As people in the biz know, comedy is hard. That's why the top movies here are so special. They have to keep the audience engaged while tickling their funny bones for nearly two hours. Now, lets meet the candidates for the best-reviewed comedy of 2006: a crew attempting an "unfilmable" novel; a bumbling reporter from Kazakhstan; a tobacco industry p.r. man thanking people for smoking; a young girl on a road trip with her family to participate in a beauty pageant; and backstage drama set during the waning days of a radio variety show.
We all know moviemaking is hard, but when a production of an 18th century novel adaptation unravels -- and the film itself turns into a behind-the-scenes mockumentary -- the results, critics agree, are hilarious. Stephen Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer calls Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story "a sly, delirious homage," as director Michael Winterbottom has turned the tables, and lovingly so, on the craft of filmmaking itself.
Also setting viewers atwitter in 2006 was Thank You For Smoking, Jason Reitman's sly, pointed satire of Big Tobacco. "Ethics never get in the way of the jokes. Both sides of the political fence will feel royally skewered," notes Rolling Stones' Peter Travers.
Sundance favorite Little Miss Sunshine captured hearts with its sweetly morose humor, in a tale of family dysfunction, love, and beauty pageants from the first-time directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. "There is nothing inherently sunny about Little Miss Sunshine, and that's part of the fresh and clever lunacy of this deliciously dark comedy," writes USA Today's Claudia Puig.
The final film of celebrated auteur Robert Altman was the ensemble piece A Prairie Home Companion, adapted by Garrison Keillor from the radio series of the same name. With an all-star cast (including Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep as singing sisters), Companion serves as "an unabashed love letter to the way things used to be," according to Metromix's Matt Pais.
The Golden Tomato winner for the best-reviewed Comedy is ... Borat: Cultural Learning of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
In Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen stars as a reporter from the nation of Kazakhstan who pushes the buttons of real people in a documentary-style feature film that turns a sharp, and riotous, eye toward the stereotypes that exist in America today. Offensive to say the least, Borat was the biggest comic star of the year -- "uproariously funny," says Variety's Leslie Felperin. MTV's Kurt Loder calls it "gaspingly hilarious." Many more deem it the funniest movie of the year, and with an adjusted score of 83.77 and a Tomatometer of 92 percent, we call it the Golden Tomato winner for best reviewed Comedy of the year. High five!