Top 20 Favourite Comedies
Spoof comedy is taken for granted these days. The once-brilliant parody genre has been sullied by cheap imitators, with the likes of Epic Movie and Disaster Movie degrading the formula. Which is why it's always nice to revisit Airplane! and see how great a genuinely clever spoof movie can be. I've watched this movie more times than I can count, yet I still sob with laughter whenever I watch clips on YouTube. The sly visual gags, the side-splitting one-liners, the hilarious non-sequiturs, the spot-on ensemble... Everything adds up. It's my favourite comedy ever.
A Fish Called Wanda was written by John Cleese at the height of his comedic prowess. That alone is adequate justification to give this movie a shot. His screenplay is utter brilliance, peppered with insanely quotable dialogue and some uproarious set-pieces. And its translation from page to screen is equally ideal - on top of Charles Crichton's taut, focused direction, there's a perfect cast in place. Kevin Kline won an Oscar here, and for good reason: he's comedy dynamite. Jamie Lee Curtis is equally impressive, while Monty Python veterans Cleese and Michael Palin score tonnes of laughs. I love this movie. It's funny and flat-out fun. There is not a single flaw.
No Christmas Eve is complete until I watch this '80s comedy gem. Out of the Vacation series, this is easily my favourite. It's a perfect storm of elements, from John Hughes' script to the massive ensemble which brings tonnes of laughs. One funny scene leads into another funny scene, and you never get bored. Before you know it, it's over, and you're sitting there with a big grin on your face. I watch it once a year and nothing more, which keeps its novelty value in check.
The movie which brought Edgar Wright into the mainstream spotlight, Shaun of the Dead remains every bit as funny, energetic and creative as it was so many years ago - it has lost none of its spunk or verve. The brilliance of this movie is that it manages to be both an uproarious ride, as well as a genuine zombie movie. The zombies still kill people (albeit in funny ways), and Wright and co-writer Simon Pegg do some creative things with the narrative. I love this movie.
Are you sick and tired of the recent glut of strictly by-the-numbers, saccharine-coated Christmas movies? If so, then praise the skies for Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa; a no-holds-barred misanthropic black comedy that casually takes every cherished cliché of Christmas movies, tears them to shreds and takes a piss on the remains. Crude, vulgar, crass and frequently side-splittingly hilarious, Bad Santa is a kick in the teeth to every exhibition of seasonal greetings. The one binding characteristic of virtually all Christmas films (from It's a Wonderful Life to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation) is that a character learns an important lesson, but in Bad Santa this is reduced to a child learning to kick bullies in the balls when he's being picked on. How's that for Christmas spirit? To an extent this is a one-joke film, but it's a rip-cracking one at that.
Team America is dumb, but I cannot deny that it works. It's crass, vulgar, over-the-top, stupid and ridiculous, but I laugh until I cry every time I watch it. Hilarious from the first frame and with momentum only rarely relenting, it stands as one of the finest creations of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It's literally a gold mine of side-splitting quotes (and sounds, with a hilariously offensive Middle-Eastern chant destined to be repeated ad nauseum) incorporated within a framework of satire, violence and amusing stupidity.
Three decades on, 1984's Ghostbusters is still as hilarious, spooky and marvellous as ever, a real hoot of a horror-comedy engineered by a host of talented moviemakers. Directed by Ivan Reitman (Stripes) and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, it's a grandiose spectacle of comedy and special effects, enhanced by a pitch-perfect selection of actors and sharp dialogue. Ghostbusters was a box office smash upon release, grossing almost $300 million worldwide from its $30 million budget, and it still feels fresh and original in 2015. With its spot-on tone, absurd plot devices, hysterical one-liners, gut-busting physical humour and over-the-top performances, it's no wonder that movie-goers keep calling on Ghostbusters for superb entertainment.
Borat is lightning in a bottle. It will never be topped or bettered for what it is. It's a perfect storm of actors, random bystander reactions, uproarious non-sequiturs and wonderful improvisation. I've watched it more times than I can count, yet each time I'm reduced to tears of laughing, struggling to recover. Sacha Baron Cohen tried to replicate the success with Bruno, but it just wasn't the same. If you like crass, politically incorrect humour, Borat is for you.
The first, and arguably the best feature to be inspired by characters born on Saturday Night Live, The Blues Brothers is one hell of a fun motion picture. Essentially, it is the Lawrence of Arabia of movies adapted from Saturday Night Live sketches - an epic yet intimate adventure infused with a wonderful blend of broad comedy and sly, understand wit. It more or less consists of one-third blues music, one-third character-based comedy, and one-third car chases. Yet, The Blues Brothers does not feel like a careless patchwork - it feels like an epic, flavoursome '80s action-adventure bound to erupt from the chaotic lives of the titular brothers. All these years on, the film retains a tremendous nostalgia kick, thanks predominantly to the easy rapport between Ackroyd and Belushi, a healthy smattering of witty humour, plenty of enjoyable car chases, and some iconic musical sequences.
