This week I decided to piggy back off my number one choice from last week, The Godfather and began thinking of the great ensemble casts that have graced the screen. This lead me to a list that was far too long and the decision to break it down into genres. Even completing that task proved arduous. So listed below you will find a list that I somehow painfully whittled down to ten. There are many that deserved to be here but the top ten will provide viewers with a wealth of classic performances and laughs.
What could possibly go wrong at an innocent bachelor party? Well in director Peter Berg's feature debut he lays it all out and the results are both comical and horrific. The cast features John Favreau, Cameron Diaz, Christian Slater (in his best role), Daniel Stern, and Jeremy Piven. Every cast member is spot on in their roles and the friendship between the male leads feels truly authentic. Christian Slater plays the sleazy friend that your significant other can't stand with such gusto and aplomb. Cameron Diaz is also a surprise in this actually showing some talent as the bitchy demanding bride to be. This one divides a lot of viewers but it truly is a hidden gem of a movie and ensemble acting.
9. Clue (1985)
What a great but highly forgotten movie. It also is the best board game adaptation, but that's another list and another time. This is a situation where great comedic actors were put together with no egos and a perfectly written script and the results are hilarious. Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, Leslie Ann Warren, Colleen Camp, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, and last but not least Tim Curry in yet another one of his signature roles. You can feel the kinetic energy throughout the movie and the comedic timing of all involved is something sorely missed from most of today's comedic releases. Razor sharp, fast, and funny and unfortunately scheduled for a highly unneeded remake.
This selection is the oldest on the list but by all means still rings true to this day. Stanley Kubrick's nuclear satire is one for the ages, as is the cast. The great Peter Sellers is joined by a who's who of the time including George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, James Earl Jones, Slim Pickens, and Keenan Wynn. From the start you know you are in for something different and even when watched now the movie is still relevant. This is one of Kubrick's best and also a great introduction to Kubrick's works if you are starting out.
This choice is more representative of all Mel Brooks films. This list could have easily included the bulk of his directorial offerings. In the end though Blazing Saddles has the best ensemble of the lot. A satire of westerns and anything else that might offend. Easily one of the most quotable movies out there due to both the script and how easily the top notch cast pulled off the risquÃ© dialogue with a wink and a nod. Led by the great Gene Wilder who is joined by Cleavon Little, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickens, Alex Karras, and Mel Brooks himself. Truly a product of the time it would be near impossible to pull of something like this in this day and time.
The perfect 80's movie with a perfect cast of up and comers who, for the most part, all went on to highly successful careers (sorry Judge Reinhold it just wasn't in the cards for you). Cameron Crowe adapted his book of the same name perfectly and director Amy Heckerling brought a fresh feel to the genre but the cast is really where the movie excels. Sean Penn as Spicoli is a revelation and legendary character, the aforementioned Judge Reinhold is prefect as Brad who just can't catch a break, Jennifer Jason Leigh is amazing as Brad's younger sister Stacy who is trying to navigate high school and learns all the trappings the hard way, and who could ever forget Phoebe Cates as Linda and her pool scene for the ages. Throw in Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage (billed as Nicolas Coppola here), Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, and Ray Walston as every high schooler's worst nightmare Mr. Hand. Still laugh out loud funny and a great snapshot of young actor's growing into the stars they are today.
So many great character's in this one! Director Richard Linklater is known for his large cast of characters in his films but with this one he got every casting choice right and even the small roles shine through. Taking place on the last day of school in 1976 the story follows the exploits of a group of upcoming seniors and the upcoming freshmen that they torment throughout the day and into the night. Much like the aforementioned Fast Times this one is a showcase of young up and coming talent and they all embody there characters to the fullest making the viewer feel like it is the 70's all over again. Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Shawn Andrews, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Sasha Jensen, Ben Affleck, and Matthew McConaughey who is priceless in a role that has followed him his entire career. It's great to see that this movie continues to grow in popularity year after year.
Even though John Belushi steals the show in this one it is still the large and talented cast that make this raucous college comedy one of the all time greats. Joining Belushi for the ride are Kevin Bacon, Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Mark Metcalf, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, John Vernon, and Donald Sutherland in a role that was out of his norm at the time. It's easy to view this movie today and overlook the casting but without these actor's the movie just wouldn't have the same feel. Every time I watch this one it astounds me how perfect the cast is in in delivering one of the all time classic comedies.
Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, and Rick Moranis (Please return to acting Mr. Moranis). If you were a kid of the 80's there is a good chance you had career aspirations of being a Ghostbuster. The brainchild of Mr. Aykroyd this 80's classic brought together two of the top comedic actors of the time and surrounded them with pure gold to create a cast that will always live on in the minds of many. With Murray's role having originally been written for John Belushi it was no small feat for Murray to step in and make the role his own. Everyone is stellar on this one and hopefully they will all return for the third if it ever gets off the ground.
Much like Mel Brooks the Coen Brothers could have had multiple films on the list as well. This selection though is by far the best cast they have ever had. Jeff Bridges is The Dude, John Goodman has his best role of his career as Walter and Steve Buscemi is perfect as Donny. Throw in John Turturro as The Jesus, Julianne Moore as Maude and Tara Reid in probably her most true-to-life role. That still leaves greats including Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Flea, and Peter Stormare. This movie is so loved and adored by fans the world over and for good reason. It's a blast from start to finish and even after 100's of viewings it never gets old. It could have easily been number one but it gets edged out slightly by???
the number one ensemble cast in a comedy...
The rowdy golf comedy to start all rowdy golf comedies (are there that many of them?). Perfectly cast and played to perfection by all. Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, a then unproven Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael O'Keefe, Cindy Morgan, and Brian Doyle-Murray. It's a blast seeing Chase in his prime along with Dangerfield who was new to movies yet you can't tell by the performance. Ted Knight's performance is also a classic to remember and sadly seems forgotten when compared to others. Bill Murray works wonders with limited screen time and has some of the best lines of his career in this one. His brother, Brian Doyle-Murray is also great as the head of the caddyshack and without him we wouldn't be discussing this movie ( the idea came from his experiences as a caddy when he was young). And lastly who could forget the mischievousness of the resident gopher, an idol to all golf course rodents and pests worldwide.
So, there it is the top 10 ensemble casts for the comedy genre. I know I had to leave off a ton of selections, so let me know what you would choose as your personal top 10.
Brad Slaton aka Night Of The Ranting Brad is a Cinemit contributor and member. Brad also writes for best-horror-movies.com and runs The Picking Brains Podcast. Like on Facebook