“Crime comedy” may seem like a broad, tired, oversaturated quasi-genre, and there are indeed tons of movies that loosely include both themes together – but not many movies feature genuine elements of crime and comedy; even fewer blend them together successfully. With the crime-com-leaning Tower Heist hitting theaters this week, we took a look back at the ones that got it right.
The masterpiece. Quentin Tarantino seamlessly mixed shocking violence and crime with his absurdist sense of humor. The result was a stunning mash-up that ushered in a necessarily new, mercifully fresh style of storytelling to the medium.
The Big Lebowski
Arguably the most beloved Coen brothers film, Lebowski is often remembered for The Dude and its overall stoner-friendliness, but let’s not forget that the story actually revolves around crime. The Coens wouldn’t make just a stoner comedy, or anything one-dimensional.
Also arguably the most beloved Coen brothers film, Fargo offered mainstream moviegoers their first glimpse at the duo’s trademark non-replicable “formula”: violence laced with pitch-black comedy.
Beverly Hills Cop
As we all know, Eddie Murphy – co-lead of the aforementioned Tower Heist – was once associated with edgy, R-rated comedy, never more so than with the first Beverly Hills Cop, a borderline perfect marriage of crime and comedy. Don’t hold its ‘80s-ness against it.
More or less the one that started it all, The Sting clicked on every single cylinder, racking up awards and gigantic (at the time) box office returns. In his original 1973 review, Roger Ebert explains it best: “It’s good to get a crime movie more concerned with humor and character than with blood and gore; here’s one, as we say, for the whole family.”
Wes Anderson’s feature directorial debut is an underappreciated gem of offbeat cinema (though not by Martin Scorsese, who named it one of his favorite films of the ‘90s). With virtually no budget, Bottle Rocket relied on Anderson’s formidable knack for quirky, offbeat humor—and in this case, quirky, offbeat crime.
Swept Away notwithstanding, Guy Ritchie has made a living out of crime comedy, with 2000’s Snatch possibly being his greatest contribution. Moviegoers have debated its greatness, but no one can debate the fact that it's the most energetic movie of its kind.
The subgenre lives on! Martin McDonagh’s somewhat ignored crime-com is the latest addition to this list – and proof that the mash-up can still be executed amazingly well. The director’s next movie, the superbly titled Seven Psychopaths (also starring Colin Farrell) seems destined to be even better.
Looks like Whoopi Goldberg's single again.
The Oscar-winning thespian turned "Hollywood Square" queen has split with her boyfriend of five years, actor Frank Langella, today's Daily Variety says.
The two have been an item since the mid-1990s when they met on the set of one of Goldberg's cinematic opuses: "Eddie" (the one where she plays the limo driver who -- oh, my! -- gets hired to coach basketball's New York Knicks! Hee, hee.)
Goldberg's last high-profile romance was with "Cheers" star turned "Becker" guy Ted Danson. That one hit the skids shortly after Danson's black-faced tribute to Goldberg at a Friar's Club Roast in 1993.
Though Goldberg, 50, and Langella, 60, never wed, Variety says the ex-couple intends to stay "close friends" just like real-live Hollywood husbands and wives who haul each other into divorce court.
CODA: Dennis Danell, a guitarist for the Southern California-bred punk band Social Distortion ("Ball and Chain"), died Tuesday of natural causes, the group's Time Bomb Recordings says. Some reports peg the cause of death as an aneurysm. Danell was 38. In a statement, Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness said: "I am saddened beyond any possible form of expression." The band's roots date back to 1979.
STERN TALK? Can't anybody just quit anymore? Does everybody have to talk about how they're thinking of quitting, and then talk and talk and talk about it for months, making their eventual act of quitting an anti-climax? In short: Does everybody have to be like Kathie Lee Gifford?
On the very same day the Hamlet-esque Kathie Lee finally dropped anchor on her morning talk-show gig, the equally Hamlet-esque Howard Stern told reporters that he was -- ugh -- undecided about his future on the radio.
"I have a couple months left on my contract," Stern said a press conference hyping his new FX sitcom "Son of a Beach" premiering March 14, "and I don't know what I want to do."
We hereby terminate this item until Stern decides what he wants to do.
OFF THE ROAD: It's the bus (or limo) for Eric Clapton in Britain, where the 54-year-old guitar god has been banned from driving for six months per a speeding conviction.
According to reports, Clapton was dinged by authorities for driving his Jeep at 45 mph in a 30 mph zone in October. In addition to the no-driving thing, the rocker also was ordered to pay a $569 fine.
OSCAR WATCH: "Austin Powers" star Heather Graham has been tapped to join the presenters lineup for the 72nd Annual Academy Awards on March 26 at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium.