I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to make a list for this genre. Comedy is the one thing in all film that is more subjective than everything else. Anyone can enjoy a good physical stunt, or a good moment of acting, and admire a well-written screenplay put to film, plus the cinematography. But having the same sense of humor? Your better off having the same taste in romance films (let alone romantic comedies). But I mine as well as showcase what I find to be personally funny.
Now here’s what this list won’t have, and won’t be based on. There aren’t going to be any stand-up comedy films like Blue Collar Comedy Tour. There aren’t going to be any films I find funny because they’re so-bad-they’re-good (that deserves its own separate list); the films need to be intentionally funny on their own merits. And I’m not going to be basing this on the quality of the film itself. The film has to make me laugh more than anything else. For instance, I’ll admit that Ghostbusters is a better movie than most of those on this list, and I enjoy it a great deal; but it didn’t make me laugh as hard (and/or as frequently) as these. This is purely based on what gets me in an uproar.
So with all that in mind, here are the films I always go back to when I want a good laugh.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
As reliant on slapstick humor as this movie is, I think there’s more depth and intelligence to this film than people give it credit for. Even though we’re rooting for Gilmore the whole way, in this day and age, you can’t help but think the film may have been on to something demonstrating that his antics that are so wild and boost network ratings, the networks allow him to continue, which thus allow him to draw in crowds of the lowest common denominator, which result in the sport being a less respected one that becomes something that is viewed less for the sportsmanship and love of the game, than it is for the juvenile antics that will make the whole professional sport worse off in the long run. But at least it has a half-hearted message about learning to control your temper and be more restrained. Either way, him knocking the clown’s nose off will always be funny to me.
Young Frankenstein (1974)
I know this is considered the funniest movie of all time, but that’s in the eye of the beholder. Obviously, it being ranked this low on this list, I don’t find it to be THAT funny, but it does provide a good number of laughs, and always manages to entertain. When it comes to Mel Brooks films, the humor tends to appeal more to the juvenile and less to those who get older. But in all fairness, I found this film to have aged better than most of his other films. I do have to admit though, it’s funnier if you’ve not only seen Frankenstein (1931), and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), but also Son of Frankenstein (1939). The latter film especially has more jokes inspired from that film than from the other two combined.
Shrek 2 (2004) and Toy Story 2 (1999)
Both these films are equally entertaining for the same reasons. They don’t take themselves too seriously, they poke fun at themselves and at some other stuff they parody (though Shrek 2 leans more towards the latter), and they’re reliant on the pop culture of the time (again, Shrek 2 more-so than Toy Story 2). But they’re both equally hilarious to me.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
I was worried about revisiting this after so many years. I worried the humor would be too childish for me. Well, it may be childish, but it still makes me laugh my ass off. “No touchy” is still a catchy line. I wouldn’t say a single moment stood out all that much, but it’s consistently funny to me. Plus the energy maintained throughout is great. Plus Kronk and Yzma are a great duo.
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002)
I know this is silly and stupid, and I thought that it was more stupid than silly the first time I saw it in theaters. That’s because I was expecting a different film than the one I saw, based on the bullshit trailers. But now that I know what to expect, and see it for what it is (a satire of English dubbed martial arts flicks from the 60s and 70s), now I think it’s as stupid as it is funny.
This wouldn’t be as great to me in the 90s as it is today. In the 90s, for me, this would’ve been just another (slightly above average) run of the mill comedy. But in today’s politically correct climate, this stands in stark contrast in just about every way possible. Starts out slow, but it gets better. And while I do think that Back To School is the better (and best) overall Rodney Dangerfield film, this one made me laugh the hardest, knowing how much it would offend people today. Reviewed here.
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
First ten minutes is a simple introduction into the film to setup the semi-main protagonist’s motive. Then it becomes a full high level laugh out loud riot up until around the halfway point when our actual protagonists try to get him out of prison. The laughs up until that point were great enough, from making an assassination attempt, where people are killed, full of slapstick humor. To them constantly trying and failing to fire a bazooka. To all the shit that happens with the truck. That whole half of the runtime is worth the film alone. It does have one moment that may be a bit uncomfortable to watch though (especially if you’ve seen Beasts of No Nation), with all these African kids holding AK-47s.
