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The 100 best comedy movies

Giggle along with our list of the best funny movies, as voted for by top comedians

How do you go about deciding on the list of the 100 best comedy movies of all time? Well, you start by asking the experts. That’s why we approached our favourite comedians, actors, directors and writers to canvass their choices.
From the old, new, mainstream and experimental, this is the definitive list of the greatest comedies ever made. It stands up next to our companion lists of the best romantic, horror, sci-fi and action movies
So scroll through all 100 entries and work out how many films in our list you’ve seen. You can even explore the top tens of our comedy experts. And if you think we’re having a laugh, let us know in the comments section below!

By Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Tom Huddleston, Trevor Johnston, David Jenkins, Kate Lloyd, Tom Seymour, Anna Smith, Ben Walters, Adam Lee Davies, Phil Harrison, Derek Adams, Wally Hammond, Edward Lawrenson, Gabriel Tate. 

Recommended: London and UK cinema listings, film reviews and exclusive interviews.

The 100 best comedy movies


Meet the Parents (2000)

‘I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?’

Director: Jay Roach

Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro

Meeting your partner’s parents is bound to be stressful – but Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) has it worse than most. Turns out his potential father in law (Robert De Niro) is a former CIA agent with a suspicious nature – and a polygraph lie-detector machine at his disposal. Over the course of an eventful visit, Focker’s misfortune builds to a farcical crescendo as his intended (Teri Polo) looks on. Stiller is on hilarious, hapless form and De Niro has never been funnier. AS

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Mean Girls (2004)

‘She’s fabulous but she’s evil.’

Director: Mark Waters

Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Jonathan Bennett, Rachel McAdams

Where does ethnography meet teen comedy? At North Shore High! Lindsay Lohan stars as Cady, the sensitive and naive heroine – you could get away with that casting in 2004 – who gets a rude awakening when she enters the school system after being home-taught by zoologist parents in Africa. She’s soon dealing with the complexities of adolescent social interaction, most of it underhanded and bitchy, while trying to keep her head. The script by Tina Fey is inspired by a work of actual ethnography and offers genuine insight and empathy as well as a hefty dose of putdowns and comeuppances. BW

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Pulp Fiction (1994)

4 out of 5 stars

‘It's the one that says Bad Motherfucker.’

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson

Is ‘Pulp Fiction’ a comedy? Perhaps only in the sense that all Quentin Tarantino’s films, from ‘Reservoir Dogs’ to ‘The Hateful Eight’, have a solid streak of black humour running through them – and whatever the genre or story, they're often fuelled by the disconnect between their characters’ chat and their violent scenarios. That’s largely down to Tarantino’s playful use of language, typified in this stylised crime tale by hitmen John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson chewing the fat over their favourite burgers or discussing why one of them refuses to eat pork. Jackson especially proves himself a master of gallows humour. DC

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Hot Fuzz (2007)

‘You wanna be a big cop in a small town? Fuck off up the model village.’

Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman

Edgar Wright’s follow-up to ‘Shaun of the Dead’ is a bigger, busier, slightly less focused ramble through small-town cop-movie clichés, but it might just be the better film, benefiting from a script packed with smart one-liners and neat riffs on everything from Hammer horror to cosy ITV dramas. It also, lest we forget, sports arguably the finest supporting cast ever assembled, with (very deep breath) Paddy Considine, Jim Broadbent, Billie Whitelaw, Martin Freeman, Olivia Colman, Edward Woodward, Bill Nighy, Timothy Dalton, The Actor Kevin Eldon, both Adam and Joe, Rory ‘The Hound’ McCann and even a masked Cate Blanchett all getting in on the action. TH

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Safety Last! (1923)

‘The idea of working in your shirt sleeves! Think of the shock to your customers, women of culture and refinement!’

