Funny PG Movies

Friday, April 22 by Tom Gordon

During the 1970s and 1980s, countless funny PG movies were released in theaters. It was before the PG-13 rating came into existence, so what was allowable in a PG movie wouldn't always garner that same rating today. Since that time, comedies have gotten a little raunchier and more adult, so PG-13 or R ratings are attached to most new comedies. In addition, films created for families don't necessarily require G ratings anymore, so PG movies today are often more family or youth-oriented. Still, the list of funny PG movies has classics that still hold up hilariously well and some newer entries that were just tame enough to keep the gold ol' PG label.

  1. "Young Frankenstein." Released in 1974, the same year as his much racier and decidedly R-rated "Blazing Saddles," Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" remains one of the funniest movies every made. Gene Wilder plays the great grandson of the notorious Dr. Frankenstein and winds up successfully (sort of) completed his great grandfather's experiments in regenerating dead tissue. He's aided by Igor (a demented but riotous Marty Feldman) and Inga (the sexy and funny Teri Garr). Other supporting character actors such as Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher, Kenneth Mars as Inspector Kemp, and Madeline Kahn as Frankenstein's fiance Elizabeth, are perfectly cast, as is Peter Boyle as the monster. Look for a cameo featuring Gene Hackman as a blind man who offers soup and cigars to the monster in what may be the funniest scene in the movie.
  2. "Ghostbusters." One of the biggest hits of the 80s, "Ghostbusters" features Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis as out-of-work paranormal researchers who form a business to rid buildings of ghosts. They're getting a lot of business because a portal has been opened that will soon attract deadly spirits from around the world to New York City, unless these guys can save the day. Murray's deadpan humor, Aykroyd's nerdy enthusiasm, and Ramis' weirdness blend perfectly in what remains a truly funny PG movie.
  3. "Groundhog Day." Murray again turns out the laughs in 1993's "Groundhog Day," a term that the movie's popularity has turned into a synonym for the feeling like you're living the same moment again and again. In the movie, Murray plays a self-centered TV weatherman/celebrity who reluctantly sets out to do a live shot with Punxsutawney Phil, the famed groundhog who is observed every Feb. 2 to determine if he sees his shadow. After insulting just about everyone and acting condescending to everyone else, Murray's character (also named Phil) must relive the same day over and over until he figures out how to be a decent and selfless human being. It's thought-provoking, funny and a great date movie.
  4. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The British comedy troupe take their TV act to the big screen in this 1975 cult classic. The members of Monty Python play a variety of characters, such as King Arthur, his knights and assorted villains and minor characters that Arthur and the knights meet in their quest for the Grail. From the opening scene with Arthur galloping through the countryside without a horse, but a lackey knocking two coconut shells together to sound like hooves, you know you're in for a silly, but clever ride.
  5. "Napoleon Dynamite." Jon Heder is the title star of this odd little 2004 comedy. He plays high school loser in a small Idaho town, who, even though he's surrounded by oddballs at home and bullies at school, somehow finds little things to appreciate in life. Much of the story centers around his efforts to help his new friend Pedro win the class president election over the mean and insufferable Summer Wheatley (Haylie Duff), while coping with his live-in uncle's attempts to build a time machine he saw advertised on TV. The humor is low-key and occasionally ridiculous, but if there are any teens in your house, they'll be laughing throughout this good-natured funny PG movie.
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