So what is it exactly that distinguishes the good comedy films from the great? Is it their ability to endure, the way their humor creeps up on you or takes you by surprise? Maybe it’s a great script, perfect timing or one-liners that hit the mark every time? Whatever it is, great comedy films leave a lasting impression and have an ability to engage us. They allow us to lower our defenses and share in the joy and the pain of the characters, as we identify with their situations. Ultimately, truly great comedy allows us to laugh at ourselves.
10. There’s Something About Mary
Arguably the best Farrelly brothers movie to date, they take a story about stalkers and turn it into a comedy. Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) still longs for his prom date Mary Jensen (Cameron Diaz) years after losing track of her following an unfortunate accident on prom night. He eventually decides to hire a private detective to track her down, the only problem being, that the private detective falls in love with her too. Seems like Mary is every man’s dream girl. This movie produced many classic scenes, some you have to see to believe.
Considered by many to be the classic slapstick comedy. Airplane! tells the story of Ted Striker, who has never been able to fly a plane since an “incident” in the war. Striker is forced into action when a mysterious disease (don’t order the fish) knocks out the crew. Airplane! is so jam-packed with jokes you’ll need to see it a few times to catch them all.
8. Meet the Parents
This movie takes a potentially awkward situation that most people can relate to and takes it to the extreme. Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) tries to impress his girlfriends parents, but the father-in-law to be (played by Robert De Niro) is an ex CIA agent and is very mistrusting of Greg. Everything Greg tries to do ends up with disastrous consequences from losing the families cat, to giving his future sister-in-law a black eye. You can’t help but cringe and laugh at the same time at Greg’s misfortunes.
7. Blades of Glory
Following a fight at a medal awards ceremony, champion skaters Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) are banned from competitive skating for life. Years pass and circumstances bring them together for another chance at the podium, but this time in the “men’s doubles”. The story follows their hilarious preparations for the event; all-the-while dogged by attempts from the brother/sister pairs team of the Van Waldenbergs to sabotage their efforts.
6. Coming to America
One of the last great Eddie Murphy movies before his return in the late 90s. Coming to America tells the story of Prince Akeem (Murphy) coming to America to find himself a wife who will love him for who he is after rejecting the idea of an arranged marriage. A fish out of water story, Akeem can’t help but act with dignity even when working at the local fast food restaurant. He soon finds the women of his dreams but will she love him when she discovers he is a Prince from a far away land? A great story with very funny scenes and lots of cameos to look out for.
The story centers on Borat, the Kazakhstani reporter sent to the US to prepare a report for the benefit of his countrymen back home. Things don’t quite go according to plan as Borat falls madly in love with Pamela Anderson after seeing her in Baywatch. Borat decides to go to California to meet and marry her and encountering all sorts of people and situations along the way. Told in classic road trip style, the many adventures of Borat are sometimes crude, but often hilarious at the same time. The most amazing thing is that Borat is taken at face value by virtually everyone he meets with hilarious and sometimes jaw-dropping results.
4. This is Spinal Tap
This is the classic “rockumentary” – a spoof of so many other on-the-road, rock ‘n roll documentaries. It tells the story of Spinal Tap, a washed up British rock band returning to the US for another tour. What we end up with is a hilarious send-up and sometimes a biting commentary on the rock ‘n roll world. The band goes through inevitable ups and downs through their tour after their latest album cover is deemed too racy and is completely blacked out. The band breaks up only to reform (in typical rock and roll fashion) and to make more money on yet another tour.
3. Groundhog Day
Phil Conners (Bill Murray) somehow gets stuck replaying the same day over and over again… Groundhog Day. Like most people, at first it seems like fun, but after reliving the same day 100s of times, Phil becomes suicidal and tries to take his own life. After finding out he can’t die, he tries every conceivable way to kill himself. He eventually realizes this is pointless and starts to learn about the people and the town he’s stuck in and falls in love with his producer, Rita (Andie McDowell).
During a routine operation Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) is cryogenically frozen and then brought back to life 200 years later. The future looks bleak and is controlled by a big brother like government headed by “the Leader”. Monroe ends up joining the underground resistance with hilarious consequences. Perhaps the most memorable scene in the movie is when Miles “disguises” himself as an android. This film is noted for its more visual and slapstick gags than many of Woody Allens’s later movies.
1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Considered by many to be Monty Python’s finest work, the Holy Grail retells the classic story of King Arthur, but does away with most of the classic story. Instead, the king searches for knights to come to Camelot with him; along the way God appears to tell them to search for the Holy Grail. Their noble quest sees the majority of the knights killed off in funny ways until only two make it to the end. What happens there is one of the funniest and most absurd scenes ever filmed.