From satire to screwball, romantic to parody – the comedy is a versatile beast.
How many times have you made plans to go see a movie, with your only preface being “I don’t wanna have to think. Let’s watch a comedy.”
Sometimes nothing is more soothing than an easily digestible funny movie. Every once in a while, that funny movie is so great that you’re still quoting it 25-30 years later.
One note: while there are no movies on this list that predate 1970, we decided to keep the ‘all time’ tag. There are plenty of movies from that era that deserve to be on this list, but we tried to stick to the ones that our generation has first hand experience with.
Click here to see the “science” behind how we ranked these movies, #50 – #1.
- Dan “Fogs” Fogarty – Creator/writer of Fogs Movie Reviews, and one half of the (title pending) Movie Podcast.
- Chris “Tank” Tanski – “Pop Culture Galactus”, and the other half of the (title pending) Movie Podcast.
- Brian “Hail Mary” Morin – School teacher, child of the 80s, pop culture aficionado.
- Corey “Mr. Serious” Chapman – Producer of the UnderScoopFire Podcast, producer and co-host of The Mad Cast.
50. Revenge of the Nerds
After revisiting this film I realized that I never fully appreciated how brilliant this David vs. Goliath (or is it David vs. Ogre?) tale really is. I was probably way too young to have seen this when I did (first movie I saw the female pubis in). Being a nerd and outcast myself back then, this truly hit home for me. In a time when bullying is so prevalent, this film still resonates but it also makes you piss your pants with laughter. Lambda Lambda Lambda!
This 1987 romantic comedy is a retelling of the classic story of “Cyrano de Bergerac”. Steve Martin stars as CD Bales (same initials!), a fire chief in a small town who happens to have an overly large nose. He meets and falls in love with Roxanne (played by Darryl Hannah) who has her sights set on another fireman. The romantic comedy has a great supporting cast, with the likes of Fred Willard, Shelly Duvall, and a young Damon Wayans. One of the best scenes is where CD is challenged to come up with “20 Nose Insults” about the size of his beak.
I have to admit that when I first heard of Zoolander I thought it would be incredibly stupid and completely unfunny. It may be pretty stupid, but when I caught it on TV the first time I laughed so much that it hurt.
47. Happy Gilmore
One of two golf comedies to make our list and the only Adam Sandler film, Happy Gilmore made the cut due to a variety of quotable scenes. It doesn’t hurt that it features UnderScoopFire favorite, Julie Bowen.
46. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Not only is this one of the funniest movies of all time but it’s also one of the best musicals I have ever seen. Based on the hit tv show South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone bucked a traditional adaptation and decided to make it a musical instead. Five minutes into the film you knew you were in for a wild time. The experience of seeing this for the first time with a small group of family and co-workers holds a dear place in my heart. Oh, they bash Canada- which is awesome too!
45. Young Frankenstein
A parody of the classic Universal Monster movies, Mel Brooks takes the traditional Frankenstein monster story and turns it on its head. Fantastic comic performances from Wilder, Kahn and Garr, and of course, the unforgettable Marty Feldman. “Walk this way…”
This is one of those movies that gets fairly regular air time on cable networks like FX, and every time I stumble upon it, I’m hooked. Now, I have been told that I should seek professional help for my Michael Cera obsession, however- I say if you can make it through the scene where Evan sings The Guess Who’s “These Eyes” awkwardly yet with increasing confidence without at least chuckling, you are dead inside.
43. The Cable Guy
Better known as the first “bomb” of Jim Carrey’s career (a $20 million salary puts a bullseye on your back). I would contend that the film was not marketed properly and audiences expected another Ace Ventura or Lloyd Christmas. Instead, they got a deeply dark, super funny flick about a lonely cable guy named Chip (Carrey) who befriends newly single Steven (Matthew Broderick). When Steven wants nothing more than a casual friendship, Chip’s warped side comes out. Great supporting cast including Jack Black, Jeanine Garafalo, Owen Wilson, Andy Dick, Ben Stiller and Eric Roberts (playing twins in a movie within the movie!). This movie holds up 16 years later, if not for the Owen Wilson bathroom scene alone (Salt peanuts! Salt peanuts!).
42. Liar Liar
Jim Carrey checks in again, and this won’t be the last time. Carrey owns the comedic 90s, so when word came out that he would be playing a narcissistic attorney who was suddenly compelled to tell the truth, no matter how brutal, we salivated with anticipation. I remember enjoying my first viewing but feeling a bit disappointed, however, after watching it multiple times since, I find it funnier each time.
I may be in the minority on this one, but this is one comedy in recent years that quickly became one of my all time favorites. To successfully go from Saturday Night Live sketch to full length movie is not an easy task (see: It’s Pat). Will Forte and company join the ranks of successful attempts (see: Wayne’s World) and put together one of the raunchiest and most ridiculous movies to come out. Most people run away from bombs. I run to them. And this box office misfire is pure comedy heaven.
40. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
A look at the lives of a broad cross section of students at your typical high school in the early 80s. Read: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The movie that gave us the greatest topless scene of all time, the incomparable Jeff Spiccoli and featuring an all time great comedic villain in Ray Walston’s Mr Hand.
