The funniest movies tend to burrow into our brains like no other form of popular entertainment. Through repeated viewings and earworm quotes, they create unconscious templates for life's milestones and stopovers — dating, road trips, the college experience, marriage, the working world — and remind us of moments in time as well as entire eras. They're comfort food and therapy, high art and cultural critique, nestled lovingly amid fart jokes and crotch punches.
The best comedy movies also enjoy a freedom that seems out of place in most other media, with run-times that allow them to develop complicated but self-contained worlds, the full buffet of acting, editing, and musical options, and [...]
Annie Hall isn’t a Valentine’s Day movie, though I always watch it on Valentine’s Day. It’s not a romantic comedy, though in some ways it solidified the premises of the genre. It won Allen his only Oscar for Best Director, though it’s arguably not his best film (try to argue the point with a fan of Hannah and Her Sisters if you want to have a stroke). It’s one of the funniest movies ever made, even though it doesn’t exactly make one hopeful about the prospects of ever having a “healthy” relationship. And like so much of Allen’s work, if it’s a love song at all, it’s dedicated to [...]
Woody Allen, eternal optimist: "There’s no rhyme or reason to anything that I do. It’s whatever seems right at the time. I’ve never once in my life seen any film of mine after I put it out. Ever. I haven’t seen Take the Money and Run since 1968. I haven’t seen Annie Hall or Manhattan or any film I’ve made afterward. If I’m on the treadmill and I’m scooting through the channels, and I come across one of them, I go right past it instantly, because I feel it could only depress me. I would only feel, 'Oh God, this is so awful, if I could only do that [...]