Some comedies are immediately great. You want to see them again the second you leave the theater. Others, though, take some time before their brilliance can be recognized. This list is dedicated to the latter, the comedies that you maybe weren’t immediately sure what to think of, but lines from which have since become part of your vocabulary. Grab a Brawndo. Here we go.
1. Super Troopers
Go to any dorm room in America, and you’re likely to find at least one stoner who knows what the Snozzberries taste like. As a whole, Super Troopers isn’t a great movie, but as a series of shorts about sexy Germans, John Chimpos, and Farva shenanigans, it’s hilarious. In fact, I want to watch it right meow.
2. Wet Hot American Summer
If you can spend a whole week dropping nothing but The Simpsons quotes, you should be able to last an entire day with Wet Hot American Summer lines. Looking for your cell? “THE PHONE, THE PHONE, WHERE’S THE F*CKING PHONE.” Need to break up with someone? “You taste like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.” Stub your toe on a table? “Oh, f*ck my c*ck.” All gold.
3. The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski is widely considered to be a classic these days, but when it came out in 1998, it wasn’t uncommon to find a review like, “Disjuncture supplies plenty of amusing cultural frissons, but nothing carrying any meaningful insights or commentary, resulting in a work whose many momentary pleasures almost immediately afterward seem hollow and without resonance.” The more you watch it, however, the more you realize that disjunctive feeling is what the Coen Brothers were going for (and succeeded at). Disagree? SHUT THE F*CK UP, DONNY.
Mike Judge might as well be the king of the cult comedy. King of the Hill is still under-appreciated, while his two best films, Office Space and Idiocracy, were widely panned when they were released. But time, and repeat viewings on Comedy Central, have been kind to both. Particularly Idiocracy, which only played in 130 theaters, yet still found an audience thanks to a killer premise — a man frozen in time wakes up in the year 2505, and finds that humanity has turned into obtuse mush — and instantly quotable lines. Still waiting for ASS: The Movie, though.
5. The Cable Guy
The Cable Guy cost $47 million to make, a massive amount of money for a comedy, even by today’s standards. It ended up making over $100 million at the box office, but was still considered a flop because it didn’t match the $200-$300 million Jim Carrey movies were used to bringing in. Ironically, Judd Apatow’s The Cable Guy has held up better than The Mask. Audiences weren’t used to seeing Ace Ventura in a comedy so dark and twisted and uncomfortable, but it proved Carrey had more range than you might expect from The Guy With the Wacky Face.
6. Cabin Boy
It took awhile, but Cabin Boy is finally getting the respect it deserves. Chris Elliott’s 1994 lost-at-sea fantasy-comedy was a worthy follow-up to the equally brilliant Get a Life, although only Cabin Boy has David Letterman saying the immortal line, “Would you like to buy a monkey?”
7. The Room
When he was making The Room, Tommy Wiseau didn’t intend for it to be a comedy. And it’s not, but it’s still one of the funniest movies you’ll ever see. Plan 9 from Outer Space and Manos: The Hands of Fate are terrible films, but they’re boring terrible — there’s an appealing whacked-out earnestness to Wiseau’s equally awful vision, which is how The Room became a modern-day Rocky Horror. There’s nothing quite like YOU’RE TEARING ME APART, LISA.