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Tue, 21 May ’13

Tragically Funny: The 5 Funniest Non-Comedy Movies

We laugh through the pain.

Pulp Fiction – Quentin Tarantino movies are often considered comedic, but only his 1994 masterpiece has sustained sequences of gut-busting hilarity. By time we get to the third story in the film, “The Bonnie Situation,” we’re ready for a good laugh. Luckily, Vincent (John Travolta) shoots Marvin (Phil LaMarr) in the face and an extended argument with Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) ensues. When they start bickering about hand-washing techniques, it’s all over.

Fargo – The Coen Bros. manage to make a real tragedy funny in their 1996 crime and morality piece, Fargo. Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), is such a sad sack we can’t help but laugh at the sheer pitifulness of the man. Add to that Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare’s horribly mismatched kidnappers-turned-murderers and Frances McDormand’s squeaky clean, pregnant sheriff and you’ve got either a terribly funny sad movie or an intensely sad comedy. Either way, you’ll never be able to look at a cherry sno-cone the same ever again.

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly – You might not expect much laughter going on in a movie that depicts the Civil War as harshly as this one does. But, when you have Eli Wallach’s loudmouth bandit Tuco (aka “The Ugly”) around, you can’t help but laugh uproariously. He’s a terrible person, but we like him in spite of ourselves.

Raging Bull – Any of Martin Scorsese’s crime movies could be on this list, but his 1980 film about the meteoric rise and fall of boxer Jake La Motta (Robert DeNiro) is full of pathos and despair, which makes the funny moments all the more humorous. DeNiro’s assertion that a piece of overcooked meat “defeats its own purpose” is a line you’ll be saying for weeks, if not months, afterward.

The Thing – John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi/horror apex has some of the most disturbing imagery and bleakest themes of any movie ever made. And yet, the characters’ reactions to them are so real that they produce a needed burst of laughter to break the ever-building tension. How else would you respond to seeing your friend’s chest cavity open up into a giant mouth, head break away, sprout legs and try to run out of the room? Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter and fire.