Dissecting iTunes’ Top 10 Sales Lists: Comedy

Nick Nunziata

We live in interesting times. Information is so easy to get and long gone are the golden days of hunting down movies in physical media and grabbing certain editions before they went out of print. It wasn’t too long ago when collectors bought new releases on VHS for $79.99 brand new rather than waiting for them to endure the rental cycle and be sold for under $20.00. One of the primary ways audiences digest media now is digital and iTunes ranks very high in that world, especially for those who want to own a copy of the movie and don’t do the awful and job-killing illegal downloading of films. Since buying habits are so intriguing and since the world is so list-driven, I’ve taken it upon myself to look at iTunes all-time bestsellers in five categories and look deeper. And to suggest titles that aren’t listed here that would be better choices in an ideal world.

Monday: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Yesterday: Horror
Today: Comedy

#1 – Pitch Perfect


This movie makes perfect sense at #1 on iTunes comedy charts. Who isn’t the market for Pitch Perfect? A job well done, fun for all shapes and sizes and released at the perfect time for the digital download era. The less said about the sequel the better but this is a modern classic that all the requisite characteristics to sell tons of copies.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: Grease, This is Spinal Tap, Empire Records

#2 – Elf


This has evolved into a holiday classic and though it blows my mind that it has, it deserves its spot too. Any movie that features Ed Asner is a winner. Any film that helps springboard director Jon Favreau onto the A-list is a winner. Any film that mines Will Ferrell’s skillset to perfection is a winner.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: The Ref, Rare Exports, Gremlins

#3 – Ted


Another case of “the less said about the sequel the better”. Ted was a phenomenon. No one saw it coming. The idea of a foulmouthed stuffed animal isn’t a new one (cue Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles) but from the pop culture blender that is Seth McFarlane’s mind it all clicked. It also helped to have Mark Wahlberg in a role that didn’t focus on his scowl and biceps. It’s my belief that once the gimmick wears off so too does the value of the movie, but millions of people can’t be wrong!

Alternative Deeper Cuts: All of Me, Team America: World Police, Meatballs

#4 – The Hangover


There is a theme of “ignore the sequels” inherent in this list. This may be the most gratuitous example of such. Even considering how the concept was hammered into the ground, The Hangover is an absolute must own comedy. In the pantheon of the all-time great comedies this deserves a spot when it comes to representing its era. The perfect marriage of talent, concept, and filmmaker led to a crazy romp that has and will continue to spawn imposters. Great stuff. I’m frankly surprised it isn’t #1.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: Porky’s, Risky Business, Kingpin

#5 – Neighbors


This is a bit of a surprise. Neighbors was a hit but I didn’t really think it had saturated quite as deep as it has. Obviously there’s a sequel on the way and hopefully it’ll buck the trend we’re seeing with comedy sequels. What it does have is a great cast and some jokes that are refreshing. The picture above makes it all worthwhile.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: Animal House, Van Wilder, She’s Having a Baby

#6 – We’re the Millers


This one baffles me. The movie was a big hit and Jason Sudekis has proven to be quite a great addition to a comedy cast. I’m surprised the far better Horrible Bosses isn’t on this list. An explanation for this high ranking has to involve younger audiences because this was one of the telltales for the current generation of movie fans. Perhaps time will be kind to this one. Or it’ll fade away.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: Vacation, Road Trip, Weird Science

#7 – Bridesmaids


A classic. This is an example of how talent rises to the top. This could have very easily been a female approach to the style of The Hangover but what it ended up being was a tour de force of great jokes and startling insight into human behavior. This will be a movie handed down from mothers to daughters for generations to come.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: There’s Something About Mary, Pretty in Pink, 9 to 5

#8 – Crazy Stupid Love


Star power cannot be understated. The combination of fantastic performers married to quality content is what has allowed this movie to endure in ways few expected. It’s the definition of a broad comedy that sells it to all corners in the marketing world. It helps to see Ryan Gosling in a lighter role and Steve Carell is always gold. Emma Stone’s the secret weapon though. She’s a once in a generation talent. Great stuff.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: She’s the One, Notting Hill, So I Married an Axe Murderer

#9 – The Other Woman


This one’s the biggest surprise on the list. The Other Woman did a very sneaky two hundred million bucks at the box office and it’s hard to know which element was the main draw. Or why the film has managed to stay in the top ten two years after its release. An easy answer would be Kate Upton but Leslie Mann and Cameron Diaz are queens of the genre and the combination is tough to beat.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Miami Rhapsody, Singles

#10 – Trainwreck


The newest film on the list, Trainwreck deserves every bit of the attention it has gotten. Amy Schumer blew up and for good reason as it was her script and her performance that makes the film sing. It’s a nearly perfect modern comedy and by having Judd Apatow behind the lens everything falls into place. In fact, looking at this list of movies, Judd Apatow is directly involved with two of them but his style and legacy permeates over half of them. While it’s sad not to see a Blazing Saddles or Trading Places or Raising Arizona on this list, it makes sense. Comedy doesn’t translate as well to new generations as well as some other genres.

Alternate Deeper Cuts: The 40 Year Old Virgin, Real Genius, Sixteen Candles

Tomorrow: Drama

Nick Nunziata
Nick Nunziata created CHUD.com.