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At long last, Rick Moranis is returning to the acting world. Following a 23-year absence from film and television, the actor recently revealed that he will be starring in the Disney+ series, Shrunk, a follow-up to the 1989 family classic, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. No surprise here, but we’re all stoked to see one of the funniest actors from our childhoods come back to one of the franchises that made him a household name.
In light of the news, it got us thinking about some of the funniest and most iconic film appearances by the lovable Canadian actor. Here are 10 of Rick Moranis’ funniest movies.
10. The Flintstones (1994)
The 1990s were full of film adaptations of several iconic franchises from the golden age of television, and perhaps the most successful of those is the 1994 The Flinstones. Looking back, it's hard to believe that such a movie would make around $340 million globablly, but then again, The Flintstones was one of the biggest hits the year it was released.
With a cast that includes John Goodman as Fred Flintstone, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma Flintstone, and Rosie O’Donnell as Betty Rubble, Moranis portrays Fred Flintstone’s longtime friend Barney Rubble.
It’s not the worst movie to ever be made, but it’s definitely a barren wasteland when compared to some of Moranis’ earlier roles. Despite this, Moranis does a tremendous job of transforming himself into Fred Flintstone's best friend, to the point where you no longer see him as this actor or even think about any of previous roles. Much of the laughs come at Barney's expense, but like the dinosaurs, stone-age technology, and callbacks to the original television series, the treatment of Barney Rubble remains on brand. The movie was torn apart by critics ahead of its release, but it still made everyone involved enough money to buy a giant slab of dino ribs.
Stream it here.
9. Little Giants (1994)
By the time the mid 1990s rolled around, Rick Moranis had started to take a step back from Hollywood and the 1994 family sports comedy Little Giants would be one of his final two live-action appearances before he retired from acting entirely.
Released in the fall of 1994, this box office flop follows the story of brothers Danny (Rick Moranis) and Kevin O’Shea (Ed O’Neill) from the time they were young kids to adulthood when the two coach opposing teams in a youth football league. There aren't as many side-splitting breakout scenes like in some of the older films starring Moranis, but there's something that can be said about the actor's ability to commit to the role of a character that knows absolutely nothing about the game of football (except for how not to use a protective cup). This is highlighted by the scene where Danny challenges his older brother to a football game to decide which team will represent the town, only to say to meet him at "half court." Much of the other laughs come from the surprising supporting cast primarily made up of child actors and professional football players (and coaches) in smaller roles.
Stream it here.
8. Ghostbusters II (1989)
Rick Moranis found himself in not one, not two, but three box office smashes in 1989, Ghostbusters II being the biggest of the three.
Reprising his role of Louis Tully, Moranis didn’t have as much of a key role as he did to the plot of the first film in the franchise, but he did have several key scenes including the one where he finally gets to suit up and help out the rest of the Ghostbusters as they prepare to battle Vigo the Carpathian (Wilhen von Humburg and voiced by Max von Sydow).
The scene where Louis is seen running through the streets of New York City dressed as a Ghosbuster telling himself “Stay fit, keep sharp, make good decisions,” is comedy gold even to this day.
7. Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (1989)
While not one of his funniest movies, so to speak, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids will go down as one of the most iconic, and successful, ventures for Rick Moranis. Starring as down-on-his-luck inventor Wayne Szalinksi, Moranis creates a machine his two children and their neighbors use to accidentally shrink themselves.
Moranis spends much of the 1989 family classic searching for his miniaturized children in his lab, the house, and backyard before they eventually turn up at the film’s joyful conclusion.
Over the years, this film has become a mainstay in millions of homes (it was one of two movies my brothers and I watched at our great-grandmother’s house), and remains a fan favorite. Why else would they be bringing Moranis out of self-imposed retirement for the new Disney+ series?
6. Parenthood (1989)
Released same year as Ghostbusters II is the 1989 Ron Howard picture Parenthood starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis. Martin and Moranis — who were teaming up for the third time — portray brothers-in-law Gil Buckman (Martin) and Nathan Huffner (Moranis) as they, and the rest of the ensemble cast, struggle with the pains of parenthood.
The film was a major success at the box office, bringing in $126 million globally on a $20 million budget, and was even nominated for two Academy Awards (Dianne Wiest for Best Supporting Actress and Randy Newman for Best Song for “I Love to See You Smile.”
Parenthood also showed wider audiences that Moranis not only could act but could also sing with the best of them in a scene where Nathan serenades his wife and Gil’s sister, Susan (Harley Jane Kozak), to come back after the two have a disagreement over how many children they want to have.
