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The 20 Best Comedies (According to Me)



 

The top 20 anything is really difficult to create especially when it's on a subject you really enjoy. Like movies. Comedies to be specific. And what is a comedy exactly? At its most basic it's a movie that's funny and the intention is for it to be funny. I'm not talking about The Wicker Mans and The Happenings of this world that are so bad they're funny. That's a genre all its own. Maybe I'll explore that topic some other time. Right now it's about the intentional laugh riots. It's about the straight belly laughs. It's about the tear inducing, stitch in your side, share with everyone you know kind of comedies that can range from the classics to the modern day. It's the comedies that have stood the test of time or the ones destined to do the same.


It wasn't long into making my list that I realized it can't just be about which is funny, funnier and funniest. To make a list twenty movies long I knew I needed to think about more than just what made me laugh but what brought me back to day gone by. What were the comedies that made my dad and I laugh so hard we couldn't breathe? What were the comedies that perfectly balance the funny with the meaningful? Should I include the movies that are nostalgic for me? In a way this is in part a "Movies that Shaped Me" kind of list. So this is what I came up with. These are movies that make me laugh those deep belly laughs that make you plead for it to stop so you can catch your breath again. These are the comedies that make me think of my dad and almost enjoying watching him lose his shit as much as watching the movie itself.


It's also my intention to do a comparison to lists made on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. But more on that later. Right now it's about the 20 best comedies, according to me.


 

20. Tommy Boy - "I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull's ass, but I'd rather take the butcher's word for it."



This is a great example of finding the nostalgia of 90's comedy combined with the times I shared with my dad watching Chris Farley and David Spade at the peak of their powers. There's just something entertaining about a fat guy in a little coat and watching Spade and Farley sing passionately in Spanish as their dilapidated shit box hobbles down the highway.


19. Galaxy Quest - "Never give up. Never surrender."



Growing up watching Star Trek with my dad is a cherished memory of mine. I loved it because he loved it. I think in a lot of ways it nourished my love of sci-fi that is still growing to this day. Anytime there is a celebration of the genre or more specific Start Trek itself I'm immediately reminded of him. Enter Galaxy Quest. While it's very much its own thing, it is also undeniably an homage, a love letter of sorts to the Federation. It also just happens to be really funny. It's clever, self-deprecating and what I would argue is most important, it is simply well-made. The characters are each given their moment to shine and as an ensemble they are unceasingly dynamic. The best thing they did for this movie is to allow its homage to be felt but never allowing it to overshadow what they were trying to achieve. And what were they going for exactly? A story that stands on its own and Galaxy Quest absolutely nails it.


18. Coming to America - "The royal penis is clean, your Highness."



The eighties were inarguably one of the greatest decades for comedy ever. In no small part thanks to a young Eddie Murphy. I can't speak for the man now, with his current choices in roles and no desire to do standup (ugh). But his work during the 1980s speaks for itself. Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hrs. are all classics. And then there's his two standup specials, Raw and Delirious which are in a class all their own. As much as I enjoy his other 80s era movies, Coming to America is a comedy masterclass. As funny as Murphy is as the Prince of Zamunda, it's the supporting cast that elevates the overall hilarity and sincerity of a man simply seeking love for the sake of love. It's timeless in its themes and will forever make me laugh.


17. Friday - "Bye, Felisha."



Sometimes movies have a lasting cultural significance even if that movie is about being unemployed and smoking weed all day. Of course there's more to it than that but it gave a voice to an otherwise marginalized group. It also set off the careers of Ice Cube as an actor and maybe just as significant as the movie itself, it put on full display the comedic genius of Chris Tucker. Some characters just stick in the pop culture zeitgeist and Smokey pleading the importance of "Puff, puff, give" and knowing when to just sit back on a Friday afternoon and watch the day pass on by is as timeless as the character and actor himself. And did I mention it's just damn funny. Consistently and effortlessly funny from the opening cloud of smoke to the final lit joint after Smokey just promised rehab. It just works.


