Case Number 25964: Small Claims Court

BEST OF WARNER BROTHERS: 20-FILM COMEDY COLLECTION

A Night At The Opera
Warner Bros. // 1935 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Stage Door
Warner Bros. // 1937 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Bringing Up Baby
Warner Bros. // 1938 // 102 Minutes // Not Rated
The Philadelphia Story
Warner Bros. // 1940 // 112 Minutes // Not Rated
Arsenic And Old Lace
Warner Bros. // 1944 // 118 Minutes // Not Rated
The Long, Long Trailer
Warner Bros. // 1954 // 96 Minutes // Not Rated
The Great Race
Warner Bros. // 1965 // 160 Minutes // Not Rated
Blazing Saddles
Warner Bros. // 1974 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
The In-Laws
Warner Bros. // 1979 // 103 Minutes // Rated PG
Caddyshack
Warner Bros. // 1980 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
National Lampoon's Vacation
Warner Bros. // 1983 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Risky Business
Warner Bros. // 1983 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
The Goonies
Warner Bros. // 1985 // 114 Minutes // Rated PG
Spies Like Us
Warner Bros. // 1985 // 102 Minutes // Rated PG
Beetlejuice
Warner Bros. // 1988 // 92 Minutes // Rated PG
Grumpy Old Men
Warner Bros. // 1993 // 104 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Warner Bros. // 1994 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Analyze This
Warner Bros. // 1999 // 104 Minutes // Rated R
Wedding Crashers
Warner Bros. // 2005 // 128 Minutes // Rated R
The Hangover
Warner Bros. // 2009 // 100 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 14th, 2013

The Charge

Laughter is the best medicine.

The Case

Attempting to condense a definitive comedy collection -- even across just one single movie studio -- is a daunting task. How do you choose from so many great films? What is funny to one person may not be funny to another. Warner Brothers has recently been releasing 20 movie collections featuring some of the biggest hits in various genres, including romance, thrillers, award winners, and now comedy. With Best of Warner Brothers: 20 Film Comedy Collection fans are bombarded with en entire 24 hour laugh-a-thon featuring the greatest Warner comedies. Surprisingly, Best of Warner Brothers: 20 Film Comedy Collection gets it right more often than it gets it wrong. The set is split up between two ten-disc collections spanning over seventy years: 1935-1982 and 1983-2009.

Starting with the first collection, fans begin with three 1930s comedies: 1935's A Night at the Opera, 1937's Stage Door, and 1938's Bringing Up Baby. For my money, there is no better Marx Brothers film than 1935's A Night at the Opera, running neck in neck with Duck Soup; it's a truly side splitting comedy that sports Groucho Marx at his finest, throwing out zingers left and right ("Was that a high C, or a vitamin D?") and generally making a mockery of high class opera. Even after almost eighty years, the Marx Brothers still have the power to feel as fresh as they did when the film was first released. Stage Door is the first of three Katherine Hepburn films included on this set, an amusing (albeit slightly creaky) comedy about the goings-on with several actresses. As usual, Hepburn is a joy to watch even if Stage Door doesn't come close to offering up one the actress's finest performances. The film also features comedy legend Lucille Ball, dancer Ginger Rogers, and Ann Miller, so you could do a whole lot worse. Even better is the inclusion of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant's wonderfully batty Bringing Up Baby, a superb screwball comedy directed by His Girl Friday's Howard Hawks. Bringing Up Baby is a personal favorite, a zany film where both Grant and Cary get to really flex their comedic muscles amidst a tight, nutty script and expertly tight editing. If the 1930s were going to go out with a bang, Bringing Up Baby was a very smart choice.

