¡Three Amigos! (1986)

Being famous has its perks but at some point the novelty wears off. Still, it’s best to give the people what they want. After all, without fans you’re nobody, which is exactly the position in which three near-broke actors find themselves. Real-life legends are perfectly cast as they bring their natural chemistry and impeccable comedic timing to the roles of former legends of the silver screen, who misunderstood a plea for help from a fan in rural Mexico, who believes they’re the iconic heroes they play in the movies. Desperate for a gig, The Three Amigos arrive in character to a Western-style showdown to face a violent bully, who’s been threatening to take over the tiny village.

The Mermaid (2016)

Revenge is a dish best served salty and wet. Impressive effects enhance a hyper-stylized modern fish tale. With the same wry disposition as Kung Fu Hustle, a young mermaid finds herself in a love triangle as she unexpectedly develops feelings for the businessman she’s been tasked with seducing then assassinating. Consequently, a battle ensues between her aquatic family and her new boyfriend’s business partners, in whose lucrative waters they’re dying.

The Rundown (2003)

Sometimes you just want to be entertained but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for meathead jocks lumbering across the screen. Given the cast, there’s obviously a mixture of action and comedy but developed characters and a creative premise elevate a potentially flat collaboration to an engaging adventure, in which a bounty hunter tracks a mobster’s son through the jungle. When the wily kid on a treasure hunt and the nonviolent gun-for-hire who wants out of the business get mixed up with the leader of a revolt against an exploitive quarry operator, survival becomes the new agenda.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

If you don’t own a copy, you’ve either forgotten about this movie or have never seen it. This is arguably each lead’s most famous role of their career. And for good reason: when an disparate team of jewel theives vie for their loot, Deception is the rule of law in what amounts to The Bermuda Triangle of relationships. Love and lust notwithstanding, greed and revenge bring out a range of emotions– and even slapstick– in those subjected to the whims of manipulative Wanda, a woman so dynamic, a beloved pet is named after her.

Some Like it Hot (1959)

When the speakeasy that employs many musicians gets busted, many performers find themselves job hunting. Moreover, when they witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,  two friends in particular find themselves on the run from the mob. As revenge for their playboy antics, their connection at the employment agency pairs them with an all-female band. At least it’s headed out of state! With no choice but to make the most of the opportunity, the duo must pass themselves off as women. But can they keep their cool while surrounded by pretty girls?

Spy (2015)

Though there are both stunts and humor galore, this is no James Bond spoof; comedic actors were actually taught fighting techniques to do most of their own stunts and action stars ad libbed many of the best lines. The result stands on its own two feet (and is perhaps overqualified) as a contender in its […]

Pure Luck (1991)

Could there be anyone with worse luck than otherwise ordinary accountant, Eugene? Actually, yes: the daughter of a wealthy businessman, Valerie who recently went missing. With a chemistry that embodies cinematic fixture, the buddy comedy, detective, Raymond is unfortunately paired with the hapless klutz. Together they endure a series of mishaps, each more wacky than […]

Mystery Men (1999)

The ensemble’s inability to reach consensus– both on and off screen– works for their chemistry, or scripted lack thereof. The final product ultimately fell flat for a large portion of its audience because it’s an awkward meld of spoof, satire and homage. But isn’t that– like it or not– the essence of superhero status? Comic […]

UHF (1989)

Weird Al Yankovic wanted the title to be “The Vidiot” but the studio preferred “UHF,” despite being an obscure reference* to foreign audiences and a now obsolete reference to modern ones. Much of this movie’s slapdash humor was ad-libbed and many incidents and reactions were completely unscripted. Movie references abound, as do sight gags, most of which are without special effects, e.g. the “Wheel of (live) Fish.” With the likes of such a zany ensemble, expect the unexpected.

*Ultra High Frequency (TV broadcasting wavelength for cable, which has since been replaced by satellite)

Houseguest (1995)

It’s a beautiful thing to watch someone in their element, i.e. the shared enjoyment—even between strangers—of someone’s creativity channeled into a well-crafted project. The most complex humor seems effortless, which it may be in that moment, but is resultant of much practice. If a plot is strong enough to withstand a few deviations from its script, an actor with true improv ability will elevate the believability of his character by using natural true-to-life spontaneity to generate chemistry with his costars. This quick-on-their-feet cast collectively sets the essential stage that allows its lead to shine in this hilarious case of mistaken identity.