There’s a big problem with comedies. Everyone has a different idea of what’s funny. For some, toilet humor is funny; for others, they prefer smart comedy or wit. Still, many rely on what some refer to as a cheap laugh caused by vulgarity or self-injury (aka a hit to the groin). Either way, to compile a list of the top comedies ever made is, at least in my opinion, impossible. What makes it even more difficult is that if I decided to simply list my favorites, I would guess more people would disagree with my suggestions than concur with them.
Therefore, in this particular list of twenty comedy films worth watching, half are a list of a few of my personal favorites and the others are some of the top picks from a number of lists I found online or through various databases.
Therefore, knowing full well many will disagree with this list but in hopes they’ll add to it in the comment section – I not-so-proudly present you with the not-at-all-definitive list of twenty comedies that I, or in some cases, the internet, think are worth watching at least once. Continue at your own discretion… You’ve been warned.
The Naked Gun
Of course, I had to start with a personal favorite. Cue Frank Drebin and the men and women of Police Squad. Starring none other than comedy legend Leslie Nielsen, bumbling detective Frank Drebin is on the case of a plot to kill the Queen during her upcoming visit to the United States. Ridiculous and fun from start to finish, The Naked Gun is one movie that I can watch over and over again. In my opinion, it’s just that good! Get it here.
In the 1930’s the Marx Brothers were at the top of their game as one of the funniest groups on the world stage. Despite being a flop at the box office, especially in comparison to their previous films, Duck Soup has become a cult classic with Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo at the helm of its hilarity.
In 1990 the United States Library of Congress deemed Duck Soup “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. If you like classic comedies, this is one pick for you. Watch it here.
Mel Brooks is one of my all-time favorite comedians. Blazing Saddles was, at the time, unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Brooks once said that his goal was to shock the audience. Starring Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little, Wilder plays a corrupt politician hell bent on ruining a western town. In an effort to do so, he appoints a black sheriff in the all-white town in this utterly racist and yet somehow accepted satirical western.
It wasn’t without its issues however, as Brooks was constantly in heated arguments with studio executives who felt it was far to politically incorrect and provocative. However, Brooks’ idea took off and audiences were so shocked with what they saw and how funny the film was that it was nominated for three Academy Awards. If you haven’t watched it yet, click here.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
I had a really difficult time picking the right Monty Python film for this list. There are so many good ones but it came down to The Holy Grail and Life of Brian. In the end, I went with my top pick and chose Life of Brian; a satirical look at the life of a young Jewish man named Brian, who is born on Christmas day in the stable next to Jesus and for the remainder of his life, is mistaken for the Messiah during a number of historical and biblical events. Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, the film was considered to be in poor taste at the time due to its controversial religious satire. When studio execs pulled its funding, the film was financed by former Beatles member George Harrison who was a big fan of the comedy troupe. The film was blasted by religious organizations around the world and many regions tried to ban it. However, to this day it remains a key and integral part of comedic cinema. Chances are, if you’re not overly sensitive, you’ll probably enjoy it. Get it here.
A Woody Allen film, this is the story of an equally neurotic New York comedian named Alvy Singer who is twice divorced and opens up to an insecure, ditsy nightclub singer from the mid west named Annie Hall about the demise of his prior relationships. It’s a bit dry at times, but has an intellectual wit to it that many comedies seem to lack. If you’re a Woody Allen fan, you’ll love this film. View Annie Hall film here.
Another of my favorite comedies of all time, this is another film starring Leslie Nielsen. It should be noted that in some parts of the world, it’s called Flying High. It was released at the height of disaster films about airplanes and airports. The film centers around an ex-pilot who is afraid to fly that follows the love of his life – a flight attendant – onto the plane. As the crew falls ill, surely the only person capable of saving the day is the one man who doesn’t want to fly. But, don’t call him Shirley. Aside from it being one of my favorite comedies, it was ranked sixth on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies and named the second greatest comedy film of all time, after Monty Python’s Life of Brian by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. Don’t miss out and watch it here.
