Some movies are famous for spelling everything out for the audience, and doing it two, three, or four times just to make sure you get it.  But there are plenty of witty comedies that give you so many jokes, quips, one-liners, bits of business, etc, that you'll struggling to keep up. The good thing about these movies is that there are always more gags for you to discover on repeat viewings, provided your brain is up to the task.

"The Thin Man"

Screwball comedies were the perfect showcase for rapid-fire dialog and gags, and there's no better pair of actors to deliver that kind of dialog than William Powell and Myrna Loy, starring here as the sleuthing Nick and Nora Charles. The jokes come so fast that if you're not paying close attention (or are maybe just a little bit tipsy), you'll be missing every third or fourth line. And when it comes to actually figuring out who committed the murder? Leave that to the (retired) professionals, like Nick.

"His Girl Friday"

The plot may seem like a standard romantic comedy (Rosalind Russell is going to marry a likeable, boring Ralph Bellamy and her ex-husband Cary Grant will do anything to sabotage it), but with director Howard Hawks behind the camera, it becomes a masterpiece of overlapping dialogue and lightning-fast asides. One of those asides that works particularly well in today's post-modern world goes like this: Grant is describing Bellamy's character over the phone, and he says "he looks like that fellow in the movies, you know...Ralph Bellamy!"

"Duck Soup"

The Marx Brothers are famous for their quick gags and none of their movies are as chock full of them as "Duck Soup." Unlike all the other Marx Bros. movies, it never takes time to slow down for a romantic scene or a musical number, it's just loaded with gags from beginning to end. There's even a little satire on things like patriotism and war, too, but you can be forgiven if you miss that.

"Blazing Saddles"

Mel Brooks is another comedy filmmaker who specializes in gag-loaded movies and his best is probably the audacious western spoof "Blazing Saddles," which is filled with so many movie references and inside jokes you'd have to be Leonard Maltin to get them all. Don't worry if you miss one, there's another joke quickly coming your way.

"The Naked Gun"

The comedy directing team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker are known for their fast-paced-gag-a-second comedies. And the peak of the form might well be seen in "The Naked Gun," which features Leslie Nielsen as the bungling Frank Drebin of Police Squad. Unlike previous masters the Marx Brothers or Mel Brooks, the ZAZ team fill the frame with multiple gags at once, so while a character is saying something ridiculous, something equally or more funny might be happening in the background. Unless you're 'Rain Man', you're going to need a few viewings to notice all of the jokes.

"The Hudsucker Proxy"

The Coen Brothers are masters of practically every genre, and here they tackle the screwball comedies of the 30s, which they nail with the lightning-fast tone of their characters.  In fact, one argument for why the movie was not a box office success is that 90s audiences were no longer interested in struggling to keep up with rapid-fire delivery and jokes. Their loss is your gain, though, because the movie is almost as funny as the screwballs of yore.


Disney's animated features aren't known for being really quick, but that changed when Robin Williams was cast as the Genie in "Aladdin." Williams was given free reign in the recording studio, and he brought his famously fast sensibility to the character (and the animators did an impressive job of keeping up). He packs so many characters and impressions into his portrayal of the Genie that it's a wonder that this is a kid's movie. How many kids do you know who can identify a Peter Lorre impression?