A Cafe Debate- Assertion: What is often called "funny" is actually charming, not funny.

In reaction to the Pre-Poll What is the Funniest Movie of All Time thread.

Many of the movies being offered in that thread as qualifying for the title of “Funniest” are not really all that funny in that they make you laugh out loud with the fantastic wit or the hilarious sight gags or whatever else actually makes you laugh, vs. titter or giggle or smile or applaud or just feel good all over.

I am referring to the following as examples, which I grant may have a few genuinely funny moments that will make you actually laugh out loud, but which are otherwise not so much funny as charming, clever, engaging, heartwarming, sweet, or simply very good light entertainment that keeps you smiling or grinning:

Groundhog Day
Princess Bride
Being John Malkovich
The Breakfast Club (??)

I think we need better words. Films that are clever, witty, engaging, charming, etc are called “comedy” because we don’t have a proper category name for them. It’s like that big messy category called “Romantic Comedy” - really, how many romantic comedies are genuinely funny, vs. charming, sweet, light entertainment? I’m trying to think of any… I’m sure there are some but nothing is popping into my mind.
AM I alone in being this picky about what qualifies as genuinely “funny”? Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if I am, but just in case…

Probably not.
But I classify the movies you listed as funny. There were parts in most of them that I was belly laughing.

Call me easily entertained.

I laughed loud at each of the films mentioned in the First post, except Swingers, which sucked. So I’m not convinced that the distinction insisted upon by the OP is particularly relevant.

There were laughs in each movie. They are not done primarily for laughs like a Marx Bros. flick, but even those had underlying messages in them.

I’m pretty sure I get what you mean, and it’s a fair distinction to make, but I think there’s a better way of putting it. These movies rarely go for the kill–the moment that will make you actually hurt from laughing. Instead, there’s this constant stream of mild humorousness. The Princess Bride is like that; it rarely tries to be unbelievably funny, but it is somewhat funny for its entire span. And it’s true that they often achieve this by being charming, witty, engaging, etc, but then again, these are all tools of humor, whatever the style.

It’s true, though, that many so-called “funny” movies never try to make the viewer really piss himself from laughing, the way Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex does.

I sort of agree with Stoid. Sure they may be some laughs in a romantic comedy but being funny isn’t the main point of the movie. There’s some laughs in most action movies but those aren’t primarily comedies either.

Ace Ventura, The Hangover, American Pie, Caddyshack - these are comedies

My Best Friend’s Wedding, No Strings Attached, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon - these are movies that have some jokes

The question was ‘what is the funniest movie’, not ‘what is the funniest comedy movie’.

Lot’s of people got the wrong answer. That doesn’t mean the movies they chose weren’t funny.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Being John Malkovich, but I remember it as being pretty dark and disturbing. I did think it was both clever and funny, but I certainly would not describe it as charming, heartwarming, sweet, etc.

Comedy is the proper name for these kinds of dramatic works. While I see your point that it might be useful to have different terms to distinguish between the different types of comedies, the English word “comedy” has always encompassed works that were “of a light and amusing character, with a happy conclusion to its plot” (first definition given by the OED).