring Soon

Title: Manhattan (1979)

Where to find it: Expiring from Netflix Instant on Sept. 1; not on Hulu+.

Favorite Quote: Yale: “You are so self-righteous. I mean we’re just people. We’re just human beings, you know? You think you’re God.” Isaac: “I . . . I gotta model myself after somebody.”

Woody Allen enlisted Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and reels of black and white film to engrave this timeless, passionate love letter to the city of his dreams. But along with all of the gorgeous scenery and swelling crescendos, we also get to enjoy the standard delights of a classic 1970s Allen film: silly, narcissistic humor; hopeless, misguided romance; and plenty of the pretentious, pseudointellectual snobbery that Allen loves to skewer.

Most of all, I love the ridiculous level of complexity that Allen adds to his character’s romantic life. Allen’s protagonist, Isaac Davis, has recently been left by his wife. His ex (Meryl Streep) is writing a potentially embarrassing story about their life while she lives with her new lesbian lover. Isaac, in the interim, is the object of 17-year-old Tracy’s infatuation (Tracy is played by a stunning Mariel Hemingway); but Isaac shuns her in favor of Mary (Diane Keaton), the mistress of his best friend, Yale. C’mon. How fun is that? How much amazing talent is that? Truly a can’t-miss classic.

Title: Lost in America (1985)

Where to find it: Expiring from Netflix Instant on September 1st; not on Hulu+

Favorite quote: “Excuse me, my wife and I have dropped out of society.”

Albert Brooks wrote, directed and stars in this fantastic commentary on modern American life and our halfhearted attempts to escape its humdrum corporate conventions. David and Linda Howard (Albert Brooks and the delightful Julie Hagerty) are married urban professionals living in Los Angeles. One day, after eight years of loyal struggle at his advertising firm, David is passed over for a promotion. Convinced that he has been screwed by “the system”, he quits and and talks his wife into quitting her job so they can cash out their savings and spend the rest of their lives traveling the country in a Winnebago. Hilariously, he compares this comfortable and well-funded motor home trek to the minimalist experiences of the outlaw bikers in “Easy Rider” (which he mentions frequently). David’s obsession with (and clear misunderstanding of) the biker film underscores his own naiveté about what it truly means to “drop out of society.” Brooks uses warm and subtle humor to paint David and Julie as sweet and loveable but ultimately misguided by popular culture into believing that they can “drop out” while still maintaining their comfort and middle class security. He obviously delights in exposing this contrdiction through the couple’s humorous misadventures. Brooks is truly at his best here, tickling society’s cognitive dissonance while keeping the film fun and playful.

Title: Mars Attacks! (1996)

Where to find it: Expiring from Netflix Instant on Sept. 1; not on Hulu+

Favorite quote: “I want the people to know that they still have two out of three branches of the government working for them, and that ain’t bad.”

This Tim Burton parody of and homage to 1950s science fiction isn’t his greatest movie, but its star-studded cast and delightfully silly gags make it memorable and very fun. Truthfully, the whole movie is just a set piece to make gags about Mars attacking Earth; however, there are some stand-out features that are worth noting. For example, Pierce Brosnan plays a pipe-smoking scientist so perfectly that it’s a shame he was just a baby back in the 50s. And Tom Jones shows up in the third act as a Tom Jones who fights Martians! But my favorite bit is how all the Martians act like teens who just found a firecracker in the woods. Forgoing any rational plan or strategy, they prefer to simply mess with the humans as they go about destroying civilization. Oh, and it also stars Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Sarah Jessica Parker, Martin Short, Michael J. Fox, Danny DeVito, Jack Black and Natalie Portman, who all do what they need to do and then get out of the way of the Martians (or get vaporized by them). Burton said of this movie that it seemed like they had made “kind of a Mad Magazine version of Independence Day.” I really can’t think of a more apt description. (This summary submitted by Dan Sai)

Arriving Soon

Title: Airplane! (1980)

Where to find it: Expected to arrive on Netflix Instant Sept. 1st

Favorite quote: “I just want to tell you both good luck. We’re all counting on you.”

Possibly one of the most beloved and frequently quoted comedies of our generation, “Airplane!” is an amazing gag and joke film that spoofed the ubiquitous disaster films of its day while simultaneously igniting the comedy career of the late great Leslie Nielsen and his fantastic, deadpan, pun-laden style. As the film starts, alcoholic pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) boards a plane to win back his flight attendant girlfriend (the delightful Julie Hagerty again!) Striker has developed a fear of flying, but as the plane’s crew falls to food poisoning, Striker must land the plane. His primary aides in this effort are a glue-sniffing, amphetamine-popping air traffic controller played by a delightfully over-the-top Stephen Stucker and his tower supervisor played by the perfect straight man, Lloyd Bridges. Honestly, there’s too much amazing and unforgettable humor in the film to mention even a fraction of it here. Just go watch it. We’re all counting on you.

Just arrived

Title: Greg Behrendt Is: That Guy From That Thing (2009)

Where to find it: Recently added to Netflix Instant; not on Hulu+

Exploring modern quandaries of chicken fingers, mindfreaking, and man bags, while exploring every inch of the stage, MaxFunCon alum Greg Behrendt’s one hour special should be required viewing for every comedy fan. Greg’s pace, at times frenetic, is a sight to behold, and bits are so tightly woven that the callbacks can be dizzying. After 20 years of doing standup, Behrandt has this down. If you’re a stand-up fan, this hour is definitely a must-see. (This summary brought to you by Jenny Lewis)