Using women in a raunch comedy with a hard R-Rating can be a dicey proposition. Last night, I finished an article on 10 crude guy films which could have used less women. But that's only half the story. Sometimes go-for-the-jugular guy-led comedies need a little estrogen in their coffee, a little double X in their sea of XY. Whether simply used as a hilarious side character or a formidable love interest or the very woman the entire narrative spider webs from, a well-written, strong female can soften the edges to introduce a little humanity or up the sketchy protagonists with her own moral perversions and impulsive behaviors. Charlie Manson was a badass---but he had nothing on Lizzie Borden.
I like a few women with my filthy movies, provided they're actually used as more than sounding boards of course. Whether the jealous ex-girlfriend or the kinky mistress or the woman we'd all change for, these salacious, amoral films have unforgettable female characters who make their male counterparts cringe, cry, laugh, scheme and sometimes pretend not to notice the cum in their hair.
Here's ten R-Rated raunch comedies which use their women right…
It's not enough Lauren Graham can find amusement in a t-shirt saying “Shit Happens When You Party Naked”, it's that she'd let her newly adopted fat son, who may or may not have autism, leave the house in it. Even with some emotional problems of her own (given the whole St. Nick fetish), Mrs. Santa's sister is tenderly warm and compassionate here, making us believe she wants Willie to clean up his act--but without losing his absurdist outlook and gruff exterior. She, along with Thurman, are the catalysts for his growing optimism, and without her, Bad Santa would feel icy and cold.
The 40 Year-Old Virgin
From the chick whose boob falls out to Elizabeth Banks getting all hot and bothered over Andy's cool guy questions to Jane Lynch's hilarious over-sexed floor manager to Catherine Keener, especially Catherine Keener as the loveable Trish who can't get on the same page with her daughter and loves Andy in spite of his eccentricities, The 40 Year Old Virgin is a raunch comedy so confident in its off-beat hilarity it actually lets its ladies steal some of its biggest laughs and warmest smiles. Special prize to Kat Dennings here who has both a great freak-out scene and a beautiful, understated conversation about Andy's virginity.
The Blues Brothers
Perhaps the strangest of all the shady characters from Jake and Elwood's past, Carrie Fisher's jilted ex-fiancée turned assassin may be a horrible shot, but The Blues Brothers just wouldn't be the same without her. Ultimately she caves to Jake's wordy, faux-apology, he is the swarthy John Belushi after all, but it's her iconic half-smile after he shoves her in the refuse which always got me. You just know if coke hadn't of ultimately done the SNL star in, it would have been an ulcer brought on by the wannabe Leon Czolgosz's continued murderous failures.
There's Something About Mary
Maybe it's because she loves hot dogs, sausage hotdogs and beer, not light beer, but beer. Or maybe because she was too good for Brett Fav--ra. Or maybe because her laugh is so goddamn infectious. I fell in love with Cameron Diaz the first time I saw There's Something About Mary. She was, maybe still is, the perfect woman. Well, she's certainly the only one I can think of who could make a story about Ben Stiller, Chris Elliott, Matt Dillon and some douche with crutches all falling in love with her not only seem believable but almost likely. Brownie points for having a sweet golf swing as well.
National Lampoon's Vacation
Yes, Clark Griswold gets most of the quotes as the bumbling father with no qualms about dropping twenty-some f-bombs in a row, but Beverly D'Angelo's Ellen is every bit his equal as the loving matriarch who thinks maybe flying would have been a better idea. Notice how she humors Clark just enough so you can see why he loves her but still disapproves cheerfully because, well, she actually listens to his wild blovations and promises of fun. Awesome. Christie Brinkley is also memorable as a seductive woman in a hot car willing to skinny-dip, and the daughter gets in a few lovely condescending glances of amusement at the expense of her hillbilly cousins, one of which is played by 30 Rock's Jane Krakowski.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Phoebe Cates and her red bikini and Sean Penn and his smoked-out van might be the most enduring images from Fast Times, but Jennifer Jason Leigh is the reason why it's cherished as a high school raunch comedy classic. From stereo salesman Ron Johnson to ticket scalper Mike Damone, Stacy Hamilton tries to grow up all too quickly with all the wrong people until she's left alone on her bed, nervously rejected by the one guy who really did care. How did she not grow up and win multiple Oscars? And why would anyone wait this long into a paragraph about Ridgemont High to bring up Mr. Hand?
Yeah, Shannon Elizabeth might just be another tired sexpot given screen time for her figure, but it's the quietly loveable performances from Alyson Hannigan, Mena Suvari, and Natasha Lyonne which contextualize the exploits of all the horny boys and make American Pie about so much more than just a stupid wager. Jennifer Coolidge is great as Stifler's mom who knows a fine aged scotch when she sees it, and even Tara Reid is remarkably good here as the rational, honest Vicky who sleeps with the kid from Rookie Of The Year because, well, better him than some douche at college.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Though she's pretty perfect in the role of dream girl who isn't afraid to bare her boobs at a bar and accuse her love interest of having a vagina, Mila Kunis isn't even the fourth-best part of this movie. But Kristen Bell, in a clever spin on her pretty-girl Hollywood image, is hilarious as the evil ex-girlfriend who turns out to have some complaints of her own about the relationship she just ended with Jason Segel. It's not even just the sex contest scene, in which she and smarmy rocker Aldous Snow make as much noise as they can in the bedroom. It's the scene in which she tells Segel's character how difficult he made it to date him, and becomes more than just the bitch ex, but a human. That's a tough feat for any bro comedy, but Sarah Marshall only works because its lets the girls get in on the fun as well.
Though Seth and Evan spend most of the movie trying (and failing) to reach their dream girls at the party, some of the best parts of Superbad come when the girls are part of the picture, whether it's McLovin losing his virginity in the upstairs bedroom, Evan trying to do that with a wasted Becca, or Seth managing to head-butt on cool-as-a-cucumber Jules. All of the girls seem worthy of the hilarious, well-written guys we've gotten to know, and Becca gets in some of the movie's best lines as she tries to convince Evan to sleep with her: "I am gonna give you the best blow J. With my mouth." And any girl would want to be Jules, and any guy would want to be with her, when she kindly lets down poor wasted Seth and is cool about it even when he gives her a black eye. Both Becca and Jules are the kind of girls you'd be willing to see Seth and Evan end their bromance for.
Zack and Miri Make A Porno
A partnership comedy, maybe even a full ensemble comedy in its truest form, Zack and Miri see their world through the same window. They do everything together. Attend reunions, forget to pay their bills, discuss how often they've seen each other naked. And when they enlist the services of some sketchy acquaintances to raise funds, filmmaker and screenwriter Kevin Smith brings along boys and girls, letting the comedy flow organically from their interaction, rather than at the expense of one gender. Elizabeth Banks is just as important here as Seth Rogan. Katie Morgan just as necessary as Jason Mewes. And the infamous pair of granny panties just as hot as the Dutch Rudder. Work it. Work my arm. See that shit? It's called gender progress.
Check out the flipside of this coin with: Guy Power: 10 Movies That Didn't Need Girls.
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