Legal Research and Writing:  Ted Tjaden

 


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Law-Related Movies Comedies

 

Movies - Home Page
"A to Z" List of Law-Related Movies
Movies Organized by Substantive Law Subject
Comedies
Court Martial Movies
Courtroom Dramas
Documentaries
Inspirational Lawyer Movies
Prison-Related Movies
Top 10


All of Me (1984). Starring Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin. A rich but sick millionaire (played by Lily Tomlin) decides to have her soul transferred into the body of a younger women but by mistake her soul ends up in the body of Steve Martin, who plays a lawyer whose body is now partly controlled by Lily Tomlin's character. A very funny movie. Read Roger Ebert's review (3.5 stars).

The Castle (1997). Starring Michael Caton. An extremely hilarious Australian comedy dealing with, of all things, expropriation (hence the title, which stems from the saying "A man's home is his castle"). Some hilarious courtroom scenes. Laugh-out-loud funny. See Roger Ebert's review (3 out of 4 stars).

Defending Your Life (1991). Starring Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep. Only marginally law-related, this comedy is the story of Daniel Miller who, after being killed in a car accident, must "defend" his life before a tribunal in Judgment City, a sort of waiting room for the afterlife. Read Roger Ebert's review (3.5 out of 4 stars).

First Monday in October (1981). Starring Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh. A reader of SLAW noticed my list of law-related movies had initially omitted this movie (which I have not yet seen), which stars Jill Clayburgh playing the first female judge on the United States Supreme Court (which, coincidentally, was the same year that Sandra Day O'Connor sat as the first female judge on that Court). According to descriptions, Walter Matthau plays the curmudgeonly Liberal judge on the Court when supposed comedic friction ensues between the two of them. Read Janet Maslin's largely unfavourable 1981 review in The New York Times.

A Fish Called Wanda (1998). Starring John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Eric Idle and Jamie Lee Curtis. A hilarious movie in which John Cleese plays a barrister who gets tangled up with a group of bungling diamond thieves. Extremely funny. Only marginally law related but the funny scenes with Cleese getting caught dancing in the buff are worth it. Read Roger Ebert's review (4 out of 4 stars).

The Fortune Cookie (1966): It has been years since I saw this movie, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Walter Matthau as an ambulance-chasing lawyer who convinces his brother-in-law, played by Jack Lemmon, a cameraman injured by a football player during a game, to pretend to be injured. Read the original New York Times movie review by Vincent Canby here.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003). In one of the lesser-known or less popular Coen Brothers' film, George Clooney plays a famous and wealthy divorce lawyer who gets entangled on the other side of divorce proceedings with a wealthy socialite played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Read Roger Ebert's 2.5 star review here.

Jury Duty (1995). Okay. I seriously debated whether to include a Pauly Shore movie and may regret its inclusion. However, the cast includes Stanley Tucci. The story, if it matters, is the comedic notion - stretched for 86 minutes - that the Pauly Shore character realizes it is in his interest as a jury member on a criminal trial to stretch the duration of the trial to continue to earn his "per diem" stipend. Janet Maslin's original New York Times review pretty much somes it up with this comment: "If you have odd socks that need matching, you've got something better to do than watching Jury Duty."

Legally Blonde (2001). Starring Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson. A fairly light comedy about a sorority girl (played by Witherspoon) who applies to Harvard Law School in order to "show up" her ex-boyfriend, also accepted at Harvard. She soon discovers her pre-law skills serve her well in defending a client charged with murder. Some fairly preposterous court scenes, but this is a comedy after all, not a documentary. Good for a few laughs if you are willing to ignore rules of evidence and civil procedure. Read the original New York Times review here.

Liar, Liar (1997). Starring Jim Carrey. A young boys wish that his father not be able to lie for 24 hours comes true but haunts his father (played by Carrey), a lawyer whose court appearances require him to "bend the truth" on behalf of his client. Some fairly funny courtroom scenes involving Carrey. Read Roger Ebert's review (3 out of 4 stars).

Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972). Starring Paul Newman, directed by John Huston. A humorous movie in which Newman plays an unlikely symbol of justice in the Old West as Judge Roy Bean whose judicial decision-making is often based on "six shooter" justice. Read the original New York Times review here.

Logorama (2009). Winner of the 2009 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. A brilliant take on American society and consumerism with a Quentin Tarentinoesque take of two Los Angeles police officers (in the form of Bibendum, the Michelin Man) who track a foul-mouthed, gun-toting Ronald McDonald who has taken Big Boy hostage. Included for its clever use of the trademark parody defense (see my SLAW.ca post here on this movie and its implications for trademark parody). Read a short review here from Wired.com.

My Cousin Vinny (1992). Starring Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei (and Fred Gwynne as the Judge). A funny courtroom drama in which a bumbling and newly-called New York lawyer (played by Pesci) is asked by his nephew and his nephew's friend to save them from wrongful murder charges in a "redneck" Alabama court system. Lots of good laughs as the Pesci character brings his "northern" street smarts to the South. Read Roger Ebert's review (2.5 out of 4 stars).

Other People's Money (1991). Directed by Norman Jewison and starring Danny DeVito as a corporate raider and Gregory Peck as the patriarch of the company targeted by Danny DeVito. Penelope Ann Miller plays a lawyer, the daughter of the wife of Gregory Peck, who tangles with Danny DeVito's character regarding ownership and survival of the company. See Roger Ebert's 3.5 star review here.

Trial and Error (1997). A fairly silly comedy in which Michael Richards, who plays an actor, agrees to step in and "act" in place of his friend, a lawyer played by Jeff Daniels, who is sick/hungover and cannot appear in court. Hilarity ensues since, as can be imagined, the Michael Richards character of course knows nothing of trial procedure or the law. Roger Ebert's 3 star review is here.

Two Weeks' Notice (2002). A fairly silly romantic comedy / drama in which Sandra Bullock, as a Harvard law-trained lawyer and environmental protester ends up working as in-house counsel for a real estate developer played by Hugh Grant who hires Bullock's character on the promise to not demolish several local landmarks. Hugh Grant turns out to be a difficult boss causing Bullock to quit, giving her "two weeks' notice" after which time Hugh Grant's character only realizes how important she was in his life. Roger Ebert gave the film a generous 3 star review.

The War of the Roses (1989). Starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito as the lawyer. Filmed in Toronto, the movie producers rented law books from the Bora Laskin Law Library to use in the scenes in the lawyer's office. The movie purportedly is a fictional story based on the life of Martha Stewart's messy divorce. Funny scenes throughout. Read Roger Ebert's review (3 out of 4 stars).

Win Win (2011). Starring Paul Giamatti as small-town lawyer Mike Flaherty, a volunteer high school wrestling coach whose practice is struggling. Although arguably following outside the scope of my definition of law-related movies, the story and acting are fresh and presents the struggles of a solo practitioner while avoiding stereotypes of lawyers (for the most part). There is a law-related ethical dilemma the character is forced to face as he grapples with family duties and mentoring a young student wrestler. Great supporting performances by Amy Ryan as his wife, and by Jeffrey Tambor and Bobby Cannavale as his friends. Read Roger Ebert's 3-star review here.

 

Last updated: February 2017    |    Legal / Terms of Use    |    Ted Tjaden 2010-2017

  Cover of 4th edition of Legal Research and Writing
                (Irwin Law)

Legal Research and Writing:
4th Edition

by Ted Tjaden

Softcover 512 pgs.
Published: January 2016
ISBNs:
Paperback: 978-1-55221-414-5
e-book: 978-1-55221-415-2

Purchase here

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