Saturday, July 28, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Sci-Fi Comedies

For the weekend edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we decided again to use "The Watch" as inspiration, and focus on some of the best Sci-Fi Comedies around! Science Fiction as a genre has been around for centuries, but got its modern definition during the Age of Enlightenment, Europe's 18th century movement to educate and understand the world around us. It's hard to come up with a specific definition for the genre, but since we've been able to basically define how the world works, we've further been able to play off storylines that follow similar rules of modern physics; or, more simply, tell tales of seemingly implausible but not impossible events (time travel, futuristic technology, aliens, etc.). Remember, no supernatural content though; purists don't like mixing ghosts and gods into this genre.


Since the creation of film, the two items have strong been married together. The ability for filmmakers to tell these elaborate, many times futuristic, stories and add in imagery of how they envision it has always proved an appealing route. Film's The Golden Age of science fiction took place in the 1950's, however - no coincidence that this was the same year (1951) that the first "documented" UFO sighting took place (Roswell, New Mexico). With the world's immediate fascination with extraterrestrials, the interest in the medium soared. There were more widely released science fiction movies made in the 1950's than all other previous decades combined. As modern sciences advanced, so did the genre, constantly creating for new and more imaginative stories.

Today, there are literally hundreds of sub-categories for this genre, everything from Cyber Punk and Apocalyptic to Space Westerns and even certain Horror genres. But for this list, we'll take a look at some of the comedies that have come from the genre. This definitely isn't one of the oldest in popularity, and really didn't gain much traction with audiences until the 1970's. Since then, it's been a common staple in the Sci-Fi industry, with new titles seemingly every year.

Hit the jump for a list of some of our favorites it's had to offer!

Alex Schopp -
Oddly, none of my favorite Sci-Fi Comedies feature the likes of extraterrestrials.

     1. Weird Science (1985)
Always one of my favorite John Hughes movies. Plenty to like in this film as a kid and as an adult. Also, just a great coming-of-age tale.
     2. Back to the Future (1985)
Easily one of the best sci-fi movies of all-time, regardless of the sub-category. The comedy doesn't feel as pronounced in this film as in "Weird Science", so it dips just a touch. Still a definite must-see though.
     3. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Another one that was a staple of my childhood that still holds pretty strong today. I LOVE the imagery in this film. The sets in the yard are fantastic. I've been yearning for a re-watch of this movie for the last couple of years - anybody know if they've released this on Blu-Ray yet?
     4. Multiplicity (1996)
Michael Keaton is so fantastic in this. He plays so many different comedic roles in this film, and they're all spot-on. Harold Ramis couldn't miss in the 80's and 90's!
     5. Big (1988)
Film number three on this list that's a true coming-of-age tale. I guess this genre just mixes well with that storyline. Anyway, I love Tom Hanks in this movie. This is just one of those wholesome films that everyone needs to watch; you can't help but love it.

Ben Foutch -
This list is heavily weighted by nostalgia. A few of them might be new to you, so definitely give 'em a shot.

     1. Back to the Future (1985)
I don't really think this needs an introduction.
     2. Twins (1988)
The Schwarzenegger/DeVito team-up is unbeatable.
     3. Howard the Duck (1985)
This movie is awkward on many levels. I love every second of it.
     4. Multiplicity (1996)
Michael Keaton is an incredible comedic actor. So much energy.
     5. Freaked (1993)
This is bizarre, inspired lunacy. I don't think there is anything else quite like it, which is probably for the better.

Derek Clem -
When considering the science fiction element of this list, I limited myself to extra-terrestrial/outer space science fiction to coincide with the source of our inspiration.

     1. Spaceballs (1987)
My Step-Dad is in this movie! Check him out at the 34-second mark.
     2. Galaxy Quest (1999)
I've always enjoyed the 'lowly red-shirt (Sam Rockwell) becomes a major cast member' subplot in this film.
     3. Evolution (2001)
One of those easy to turn on background types. Perfect for any mood, really. A nice soothing watch.
     4. Howard The Duck (1986)
Early childhood staple.
     5. Mars Attacks! (1996)
I love how bizarre this movie is. Interestingly odd. I don't feel normal when I watch it. I think the weird feelings come from the all-star cast doing things we never really see them do in other movies.
     Honorable Mention: The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy (2005)
I know I've tried to watch this movie many times, but I'm not actually sure if I've seen it all the way through due falling asleep. Of everything I have seen, I've loved.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Attack the Block (2011)
An absolute gem. Not many people know about it.
     2. Men In Black (1997)
One of the better oddball pairings in film history, at least in my opinion.
     3. Mars Attacks! (1996)
While its all-star cast provides plenty of jokes, there are some genuinely creepy moments as well.
     4. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
The main thing I associate with this movie is my disappointment at how Disneyworld had removed the themed area for this film when I went there on vacation.
     5. Spaceballs (1987)


Andy Schopp -
No entries this week.

So that's what we're looking at this week. Unfortunately not all writers were able to contribute this week, but there was still a fantastic selection displayed above. As always, we'll start with the "winners", but with such an extensive category this week, things really played out much differently than usual. It would have been nice to get Andy's picks on this list and see which films fell over the top, but as it sits now, we had six films tie with two selections apiece. No film earned more than two selections, which is easily a first. The films that did hit multiple times were "Multiplicity", "Mars Attacks!", "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", "Spaceballs", "Howard the Duck", and "Back to the Future". Hard to really decipher which films stand above the rest because this is such a broad selection, but these are still the six films that you can pull from the above lists and say that half of the contributing writers to this site thought were more of priorities for the genre. With such an amazing category to begin with though, you really can't go wrong with any of these.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films this massive genre has to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!