16. The Hangover - "Hey guys, you ready to let the dogs out?"



Here is another example of cultural significance following an otherwise silly kind of movie. This was overwhelming proof that the R rated comedy was far from being dead. It showed the comedy prowess of Bradley Cooper, showed the brilliance of Ed Helms and brought forth the powerhouse Zach Galifianakis into the limelight where he undeniably belonged. His balance of innocent ignorance while somehow being the most crass person (other than Mr. Chow) in the room is a sight to behold. The Hangover would eventually lead to its director, Todd Phillips, helming the highly disturbing but phenomenal, Joker and its upcoming sequel.


15. The 40 Year-Old Virgin - "You know, when you grab a woman’s breast...and you feel it, and...it feels like a bag of sand."



While his presence was felt from time to time earlier on, it was Judd Apatow's tale of virginity that put his name on the map. And along with him, for better or worse, came the collective explosion of careers for Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Kat Dennings, Elizabeth Banks and so many other eventual household names. It was the the beginning of the Apatow crew comedy domination from 2005 to about 2015. You either loved these people and their very specific style of storytelling and comedy or you loathed them. I for one clearly was on board from Carell's very first on-screen boner. If it wasn't for this movie, and the brilliance of Steve Carell, I don't know if my favorite comedy of all-time happens at all. But more on that later down the list.


14. Office Space - "I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be."



Office Space walked so The Office could run. Before Michael Scott declared himself "World's Best Boss" Peter was accused of having a case of the Mondays. If Waiting... gave an honest look into daily life of a restaurant server, Office Space is the quintessential 9 to 5 office job. Paul Rudd once said, "Instead of all the funny, pithy dialogue everybody is just really pissed off and tense. Marriage is like an unfunny, tense version of Everybody Loves Raymond. But it doesn't last 22 minutes, it lasts forever." Office Space is life as an office worker, pithy dialogue intact. But don't worry, it only lasts 90 minutes.


13. My Cousin Vinny - "What is a 'yute'?"



Personally this movie has taken a bit of a weird path to make it anywhere near my favorite comedies list. For the longest time, when I was young and naïve, I maintained adamantly and ignorantly that My Cousin Vinny was not only unfunny but made only for the old people in the room. Truth was I never even used to give it a chance. I had seen it only in bits and pieces as I left the room because my dad turned the movie on and I had no interest in watching it. I don't know why. Today I have seen it in its entirety no less than twenty times and it is as funny and timeless as ever. Some movies don't age well. My Cousin Vinny, as well as the alluring Marisa Tomei, continue to age like a fine wine.


12. Spaceballs - "I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate."



I would argue that any list of the best comedies that doesn't include at least one Mel Brooks classic isn't much of a list at all. It's practically a given that if you love comedy movies you love the maestro of parody and subversive storytelling, Mel Brooks. It takes a talented person to take something as beloved as Star Wars and not just make fun of it but do so in a way that respects the content of which it's poking fun of and the fans that love it. In fact it's often said, if you love Star Wars, you'll love Spaceballs. While that's certainly true, I maintain that Spaceballs is just funny regardless of any other kinds of fandom. Period.


11. Planes, Trains and Automobiles - "Those aren't pillows!"



"Written and directed by John Hughes." Automatic gold. This is the first on my list that really delves into the idea that comedies don't always have to be funny for them to be worthy of being called "one of the best." The car catching on fire - hilarious. Del and Neal spooning - hysterical. "Four fucking wheels and a seat!" - iconic. Del laying it out for Neal about who he really is - Poignant. Finding out Del's wife has been dead for eight years - heartbreaking. Del inviting Neal for Thanksgiving, likely for the rest of their lives - triumphant. It can't go unmentioned, the talents of John Candy are immeasurable and unforgettable.


10. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! - "I've finally found someone I can love - a good, clean love... without utensils."



There are few things in this world as funny as Leslie Nielsen delivering his lines absolutely deadpan in a sea of absurdity. He is a detective tasked with preventing the assassination of Queen Elizabeth II. It makes no sense. But its genius is not letting such things get in the way of doing the most ridiculous things creators David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams can possibly come up with in that moment. The best part? There's three movies and a short-lived television series putting Nielsen's talents on full display. It's spoof comedy at its finest. You know that phrase, "They don't make 'em like they used to." The Naked Gun is proof. Although next year will see the debut of Liam Neeson as Frank Debin Jr. in an all new installment of the franchise. All I can say about that is - hope for the best, prepare for the worst.



