Sandler's Eleven: The Greatest Comedy Supergroups


This week "Grown Ups 2" lands in theaters with a resounding thud, attempting to squeeze further blood out of the turnip of former "Saturday Night Live" bad boys Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and David Spade with an assist by Kevin James. The first "Grown Ups" capitalized on this pairing (plus Rob Schneider), but since both films got a 10% or less on Rotten Tomatoes it's fair to say audiences weren't drawn in by the promise of stellar quality (but audiences were most certainly drawn in).

Comedy movies built on multiple-power-players as their biggest draw are rarer than you think, but when the stars align (literally) it's often more a novelty or spectator sport than the grand summation of talents. Sometimes it works, though, so here are five of the greatest round ups of funny people ever collected for your amusement. You could argue for something like "The Royal Tenenbaums" or "The Player" but films of that ilk wouldn't really belong because, as auspicious as those casts were, it was the unifying visions of Wes Anderson and Robert Altman, respectively, that dominate their perception. Oh, and this is comedy, so no moaning about how "The Expendables" or "Poseidon Adventure" were neglected.

'Ocean's Eleven' (both versions)


The Roster: (1960) Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, Angie Dickinson, Cesar Romero, Shirley MacLaine, George Raft and Red Skelton.

(2001) George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Andy García, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Topher Grace, Joshua Jackson, Angie Dickinson, Wayne Newton and Siegfried & Roy.

The idea of gathering together the entire Rat Pack for a Las Vegas heist caper sounded like pure gold, yet the resulting "Ocean's 11" is more a curious relic than a rollicking good time at the movies. When George Clooney took over the role of eponymous Danny Ocean he captured that same sense of '60s swagger with a little more in the way of comedy chops than Sinatra possessed. That said, it's hard to imagine that Clooney, Pitt and Damon are out carousing in strip clubs at all hours the way Frank, Dino and Sammy used to, and that real friendship chemistry is pretty unbeatable. Now here's the real question: When is Hollywood gonna remake that other western Rat Pack opus "Sergeants 3"?

'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' (1963)

Its a Mad Mad World 1083_013275.jpg

The Roster: Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Jimmy Durante, Peter Falk, Jack Benny, Buster Keaton, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, The Three Stooges and The Shirelles.

There may never be another film as packed to the gills with genius comedy talent as this mega-production about a cavalcade of wacky folk all after $350,000 buried under a big "W." Sure, "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" and Steven Spielberg's "1941" are fully-loaded with amazing talent on a madcap quest, but the roster of comedians assembled by director Stanley Kramer literally buckled the whole borscht belt. Throw in a few silent comedians, some "hot young talent" like Carl Reiner, and a few tunes by The Shirelles and you've got the recipe for… well, cinematic anarchy.

'California Suite' (1978)


The Roster: Maggie Smith, Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, Walter Matthau, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Elaine May and Michael Caine.

In the '60s and '70s Neil Simon was cranking out classic plays, TV and movie scripts at a rate that even Aaron Sorkin at his crack-addiction-peak couldn't match. After his triumph with "The Goodbye Girl" he attracted a Murderer's Row of names to appear in a tonal follow-up to his 1971 farce "Plaza Suite," this time a group of disparate character converge on a Los Angeles hotel hailing from London, Chicago, New York and Philadephia. Just to see Cosby and Pryor as a pair of doctors is unreal, but Simon's wit is always on display: "I'm out of cigarettes. I can't be expected to give up my daughter and cigarettes in the same day."

"Everyone Says I Love You" (1996)


The Roster: Woody Allen, Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, Goldie Hawn, Edward Norton, Natalie Portman, Alan Alda, Tim Roth, Billy Crudup and Itzhak Perlman (as himself).

Woody Allen's steadfast "one movie a year" policy means there will be hits and there will be misses, but sometimes his misses do great at the box office ("Small Time Crooks") while gems like "Everyone Says I Love You" are ignored. For this musical based on classic songs by Cole Porter and the like, the Wood Man specifically selected actors who did not sing in order to create a more amateurish ambiance. It results in some utterly charming moments (Ed Norton! Who knew?) and some folks you hope never release a solo album (Natalie Portman is truly "through with love"), but it maintains that 1930's screwball musical feel.

'This is the End' (2013)


The Roster: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, Jason Segel and Paul Rudd.

"THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELLS YOU!" "Is the power of Christ compelling me? Is that what's happening?" Man oh man, does Seth Rogen know how to throw a party. A longtime passion project of Rogen and co-writer/co-director Evan Goldberg, they managed to round up every senior member of the Judd Apatow contingent for a no holds barred post apocalyptic throwdown where movie star vanity and LA superficiality are mocked at every turn. When the Biblical rapture actually happens, leaving Franco, Hill et al (playing themselves) stranded on a scorched Earth fighting for their lives, it makes for some very entertaining self-parody. Put a Channing Tatum cameo as a cherry on top and you've got "The Avengers" of dick joke movies.