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Bracket bonanza

We pick 64 great comedies and seed them like NCAA teams. By Mike Miller and Paige Newman
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For college basketball fans, March Madness is about to take hold. But for movie fans, when it comes to arguing about what the best comedies are, there’s always a little madness involved.

This year, we decided it was time for movie fans to get in on some of that bracket action, so we picked 64 of our favorite movies, categorized them, ranked them and argued about them for weeks.

Our approach to madness
Like a car, CLASSICS are any movie 25 years or older, the exceptions being “Caddyshack,” “The Blues Brothers” and “Animal House,” which were filed under SNL. That means something like “Diner” would be a classic in 2007.

SNL is short for “Saturday Night Live,” which includes movies with any SNL cast member, except for “Tootsie,” in which Bill Murray plays a minor role. We conveniently forgot about the 1984 cast that featured Christopher Guest and Billy Crystal. No Lorne Michaels, no SNL.

SMART comedy is the anti-slapstick, gross-out category. These may not have the laugh-out-loud jokes, but that’s because they may not appeal to everyone. If there’s a category that sparks a lot of arguments about a movie’s inclusion, this is it.

But the BROAD category should make up for it. This encompasses everything. The Farrelly Brothers, the Zuckers and the Coen Brothers all have movies in here. These movies might rely on puking, teen sex or mind-altering substances. That doesn’t mean other categories don’t have movies with those things, but this is where most of them end up.

We didn’t allow any sequels on the list, which excludes a worthy movie such as “Christmas Vacation,” but helps us simplify things. We also went with straight-up comedies. Great movies with funny lines — like “Fargo,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Midnight Run” or “Pulp Fiction” — weren’t included. And when considering seedings, we don’t have any movies with the same star facing off in the first round. For instance, “Ghostbusters” avoids “Stripes” in the first round because of Bill Murray. This was tough to do in the SNL category.

Favorites make their markWe did seem to favor movies featuring certain actors. Bill Murray leads the field with appearances in six movies, but he shared the screen in “Caddyshack,” “Tootsie” and “Rushmore.” The next highest? Chevy Chase, Cary Grant, Christopher Guest, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Ben Stiller and Gene Wilder all were in three movies, but it was John Candy (“National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Stripes,” “The Blues Brothers” and “Spaceballs”) who was second with four flicks.

Mel Brooks (“The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Spaceballs”) leads the field of directors with four films on the list. Jim Abrahams and David Zucker (“Airplane!”, “Top Secret” and “The Naked Gun”), Harold Ramis (“Caddyshack,” “Vacation” and “Groundhog Day,”) and Rob Reiner (“Spinal Tap,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “Princess Bride”) each had three movies, beating out a plethora of directors with two.

But that’s enough rambling. We had fun making this bracket and hope you have as much filling it out, re-watching the featured movies and getting into arguments with your friends and family about which movies are better or which movies we missed. If you disagree with our choices, send us an e-mail. We’ll tally the responses and add a link to the movies fans think should’ve been on the list.

But do that after you fill out the bracket. Send us your Final Four and champion. At the end of March, we’ll present which film MSNBC readers think won the Comedy Bracket.