9. Dumb and Dumber - "No, it's a cardigan but thanks for noticing."



Who would have ever guessed that a movie that has the word dumb in it, not once, but twice, would stand the test of time as one of the best comedies of all-time? Written and directed by the Farrelly Brothers, they have delivered a mixed bag throughout their careers. But when they are on their game, few do it as well and as absurdly funny as they do. Despite their best efforts I would suspect, Dumb and Dumber just may be their magnum opus. Of the two leads, one has a bowl cut and the other has an attack of diarrhea to last the ages. By any measure it shouldn't work. Not only does it work, it's funnier than ever featuring two protagonists so dim-witted you can't help but root for them. And maybe pity them just a little bit.


8. Top Secret! - "Nick, I've tried everything: the embassy, the German government, the consulate. I even talked to the U.N. ambassador. It's no use, I just can't bring my wife to orgasm."



Leslie Nielsen was a comedic genius. There's no denying it. It could be argued that Mel Brooks is the parody king. And I'm inclined to agree. But in the realm of parody, spoof comedy, no other movie makes me laugh harder or more consistently than the Zucker Brothers' Top Secret! From the creators of The Naked Gun, Top Secret! is, in my opinion, their most underrated, criminally lesser-known gem that for those that have seen it, know how incredibly priceless it really is. Val Kilmer plays a rock star swallowed up by a resistance plot in East Germany to rescue an imprisoned scientist and that's the most grounded part of the entire movie. It is absurdly dumb but somehow creatively clever. If you appreciate this kind of humor, Top Secret! will have you barreled over with tears running down your face. For those seeking the kind of comedy that doesn't concern itself with nuance or an attempt at being dramatic, just pure hilarity, this one's for you.


7. Christmas Vacation - "Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?! "



Of all the amazing films on this list, this may be the one I’ve seen most. It is the yearly holiday tradition to watch Clark Griswold lose his ever-loving mind trying to force Christmas and all its merriness down his entire family’s throats. Whether they want to or not. Mostly not. From oversized Christmas trees to violent squirrel attacks, this holiday “vacation” is one long nightmare ending only how the Griswolds could end it, with a kidnapping. It’s hilarious, relatable and timeless. It’s arguably better than the original and features an endless supply of amazing lines to quote and reminisce over. This is the one to bond over with hot chocolate and laugh or two.


6. Austin Powers - "I don't kiss and tell. I shag and brag, baby! "



This entire franchise feels as if it’s built off of the premise that “farts are funny, let’s run with it for ninety-minutes.” And to answer your question if farts are in fact funny - yes they are. Hilarious even. Imagine a man with British teeth (You know exactly what the fuck I mean! Don’t play dumb.) that is somehow perceived as the sexiest man in the room. Now give that man a gun, a license to kill and let him thrive in a world full of puns and sequences so ridiculous it almost forces you to laugh if for no other reason than pure helplessness. Helpless because to resist laughing at this movie is an impossibility in my book; as poorly written as it may be. Prepare for Alotta Fagina and other ridiculousness. Only Mike Myers could do such a thing.


5. Blazing Saddles - "You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons. "



The true genius of Mel Brooks lies in his ability to create comedy that tows the line of being within good taste and outright crass. He finds the line, and almost as if he’s challenged by its very existence, he oftentimes blurs the line making us all question if we should be laughing all the while we’re already hysterically cackling. To say Mel Brooks creates spoof comedy isn’t wrong but to leave it at that is to bottle his genius and to ignore just what he’s really capable of creating. Imagine taking the idea of racism and mocking it and not only that but making it clever and unfortunately having it end up as its most timeless theme. Blazing Saddles is irreverent comedy at its most controversial and for those that removed the stick from their ass long ago, it’s positively riotous.


4. Caddyshack - "Thank you very little. "



Harold Ramis is synonymous with the 70s and 80s. With casts to write for that often included Bill Murray, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Chevy Chase and John Belushi (to name a few), Ramis concocted some of the most memorable movies of the last fifty years. He is, in some form or another, responsible for classics such as Ghostbusters, Animal House, Stripes and of course Caddyshack. If Apatow was the voice of the mid 2000s, Ramis set the example thirty years earlier. Caddyshack is classic 80s humor that still holds up today. The cast is iconic and the story is hilarious. What more can you ask for? Don’t be greedy. Okay I’ll also throw in Rodney (freaking) Dangerfield just for good measure. Boom!