Director: Fred C Newmeyer

Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis

Always sporting round specs and straw boater, silent comedian Harold Lloyd’s shtick was to cultivate a likeable boy-next-door persona, then put his protagonist in hair-raising jeopardy. In his best-known feature, his plan to get an athletic acquaintance to climb a department store facade as a publicity stunt backfires, so Harold tackles the perilous ascent himself. Cue pesky pigeons and an inconvenient clock face in a beautifully constructed, very funny set-piece whose clever use of perspective creates vertiginous thrills without back projection – or a single computer pixel! TJ

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The Graduate (1967)

5 out of 5 stars

‘It's like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don't make any sense to me.’

Director: Mike Nichols

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katherine Ross

It’s easy to forget that, in the pre-blockbuster days, ‘The Graduate’ was one of the biggest box-office smashes of all time (it’s still No 21, adjusted for inflation). So what was it about this intimate, simple drama – a film we’d now refer to as an indie, even though it was studio-made – that captured the public imagination? Quite simply, it was a matter of timing: here was a film that, with its depiction of bourgeois boredom, teenage angst and sexual liberation (not to mention those awesome Simon and Garfunkel songs) absolutely nailed the mood of the late 1960s. TH

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Local Hero (1983)

'We've been invaded by America. We're all gonna be rich!'

Director: Bill Forsyth

Cast: Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster, Peter Capaldi

If you’re ever suffering from chilly cockles, Bill Forsyth’s twinkly, good-hearted comedy will warm them right up – and in the wake of Donald Trump’s terrifying ascendance, it’s even more timely. Peter Riegert plays an American lawyer dispatched by his oil-baron boss to Scotland to secure the site for their next refinery. But whaddaya know – it’s right on top of a quaint little fishing village populated by wise, loveable Scotspersons. Epic adorable-ness ensues. TH

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The Philadelphia Story (1940)

4 out of 5 stars

‘The course of true love gathers no moss.’

Director: George Cukor

Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart

A romcom that sparkles like champagne, ‘The Philadelphia Story’ is a delicious comedy of misunderstandings and misdemeanours. Which of three men will win the heart of Katharine Hepburn’s icy heiress on the eve of her wedding: her millionaire ex-husband Cary Grant, snooping reporter James Stewart or her dull businessman fiancé John Howard? At the end you might decide that she picks the wrong man, but you can’t argue with the fact that this witty, charming and romantic movie is a near-perfect comedy. CC

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Harold and Maude (1971)

‘Harold, everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves.’

Director: Hal Ashby

Cast: Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon

Genre-non-specific movies like ‘Harold and Maude’ have suffered on this list: is it really a comedy? Isn’t there a bit too much death and holocaust talk for that? But if it’s not a comedy, what is ‘Harold and Maude’? Therein, of course, lies its genius: it’s not anything, except real. Controversial on first release, forgotten for decades and then happily rediscovered (at least in part thanks to Cameron Diaz in ‘There’s Something About Mary’), ‘Harold and Maude’ is now firmly established as one of the all-time romantic classics. The central relationship may be unconventional – teenage boy falls for 79-year-old concentration camp survivor – but the themes of self-discovery and universal love speak to all of us. TH

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There's Something About Mary (1998)

‘It’s like you’re dreamin’ about gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly brie time, baby!’

Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon

The Farrelly Brothers are best known for reinventing gross-out comedy 20 years after ‘Animal House’, and it’s hard to argue that the best-known scenes in ‘There’s Something About Mary’ are the hilariously awful ones: the zip, the cum in the hair, the electrocuted dog. But underneath all that, it’s the film’s irrepressible sweetness that makes it sing: Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller give career-making performances, their affair is tentative and totally convincing – and Jonathan Richman’s musical cameos tie it all together. TH

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How many comedy movies have you seen?

Who voted in our top 100 comedy movies countdown?

The 100 best comedy movies: contributors

How did we choose the 100 best comedy movies of all time? We asked the experts – more than 70 stand-up comedians, actors and writer and directors who make a living tickling our funny bones. Explore the top ten entries from all our contributors, including Peter Capaldi, Sharon Horgan, Jack Whitehall and Jo Brand.

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By: Cath Clarke