Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Ben Stiller

With this weekend's release of "The Watch", we decided to dedicate this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide to one of its stars, Ben Stiller. Stiller has been a staple in the comedy world for decades now and continues put out well-received works, whether it be as an actor, director, writer or producer. Born and raised around acting (mother: Anne Meara; father: Jerry Stiller), Stiller attended the All Children's Theatre Company in New York City as a child, and later went to UCLA School of Theater for college. Soon after, he made his way into the film and television world, and by the mid-90's was a notable commodity (and even got a break in the 1987 film "Empire of the Sun", which links him to last week's Top 5'er, Christian Bale).


Stiller is a key member of the informal "Frat Pack" along with Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Steve Carell, and Jack Black. Parts of the group have appeared in some capacity in five different films over the years, most recently in "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (Stiller was actually the first choice to play Brian Fantana in the film, but the role eventually went to Paul Rudd, who some consider part of the "Frat Pack" group as well).

You won't find any Academy Award nominations to Stiller's name, but he does hold one record in the awards circuit that's likely to never be matched again - in 2004 he was nominated for Worst Actor at the Razzie Awards for five different films. He swept the whole category! We've voiced our complaints about the "award" organization, so I mean no true disrespect to Stiller, it's just a humorous statistic; I hope and expect that if it is ever anything that's brought up, he is able to get as good a laugh about it as anyone.

For now, hit the jump for all of the best films we found in Stiller's filmography, with minimal Razzie-nominated selections!

Alex Schopp -
I struggle so much with any lists that revolve around comedy. I can enjoy a good comedy as well as the next person, but when it comes to ranking them or trying to pick the bests, outside of a handful of greats, they're all about the same to me. This is the best I could do.

     1. Tropic Thunder (2008)

I think this is my favorite comedy in Stiller's filmography? It has pretty good watchability, and all of the actors in this film are great. I don't love the film, but I think it feels like the one on this list that I'd most easily pop in on a regular-ish basis.
     2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Easily the "best" film on this list, and my overall favorite Wes Anderson film. It doesn't have the strongest of watchability levels, as the film is so dry, but it's a fantastic watch on occasion. Probably the only film on this list that I would say is a must-see.
     3. Zoolander (2001)
This one might have funnier moments than "Tropic Thunder" (or at least just as funny), but overall it's too silly for me to like it anymore than I do.
     4. There's Something About Mary (1998)
This is just the Meet the Parents franchise before it was called Meet the Parents. Ben Stiller loves putting himself in incredibly uncomfortable situations; this is probably the best film that showcases that kind of comedy.
     5. Mystery Men (1999)
We're finally showcasing an actor who's in this film for more than five minutes! Stiller's character is one of the more funny and ridiculous characters in the film, but just about everyone is on their game here. If you only watched this when you were younger on its release, watch it again as an adult.

Ben Foutch -
I threw in "Happy Gilmore" because his cameo might be the funniest scene in the movie and is a memorable character.

     1. Zoolander (2001)

     2. Happy Gilmore (1996)

     3. There's Something About Mary (1998)

     4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

     5. Meet the Parents (2000)



Derek Clem -

     1. Heavyweights (1995)

The cool part is Stiller basically reprises this role in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story".
     2. Mystery Men (1999)
I love how bizarre this movie is. It feels so awkward and strange. Plus I have nice memories of seeing this in the theater with my family. For some reason it was a memorable experience.
     3. There's Something About Mary (1998)
The more I watch this movie, the more I think it's one of the best Comedy Films ever.
     4. Keeping The Faith (2000)
A Priest and a Rabbi walk into a love triangle.
     5. Highway to Hell (1991)
This is less about Stiller and more about fond nostalgic memories of watching this flick with my best pal.

Nathan Hinds -
I'm not a fan of Ben Stiller, and if this list was as genuine as it could possibly be, most of the films on here would be films where he only had a small role.

     1. Tropic Thunder (2008)

One of the best comedies in years and one of the few roles where I actually liked Stiller.
     2. There's Something About Mary (1998)
I like this movie as a whole, but I hate Ben Stiller's character. Matt Dillon's character is who I'm watching this movie for; it's pure comedy gold.
     3. Heavyweights (1995)
Staple of my childhood.
     4. Mystery Men (1999)

     5. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

Okay, honestly I don't even like this movie that much, and I don't like Ben Stiller's character in this at all; it's just not that funny. But to avoid putting films where he's barely in the movie, I stuck this on here.

Andy Schopp -
The more I looked at the movies on this list the more I realized that I had no true number-one...I could easily rank these second to fifth favorite or best or whatever, but I don't have a single movie that pops out as standing above the rest. The only way would be to include film which feature his cameos, like "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny" or "Orange County". I didn't though, so it may not be the best list ever; but it's a list and it's here so don't cry about it I guess?

     1. Zoolander (2001)

A hero that cant turn left?! Plus, "Alexander Skarsgard".
     2. Tropic Thunder (2008)
If it wasn't for the "Full Retard" joke then think this movie would have been my number-one. It's so good but that part is really dumb and boring.
     3. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
If you haven't seen it then it may not be for you, but also give it a chance because if it is for you then you will not regret catching this gem.
     4. There's Something About Mary (1998)
This is probably the first movie a lot of our generation really saw Stiller become a household name. The comedy isn't quite my type but it's a great movie that honestly stands the test of time.
     5. Mystery Men (1999)
I just want to show this movie some love whenever I can; it just isn't brought up enough!

So there we have it. Some of the best Ben Still films as selected by the members of the Slackers Selection Movie Blog. Overall, not a huge selection, but maybe more than expected. Still though, the usual suspects rose above the rest as the top vote-getters. "There's Something About Mary" was the only film represented on all five lists this week, though it still didn't receive any first-place votes. Nonetheless, this film is a staple of the Comedy genre and definitely a must-see for just about any movie fan.

"Mystery Men", a cult favorite among movie buffs from our generation, and overall, just a ridiculous movie that deserves to be seen. After that, there were three different films with three selections apiece: "Zoolander" (two first-place votes), "The Royal Tenenbaums", and "Tropic Thunder" (two first-place votes). All pretty distinctly different movies, but all have strong comedy tones to them that can be appreciated by all. One other film hit on multiple lists this week, and that was "Heavyweights" (one first-place vote), with two. Needless to say, all of the films listed in these last two paragraphs pretty easily stand out as definite staples of this actor's filmography.

But as always, we hope that each of these film selections helps you to expand your knowledge of Ben Stiller's filmography, and leads to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!