“Comedy is acting out optimism.” Robin Williams

Comedy in film has always served a purpose, especially when times are tough: The stock market crashed, consumer spending dropped, and people lost jobs. However, it was comedies like Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times,’ that got audiences laughing during the Great Depression.

In these modern times, where we are collectively handcuffed to our homes, it may seem like there’s not all that much to laugh about. But much to the delight of Roku’s shareholders and film buffs across our great land, we don’t have to leave the couch for a laugh.

Here’s a list of ten great films from the 1990’s, that should at least illicit a smile:

The Birdcage (Amazon Prime):

Robin Williams stars as the owner of a thriving Miami nightclub. Nathan Lane co-stars as his jealous partner. Calista Flockhart plays a tepid houseguest (before she became Ally McBeal). Gene Hackman is her uptight father. And Hank Azaria provides the not-so-squeaky-clean backdrop, as a half-naked housekeeper. What more could you ask for?

Kingpin (Amazon Prime):

Pete Farelly’s follow-up to Dumb and Dumber, stars Woody Harrelson as a troubled bowler. Enough said. However, when you find out his nemesis is an even more seasoned bowler than Bill Murray, grab your popcorn.

Jerry Maguire (Netflix):

Just when you thought Tom Cruise had done it all, including marry the lovely Nicole Kidman and blow up planes to the sweet sound of Kenny Roger’s voice in Top Gun, he plays a slick sports agent who learns that compassion is slighlty more important than money. Renee Zellweger is equally charming in this feel-good 1990’s romantic comedy.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Netflix):

In this wonderous film, Jim Carrey plays an animal-loving detective who inquisitively searches for a missing dolphin. The premise of the film is ridiculous, and Carrey’s on-screen antics cannot be rivaled.

Can’t Hardly Wait (Netflix):

This film epitomizes the classic Hollywood-contrived vision of 1990’s high schools. With jocks, nerds, Seth Green attempting to lose his virginity, and every walk of life gathering at one last high school party, viewers are bound to smile at the nostalgia of it all. 

The Cable Guy (Amazon Prime):

Jim Carrey plays a cable guy who offers extra television channels to an unassuming customer in Matthew Broderick. This dark comedy also features Ben Stiller before he caused outrage in There’s Something About Mary, and provides loads of twisted humor.

My Best Friend’s Wedding (Hulu):

In this Julia Robert’s classic, a woman falls in love with her best friend. Unfortunately, her best friend doesn’t know this and is about to marry the wrong woman.   Fortunately, this romantic comedy doesn’t feature Hugh Grant.

Chasing Amy (Netflix)

Starring Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, and Joey Lauren Adams in Kevin Smith’s precursor to the outrageously funny Mallrats, Chasing Amy provides a compelling perspective on the delicacy of relationships. And yes, the film features Jay and Silent Bob, and therefore some belly laughs.

Wayne’s World 2 (Netflix):

The second iteration of Wayne’s World isn’t as nearly as funny as the first. But why not laugh at a film based off a Saturday Night Live skit starring Mike Myers in something other than Austin Powers.

Groundhog Day (Netflix)

Bill Murray plays a disgruntled television weatherman, who is forced to relive the same day over, over, and over again. With his perfect match of surliness and humility, this is Murray’s most iconic film to date.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James Winston grew up in Studio City, studied Literature and Criminal Justice at UC Irvine, and after spending time in Colorado as a ski instructor and beer-drinking connoisseur, he took his act to San Francisco where he worked in technology by day, and played clubs at night as a drummer for the band Neurotrash.  James keeps moving north, and currently splits his time between Seattle, WA and Sherman Oaks, CA, working as a sales professional and budding writer.  He’s putting the final touches on a memoir confronting mental illness, and freelances for LA-based sports publications.  Go Lakers!

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