The Princess Bride
A hit classic, this movie will always be brilliant, in all ways. An romantic fantasy film, it’s the story of a grandfather who reads a book to his ill grandson. The story, is about a heroic man and his quest to find his long lost love – a woman named Buttercup. Facing giants, geniuses and swamp monsters, he joins together with a team of heroes to fight the evil Prince Humperdinck who is intent on marrying the young and beautiful Buttercup. Starring Cary Elwes, Peter Falk and Robin Wright, the stellar cast is backed by a team of actors including Fred Savage, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Andre the Giant, and Billy Crystal, among others. This is the perfect date film. Check it out here.
Another classic from the mind of Mel Brooks, the Producers is the story of legendary, but down on his luck Broadway producer Max Bialystock and a timid accountant named Leo Bloom who realizes that making a sure-fire flop could actually produce a far higher financial return. Teaming up for the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme, the duo plans to produce the world’s worst musical titled “Springtime for Hitler”.
The original film came out in 1967 and starred Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Dick Shawn. However, in 2005, the film was remade with an all-star cast including Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell. Get a copy here.
When there’s something strange, in the neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!
This is one film franchise that I’m almost certain everyone that reads this article has seen. However, on the off chance that I’m wrong – and it’s been known to happen (just ask my wife), this film is one comedy you must see.
Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, the film centers on a team of scientists who lose their jobs at the university and become ghostbusters in an effort to rid New York City of the supernatural. Stumbling into success, the Ghostbusters take on a case that pushes them into the outer limits in an effort to save the city from total destruction. It doesn’t matter of you’re 16 or 61; Ghostbusters might just be the funnest movie you’ll see all year. Catch it here.
His Girl Friday
One of the classic comedies of a bygone era, the film stars the legendary Cary Grant as a New York newspaper editor who discovers that his ex-wife, an investigative reporter played by the beautiful Rosalind Russell has become engaged to an insurance agent. Fearing he’ll lose her forever, Grant unsuccessfully tries to lure her away from the mundane life of a housewife with a fantastic story of a convicted murderer set to be executed. Cary Grant is brilliant in this film and so is Rosalind Russell. The comedic timing is almost perfect and it’s a movie you’ll watch time and time again. Watch it here.
When Harry Met Sally
The year was 1977 and college graduates Harry Burns (played by Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (played by Meg Ryan) share a ride from Chicago to New York where they argue back and forth about whether a man and a woman can ever really be platonic friends. Fast forward ten years, and they bump into each other at a local bookstore where they decide to become friends, without ever being sexual. Of course, it’s harder than one might expect.
Not only is this a top comedy, but it’s also topped the charts for romance as well. It’s the perfect date movie. Trust me, I know from experience. Get it here.
Dumb & Dumber
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels star as two imbeciles who happen to be best friends. Lloyd Christmas (Carrey), is a limo driver who happens to drive the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen to the airport. Convinced that he’s fallen in love with her, he notices that she forgets a suitcase full of money. Relying on his best friend Harry (Daniels), the dumb duo trek across the country to Colorado in an effort to find her. Unbeknownst to them, they stumble into a kidnapping and are pursued by hired assassins and the police.
This movie was an instant cult classic and has been the source of an entire franchise based on the film. It’s one movie though that you might feel dumber after watching. Get a copy here.
At some point in our lives, most of us have suffered the dreaded hangover. Fortunately, it probably wasn’t as bad as it was for this group of guys. Just days before his wedding, a respectable man named Doug (Justin Bartha) and two of his friends (played by Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms) are joined by his fiancee’s unusual and irresponsible brother (Zach Galifianakis) for a wild and fun bachelor party in Vegas. After partying hard, the three groomsmen wake up the next morning with no recollection of the night before, and no sign of Doug. With no time to spare, the three of them set forth in an effort to retrace their steps and find Doug so they can get him home in time to get married. You can watch The Hangover here.
