5 WTF Comedies in the National Film Registry
Hey, I love seeing Joe Pesci getting slammed in the kisser with a full can of paint as much as the next guy. But it was still something of a crowbar to the chest to see Home Alone among this year’s films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Movies are chosen, according to the Library of Congress, based on their “cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to preserve the nation’s film heritage.”
Cultural importance? Historic? Home Alone? All of those terms are subject to interpretation (the public gets to nominate the films, including 6,875 candidates this year), but it’s still surprising to see some of the comedies deemed fit to represent film history. Here are five comedies in the National Film Registry that, while affable enough, don’t quite seem museum-worthy…
Desperately Seeking Susan
Another of this year’s chosen films is the largely forgotten Desperately Seeking Susan, an attempt by an opportunistic studio to make Madonna a movie star. Reviews were okay, but shouldn’t a movie chosen to represent our nation’s film heritage do better than Roger Ebert’s assessment of “it has its moments”? There’s a reason why we don’t watch Madonna comedies today, the primary one being Madonna.
For the record, I’m a fan of Clerks, a movie that represented ‘90s DIY film culture at its most amusingly ragged. And it did introduce Jay and Silent Bob, characters that have endured for decades. But even Kevin Smith would admit that it’s pretty rough, with community theater acting performances and amateurish attempts at basics like lighting and sound. “The kid who made Clerks would be stunned stupid if he knew his dopey l’il ‘film’ made it into a library, let alone the Library of Congress!” Smith tweeted, demonstrating with the quotation marks around “film” that he was just as surprised as the rest of us.
More John Hughes Comedies Than You Can Shake a Stick At
Sure, John Hughes movies represent a particular point and time in pop-culture history so maybe Home Alone should be preserved as a historical document. But you know what else is in the Library of Congress? The Breakfast Club. And Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Why not Uncle Buck and Curly Sue while we’re at it? Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg with multiple movies in the Archive make sense, but maybe let’s draw the line at Weird Science.
Speaking of teen comedies, House Party is a perfectly fun diversion, a movie that inspired multiple sequels and remakes, including House Party 3 (0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and House Party 4, which no one even bothered to review. The original's cheery reviews say it all: “harmless and fun,” “a feel-good no-brainer” and “not too long.” Great for a Friday night hang at the mall back in 1990, but questionable as a historical document.
Well, it’s the noisiest comedy on this list (although Home Alone gives a run for its money). The Chicago Reader’s Dave Kehr suggests that Goonies is “a charmless exercise: director Richard Donner turns the kids into shrieking ferrets, and his jumpy cutting seems to lag behind the action deliberately in a curious attempt to make the film seem more chaotic and cluttered.”
Not everyone agrees, of course, and kids still watch Goonies today. But that feels like nostalgic parents wanting to share some Corey Feldman kitsch, not an endorsement of an all-time classic.