Used Cars (1980)
If there’s anything else that could rival Ladybugs on this list in terms of politically incorrect humor, it would be this movie. It may not quite be as high on the anti-PC scale of humor, but it certainly is just as high (if not higher) on the general humor scale. Everyone is either an asshole in this film, or by the end gets converted into being an asshole in the world of devious low-handed car salesmen. This has two highlights. One being when they do a sales advertisement on live television while destroying their competitor’s vehicles. The other being the finale car chase, which has some fairly good stunts (with Kurt Russel doing his own).
Major Payne (1995)
One of my favorite comedies as a kid, and still one of my favorites today. Damon Waynes at his best, and playing his most memorable character to over-the-top perfection. A hard-as-nails soldier who becomes an instructor at a military school for kids. The best moment of the movie is when he’s telling the story of The Little Engine That Could. The first half is chock full of laughs, but then it mellows out during the second half. But like The Gods Must Be Crazy, the first half is worth the price of admission alone.
City Hunter (1993)
This may not be one of Jackie Chan’s more beloved films, but it is one of my favorites of his. He has some decent fight scenes, none of which may ever go on to be listed in his top ten, but they deliver. The main reason I love this film is that I consider it to be the live action film that tried to emulate the feel of being a comedy-style anime, and succeeded. The highlight of the film is easily the moment when they start fighting as characters out of the Street Fighter II game. Despite how (intentionally) over-the-top and cheesy it is, it’s still the most faithful depiction of the Street Fighter game in a live action movie.
This is it. The greatest board game to movie adaptation ever made. The amount of effort put into the comedy for this film is better than you would expect for something like that. From the over-the-top gags, to the more subdued and subtle moments, this has everything one could want out of a mystery-thriller-comedy. Never goes completely bonkers, it maintains an amount of restraint that’s highly respected. I won’t spoil any of the moments that are in it if you haven’t seen it yet, but I will say this. There are a couple different ways to see this movie. When this initially ran in theaters (and on some television networks back in the day), this randomly had 1 of 3 different endings. Nowadays, they just show this film as they did on initial video releases, showing all 3 of the endings. That’s bullshit. Watch it with a random ending. You can do that with certain DVD and blu-ray releases.
Team America: World Police (2004)
It’s kind of scary how much of the satire regarding the Film Actor’s Guild actually came to fruition in reality. Hollywood dictating how everyone should behave and think, while adhering to some political force in the process. Granted, they aimed at North Korea doing it instead of China, but that’s more forgivable back in that time period (less so for the remake of Red Dawn). Anyway, it’s hard not to love this film. There’s plenty of moments that are not only funny, but should be iconic. Just the theme song alone, sung with just as much tongue-in-cheek irony as it is with a form of praise. Like America could make fun of itself and acknowledge its own faults, yet still have fun with itself while doing it while bashing everyone else too. Plus the song “Everyone Has AIDS!” The middle eastern stereotypes (I really miss those). The Hollywood actor bashing. The sex scene. Not to mention that, despite how cheap it looks, the amount of effort that went into various sequences.
Jackass 2 (2004)
One of those films that proves to myself that I really am a man of simple tastes. Sometimes I just want some good slapstick humor, by guys who are famous for being this kind of self-destructive low-brow self-deprecating shameless individuals for the sake of (self) amusement, who don’t have much else in life. But they got famous for it. Because we all love that shit. It’s in our nature to find this simple juvenile stuff hilarious, which is why slapstick humor has always been universally appreciated across all cultures and nations. And they did it before YouTube got too popular and widely used, opting to have copycats do all this stuff (without the budget or medical personal nearby). It’s that so much effort (and money) was put into these stunts, while not slacking off on the more personalized hits too, is what makes this so endearing. And yes, I laugh my ass off at it. Jackass 2 is my personal favorite of the films (way better than the first film, a bit better than the 3rd, and definitely way above the series). The peak of what the Jackass crew had to offer.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen any movie, of any genre, that’s managed to have this many central characters, all of which are distinct and memorable. From their nicknames, to their mannerisms, to their actions. All of them are great. And amazingly enough, Brad Pitt and Jason Statham don’t standout from them so much as fit right in, never overshadowing the other characters. That is not a bad thing for this film. Though if I had to pick a favorite character, it would be Avi. Just his general attitude, and what he says to Doug the first time they’re together in the same room. Yet for all the solid comedy moments, it also has some solid drama to go with it, and a solid boxing fight too. It’s a solid film all-around, that also delivers on some heavy laughs. Also one of the very few films in existence that manages to be as cool as it thinks it is.
Edit: Increased the number from a top 10 to a top 15.