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The best comedy movies of 2024 (so far)

From ‘Hit Man’ to ‘Mean Girls’, the funniest flicks of the year

Phil de Semlyen
Matthew Singer
Edited by
Phil de Semlyen
Contributor
Matthew Singer
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Comedies are the omelettes of the movie world: they seem easy to do, so you get very little credit when they come off – and definitely no awards – but people sure as heck notice when they’re a sticky, shell-filled mess. But we’re giving that misconception a slapstick boot to the backside, because nothing could be further from the truth. A good comedy – and definitely a great one – is a work of alchemy dependent on perfect comic timing, performances, storytelling and, obviously, a LOL-filled script all have to come together to produce gold. And a comedy that endures and appeals across different language and cultural barriers? That’s called a miracle.

This may be why you’d have to be all funny bone to call this a vintage year for big-screen comedy. But things are ramping up, with Hit Man, The Fall Guy and the more PG-funny IF all delivering mid-year mirth and more laughs in prospect with Nicole Kidman-Zac Efron romcom A Family Affair and Deadpool & Wolverine ahead. Here’s where to find the uplift, silliness and pratfalls amid all the worthy Oscars fare and grown-up dramas.

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Richard Linklater’s funniest film since School of Rock, this cop caper is on Netflix after a brief cinema stint and will automatically be the funniest new release on there too. Hit Man is fuelled by Glen Powell’s charisma and a sharp script that makes full use of it by giving the Top Gun: Maverick actor a host of personas to get his teeth into – all as a pretend assassin working for the cops. It’s one of those comedies that even the trailers fail to do justice too, the accumulation of outlandish but just-about-plausible scenarios building to a crescendo that hits like a gulp of nitrous. 

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Phil de Semlyen
Global film editor
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Yorgos Lanthimos’ steampunk Frankenstein tale generated both widespread acclaim and much debate over whether its story, of a young woman turned science experiment on a journey of libidinous self-discovery, mistakes sexual exploitation for female liberation – a fair concern. All that hand-wringing, though, obscures just how uproariously funny it is. Stone earned a second (semi-controversial) Oscar for a portrayal of a revivified suicide victim with the brain of an infant, but her performance remains underrated as a feat of physical comedy, particularly in the early scenes, as she rapidly evolves from, essentially, a teetering toddler to hormonal teenager obsessed with ‘furious jumping’. Shout out also to Mark Ruffalo, hilarious as her would-be husband-slash-subjugator turned weeping, wounded mess of a man.  

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Silly, fun and with an extreme dedication to packing in as many madcap stunts as possible, The Fall Guy deserved to make a billion dollars at the box office. Instead, it’ll have to take satisfaction in being the first comedy to stumble on the genius idea of pairing up Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. They play an estranged couple still wounded by their break-up… while making a billion dollar sci-fi and contending with the sudden disappearance of its star (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The plot is harebrained but the two leads (and everyone else) deliver the jokes with such straight-faced gusto, you’ll barely notice.

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Phil de Semlyen
Global film editor
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Perennial supporting ace Jeffrey Wright finally gets a much-deserved spotlight role in debuting writer-director Cord Jefferson’s sharply funny adaptation of Percival Everett’s 2001 novel Erasure. He plays a struggling Black novelist who gives in and gives the (white) people what they want – a ghetto memoir from a fabricated felon, simply titled ‘Fuck’ – and inadvertently becomes a literary star. The whiplashing between social farce and family drama is more jarring on screen than in the book, but Wright keeps it centred, deftly balancing the barbed satire with heartfelt pathos. It’s a worthy heir to Robert Townsend’s long-underappreciated Hollywood Shuffle

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Paul Giamatti as a cranky history teacher at a New England boarding school circa 1970 tasked with babysitting a student (newbie Dominic Sessa) left behind on Christmas break? Hook it to our veins! Giamatti’s curmudgeonly charisma is the highlight of Alexander Payne’s oddly heartwarming dramedy, but it’s the sweet-and-sour bond he forms with both Sessa and the wonderful Da’Vine Joy Randolph – particularly in the second half of the film, when the group escapes campus and heads to Boston – that make this a new holiday perennial.   

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The original noughties teen hit, about an outsider navigating high school, was hilarious, but this musical adaptation finds new ways to skewer its social hierarchies that fit the changed culture of today. Reneé Rapp as queen bee Regina and Auliʻi Cravalho as misfit Janis are the standouts; Rapp’s claim, for example, that failing to dress slutty on Halloween ‘is slut-shaming us’ is a vicious and witty reversal.

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7. Destroy All Neighbors

If good comedies are rare, good horror-comedies are hen’s teeth. Enter a cult horror that puts a grotesque spin on the neighbour from hell. A bulbous character call Vlad with Lemmy-from-Motörhead mutton chops and a penchant for noisy, late-night parties, he’s played with demented glee by Alex Winter as he torments his timid neighbour (Jonah Ray). An unexpected prog rock fixation and a wonderfully random Kumail Nanjiani cameo are just of the extra USPs of this gory, raucous treat. 

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Phil de Semlyen
Global film editor
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More ‘rom’ than ‘com’, but still funny in a wry kinda way, this age-gap romance has Anne Hathaway’s fortysomething art dealer and Nicolas Galitzine’s boy-band star flirting, sparking and, yes, confronting Serious Life Obstacles. As tends to be the way, it’s the dialled-up supporting characters who provide most of the laughs, leaving the central pair to deliver the pathos, and Veep’s Reid Scott and Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo both deliver as the jealous ex and straight-talking bestie respectively.

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Phil de Semlyen
Global film editor
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9. Kung Fu Panda 4

As usual, Jack Black puts his back into it as the voice of martial arts mammal Po, in a fourth outing for a franchise that still strikes a nice balance of silliness and high-stakes adventure. Sure, a lot of the larkiness revolves around the wobbly Po’s ongoing food obsession and his light-hearted approach to deathly threats, but Black is never not fun to hang out with – even in animated form – and Awkwafina is her usual sprightly self as a thieving fox. Not a classic but still skadoosh-y enough for fans.

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Phil de Semlyen
Global film editor
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