39. This is Spinal Tap
Directed by Rob Reiner, This is Spinal Tap is a 1984 mockumentary about the fictional rock band Spinal Tap. A look into the “illustrious” backstage lifestyle of a stereotypical heavy metal band, this film was truly groundbreaking. Much of the movie’s dialogue was ad-libbed – they basically just filmed for hours upon hours every day and used the best footage. The “film crew” in the movie is following them as they promote their album “Smell the Glove”.
38. American Pie
I hold this movie in high regard because right from the start you scan this group of friends and you immediately start to identify members of your own group with the group on screen. Every modern American group of male buddies has some combination of a dopey screw up, a jock, a scholar, a ne’er do well, and well.. a Kevin.
37. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Directed by Adam McKay, starring Will Ferrell – rest assured this is not the last time you’ll see this tandem on this list. Off the heels of Old School, Anchorman, and a hell of a Wedding Crashers cameo, Talladega Nights was Ferrell’s take on the world of NASCAR and the american south. His two sons stole every scene they were in, and Ferrell’s pre-Step Brothers on-screen chemistry with John C. Reilly was forged.
Probably the most underrated of The Farrelly Brothers filmography, the story of a one-handed ex-bowler and his Amish prodigy is still funny after all these years. It holds the honor of being a movie I saw three times in three days, and was more funny with each viewing. Here’s the catch- not only did we get Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid, but also my personal fave- Bill Murray. I was bowled over by this comedy gem. (sorry)
35. A Christmas Story
Not just a humorous take on the holiday, also a heaping slice of Americana. With scenes and lines that have worked their way deep into pop culture, such as the triple dog dare, or you’ll shoot your eye out, there’s no doubt that the biggest gift under this Christmas tree was for us.
One thing we know: every few years Hollywood recycles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ in some form or another. Those versions tend to stick to the script, take themselves ultra-serious, and bring nothing new to the table. Enter the Richard Donner directed 1988 comedy starring Bill Murray, and all bets are off. It centers around TV executive Frank Cross, who has spent his entire life alienating himself from friends and family in order to focus on his corporate ladder climb. On Christmas Eve, hours before his network is to air a live broadcast of (yes, you guessed it) A Christmas Carol, he is visited by the usual ghosts of Christmas, just not any ghosts Charles Dickens would approve of. The movie could have been run of the mill, but Murray leading the cast (including Nancy Allen, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Carol Kane) makes it a holiday classic.
33. Beverly Hills Cop
Classic “fish out of water” story starring Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, a reckless Detroit detective that travels to Beverly Hills to solve the murder of his shady friend. He teams up with two straight-laced police officers (Judge Reinhold & John Ashton) and hilarity ensues! I always wanted to try the “banana in the tailpipe” trick.
32. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
What if youth was NOT wasted on the young? Ferris Bueller shows us all in this ode to Carpe Diem! Who wouldnt want a day like this? Along the way there’s tons of comedy at the expense of the high school experience, which is something we can all relate to.
31. Old School
It’s amazing to me that this movie currently has a rating of 7.1/10 on IMDB. What could disappoint you about this movie? What did you go into this film looking for that it didn’t provide? A philosophic commentary on the human condition? Please. This is one of the few movies I’ve ever comfortably given a 10/10. It’s hard to identify a movie from the last 10 years that is quoted more than Old School.
30. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Written, directed and produced by John Hughes, this 1987 classic paired two timeless comics at the top of their game, Steve Martin and John Candy. Set at Thanksgiving, this movie is an excellent ramp-up to the holiday season, but also embodies the vintage “road trip” genre we enjoy so much.
29. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The film that propelled Steve Carell to stardom (and perhaps brought about the eventual downfall of The Office); the 40-Year-Old Virgin is a buddy comedy that was critically acclaimed and financially successful. Much of the film was improvised, which, as we have seen, can be a vital ingredient to making a great comedy.
28. Wedding Crashers
In 2003 Vince Vaughn knocked it out of the park with Luke Wilson in Old School, and here he caught lighting in a bottle again, but this time with Luke’s brother Owen. They brought their pal Will Ferrell in for the obligatory cameo, too. “Ma! The meatloaf! We want it!!” This film brought Isla Fisher and Bradley Cooper to the party, and reminded us of how hot Jane Seymour is. Easily the best use of the now-overused “motorboat” term in pop culture history. The joy on Jeremy’s (Vince Vaughn) face when he asks John what happened upstairs is unmistakable.
27. The Jerk
Steve Martin’s epic tale of a man who’s just plain dumb. A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place, and this is the feature length adaptation of this axiom. The closest thing the big screen saw to Martin’s 1970s stand up comedy persona.
26. Dumb and Dumber
Will Ferrell has his Anchorman, Steve Martin has his The Jerk and Chevy Chase has his Vacation. Jim Carrey’s masterpiece has to be Dumb and Dumber. The memories I associate with this film are my all time favorites. My friends and I saw this film at least 7 times in the theater, and the 7th time was by far the best. Knowing all the beats and jokes as we watched a newbie experience it for the first time- his eyes lit up with every “Aspin” and every snowball to the face. It was like a child on Lloyd Christmas morning.