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Ensemble Comedies – Ten Of The Best

Ensemble comedies are a mainstay of classic cinema- from crime capers to family drama-comedies, the sub-genre is a tricky one to get right- but nothing lights up the screen quite like a cast that just click. With The Stag released on digital platforms from the 7th July and on Blu-ray and DVD from the 21st July courtesy of Arrow Films, FilmJuice recount the most memorable ensemble comedies to date…

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Monty Python comedy crew, consisting of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin, were directed by Terry’s Gilliam and Jones in this first of three feature-length films (followed by Life of Brian in 1979 and 1983’s The Meaning of Life). A regular placement in many polls compiling the greatest films of all time, let alone comedies, the films is comprised of wholly new material in which King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail is parodied.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
This heist-comedy film was co-written by John Cleese, who also took lead acting duties alongside Michael Palin, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as ‘weapons-man’ Otto). The film follows London-based gangsters who haplessly plot a jewel heist, despite being a bunch of double-crossers. Naturally, where hilarious chaos ensued, this comedy wormed its way into hearts of audiences worldwide.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Introducing the cinematic universe to Spaced’s powerful three Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright, this lovingly-crafted comedic homage to George A. Romero’s Living Dead trilogy is just as loved as those films they grew up watching with Romero himself vocal of his love for Shaun of the Dead. Their Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy comprised of follow-up efforts Hot Fuzz (2007) and last year’s The World’s End, with each a solid British comedy film, but it is this film which remains the firm favourite.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Wes Anderson assembled a cast of megawatt star power for arguably his best feature to date, focusing on the various calamities falling upon the brilliant, bizarre Tenenbaum family. Following dire news about his health, Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) decides to reunite his estranged family under one roof- including his ex-wife Etheline (Anjelica Houston) and children Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), Chas (Ben Stiller) and Richie (Luke Wilson)… the result is typical of Anderson- utterly brilliant, whimsical, touching and hilarious.

Anchorman (2004)
Featuring Will Ferrell’s finest creation- Ron Burgundy- this ludicrous tale of a San Diego top rated newsman struggling to stay ahead of the ambitious new female anchor (Christian Applegate) is a masterclass in comedy from start to finish. Featuring stellar performances from supporting cast members, including Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd, the film set a new standard in comedy, and remains endlessly quotable.

The Hangover (2009)
The two films that followed it may have dipped in quality, but the first Hangover film was a stellar naughty comedy which saw a group of males (led by Bradley Cooper, alongside Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) head to Las Vegas to celebrate their best friend’s wedding. Having a night to remember, they awake the next morning to have forgotten almost everything, including why one is missing, why one has lost a tooth and why there is a Tiger in their bathroom…

Bridesmaids (2011)
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo wrote this box-office smash comedy about a down-an-out pastry chef whose life begins to rapidly unravel after her best friend becomes engaged, and she finds herself embroiled in a rivalry with a fellow bridesmaid. The film eschewed the widely-held belief of major studios that ‘films about women won’t sell’, and went on to break box-office records. The cast all provided standout comedic performances, but Melissa McCarthy arguably stole the show, as the unhinged but fundamentally lovable Megan.

The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)
Take a small-time E4 comedy series set in a fictional town in England, move the cast Crete… and apparently you get a recipe for blockbusting success. Writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris are perfectly attuned to the pitfalls of adolescence, and the Inbetweeners themselves: Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Jay (James Buckley) and Neil (Blake Harrison) are clearly in their element. After completing their final year at school together, the four head on a party holiday where misadventures follow – as well as laughs…

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola were nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar for this charming, suitably offbeat tale of two youngsters who flee their New England town, causing a local search party to fan out to find them. Typically of an Anderson film, the cast is a who’s who of Hollywood talent, including Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Bill Murray, while the New England setting proves utterly apt for this funny, romantic (and admittedly, slightly warped) love story.

The Stag (2013)
This laugh-out-loud comedy, directed by John Butler, features Andrew Scott, Hugh O’Conor, Brian Gleeson and Peter Macdonald as members of a stag party gone rogue in the Irish countryside. Displaying far more depth and heart than the average ‘bachelor weekend’ film and featuring a hugely charming and likeable cast, the film provides a sharp, astute and hilarious take on modern male bonding.

The Stag is released on digital platforms from the 7th July and on Blu-ray and DVD from the 21st July courtesy of Arrow Films

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THE STAG On Blu-ray and DVD from July 21st, 2014