The guys behind The Naked Gun were also involved in creating Airplane! and Top Secret!... I have no idea how they have managed to hit home runs on more than one occasion. Goodness. The Naked Gun was also spawned by the short-running TV show Police Squad, which is also freaking hilarious. Now, this movie? Yeah, it rules. Leslie Nielsen is the bomb and the script is lightning in a bottle.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles represented a unique and unpredictable cinematic undertaking for prolific filmmaker John Hughes. After all, prior to this 1987 feature, Hughes was renowned for his contributions to the '80s teen movie genre. Unlike other filmmakers who made teen flicks, Hughes opted to eschew cheap exploitation and sex in order to focus on character interaction and relationship building. Moreover, Hughes demonstrated that he had a talent for mixing the comedic with the poignant. Thus, after creating such teen movies as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, making the leap to adult-oriented cinema with Planes, Trains & Automobiles was a huge risk, but it paid off. Easily on par with Hughes' earlier efforts, Planes, Trains & Automobiles is of a rare breed of comedy; it's humorous and affecting, and there's a genuine heart amidst all of the hysterics. It's difficult to imagine the film having any detractors since it's simply impossible to dislike.
It's always hard to decide which is better between Holy Grail and Life of Brian... Let's just call them tied right now. Both are hilarious, but they are different movies despite being under the same franchise umbrella. Holy Grail is a downright laugh riot, and it manages to poke fun at its low-budget origins without coming off as forced or cheap. The actors all have a massive ball, and the scenarios are enormously creative. The dialogue and one-liners can be quoted endlessly.
Life of Brian fucking rules as well. The religious satire remains as potent and sharp as it was back when it was first released, and the movie is given an extra punch with the freedom of an R rating.
Anchorman is iconic. It's not high-brow or even excessively witty, but goddamn it's funny as hell. Before comedies became hugely bloated with undisciplined scenes of improv (looking at you, Talladega Nights), they were taut and refined like this. And with a spot-on cast in place, this movie is unfailingly entertaining and endlessly quotable. It's a cult phenomenon that I can watch over and over again.
One of my favourite Australian motion pictures ever, Kenny holds a special place in my heart. When I saw it at the cinema, I was by myself amid a massive crowd of people, and I was laughing from start to end.
I cannot speak for how well this movie will play for international viewers, but as an Aussie, The Castle is a fucking classic. It encapsulates the essence of Australian living, on top of nailing that dry, sardonic sense of humour that we're accustomed to down under, and it presents a recognisable portrait of many characters that populate this country. The movie has a dizzying reputation, and it actually manages to live up to it no matter your expectations. Sweet and hugely funny, this is one I'll always cherish.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is precisely as advertised. Playing out with a length that's equal to three episodes of the popular television show, this feature-length expansion allows the proverbial South Park characters the latitude to let their mouths run rampant without profanities being censored. See, unlike other cartoon shows such as the Rugrats which were adapted for full-length features, South Park legitimately needed a big-screen treatment free of the restraints of television. Fortunately, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut manages to retain the charm of the show. The animation style is identical, the characters retain their normal cadence, and the story is appropriately goofy, vulgar and lacking in both class and tact - all traits which made the show such a hit. Sure, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut cannot be given a high star rating due to any kind of artistic merit, but films this non-stop hilarious and witty are few and far between.
Over the years, Chris Morris has established himself as the enfant terrible of radio and television in Britain. Following a period of announcing the fake deaths of leading politicians and celebrities on radio, he went on to create the satirical television programs The Day Today and Brass Eye. Since the end of Brass Eye, Morris kept comparatively quiet for a few years. That is, until he opted to co-write and direct 2010's Four Lions; his first feature film. In essence, Four Lions is a terrorism comedy and a sharp, pitch-black satire with the balls of films like Network and Dr. Strangelove. Adjectives like 'edgy', 'audacious', 'provocative' and 'shocking' immediately leap to mind. Additionally, this is a balloon-sized laugh riot from beginning to end - one of the funniest motion pictures in years. Yet, those who are accustomed to Morris' proverbial wit may be surprised to find that the filmmaker also added plenty of heart to complement the belly-laughs.
Back before the Farrelly Brothers forgot how to make a funny movie, there was There's Something About Mary. A popular cult item, it still manages to be funny and entertaining all these years on, and has a certain sweetness that doesn't come off as perfunctory.
Ted is the feature film debut of writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane, who's best known for his hit television show Family Guy. It's hardly surprising, then, that the film bears a notable resemblance to long-running cartoon series, as MacFarlane retained his proclivity for toilet humour, non-sequiturs, one-liners, obscure movie references and pop culture shout-outs. Luckily, Ted is also sharper and wittier than most recent Family Guy episodes, resulting in a comedy that's, for lack of better word, fucking hilarious. Furthermore, the film is based around an inventive central premise. Calling upon his incisive writing instincts, MacFarlane here deconstructs one of the most tiresome comedy plots of recent years - the "decent young guy held back from maturity by a churlish best friend or a cherished toy from his childhood" plot - by taking it to its logical symbolic extreme: the boorish best friend is actually the beloved childhood toy. By doing this, MacFarlane snarkily addresses the "What happens next" question of every "boy and his magical buddy" movie ranging from E.T. to Pete's Dragon.
So, I deleted it and made a fresh one.