Several years ago, Jack Black, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly sang a hilarious song at the Academy Awards about the fact that comedies are always overlooked when awards season comes around. (“A comedian at the Oscars, the saddest man of all,” Ferrell crooned. “Your movies may make millions, but your name they’ll never call…”) Just like all great jokes, it worked because it’s actually true.
Now, we’ll never be able to turn back the clock to give our favorite laugh riots the awards they so deserve, but we can do our best to try to rectify matters by calling attention to what we consider to be the greatest funny movies of all time, which we’ve compiled right here. So read on to celebrate Hollywood’s funniest creations. And for more excellent humor, check out the 30 Funniest Movie Characters of All Time.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Best Line: “Now go away or I will taunt you a second time.”
This tale of King Arthur and their coconut-banging knights kinda has a plot — it’s about their quest to find Camelot, at least in the beginning — but the story comes second to a barrage of jokes and bits. If you haven’t repeated at least one of these classic one-liners in your life, it’s arguable that you haven’t really lived. For more funny one-liners, check out The 30 Funniest SNL Skits Ever.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Best Line: “I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.”
Will Ferrell plays an arrogant, dim-witted San Diego anchorman whose love for himself is matched only by his mistrust for women. Ferrell is at his best when he’s taking aim at smug masculinity—just look at NASCAR racing doofus Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights—but he’s never done it better than with Ron Burgundy. For more hysterical content, read up on the 30 Funniest Sitcom Characters Of All Time.
Best Line: “I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.”
It’s hard to believe that Leslie Nielsen was considered a dramatic actor before joining the cast of Airplane. He’s a natural at comedy, and so is the rest of the cast in this classic of slapstick and one-liners. Even if you don’t laugh at every joke — we’ll admit, some of them are corny — there’s bound to be something here to tickle your funny bone. Have there been more jokes crammed into one movie? We doubt it. For more corny jokes that didn’t quite get the laughs, check out 30 Oscars Telecast Jokes That Totally Bombed.
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Best Line: “It’s pronounced Fronkensteen.”
The grandson of Dr. Frankenstein (played by Gene Wilder) returns to Transylvania, and despite insisting he has no interest in joining the family business, ends up making his own creature anyway. A fantastic parody of old black and white monster movies that also happens to be Mel Brooks’ best comedy, and that’s saying something. It has just what the original Frankenstein movie needed — more tap dancing. And for more ways to boost your mood, check out the 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Best Line: “I caught you a delicious bass.”
The awkwardness of being a teenager has never been captured so perfectly, and so bizarrely. It’s easy to laugh at Napoleon cause he’s such a weirdo, but we also root for him, un-ironically, because there’s a gawky nerdy kid with crazy hair in all of us. Oh, and speaking of hair: If you want to shave some years off your age instantly, here are the 15 Best Men’s Haircuts for Looking Younger.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Best Line: “It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None… more black.”
Believe it or not, during its initial run, not all audiences were in on the joke. “When Spinal Tap initially came out, everybody thought it was a real band,” says director Rob Reiner. Even Ozzy Osbourne wasn’t aware that the guys in Spinal Tap were just comedians. Some rockers, like U2 guitarist The Edge, thought the movie cut too close to home. “I didn’t laugh,” the Edge admitted. “I wept.” Maybe that’s why This Is Spinal Tap is still considered a cult classic today. It’s funny because it rings so very, very true. And for more zany humor, check out the 20 Celebrities Who Look Like Their Pets.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Best Line: “When you chase a dream, especially one with plastic chests, you sometimes do not see what is right in front of you.”
Sacha Baron Cohen’s jaw-dropping “documentary”, based on a character he’d created for Da Ali G Show. resulted in lawsuits, controversy, and possibly the end of Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock’s marriage. But it was worth it, as it gave us one of the most satirically brilliant comedies of our lifetime. Cohen has been called a comic revolutionary because of this movie, and been compared to everyone from Lenny Bruce to Andy Kaufman. We couldn’t agree more.
Duck Soup (1933)
Best Line: “Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot. But don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”
The Marx Brothers — Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo — have never been more on top of their game than with this hilarious romp through the absurdities of politics and nationalism. It still makes us want to cheer “Hail, hail Freedonia!” (and laugh at lyrics like, “If you think this country is bad off now, just wait till I get through with it.” Whatever your personal politics, that probably rings true.) And for amazing bits of trivia, here are the 40 Facts You Learned in the 20th Century That Are Totally Bogus Today.
