These Hit Comedies Would Never Make It in Today's Climate
The no-holds-barred atmosphere that allowed old comedy to thrive is simply a relic of the past. While there are still comedians willing to push the line, current culture has changed the content of what people think of as acceptable entertainment.
As a result, what were considered some of the funniest comedy films ever shown in the past would never make it to theaters today. Here are some of those raunchy classics.
Blazing Saddles is a 1974 Western comedy from iconic director Mel Brooks, and many people rank the film on their lists of best comedies of all time. But Blazing Saddles has several themes, characters and lines that would be non-starters in this day and age.
The Bad News Bears
The original The Bad News Bears starring Walter Matthau was released in 1976, and if you're not already aware, social mores were a little less, let's say, progressive in 1976 than they are today. Granted, Richard Linklater and Billy Bob Thornton teamed up for a remake of The Bad News Bears in 2005, but it was decidedly tamer.
Silver Streak is a comedy classic in comic icon Gene Wilder's filmography, even though it probably wouldn't be considered socially acceptable today. He stars alongside Richard Pryor, and their reputation for foul-mouthed antics isn’t the only reason why Silver Streak would induce more than a few cringes if it hit theaters today.
Slap Shot is the story of a minor league hockey team that isn’t above resorting to rough play if that's what it takes to win a game or two. Spoiler: That is what it takes to win a game or two in the Slap Shot universe.
"Animal House may be the most revered comedy film of all time, and there's no way that it wouldn't be made today." If you find yourself thinking this, do yourself a favor and re-measure the social climate that exists today.
Steve Martin starred in the 1979 comedy The Jerk, in which he plays a white character, Navin R. Johnson, who believes that he’s Black. That’s not necessarily something that would disqualify a film from being made today...but it probably would.
Life of Brian
Life of Brian is a film out of the always-hilarious Monty Python camp. Even during the time of its release in 1979, Life of Brian courted outrage, and its reception would probably be even worse today. The plot involves a satirical take on the life of Jesus.
Woody Allen is finding it difficult to make movies; it seems that allegations he’s abused women are finally being taken seriously in Hollywood. With that said, his 1979 film Manhattan would likely have courted controversy today regardless of whether or not Allen's name was attached to it.
Leslie Nielsen put out a number of classics, and Airplane! (1980) may just be at the top of the list for comedy fans. The American Film Institute dubbed Airplane! one of the 10 greatest comedy films ever made, but would the movie even make it to theaters today?
That's right. The beloved golf-comedy classic Caddyshack would probably be too offensive to see the light of movie theaters in this day and age. Even if it had a similarly star-studded cast, several themes and scenes in Caddyshack would have viewers in a tizzy.
1981 was a different time (and those who lived it know what "different" means). The social mores were looser, humor was much more free-wheeling and movies like Porky's were considered very funny. While many audiences would certainly get a kick out of Porky's today, many others would find it offensive.
Here's a movie pitch for you: Bill Murray joins the United States Army, and hilarity ensues. Simple enough, right? Well, the concept was fairly easy to pull off when Stripes hit theaters in 1981, but the fresh realities of war and increased public awareness of war-induced trauma would make war a tough centerpiece for a comedy today.
48 Hrs. is a classic buddy cop comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, and the pairing of the gruff white guy and the loquacious, sharply dressed Black guy made for a smash hit when it was released in 1982. And while the buddy cop genre has not been shy about playing the race card (Cop Out), 48 Hrs. would not fly today.
Partners, released in 1982, is certainly not the biggest hit on this list, but it garnered a good amount of attention from audiences when it came out. The movie had a premise that would maybe fly today, depending on how the film was spun. But it was cringeworthy considering that it was supposed to be edgy for the times.
The 1982 comedy Tootsie was a massive hit and is still considered one of those iconic comedies. Starring Dustin Hoffman as a struggling actor in New York, the movie takes its quirky turn when Hoffman's character chooses to dress up as a woman to secure better roles.
If you signed up to have Jackie Gleason or Richard Pryor in your film, then you were banking on audiences throwing on their thickest skin before walking into the theater. If you signed up to have both Gleason and Pryor in your film, then your gamble was twice as big.
When Zapped! hit theaters in 1982, attitudes towards sex were a bit more lenient and much less evolved. That makes sense, considering that much of the plot of Zapped! involves teenage boys finding creative ways to get their rocks off.
Mr. Mom is like Mrs. Doubtfire, only far less funny and much more retrograde in its plot points. The film is all about a dad who...stays at home watching his kids, while the mom goes to work every day. What an absurd premise that is perfect fodder for a comedy film! Except, you know, that’s like normal dad stuff.
Sorry, Gremlins superfans. There’s a good chance that your beloved 1983 horror-comedy wouldn’t pass the studio-pitch stage today. The problem with Gremlins is one of identity: Is it a film for kids that could embrace a G or PG rating, or is it a horrorfest requiring an R rating?
Police Academy is another comedy film that some fans would put on their all-time-best lists, and yet it’s also another film that would probably not fly in today's more sensitive climate. While some cop comedies have been made in recent years, they haven’t exactly been smashing successes.
Revenge of the Nerds
These days, the word "nerd" may offend enough people to keep Revenge of the Nerds from making it to theaters. That aside, there are plenty of other reasons why this raucous 1984 comedy would probably draw out pitchfork-wielding mobs were it ever to see the light of day.
What once passed for iconic, teen-centered romantic comedy might now qualify as highly offensive, chauvinist-outrage fodder. Sixteen Candles is full of unsettling moments, particularly the implied date rape at the end of the film.
Just One of the Guys
Movies like She's the Man, Big Momma's House and Juwanna Mann might indicate that modern attitudes towards man-plays-woman and woman-plays-man characters are forgiving. But those films came out years ago at this point, and the belt on attitudes towards gender has tightened since their releases.
Michael J. Fox fans, thank your lucky stars that Teen Wolf was released in 1985. Remakes have not done the original justice, and the original could not come out today. The times they have a-changed, as Bob Dylan said they would.
Weird Science is a John Hughes film that takes his trademark teenage discovery of sexuality and ramps it up about 30 notches. The plot is so imbued with sexual themes that it probably would cross the line today and earn some accusations of promoting misogynist culture.
Crocodile Dundee came out in 1986, and you could be forgiven for mistaking it as one of Steve Irwin's (RIP) big-screen forays. But aside from the Australian protagonist and the obvious connection to crocodiles, the wholesome Steve Irwin and Crocodile Dundee have virtually nothing in common.
Soul Man would not play today. At all. You couldn't get away with the shenanigans in Soul Man at a fraternity Halloween party in this day and age, let alone use it as the premise of a multimillion-dollar comedy film. So, are you ready for this plot? You sure?
Three Men and a Baby
Three Men and a Baby embraced the genre of film where the title literally explained the plot of the whole thing. You've got three men. Then you throw in a baby. How could you not end up laughing your behind off? It's three men and a baby!
If Big is still in your rotation of feel-good films, then you certainly aren't alone. Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin — the young guy who puts the coin in the Zoltar machine and gets his wish of growing up — is an all-time performance. But could Big even be released today?
The plot of Heathers centers around a disturbed young person who hatches a plan to murder schoolmates by blowing them up. This plot would be questionable for even a serious movie considering the blight of school shootings in today's world. And it would be almost unheard of as the plot of a comedy film.