A Hodgepodge of Ben Stiller Movies on Satellite TV
When it comes to comedy in the 1990s, eventually you’re going to have to talk about Ben Stiller. As one of the most familiar faces on the silver screen, this funny man has contributed some of the most memorable slapstick characters in some of the best comedies of the past decade. While some of his work tends more towards the groan-inducing fare that you’re going to find on constant repeat at four in the morning, there are also those classics that you won’t mind watching for the twentieth time if you’re flipping channels on satellite TV and happen to come across one.
With showbiz parents and a sunny disposition, it’s no wonder that Stiller got into acting in the first place. But unlike those comedies, for which he is so well-known, he actually started out trying his hand at dramatic roles. Some of these performances were pretty throwaway, but one, as a yuppie in that 90s classic “Reality Bites,” turned out to be notable enough. Holding his own aside the greasy-haired dreamboat Ethan Hawke, Stiller managed to make his character somewhat likable, though still annoying. And in any case, in the minds of Generation X, Stiller is someone besides the awkward protagonist of “Meet the Parents” and “Something About Mary.”
As a gross-out comedy that changed the way that people did gross-out comedies, “Something About Mary” was a huge success. To this day, you’re likely to find it in heavy rotation on satellite TV, especially when it’s time to have a hilarious comedy on during the weekend. As a somewhat shy middle-aged man who is still hung up on his catastrophic prom experience, he really shines. And that’s saying a lot, considering that everyone in the cast, particularly Matt Damon, gives an absolutely hilarious performance.
But of course, if you’re thinking about watching the absolute best in Ben Stiller while parked in front of your HDTV, then you’re going to need to go with either “Meet the Parents” or “Zoolander.” Which of these films is more appealing to you is mostly a matter of taste, though generational reasoning also often comes into play. For those who remember Robert DeNiro as a tough guy or fabulous dramatic actor, it might be more exciting to watch him emasculate Ben Stiller repeatedly as the father of his bride in “Meet the Parents.” And the endless series of missteps, with Stiller as a sympathetic character still, is worth the repeat viewing alone.
But for those who are younger and spend more of their time flipping through satellite TV channels catching up with the world of fashion and celebrity gossip, there is no better pick than “Zoolander,” which has maintained its status as a cult classic for years now. Stiller plays the title character, a clueless male model being programmed to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia so that the fashion world can continue getting cheap deals on making couture. But this is only one aspect of a film that features a cameo by David Bowie, Lance Bass, and about everyone else who was relevant in the 1990s for a second. The performances by other stars, including Will Ferrell, are absolutely hilarious.
The uniting factor between these two hugely successful comedies, aside from Ben Stiller, is actually the actor Owen Wilson. And whether he’s playing the former boyfriend who the dad likes more in “Meet the Parents” or the rival male model Hansel in “Zoolander,” Wilson provides the perfect foil for the comedic stylings of Ben Stiller. Picking a film with the two together is definitely the best choice for a lazy Sunday afternoon when you just want to see a reliable comedy while watching your HDTV.
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