Best Line: “Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.”
We guarantee there’ll be somebody out there angry that we picked this particular film to represent Bill Murray’s best comedy. Should Stripes be on this list instead? Or Groundhog Day? Or even Meatballs? We could argue forever about which Bill Murray movie is the funniest, but can we at least come together and agree that Ghostbusters is a classic, and if you don’t find it funny you might be a little dead inside? And for more on America’s favorite funnyman, here are the 30 Most Hilarious Bill Murray Encounters.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Best Line: “I hope you have a big trunk, ’cause I’m putting my bike in it.”
Rarely has a movie found such a perfect balance between innocent and crude. Steve Carell is perfection as a middle-aged virgin who just wants to meet that special someone. This movie would probably be on our list for the chest-waxing scene alone. And for some movies we definitely don’t endorse, here are the 15 Best Picture Oscar Winners Nobody Likes Anymore.
Raising Arizona (1987)
Best Line: “Give me that baby, you warthog from hell!”
Before the Big Lebowski proved the Coen Brothers were filmmaking legends, and before Nic Cage got on everybody’s nerves, there was this comedy gem, about an ex-con and his wife who want a baby so much they’re willing to kidnap one.
Office Space (1999)
Best Line: “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.”
All it takes to enjoy this comedy is a boss that gets in your nerves and a gnawing frustration with your 9-to-5 life. In other words, everybody. If you’ve ever had fantasies of taking revenge on that annoying printer at your office that never seems to work by bringing it out into a field and destroying it with a baseball bat while listening to gangsta rap, this is the movie for you. And for more things you should definitely watch, here are 15 Genius YouTube Classes That Will Improve Your Life.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Best Line: “I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with … laser beams attached to their heads!”
Now that everyone on the planet isn’t doing an Austin Powers impersonation anymore, we can safely return to enjoying Mike Myers’ greatest comedy. (Sorry, it’s not Wayne’s World.) You don’t even have to like British spy movies to find something to enjoy in this timeless spoof. And for more British humor, here are 9 Words British Royals Will Never Say.
Best Line: “At first, I did not know it was your diary. I thought it was a very sad handwritten book.”
The comedy that turned Melissa McCarthy into a megastar, and with good reason. How can a movie about female friendship be so sweet and also so crass? Easy, just cast it with hilarious women like Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and the aforementioned McCarthy, and wait for the fireworks.
The Jerk (1979)
Best Line: “I once had wealth, power, and the love of a beautiful woman. Now I only have two things: my friends, and… uh… my thermos.”
Steve Martin could have made sad British war dramas for the rest of his life and still be the funniest person on the planet thanks to this comedy masterpiece. If the line “he hates these cans” doesn’t make you fall on the floor, convulsing with laughter, you need to drop everything and see The Jerk immediately.
Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Best Line: “Well, we’ve made it to the end of the summer in one piece, except for a few campers who are lepers.”
It’s like any movie about teenage summer camps starring actors who are obviously adults, except 1000% more ridiculous and confusing, and starring comedy greats like Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and Michael Ian Black.
Best Line: “You sit on a throne of lies!”
We’re as surprised as you are that this Christmas comedy, directed by the guy from Swingers, has become one of our favorite Will Ferrell movies ever. What can we say? Buddy the Elf, the orphan who grows up thinking he’s one of Santa’s elves, is just one of Ferrell’s most perfect and unforgettable creations.
A Shot in the Dark (1964)
Best Line: “I believe everything and I believe nothing. I suspect everyone and I suspect no one.”
If you watch just one of the Pink Panther movies, let it be this one. Peter Sellers has never been more effortlessly hilarious as the bumbling detective Inspector Jacques Clouseau. This is also the film that introduced his foils — Commissioner Dreyfus, driven mad by Clouseau’s ineptitude, and Clouseau’s manservant, Cato, instructed to attack his master without warning. Sellers did many sequels, but the humor was never as on target as this one.
Animal House (1978)
Best Line: “Oh no! Seven years of college down the drain!”
Quite simply the greatest movie ever made about college buffoons who drink too much, study too little, spy on naked ladies using ladders, steal horses, sabotage parades, and wear bedsheets to parties. If you ever wondered why John Belushi is considered such a comedy icon, start here.
