Your Top Three is a new series here at Movies.com where we choose a topic and you give us your top three picks.
This ought to be a tough one. Especially if you're like me and grew up on R-rated comedies thanks to the early days of cable and/or parents comprised of one who didn't mind nudity and one who didn't mind bad language. In honor of the release of We're the Millers today (and let's just add the recent 30th anniversary of National Lampoon's Vacation), we're talking about humorous movies filled with any of the following: sex, drugs, lots of swearing, maybe some violence, gore, gross-out gags, any sort of "disturbing" images (like maybe, say, a drawing on a wall of a shark chomping on a man's penis -- and kudos to you if you know the film).
There are all kinds of R-rated comedies. Dark, penetrating satires to broad, raunchy stuff. Movies that aren't entirely comedic, like an action-packed buddy comedy or a drama-infused teen comedy, and movies that are joke-a-minute riots produced solely for the sake of making us laugh. Anything focused on naked female bodies, like a Porky's or a Revenge of the Nerds, to films mainly employing sharp, witty, profane dialogue -- you know, the ones from which fans make YouTube montages consisting of only the movie's F-bombs. Definitely the wild and crazy movies that go the distance to combine as much of both as possible. Zack and Miri Make a Porno might win that title.
It's hard to decide when there are so many classics qualifying. Honestly, I think a list of the best R-rated comedies is simply a list of the best comedies of the last 40 years. Not that I go necessarily just for the boobs, the swears, the body fluids and all that, but modern humor has to be harsh and exaggerated and yet sort of honest in a way that represents the true R-rated state of life today. Sure, my beloved Buster Keaton and Marx Brothers didn't need that stuff, but Blazing Saddles sure did. Everyone from John Hughes to Luis Bunuel to the Coen brothers to Kevin Smith to Edgar Wright to Armando Iannucci to David O. Russell to Quentin Tarantino to certainly Sacha Baron Cohen does. The last being someone who, along with the Jackass guys, get directly up inside the R-rated-ness of the real world just to prove the case.
So, of course I had trouble narrowing down to just three and you probably will, too.
Here are my top three R-rated comedies:
1. Monty Python's Life of Brian - There's employing male frontal nudity just for the comedy of society's uncomfortability with male frontal nudity, and then there's just straight-up showing a naked man who has opened the window of his home to mistakingly expose himself to hundreds of devout followers. The joke isn't the penis, it's the unintentional vulnerability and bareness, and that could only be done properly the way it's shot in this religious satire. There's a lot of other reasons it's my number one, but that's the most R-rated part that came to mind.
2. Heathers - I also included this in last week's edition on teen movies. Basically, it has some of the most clever uses of swear words ever put into a script. You just can't have a line like "f--- me gently with a chainsaw" and not be in here. Oh, and of course the subject matter is pretty R, too.
3. Shaun of the Dead - I'm not normally fond of horror comedy, but I am fond of genius writing and if that genius writing involves a zombie apocalypse then I suppose it must have R-rated gore. And this one has some pretty splendid gore, as it turns out. Also some great uses of strong language as only the Brits do best.
Your Picks (the top two of which are Animal House and Caddyshack -- tied for third are M*A*S*H*, This Is Spinal Tap and The Blues Brothers):
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