Who needs a blockbuster? Just because an absurd amount of people all flock to the same movie doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. There are a lot of good, even great movies that still go almost completely unnoticed to this day. Here are just a few:
Bugsy Malone (1976)
Chachi loves murder.
The first film from director Alan Parker (Evita, Mississippi Burning, Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’), this movie is a musical gangster flick with an all child cast. You heard me. Scott Baio and Jodie Foster head up the cast and Paul Williams composed the music in a movie where pinstriped suits and flapper dresses abound, and the tommy guns shoot out whipped cream. Again, you heard me. This movie is pure fun no matter what your age.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
Even in a ridiculous outfit, Goldblum finds a way.
A pre-Robocop Peter Weller plays the title role in this sci-fi comedy, with Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, and Christopher Lloyd in supporting roles. Buckaroo Banzai is a physicist, neurosurgeon, rock star, martial arts expert, and comic book hero and that’s when he’s not saving the world from evil alien Lectroids from planet 10. A very funny movie for very smart people.
Top Secret! (1984)
I love playing with balls. Eh, beach balls….and testicles.
After finding huge success with Airplane!, Jim Abrams along with Jerry and David Zucker directed this spoof of World War II Spy movies with an Elvis twist. Val Kilmer, in his first movie, plays Nick Rivers in this overlooked comedy which has all the screwball humor and sight gags that the Zucker/Abrams/Zucker team is famous for. Like Airplane!, actors known for serious dramatic works are seen being silly as all hell, including Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, and Omar Sharif (“Wait! You dropped your phony dog poo!”).
Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996)
In case you were wondering, he’s gay.
During his five year hiatus from being the executive producer of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels produced The Kids in the Hall for HBO. An all-male Canadian comedy troupe, the Kids in the Hall formed a cult-like following on television, but their only movie went unnoticed. All cast members play various male and female roles in this movie about a pharmaceutics company all too eager to release a pill that cures depression without considering its side effects.
The Paper (1994)
Do you know who you are talking to? I’m Michael Keaton.
This movie, for whatever reason, never gets any play anymore. Ron Howard directs Michael Keaton as a workaholic city editor for a fledgling New York City newspaper. The top-notch cast includes Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, and Randy Quaid. A great movie with incredible acting, The Paper received only one Oscar nomination for Randy Newman’s original song. Because apparently, Randy Newman didn’t have enough Oscar nods.
Better Off Dead (1985)
I made my own Pinhead cos play on a budget.
This comedy was big in its day, but the dawn of political correctness seemed to stifle its humor for many. John Cusack, in his first starring role, plays a nerdy teen that becomes suicidal after his girlfriend dumps him. While suicide is usually no laughing matter, the laughs in this movie are plentiful providing you’re not too easily offended. And if you can’t laugh at epically failed suicide attempts, then honestly, what can you laugh at?
Johnny Dangerously (1984)
This guy is a fargin icehole!
Another politically incorrect comedy, Johnny Dangerously is a spoof of James Cagney-era gangster flicks. Michael Keaton stars, with Marilu Henner, Joe Piscopo, Peter Boyle, Maureen Stapleton, and Danny DeVito co-starring. The script brings forth hilarious, albeit inappropriate moments, such as Piscopo’s description of his prized pistol: “It’s an .88 Magnum. It shoots through schools!”
Midnight Run (1988)
Why does Charles Grodon always look like he is sneezing?
Charles Grodin plays an accountant who embezzles mob money and then jumps bail, and Robert De Niro plays the bounty hunter who has to bring him from New York to L.A. in order to collect a big paycheck. However this task proves to be quite difficult in this action-comedy. The two travel cross-country in every manner imaginable while dodging mobsters, Federal agents, and a rival bounty hunter looking to cash in. Grodin is hilariously neurotic while De Niro is very funny as an ill-tempered, wisecracking ex-cop.
We accept all kinds here…..Well, except….you know. “Darkies.”
“Weird Al” Yankovic’s only movie crashed and burned at the box office, but this comedy eventually found a cult following. Yankovic plays a loser who inherits a UHF station that his uncle won in a poker game, and he puts on original programming that eventually clean up in the ratings. Victoria Jackson, Michael Richards, and Fran Drescher co-star. Watch this movie and you too will think opening a store called “Spatula City” might not be all that bad an idea.
This dude looks mad as hell. I wonder if he is going to take it anymore.
This Paddy Chayefsky classic was critically hailed when it was released, and it won four Oscars including a posthumous Best Actor win for Peter Finch. However, with the exception of the occasional airing on TCM this movie is hardly ever shown anymore, even though it was years ahead of its time. When a big corporation buys out a fledgling television network, it decides to make some changes in order to boost ratings. After hearing his services are no longer needed, a news anchor has a complete on-air breakdown that causes his ratings to skyrocket. William Holden, Faye Dunaway, and Robert Duvall are all at their best in this movie, but watch for the jaw-dropping performance of Ned Beatty as the corporate bigwig buying the network. His five minute appearance in the movie earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.