100 best comedy movies: the list

The 100 best comedy movies, picked by experts from across film, TV and comedy

0

Comments

Add +

By Tom Huddleston, David Jenkins, Adam Lee Davies, Derek Adams, Edward Lawrenson, Wally Hammond, Ben Walters, Gabriel Tate and Phil Harrison. Explore the individual top tens of every contributor.

80

Clockwise (1986)

Dir Christopher Morahan (John Cleese, Sharon Maiden, Penelope Wilton)

‘It’s not the despair. I can stand the despair, Laura. It’s the hope.’

From a script by Michael Frayn, this classic farce starring John Cleese as a punctilious headmaster on a calamitous journey to a conference is something of a dry run for the actor’s turn in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’. The plot moves along at a fair old lick, with Cleese’s Mr Stimpson roping in disaffected sixth-former Laura (Sharon Maiden) to get him to his destination. There’s plenty of spark to the dialogue and a very English sense of panic at the failure to meet conventional expectations. The real treat of it is Cleese’s performance, its elements of priggishness ultimately overcome by sympathy at his ordeal. BW

79
Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne , Wendi McLendon-Covey,  Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig in 'Bridesmaids'

Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne , Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig in 'Bridesmaids'

Bridesmaids (2011)

Dir Paul Feig (Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne)

‘You smell like pine needles, and have a face like sunshine!’

The most recent film on this list makes a pretty strong showing, but it's hardly surprising: ‘Bridesmaids’ isn’t just the comedy smash of 2011, it’s one of the funniest movies in recent memory. The idea of taking the tired-old ‘Hangover’ lad-com template and simply switching genders doesn’t sound like an automatic win, but the appeal here isn’t in the bad-taste trappings, it’s in the silly-but-smart script, the lively direction from ‘Freaks and Geeks’ legend Paul Feig and the note-perfect casting. It’s hard to remember a performance more effortlessly star-making than Kristen Wiig delivers, showcasing a woman equally at home with satire and slapstick. You go girl. TH

78
FABLE MANNERS The Hoovers endure nuclear fission.

FABLE MANNERS The Hoovers endure nuclear fission.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Dir Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris (Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear)

‘Everybody just pretend to be normal!’

When their seven-year-old daughter is accepted to a beauty contest in California, her parents decide to drive from their Albuquerque home, with dysfunctional family members in tow. A wish-list of US indie stars – Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell and a wonderfully irascible Alan Arkin – are crammed into a VW camper van, the journey inevitably involves bumpy confrontations but, with a script that zings with one-liners and note-perfect performances, the trip is an utter blast. EL

77

Stir Crazy (1980)

Dir Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris (Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear)

‘125 years... I'll be 161 when I get out!’

Could ‘Stir Crazy’ be the best prison comedy of all time? Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor – as innocent New York buddies Skip and Harry who get banged-up for 125 years apiece for armed robbery – were both at the height of their considerable powers, and given room to improvise by both scriptwriter Bruce Jay Friedman and director Sidney Poitier (wisely, as it turned out, considering the filmmakers' other works were notably laugh-free). It’s a tale of fear, ridicule and humiliation resounding with protestations: Wilder’s wild cries and motormouth mitigations competing with Pryor’s craven wimperings and gibbering incoherence. The plot does get bogged down – in some overextended business involving Skip’s unexpected rodeo skills and the pair’s escape plans – and the tension does slacken off, but the first half is comically inspired and hysterically funny. WH

76

Old School (2003)

Dir Todd Phillips (Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn)

‘Every now and then I get a little bit nervous then I see the fuckin’ look in your eyes...’

If you’re looking for the best comedy film of recent years, it might not be ‘Old School’: the film has bags of charm, cracking one-liners, memorable supporting characters (‘You’re my boy, Blue!’) and pitch-perfect performances from its three zeitgeist-grabbing leads as the ageing college buddies who move back on to campus in an effort to revitalise their fading youths, but it’s not quite ‘Rushmore’ or ‘Superbad’. But if you’re looking for the biggest single laugh of the decade – the spit-out-your-popcorn, drop-your-coke, didn’t-see-it-coming zinger to end ’em all – this movie’s wedding scene takes some beating. Its fabulously earnest, foul-mouthed version of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ performed by regular frat-pack cameo artist Dan Finnerty in a wide-collared concierge outfit, is a powerfully strong contender. TH

75

Bananas (1971)

Dir Woody Allen (Woody Allen, Louise Lasser, Carlos Montalbán)

'Blood! That should be on the inside!'

Before he became overly preoccupied with love and death, Woody Allen was primarily a gag man, and the jokes are never more silly and inspired as they are in this early directorial effort. Mixing silent cinema buffoonery with the absurdity of his '60s stand-up routines, the movie sees Woody head down south to join a revolution in a small fictional Latin American country. With Woody adopting radical politics to win the affections of right-on Louise Lasser, ‘Bananas’ is Allen’s most avowedly Marxist film – Groucho, that is, not Karl. EL

74
Hugh Grant and Charlotte Coleman in 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'

Hugh Grant and Charlotte Coleman in 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Dir Mike Newell (Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell)

'Fuck-a-doodle-do!'