The Apartment (1960)
Best Line: “You would think I should have learned by now. When you’re in love with a married man you shouldn’t wear mascara.”
This Billy Wilder-directed film about marital infidelity (and so much more) is pure hilarity no matter what generation you were born in. Starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, it does a better job of satirizing corporate culture and sexual hypocrisy than any comedy that’s come before or since.
Modern Times (1936)
Don’t be scared away by films made before sound and color, much less CGI, were standard in movies. This Charlie Chaplin classic has more genuine yuks than a thousand Mall Cops. Chaplin stars as an incompetent worker on a factory assembly line, and the hijinks that follow will make you howl just as loud as your grandfather did.
The Hangover (2009)
Best Line: “It’s not a man purse. It’s called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one.”
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, especially if your best pal slipped you a roofie. Three guys at a bachelor party — Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis — try to figure out what happened the night before, and where they left the groom. You just don’t put Mike Tyson and a stolen tiger in a movie and not get included with the greats of comedy cinema.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Best Line: “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”
This Cold War political satire by the late director Stanley Kubrick — in which the late, great Peter Sellers plays not one but three different characters, including the eponymous Dr. Strangelove, the wheelchair-using nuclear war expert — feels as relevant today as it did back in the early 60s. If you’ve ever worried about the possibility of a nuclear conflict with Russia but also like smart comedy, this should definitely be your next weekend Netflix pick.
Girls Trip (2017)
Best Line: “If you are going to come along with us please refrain from saying things like preach or go girl or any other colloquialisms that you may have looked up on Urban Dictionary.”
Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith take an old premise (the road trip) and turn it into something hilarious and relatable. A gang of college friends reunite to drive cross-country to New Orleans, and it ends up being the funniest character-driven movie we’ve seen in years.
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
Best Line: “It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.”
Long before Fergie was getting shade for her take on the National Anthem, Leslie Nielsen was the original “Star Spangled Banner” mangler. And that’s not even the funniest moment in Naked Gun, a movie based on a TV show that got cancelled after six episodes. There are a million reasons why this comedy should’ve failed, but it remains a classic for the ages.
Billy Madison (1995)
Best Line: “If peeing your pants is cool, then consider me Miles Davis.”
Adam Sandler’s man-child schtick can be hit or miss — sometimes it’s hilarious, sometimes it makes you want to kick the TV — but Billy Madison, Sandler’s first starring role after leaving SNL, is definitely the former. Sandler plays a 27-year-old spoiled rich kid who tries to repeat every grade in school, 1st to 12th, to prove to his dad that he’s capable of taking over the family business someday. Turns out all it takes to make Sandler funny is to surround him with 3rd graders.
Never heard of it? Time to change that. This classic French comedy is one of the most masterful satires of modern life, technology and tourism ever made. Check out the trailer and you may think you’re watching a Wes Anderson movie. (He’s a big fan of Playtime, as is David Lynch.)
Best Line: “We have a pool and a pond. The pond is better for you.”
One movie with enough comedic plotlines for six or seven. C’mon, you’re telling us you wouldn’t watch an entire hour-and-a-half movie about Bill Murray’s groundskeeper? Or Rodney Dangerfield’s obnoxious golf club member? This comedy classic doesn’t just hold up to repeated viewings, it demands them.
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Best Line: “Mongo only pawn in the game of life.”
Would you expect a film co-written by Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor to be anything but brilliant? It’s a spoof on Hollywood Westerns, but really it’s about the absurdities of racism, and how seeing the world in black and white turns us all into idiots. Cleavon Little plays a black sheriff in an all-white town that needs saving. Their expectations, and the audiences, are turned on their ear. And somehow, with the weight of those social issues to juggle, Blazing Saddles manages to be one of the funniest movies of the last century.
Waiting for Guffman (1996)
Best Line: “We consider ourselves bi-costal if you consider the Mississippi River one of the coasts.”
We still have a hard time believing a movie this funny could be entirely improvised. But with a cast that includes comedy titans like Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Christopher Guest, and Catherine O’Hara, who needs a script? Like the best film comedies, it works not because you want to laugh at these losers, but because you see some of your own insecurities and vulnerabilities in them. These characters are ridiculous, utterly without talent, and lacking in any kind of self-awareness. Isn’t that what we all secretly fear about ourselves? For more bad jokes, check out these 75 Jokes That Are So Bad They’re Actually Funny.
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