The '40s are represented by the George Cukor's 1940 classic The Philadelphia Story and 1944's Arsenic and Old Lace, two more Cary Grant films that have gone on to become comedy classics. Personally, I've never warmed to The Philadelphia Story; I've seen the film twice and while I think it's cute and certainly a worthy inclusion, it's not tops on my list. Everyone does a fine job (including James Stewart and Katherine Hepburn) and the whole production (based off the play of the same name) is a class act all the way. The fan base tells me I may be in the minority about The Philadelphia Story, so take my humble opinion with a grain of salt. More to my tastes is the darkly delicious Arsenic and Old Lace (also based on a stage play), another Cary Grant feature film that includes wonderfully spry performances by Josephine Hull and Jean Adiar as adorable yet morally questionable geriatric aunts, as well as Grant giving a frantic, furiously comedic performance. It's a shame they couldn't get horror star Boris Karloff to play a role which is...essentially Boris Karloff. At least bug eyed Peter Lorre is along for the ride as a creepy sidekick. This one is one of the best films in the set.

1950s, 1960s, and 1970s fans get 1954's The Long, Long Trailer, 1965's The Great Race, 1974's Blazing Saddles, and 1979's The In-Laws. I just recently sat through The Long, Long Trailer and found it to be amusing insomuch as then married Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez are fun to watch as they buy a giant RV-like trailer and live out of it, but I can't for the life of me understand why it's been included in this set. I don't think anyone finds it to be an "indispensable" comedy classic; surly there were others movies from the 1950s that Warner could have selected in its place? Director Blake Edwards' The Great Race is yet another questionable title in this set. Although The Great Race has its moments (especially Jack Lemmon's moustache twirling nemesis Professor Fate), it's hardly what I'd classify as a cinematic classic. The Great Race is jam packed with famous faces (including Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, as well as reuniting Jack Lemmon with his Some Like it Hot co-star Tony Curtis), but the film is just too broad in its overused slapstick to make for a truly great comedy. Although Blazing Saddles isn't my favorite Mel Brooks film (that spot is reserved for the under appreciated gem History of the World Part 1), Brooks' silly ode to westerns certainly earns its place in this set. Heck, the scene where a bunch of cowboys fart around a campfire would have won it a place even if the rest of the movie had been abysmal. Luckily it isn't, and with a roster of stars like Gene Wilder, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Clevon Little, and Harvey Korman (plus Brooks), you really can't go wrong. Finishing out the 1970s is the cult classic The In-Laws starring Peter Falk and the unflappable Alan Arkin as soon-to-be father-in-laws, one of which is a mild mannered dentist (Arkin) while the other (Falk) a possible loon in businessman's clothing. The real fun of the movie is watching Arkin's deadpan humor bounce off Falk's manic energy. While I prefer the remake starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks (disclosure: I prefer anything that features Brooks), The In-Laws is fast paced fun.

Apparently the 1980s were a huge moment for the Warner Brothers studio because that specific decade is represented most frequently on this set. Included are no less than six films from the '80s: 1980's Caddyshack, 1983's National Lampoon's Vacation, 1983's Risky Business, 1985's The Goonies and Spies Like Us, and 1988's Beetlejuice. With the exception of one film, I agree with each of these selections. There may never be a better movie about golf than Harold Ramis' snobs vs. slobs flick Caddyshack. The cast is about as perfect as you can get: Chevy Chase, Bill Murray (in one of his best remembered roles), Rodney Dangerfield, and the gone-before-his-time Ted Knight are all exceptionally memorable in this oft-quoted comedy (this is also where the first DVD set ends). Equally as great is Chevy Chase in the family road trip film National Lampoon's Vacation (also directed by Ramis), which finds Chase and Beverly D'Angelo trying to make it to Wally World (the film's version of Disney World) with their two kids in a station wagon while battling cantankerous aunts (the wily Imogene Coca), trailer park cousins (Randy Quaid), and one mean puppy dog. If you have ever gone on a family vacation -- and who hasn't? -- National Lampoon's Vacation is a must own. One of Tom Curise's early hits, Risky Business, is a film that I've never found very funny. Although the plot is rife with potential, especially for the time -- kids home alone, call girls, Porches -- it's just not a great movie even with Tom Cruise dancing around his living room in his skivvies singing along to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll." Richard Donner's The Goonies is a bona fide nostalgia classic especially among those in their thirties, a movie that still retains a great sense of zest and adventure nearly thirty years after the fact (and how can you not love a film starring the late, great Anne Ramsey and a swashbuckling mongoloid in a Superman shirt and rainbow suspenders?). That same year also gave us Chevy Chase (again!) and fellow Saturday Night Live alum Dan Aykroyd in John Landis' ode to the old Bob Hope & Bing Crosby road movies, Spies Like Us. The film's reputation has grown over the years, and it's every bit as fun and funny as you remember it to be (with a great cameo by the legendary Bob Hope). Chase and Aykroyd have a natural chemistry and the verbal zingers come fast and furious. Rounding out the 1980s is kooky director Tim Burton's breakout hit Beetlejuice, a supernatural comedy that gives Michael Keaton his best role to date as the "bio-exorcist" known as Beetlejuice. The world of Beetlejuice is like a mix of Salvador Dali and Rube Goldberg (but with a playful sense of macabre humor). With Alec Baldwin, Catherine O'Hare, and Geena Davis along for the ride, Beetlejuice is one of the wildest and most original films on this set.

