There’s something about the 70s that society can never let go of. Whether it’s the fashion, the music or the socio-political issues that arose at the time, there’s always intrigue. The 70s were bold at the best of times, and that can be the perfect breeding ground for comedy. Although there are plenty of comedies set in the 70s, from the 70s, hindsight allows modern films to be bigger. It allows modern films to play around with everything we love about the 70s, and the comedy can be pushed further than they would have been able to in the past. From ‘huh-huh’ to ‘crying laughing face’, below are just a few of my favourite modern comedies set in the 70s! Enjoy, and if you like what you see, why not follow us on Bloglovin – that way you’ll never miss a thing!
Modern Comedies Set in the 70s
The Nice Guys
If you read my recent post on Joni Mitchell’s album Blue, you may remember LA in the 70s being a hub for creativity and a breeding ground for the counter-culture lifestyle. Well, with that in mind, The Nice Guys was everything I hoped it would be. Neo-noir Los Angeles, two failing good-bad guys and the death of a porn star. Literally, what is missing here?
Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is as stupid as he is charming in this hardboiled comedy – think Ron Burgundy, but a little more self-aware. Drinking through his errors in judgment, March moves seamlessly from arrogant to nervous wreck through every killer line. Everything right he gets wrong, everything wrong he gets right. Even when the guy catches a break, it’s likely he’ll lose it. That’s where Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) comes in, with only one desire – to hurt people. It’s an unlikely pair – both March & Healy and Gosling & Crowe – but it is so right, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Looking forward to The Nice Guys 2 (nudge nudge wink wink producers – I’m up for another one if you are!) You can watch The Nice Guys on Netflix now in selected countries.
I loved the soundtrack so much that I created a playlist on Soundsgood, so you can listen to it on your preferred app. Or, you can scroll down the bottom of this post and listen to it through Spotify!
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
I don’t see how anyone can talk about their favourite 70s-style comedies and not mention Anchorman (2004). Judd Apatow rarely gets it wrong, with films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) and Bridesmaids (2011) under his producer-belt, he knows exactly what the audience needs, and exactly when they need it. Thanks to the comedy elite Frat Pack; Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Steve Carell (and more) the film proves how great comedy is when the cast isn’t afraid to make fun of themselves. But if you really want to lift the film, just add Paul Rudd, and it’s bound to be a killer.
Anchorman follows Ron Burgundy as he goes from San Diego’s top-rated newsman in the male-dominated broadcasting world of the 70s to a lost man trapped in a glass case of emotion. It explores one of the most prevalent issues in the 70s – gender equality – and does it perfectly.
The 90s gave us the Farrelly Brothers, and they played a big part in my love for comedy. It started early when I would sit through my sister repeatedly rewinding the ‘I like it a lot’ line in Dumb and Dumber (1994). Personally, I couldn’t get enough of the ‘Pullover’ ‘No it’s a cardigan but thanks for noticing’ scene.
Dumb and Dumber was their first film, Kingpin (1996) was their second. The Farrelly Brothers are out there, they don’t always get it right, but with Kingpin they did. Starring Woody Harrelson as an alcoholic ex-professional bowler, who decides to become the manager of a promising Amish talent, Kingpin is as ridiculous as it is funny. Also starring Bill Murray as a National Bowling Superstar with a Trump-combover, Kingpin is one of those forgotten gems, and it has a lot to answer for, for the comedy that came after it.
The last of my favourite modern comedies set in the 70s is Battle of the Sexes. Bobby Riggs was a professional American tennis player in the 1940s. In 1973, he challenged Billie Jean King, a female American tennis player, to a Battle of the Sexes. King had won the Wimbledon Ladies Final in 1967 and was in her prime. Riggs was a chauvinistic man past his sell-by date, but yet his arrogance and penchant for gambling prevailed. The film of the same name, released in 2017, is a dramatised account of the run-up to the event. It shows just how and why it became the most watched televised sports event of all time.
Steve Carell captures Bobby Riggs’ tenacity and humour perfectly. Bringing some ‘I’m only kidding, don’t get your knickers in a twist’ arrogance that only Steve Carrell could shake off at the end of it all. In the current social climate, for this film to be pulled off as a comedy, you had to be able to laugh at Bobby Riggs. And truthfully, who doesn’t find Steve Carell funny? It’s just perfect casting. Emma Stone too shines in this film. I couldn’t currently imagine any other female actress playing the feminist Billie Jean King so effortlessly. For a film that explores a real event about gender equality, it managed to strike a balance and make me laugh about it all. Definitely a must-watch, if only to scrub up on your gender equality history! The DVD for Battle of the Sexes was released in the UK on 26th March 2018.
There are many more modern films set in the 70s that I’d like to talk about, and I will soon. In terms of comedies that make you laugh hard, these are my favourites. Are there any modern comedies set in the 70s that you think I’ve missed off this list? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll make it my priority to see it! Until then, have a listen of The Nice Guys Soundtrack below, and have a great day!
You can read more of my Film & TV posts here. Until next time…