Movie Talk

We Elect the Funniest Movie Pope

Movie Talk

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Gene Greytak as Pope John Paul II, right, in 'Hot Shots,' 1991

Gene Greytak as Pope John Paul II, right, in 'Hot Shots,' 1991 (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

The cardinals in Vatican City are thinking, and talking, and billowing black smoke because they have yet to decipher our next real pope.

But let's face it, popes in the movies have often served as the straight man for comedic folly.

Who is film's funniest pope, you ask? Let us examine the evidence:

In "Pink Panther 2" (2009), a thief sneaks in to the slumbering pope's bedroom, removes his papal ring and replaces it with a card. Inspector Clouseau (Steve Martin) is brought straight to His Holiness' quarters to investigate. Clouseau proceeds to ask the (literally) sitting pope a litany of obvious and ludicrous questions… then puts on one of his religious frocks. To the horror His Holiness and a crowd of onlookers, including a group of shocked nuns, a pope-garbed Clouseau eventually falls off his famed balcony.
Watch for Clouseau in the Pope's clothes at 1:17-in:A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

Nothing is better than a good spoof of the papacy. And "The Pope Must Diet" (1991) is no exception. Starring Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from the "Harry Potter" series) as a pope elected by mistake, his papacy involves dealing with the Mob and attempting to thwart Vatican corruption; a tall order for a guy whose past is rather impure. Needless to say, we like this hapless pope.

Michel Piccoli played a pretty convincing and neurotic pope in the critically acclaimed 2011 comedic drama "We Have a Pope." Think "The King's Speech," but swap King George VI for Il papa and you have a film which centers around a freaked out pope and his therapist. Insight, heart and hilarity ensue.

And the white smoke billows for… the pope from "Hot Shots!" (1991), "Sister Act" (1992), "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult" (1994) and many many more. We think Gene Greytak as film's funniest pope is a pretty safe bet not only because he was the spitting image of the late Pope John Paul II, but also because of the absurd amount of times he played His Holiness. Greytak, who died in 2010, had a good run playing the Pope in 16 television and film titles. And though we're pretty sure he never uttered a single line, his prolific presence in some of the '90s' best slapstick comedies clinched our vote.

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