100 best comedy movies: the list
The 100 best comedy movies, picked by experts from across film, TV and comedy
By Tom Huddleston, David Jenkins, Adam Lee Davies, Derek Adams, Edward Lawrenson, Wally Hammond, Ben Walters, Gabriel Tate and Phil Harrison. Explore the individual top tens of every contributor.
Dir Bruce Robinson (Paul McGann, Richard E Grant, Richard Griffiths)
‘I feel like a pig shat in my head!’
Much is made of the thin line between tragedy and comedy. And it’s fair to say that for a comedy classic, tragedy looms large in ‘Withnail and I'. Indeed, Withnail’s despairing traipse through a rain-sodden Regent’s Park ranks among the most heartbreaking closing scenes in all cinema. For such a comedown movie, though, the film positively soars, mainly thanks to once-in-a-lifetime performances from Paul McGann and Richard E Grant and an extraordinary script.
The film is at its straight-up funniest early on as, festering within a Camden flat resembling the inside of a cancerous lung, Withnail and Marwood stumble towards the end of a seemingly epic speed and booze bender. There are delirious flights of fancy, bouts of druggy nonsense (‘My thumbs have gone weird’) an abortive attempt to clean the kitchen and a cherished visit from Ralph Brown’s terrifying drug dealer Danny. Via a scary local pub, Uncle Monty’s flat and his cottage in Penrith, they end up more or less back where they started. Withnail has survived ‘a bastard behind the eyes’, Marwood has confronted a bull and Monty has threatened burglary. Anyone attempting the ‘Withnail and I’ drinking game has seriously compromised their liver function and probably missed the point of the film into the bargain. No one’s really come close to replicating the maverick, melancholy, rat-arsed resonance of ‘Withnail’ and no one ever will. It’s a complete one-off. PH
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