National Lampoon’s Vacation
The humor stays consistent but the children always change. For any of the National Lampoon vacation films with Chevy Chase, you can be sure it will be a laugh-out-loud riot of fun. I must admit, my favorite film in the franchise is Christmas Vacation, followed by Vegas and then European Vacation, but this is the film that started them all.
With their children in tow, Clark Griswold and his wife Ellen set forth on what should be an epic adventure from their suburban home in Illinois to their favorite California amusement park. Unfortunately for the Griswolds, the trip is never smooth and they encounter everything from car trouble to the death of a family member as Clark impatiently and impulsively tries to cut corners in order to have the perfect family vacation. See it here.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
A charming and lovable Englishman named Charles (Hugh Grant) and his group of bachelor friends seem to have the most unfortunate luck when it comes to finding love. When Charles finally meets a beautiful American (played by Andie MacDowell) at a wedding, he thinks his luck has changed. After spending a magical night together, she departs for America. However, over the next few years their paths continue to cross at a number of weddings and a funeral. Believing they’re mean’t to be together, Charles tries to convince her that despite bad timing, their love for each other could be nothing short of perfection. See the movie here.
An unlucky teen working as a caddy to raise money for college at the prominent Bushwood Country Club, volunteers to caddy for the club’s most influential member in an effort to win a college scholarship for caddies. As he struggles to prepare for the high pressure, end of season golf tournament, he is taken under the wing of a wealthy golf guru played by Chevy Chase. Watch it here.
Toy Story 3
It seems wrong that a sequel could ever be as popular or highly rated as the original, but low and behold, Toy Story 2 received more critical acclaim than the first. The production team behind the film did it again with Toy Story 3 which has been named one of the funniest and top rated animated films in history. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry, but the film is a perfect blend of fun for everyone from the age of 2 to 82. Get a copy here.
Back to the Future
Like Ghostbusters, this is one film franchise that is so popular I’m sure most, if not all of you, have seen it. However, on the chance you’re one of the few that haven’t watched it, be forewarned, you’re about to see one of my favorite films ever made. Starring Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd, this sci-fi, adventure comedy classic is about a teen named Marty McFly from a small Californian town who is taken back to the 1950s when an experiment by his close friend, the eccentric Doc Brown, goes wrong. Traveling back through time in none-other than a DeLorean, Marty comes face to face with his then-teenage parents and is forced to play matchmaker when his own mother falls in love with him instead of his very-timid father. Racing against the clock, Marty must convince the much-younger Doc Brown of the truth as he tries to get back to the future to save the life of his close friend and mentor.
A blockbuster hit, it was the beginning of an exciting film franchise that today, is considered a hallmark in movie history. Watch it here.
After a freak virus turns the majority of America into mindless zombies, a group of four survivors battle their way across the country in search of a rumored safe haven in California. Armed with an arsenal of weapons and a list of survival rules, the foursome encounter unexpected romance, searches for Twinkies and somehow ends up in the home of Bill Murray who only dresses up as a zombie.
Hilarious, grotesque and graphic, it’s a great satire on the many zombie films that the world has come to enjoy. Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, this is the adventure comedy that all horror buffs have been waiting for. You can watch Zombieland here.
The beginning of a film franchise that took raunchy teen comedies to a new level, this is the story of a group of seniors in high school who make a pact to lose their virginity before prom. A hilarious lesson in life, love and libido, the film shows the often humiliating passage from adolescence to adult hood. This is a movie typically favored by a younger and less mature demographic, but it has earned its place as one of the most popular comedies ever produced in recent years. Watch the film here.
You may agree with some of these choices or you may disagree with all of them. We all have different ideas of what’s funny and what makes some of us laugh hysterically may be viewed as inappropriate or unsettling to others. From juvenile pranks to intellectual wit, I’ve attempted to list a selection of comedies that have proved popular by moviegoers and critics alike. In the end, my hope is that you’ll find at least one movie in this list that you haven’t seen that will make you laugh and entertain you for an evening of fun and good humor. What’s your favorite comedy and which movies would you add or subtract from the list?