For a film that celebrates English reserve and self-deprecation, it seems somehow wrong that 'Four Weddings... ' garnered such huge international success. And yet this modestly budgeted British ensemble comedy was a massive hit, thanks to a sparkling script by Richard Curtis and winning performances by its cast of wedding-hopping well-to-do Londoners, not least Hugh Grant whose floppy charm and even floppier hair turned him into one of the decade’s leading romantic men. EL

73

The Party (1968)

Dir Blake Edwards (Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet)

‘Birdie num nums.’

And there I was thinking I was the only one who put this bundle of slapstick hilarity in their final top-ten list. This is, after all, the least politically correct title in the pack. Back in 1968, of course, much of the general public thought nothing of one of the country’s most beloved comedians darkening his face to play a bumbling Indian actor at the party of a high-ranking studio exec. But the truth is, the filmmakers needn’t have bothered with questionable identities and extra make-up because Peter Sellers could have pulled it off by simply being himself. From the moment Sellers’s overly inquisitive extra arrives at the party, a battery of slapstick misfortunes begins to evolve as the clumsy but well-meaning guest crashes from one hilarious mishap into another. A near silent comedy that clearly inspired elements of ‘Naked Gun’ and ‘Mr Bean’, 'The Party' is warmly deserving of a place in the kingdom of comedy. DA

72
Dudley Moore in 'Bedazzled'

Dudley Moore in 'Bedazzled'

Bedazzled (1967)

Dir Stanley Donen (Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron)

‘I, Stanley Moon, hereinafter and in the hereafter to be known as “the damned”… The damned?’

Forget the underwhelming remake with Brendan Fraser and Liz Hurley. The original ‘Bedazzled’ is a vintage piece of Swinging London comedy and probably Pete and Dud’s finest big-screen outing. Dudley Moore is a sad-sack cook mooning after a waitress (Eleanor Bron) and Peter Cook plays the devil, who procures his soul in exchange for seven wishes. What follows is a Faustian series of set-pieces – some witty, some garish, some a tad aged – that offer plenty of opportunities for the duo’s distinctive power-play. BW

71

Broadway Danny Rose (1984)

Dir Woody Allen (Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Nick Apollo Forte)

‘If you take my advice I think you'll become one of the great balloon-folding acts of all time!’

Woody Allen comes to both bury and praise Danny Rose in this lyrical note to the dimmer lights of the Great White Way. A cock-eyed optimist and full-time dreamer, guileless theatrical agent Danny (Allen) dotes over his woeful stable of one-shot novelty acts – blind xylophonists, uniped tap dancers, ice-skating penguins dressed, naturally, as hassidic rabbis – but it is clear to everyone else that an age is swiftly passing. It would be an easy scene to mock, but Allen forgoes the easy yuks in favour of a generous, mournful, affectionate send-off that pays far richer, far funnier dividends. And as a monochrome snapshot of early-’80s, pre-Giuliani Times Square, the film is a true museum piece. ALD


Users say

13 comments
Steve
Steve

Its a good list, but very culture specific. Telling from this list you guys are likely about 40 and you're all white and have mostly liked the same movies for decades... I'm going to check out a few that I don't know very well, but I think you guys need to think outside of the box... or at least outside of the window - the world is a pretty diverse place and 'funny' is everywhere. (4 lions maybe an exception)

Kenny
Kenny

Do you guys even like movies?

william mayer
william mayer

Zoolander is higher than Happy gilmore enough said...

Pat
Pat

Good list! Few films I don't feel deserve a place, some films I'd put higher up then they are. This list has some seriously great comedies! It's painful seeing people upset at the absence of film's such as "Soul Plane." In the comments.

Cloé
Cloé

love that list!

Ally
Ally

Wait a minute... Talladega Nights didn't make the list and trading places did? This list is so out of date, none of the fridays either, or cheech and chong, "O Brother Where Art Thou?"... We should be able to vote on lists like these. Good job btw (Y)

anonymous
anonymous

Notable lack of "urban" comedies.

anonymus
anonymus

soul plane? barbershop? friday? friday the next?

Hughes
Hughes

give me the rest

agee
agee

Why so much Steve Martin and so little (or no?) Danny Devito? Where's Tin Men, for example? Better than lots of movies listed here. Since some classics were included, where's It Happened One Night? King of Comedy could have been left out. While a good film, it's not really a comedy (Sandra Bernhard's hilarious scene notwithstanding, I think I would take Being There over King of Comedy for a quasi comdedy) Big Lebowski is a good pick but "O Brother Where Art Thou?" definitely beats out a bunch of films listed here--for quality, laughs, and music.

walte
walte

wtf where is five

dra
dra

where is stepbrothers

Spotify

Subscribe to Time Out London on Spotify for daily playlists and recommendations from our Music team.

 

 

Pinterest

We feature London's most spectacular sights and coolest locations.