Three films from the 1990s are featured on this set: 1993's Grumpy Old Men, 1994's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and 1999's Analyze This. Grumpy Old Men reunites The Odd Couple's Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as feisty, feuding, crotchety neighbors who fall for the same woman (a stunning Ann-Margaret). While the story for Grumpy Old Men is rather thin and sitcom-y, Lemmon and Matthau are, as always, a pure joy to watch. Then things go south with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, with Jim Carrey playing...well, a pet detective (duh). This is, without a doubt, the absolute worst film on this set. I know there are those out there who adore the movie that introduced rubber-faced comedian Jim Carrey to the masses. I, on the other hand, would rather gouge my eyes out with a hot poker than sit through this (or its equally terrible sequel, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) again. Sorry, but watching Jim Carrey talk out his ass just don't do it for me. Around the same time HBO's The Sopranos came on the air, the Robert DeNiro/Billy Crystal mob boss-in-therapy comedy Analyze This came along, DeNiro shows that he's just as adept at comedy as he is drama, and Billy Crystal plays yet another variation on his yammering, wisecracking persona (and to his credit, it's funny). Just make sure to skip the lamentable sequel, Analyze That.

Finishing things off are two films from last decade: 2005's Wedding Crashers and 2009's monster smash hit, The Hangover. Of the two, the best is Wedding Crashers, which truly mines Vince Vaughn's speedy, manic delivery to great effect. Vaughn and co-star Owen Wilson have excellent chemistry together, playing two guys who really know how to party (and at someone else's expense, no less). Although Wedding Crashers eventually settles in for a conventional love story, there are a lot of laughs to be had here care of Vaughn and Wilson, as well as Christopher Walken and Isla Fisher. The set ends with a bang with The Hangover, one of the most successful comedies ever made. Does it warrant the inclusion? Yes and no. While The Hangover has moments of genuine genius, it also has a lot of dead space and characters that make it hard to love. Breakout star Zack Galifianakis is uniquely wonderful as the emotionally stunted Alan and Ed Helms is good as the woman-whipped Stu (Bradley Cooper is mostly just eye candy). Hey, at the very least it's heads and shoulders above the 2010 and 2013 sequels.

Because all of these discs have been reviewed previously on our site, I will refer you to those reviews for the video and audio specs, as well as supplemental information. I will note that while most all of these DVD transfers look good, it's a shame that Warner has included the terrible pan and scan versions of Spies Like Us, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Grumpy Old Men. Note to Warner: the majority of us don't own full frame TVs anymore, so it's time to phase out your 1.33:1 transfer masters.

At around $3-$4 a disc (depending on where you find it), Best of Warner Brothers: 20 Film Comedy Collection is worth the purchase for those who don't own any (or the majority) of these films. While there are a few duds in the group (most notably, Risky Business and Ace Venture: Pet Detective), you also get A Night at the Opera, Bringing Up Baby, Caddyshack, and Wedding Crashers all in one package, which is a great deal.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Laugh it up, fuzzball.

