Freebie and the Bean (1974)
Story: Two San Francisco cops (Freebie’s the rule breaker, Bean’s by the book) break a lot of rules and destroy half the city in their pursuit of a crime boss.
Crimes against political correctness: Alan Arkin plays a Mexican-American, and he’s not the one named “Freebie.” Valerie Harper gets to play Mexican-American, too. And atop of every Mexican racial slur in the book, the movie lets homophobic slurs fly and gives us a villain who’s inexplicably a cross-dresser. It’s jaw-dropping.
Why it should get a reprieve: For better or worse, it’s the prototype of the modern buddy-cop comedy, and James Caan and Arkin make a charming and psychotic pair. Plus, it packs in a truly dangerous car chase where you can feel the stuntmen being crippled, and Caan’s unhinged Freebie makes Dirty Harry look like Andy Griffith. —Roy Ivy
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Story: In an attempt to displace the denizens of Rock Ridge to build a new railroad, the evil Heddy Lamar hires a new town sheriff. He’s named Bart. And he’s black.
Crimes against political correctness: Unapologetic and frequent use of the “N” word, Native American and German stereotypes, horse punching, gay jokes, white male patriarchy with flatulence, and slurs against everybody imaginable, including Methodists.
Why it should get a reprieve: If you find Blazing Saddles racist, you weren’t paying attention. This movie is a balls-out assault on racism and American culture, and it’s got more fangs than farts. Few people can get away with using racist jokes as a weapon against racism, and Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor are in that small club. —Roy Ivy
Animal House (1978)
Story: Snobs try to throw the slobby Delta fraternity off campus. Delta fights back.
Crimes against political correctness: Racism! (“mind if we dance with your dates?”), potential date rape chased with statutory rape (“I’m only 13”), objectification of women, horse murder.
Why it should get a reprieve: Besides the stellar cast and wistful portrayal of college in the early ‘60s, Animal House earns its canonization due to: John Belushi smashing a folky’s guitar; John Belushi’s battle speech; every scene with John Belushi; Elmer Bernstein’s score; Harold Ramis’ script; Neidermeyer; “Food fight!”; the Deathmobile; inspiring “Homer Goes to College”; Donald Sutherland’s ass. Oh, it’s lost a lot of magic over the last 38 years, and you can blame it for all of life’s toga parties, stupid “College” T-shirts, and dents on your forehead from crushing beer cans. But, like Belushi, you can’t help but love it, even when it burps and spits eggs in your face. —Roy Ivy
Story: When food poisoning takes down the crew of Flight 209, it’s up to a shaky ex-fighter pilot, Ted Striker, to save the day.
Crimes against political correctness: African-American stereotypes (jive talking), African stereotypes (basketball in the jungle), the effete comic relief of Johnny, insensitivity towards alcoholism/PTSD/drug abuse, child endangerment, child molestation jokes, objectification of women, violence against women, religious intolerance, balloon fellatio.
Why it should get a reprieve: There’s no message. There are no ill intentions. Just a nonstop tsunami of laughs and quotable quotes that never lets up if you just give in. Much like your grandfather, Airplane! is raunchy, but lovably old-fashioned. If you want to beat up on Airplane!, you might as well ban Mad magazine and prosecute the corpses of Ernie Kovacs and Milton Berle. —Roy Ivy
Story: Nerdy Barney (Scott Baio) develops telekinetic powers in a lab incident, and he uses them to get back at bullies and get laid.
Crimes against political correctness: Non-stop objectification of high school girls (sure, they’re all played by 30-year-olds), gender and racial stereotypes, statutory rape by a guidance counselor, animal abuse (getting rats stoned).
Why it should get a reprieve: As telekinetic stoner comedies go, this one’s better than most Cheech and Chong affairs. It’s a kids movie at heart (I sure loved it when I was seven) that shows you what it’s like to be horn-dogged by the cast of Charles in Charge. It’s Carrie with a boner that’s been lubed with Flubber, and you gotta give it credit for that. And I’ll take the scene when a stoned Scatman Crothers goes biking with Albert Einstein over Neil Patrick Harris on a unicorn any day. —Roy Ivy