3. The Nice Guys - "Fucking Chet. "



When I think of dialogue writers I think of a specific few. By dialogue writers I mean those that write scripts and excel at creating crisp, detailed and thriving character dialogue. Quentin Tarantino, Aaron Sorkin, Kevin Smith, The Coen Brothers to name a few. Another though who is often overlooked is Shane Black. Over the years he has been responsible for writing Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and Last Action Hero. But his two best are without question Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. The dialogue in both films are hysterically fast and whip smart. 


But it’s The Nice Guys that excels because of two men delivering those lines - Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. Two unexpected but amazing things happened when they were cast. They share a natural chemistry that is phenomenal to watch and secondly, they are both individually and together, absolute laugh riots. Combine their prowess with Black’s world-class writing and you get what is in my opinion one of the best comedies of the last twenty years. I can’t get enough of this movie making it a must-watch every single year. If ever there was a movie that demanded a sequel it is The Nice Guys. Special mention must also be given to Angourie Rice who plays Holly, Gosling’s daughter in the movie. She is just as hilarious and goes toe to toe with both Crowe and Gosling. She exudes confidence and skill well beyond her years and if this movie is any indication she has a bright future ahead of her.


2. Airplane! - "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. "



What can I say about this comedy classic that hasn’t already been spoken of ad nauseam? It is the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams at the top of their respective games. The casting is perfect, featuring one of the greatest turns in the entire comedy genre by none other than Leslie Nielsen. Robert Hays as the reluctant hero is hilariously inept and Robert Stack, the voice of my nightmares, is surprisingly as funny as everyone in this movie, and that is saying something. Lloyd Bridges is comedy royalty and is always amazing to watch.


Peter Graves, Julie Hagerty and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just to extend even further how and why this is one of the best to ever do it. It is one of the comedies for which countless others have modeled themselves after in hopes of capturing even a sliver of its brilliance. Whatever has come since in the form of an homage or outright ripoff will never reach the heights of such comedy brilliance. Though it is important to strive for the mountain top.


1. Superbad - "What? You're just gonna let me sit here and eat dessert alone like I'm Steven fucking Glandsberg? "



This is where personal experience and generational comedy melds into one exceptional comedy powerhouse. From a standpoint everyone might be able to understand, the idea of being horny and in high school is in retrospect completely absurd and to be removed from it as an outsider looking in, it is relatably comical. Two unpopular kids hoping to score at a highschool party is as timeless as stories of adolescence come and has been recreated time and time again. 


So if it’s been done before, what makes Superbad so special? 


It is the brazenness of it combined with career making performances from Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone and Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka freaking McLovin himself! The characters were created by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg for which these characters are based on. And this is ultimately why it’s my favorite, the characters are based on attributes shared by actual human beings; specifically myself and my best friend, Phil. So many of the characteristics and mannerisms and excessive cursing makes it feels as if these characters were created in our image.


I see us in these characters not just as individuals but as a friendship sharing the precarious nature of being a teenage boy with hormones so out of whack it’s borderline bipolar disorder. The stupid bullshit that leaves your mouth knowing it’s not even the tip of the iceberg of your inappropriate thoughts. You want to hump everything that moves all the while entering the era of your life where self-examination really starts to come into play. This makes for a concoction of absurdity and perversion followed by terrifying introspection that leaves your head as a teen perpetually spinning. And Superbad covers this all in the most honest, brutally perverted and hilarious fashion that of course screams funny but perhaps most importantly, it is spilling over with relatability. Perhaps most surprisingly is the immense amount of heart it possesses. You just have to look for it beneath the inordinate number of dick and fart jokes. I am McLovin!


 

That’s it. That’s all she… I wrote. Please feel free to tell me how wrong I am and how you’re right and your opinion is somehow fact and yada yada yada. Again, these are just my thoughts on what’s funny in the world of celluloid. Don’t let it ruin your day because of your ridiculous need to always be right. But you’re not going to let some nobody on the internet tell you what to do are you? Because you are you and you are… important? If you say so, pal. Anyway, I’m done with this nonsense. For now.


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