Review content copyright © 2013 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, A Night At The Opera
Judgment: 97

Perp Profile, A Night At The Opera
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1935
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, A Night At The Opera
* Commentary
* Featurette
* Vintage Shorts
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Stage Door
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Stage Door
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1937
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Stage Door
* Musical Short
* Radio Show
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Bringing Up Baby
Judgment: 96

Perp Profile, Bringing Up Baby
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 1938
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Bringing Up Baby
* Commentary
* Trailers

Scales of Justice, The Philadelphia Story
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile, The Philadelphia Story
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 1940
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Philadelphia Story
* Commentary
* Trailers

Scales of Justice, Arsenic And Old Lace
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile, Arsenic And Old Lace
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 1944
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Arsenic And Old Lace
* None

Scales of Justice, The Long, Long Trailer
Judgment: 82

Perp Profile, The Long, Long Trailer
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1954
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Long, Long Trailer
* Short Film
* Vintage Cartoon
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, The Great Race
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, The Great Race
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 160 Minutes
Release Year: 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Great Race
* Featurette
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Blazing Saddles
Judgment: 92

Perp Profile, Blazing Saddles
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Blazing Saddles
* Commentary
* Featurettes
* Unaired Pilot
* Deleted Scenes
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, The In-Laws
Judgment: 89

Perp Profile, The In-Laws
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, The In-Laws
* Commentary
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Caddyshack
Judgment: 98

Perp Profile, Caddyshack
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Caddyshack
* Featurette
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, National Lampoon's Vacation
Judgment: 99

Perp Profile, National Lampoon's Vacation
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, National Lampoon's Vacation
* Introduction
* Commentary
* Featurette
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Risky Business
Judgment: 74

Perp Profile, Risky Business
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Risky Business
* Commentary
* Screen Tests
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, The Goonies
Judgment: 99

Perp Profile, The Goonies
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 114 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, The Goonies
* Commentary
* Outtakes
* Featurette
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Spies Like Us
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile, Spies Like Us
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, Spies Like Us
* None

Scales of Justice, Beetlejuice
Judgment: 96

Perp Profile, Beetlejuice
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, Beetlejuice
* Isolated Score
* TV Episodes
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Grumpy Old Men
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile, Grumpy Old Men
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Grumpy Old Men
* Production Notes
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Judgment: 58

Perp Profile, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
* Commentary
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Analyze This
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Analyze This
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Analyze This
* Commentaries
* Gag Reel

Scales of Justice, Wedding Crashers
Judgment: 92

Perp Profile, Wedding Crashers
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* Spanish

Running Time: 128 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Wedding Crashers
* Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, The Hangover
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile, The Hangover
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* Spanish

Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Hangover
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb: A Night at the Opera
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0026778/combined

* IMDb: Stage Door
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0029604/combined

* IMDb: Bringing Up Baby
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0029947/combined

* IMDb: The Philadelphia Story
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0032904/combined

* IMDb: Arsenic and Old Lace
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0036613/combined

* IMDb: The Long, Long Trailer
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0047191/combined

* IMDb: The Great Race
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0059243/combined

* IMDb: Blazing Saddles
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0071230/combined

* IMDb: The In-Laws
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0079336/combined

* IMDb: Caddyshack
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0080487/combined

* IMDb: Vacation
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0085995/combined

* IMDb: Risky Business
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0086200/combined

* IMDb: The Goonies
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0089218/combined

* IMDb: Spies Like Us
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0090056/combined

* IMDb: Beetlejuice
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0094721/combined

* IMDb: Grumpy Old Men
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0107050/combined

* IMDb: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0109040/combined

* IMDb: Analyze This
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0122933/combined

* IMDb: Wedding Crashers
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0396269/combined

* IMDb: The Hangover
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1119646/combined