Top 10 Overlooked “Funniest Screenplays”

Earlier in the week, the Writer’s Guild of America tickled our collective list addiction and dropped their “101 Funniest Screenplays.” If you haven’t taken a look, here you go. Annie Hall took the top spot and a good deal of flack for not being seen as an uproarious laughfest. Though it’s among my all-time favorites, being called “Best Comedy Screenplay” would have been more appropriate than “Funniest”. But don’t forget how strong the jokes are:

Check out some of the surprising omissions after the jump:

10. Lost in Translation – Though the laughs are more subdued than uproarious, it was an interesting exclusion given other “dramas with jokes” like Being There and Sideways showing up. Why isn’t it Santori time?

9. Hairspray – Leaving John Waters off the list for his more extreme entries is no shocker, but not recognizing his most mainstream and accessible film is a bit of a head-scratcher.

HAIRSPRAY, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Debbie Harry, Divine, Ricki Lake, 1988, television studio

8. Sixteen Candles – John Hughes got his share of love on the list, but of the Brat Pack entries Candles is the one with the most non-stop laughs and memorable quotes. Long Duk Dong and other un-PC 80s biproducts certainly mar its reputation today, but how can you deny Farmer Ted?

7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Always remembered around this time of year, but often mysteriously forgotten when discussing comedy greatness. Does it get slighted for recognition because it’s stuck in a subgenre that is taken less seriously?

6. Singin’ in the Rain – Musicals are greatly under-represented on the list overall, full stop. Musicals aren’t just songs, people! With the legendary “Make ‘Em Laugh” (which still does), here’s another all-timer shockingly absent.

5. Beetlejuice – Has Tim Burton’s reputation slipped so much that we’ve forgotten his original morbid glee and stylized wit? Though he didn’t contribute to the script, his influence is inextricable from the film’s laughs. However, the script itself provides a range of laughs – character observations, farce, puns – and surprises on repeat viewings.

4. The Birdcage – Screenwriter Elaine May – one of the greatest ever, comedy or otherwise – got utterly shafted here, with none of her work represented. Giving every member of her already on-fire ensemble consistent moments to shine, not to mention collaborating with her comedy partner Mike Nichols, this is foolishly underrated. Not even the original French La Cage aux Folles got in.

3. Private Benjamin – There was a lot of back-patting to the WGA for including female-led comedies such as Mean Girls and Bridesmaids, but the “See! Women are funny!” debate is tired, friends. Here we have not only an Oscar-nominated comedy script and two nominated performers – all too rare for comedies! With the pedigree and the amount of laughs on display, has it just been forgotten?

2. Clue – we’re going to have plenty to say about the film in this space in the month ahead, so we’ll keep it brief. Is it just too much of a cult fascination to merit wide recognition? Either way, its omission is so – fla- fla- FLAMES! On the side of my face!…

marlin and dory and jellyfish

1.Finding NemoSouth Park is the only animated screenplay on the list, suggesting that animated comedies are still undervalued. A screenplay is a screenplay is a screenplay. With plenty of options within the subgenre – Toy Story, Aladdin, even Despicable MeNemo is the standout. An immaculate script otherwise, it delivers laughs both absurd and heartfelt, and gave us more instant catchphrases than equally popular comedies of its era.

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