5. My Blue Heaven (1990)
A year after Parenthood was released, Rick Moranis and Steve Martin would team up for the crime comedy My Blue Heaven in 1990. Just like the Martin Scorsese crime epic Goodfellas (released a month later), My Blue Heaven is based on the life of former mobster and protected witness Henry Hill (both scripts were based on the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi). Where Goodfellas takes a more dramatic and graphic approach to Hill’s story, My Blue Valentine plays the protected witness’ life for laughs.
Martin portrays Vincent “Vinnie” Antonelli (a fictionalized version of Henry Hill) as he moves to California to start a new life. Under the eye of FBI agent Barney Coopersmith (Moranis), Antonelli tries to settle in for a new life while waiting to testify against the men he used to consider close friends and business partners. What follows is the building of a close friendship between the former mobster and federal agent.
This comedy is often overshadowed by the more successful (critically and commercially) Goodfellas has become a quiet cult classic in the 30 years since its release, and should be sought out by anyone looking for a fun spin on the mobster genre.
4. Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)
Rick Moranis starred in the 1986 horror-comedy Little Shop of Horrors, where he plays a lovestruck flower shop assistant Seymour who is head over heels with his co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene). There’s only one problem, Audrey is involved with Orin (Steve Martin).
Following an eclipse, one of the store’s plants comes to life with a hunger for human flesh and blood, so Seymour does what any guy would do when he’s trying to get rid of his crush’s boyfriend, he feeds Orin to the plant, which he names Audrey II. Seymour, however, soon realizes that he will need more bodies for his hungry plant.
The relationship between Seymour and Audrey II gives us one of the most ridiculous musical numbers in “Feed Me, Seymour” where the plant tries to justify why it needs so much blood. I remember watching this movie as a kid and finding this whole scene equal parts terrifying and hilarious. To this day, I still find myself saying, “Feed me, Seymour” whenever I get hungry.
3. Spaceballs (1987)
Coming off a string of successful roles in the early to mid 1980s, Moranis found himself in playing one of his most iconic characters, Dark Helmet in the 1987 Mel Brooks classic Star Wars parody, Spaceballs.
After planet Spaceball has depleted its oxygen supply, forcing inhabitants to rely on “Perri-Air,” the planet’s leader, President Kroob comes up with a plan to kidnap Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) of the oxygen-rich Druidia in hopes of getting more air in return. To do his bidding, Kroob enlists Dark Helmet to hunt down the princess. What follows is one of the Brooks’ finest comedies, partilally due to the comedic timing of Moranis.
Like any good Mel Brooks film, Spaceballs is filled with zinger after zinger. From the “comb the desert” bit to “Careful you idiot! I said across her nose, not up it,” Moranis is at the center of most of the film’s most iconic scenes.
2. Strange Brew (1983)
Rick Moranis had already proved his comedy chops on SCTV by the time he and Dave Thomas co-wrote, co-directed, and co-starred in the 1983 oddball comedy Strange Brew, but the film about two brothers scheming to get free beer didn’t hurt his case.
Strange Brew follows brothers Bob (Rick Moranis) and Doug McKenzie (Dave Thomas) on their quest to drink as much free beer as possible. With a goal set in motion, the goofy brothers find themselves working at the Elsinore Brewery. Not long after working for the brewery and drinking free beer, the McKenzie brothers uncover Brewmeister Smith’s (Max von Sydow) plot to create a mind-controlling agent. Throughout the course of the film, the brothers find ways to thrwart the evil plot while also drinking as much beer as humanly possible.
This early showing by Moranis would lead to much bigger things later on (including Ghostbusters the following year), and showed an American audience what a comedian from north of the border could do.
1. Ghostbusters (1984)
Having a list of the funniest Rick Moranis movies without having Ghostbusters in the top spot would be a criminal offense in most countries, so we’ll do the right thing and go ahead and say that Moranis’ portrayal as Louis Tully, aka “Vinz Clortho, The Keymaster of Gozer” is the actor’s funniest role.
Ghostbusters follows a group of down-on-their-luck scientists who start a paranormal service to combat the growing presence of ghosts in New York City. Together, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) are forced to take on the evil Gozer (in the form of the Stay Puft marshmallow man) after Louis Tully (Moranis) and Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) become possessed by the forces of their apartment building.
Though early on in his career (only his third credited film role) Moranis shines as the aloof Louis Tully before and after he becomes “The Keymaster of Gozer,” and holds his own with some of the era’s most hilarious comedians. It’s just a shame Louis never got to enjoy that game of Parcheesi at his ill-fated party.
Stream Ghostbusters here.
Well, there you have you it, some of the funniest (and not funniest) movies to feature the Canadian comedy legend Rick Moranis. Do you agree with the list? Let us know in the comments below.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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