Best Comedy Movies of the 21st Century

What is more difficult: make people laugh or cry? Almost everyone agrees on the former, thus making comedy films one of the most challenging genres in the film industry. Perhaps for this reason, some of the greatest legends of celluloid emerged from these films: Charles Chaplin, Jerry lewis, Chevy chase Y Leslie nielsen, just to name a few.

This legacy of comedy films is maintained with the support of new actors who have made us laugh out loud so far in the 21st century. And although the vast majority of great performances have been ignored, they all hold a special place in the public’s memory.

Toni Erdmann (Dir. Maren Ade, 2016)

comedy movies

Germany has never been a great reference in comedy, but this situation could change radically after the premiere of Toni Erdmann. The film written and directed by Maren Ade explores the desperation of a father who turns to humor to rescue his relationship with his alienated daughter by creating a curious alter ego. The film garnered accolades during the awards season, but garnered several nominations and rave reviews that consolidated its success around the world. As expected, Hollywood could not miss the opportunity of a remake that was announced in February 2017. The real shock came when it was revealed that the project would star Jack Nicholson. However, in August 2018 Nicholson withdrew from the project at the same time as Lena Dunham, who was producing, and the project appears to have been on hiatus since then.

Ladies at War (Dir. Paul Feig, 2011)

comedy movies

The 21st century comedy reached one of its high points with What Happened Yesterday? Although the Todd Phillips-directed film garnered a worldwide box office of $ 467.5 million, the truth is that its story was entirely male. That’s when Paul Feig – with an Oscar-nominated screenplay by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo – changed the story with Ladies at War, a kind of female counterpart who explored the nuptial tensions within a group of friends. But unlike old rom-coms with worn-out formulas, he did it in an irreverent way and supported by a brilliant ensemble led by Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph. The result was a global gross of almost $ 290 million, the consolidation of some of the brightest comedians of an entire generation and further proof that films with female casts can be more than profitable.

Virgin at 40 (Dir. Judd Apatow, 2005)

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Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Jonah Hill and Kat Jennings are among the great references of contemporary comedy. But what else do they have in common? They all began their rise under the direction of Judd Apatow in Virgin at 40. The great success of this film was to overcome the old methods used by some comedians – mainly Jim Carrey’s slapstick – to capture all the absurdities of a generation that fears the responsibilities of adult life. No one better to reflect these fears than Andy, a man incapable of establishing himself in a romantic relationship and who fills his emotional voids by collecting. Judd Apatow has drawn on much of this same cast to explore other similar stories, but none have managed to replicate the successes of the movie that started it all.

The despair of the dead (Dir. Edgar Wright, 2004)

comedy movies

Edgar Wright began his filmmaking career in 1993 with the short film Dead Right and later a long television career that led him to series like Sir. Bernard’s Stately Homes and Spaced. It was easy to think that the British would continue on television, but everything changed in 2004 with the premiere of Despair of the Dead. One of the best comedy films of the century, the film rescued old hybrids between comedy and horror by exploring the story of Shaun, a reckless Englishman who must deal with two serious problems: the final break with his partner and the zombie pandemic. But the solution is simpler than many might hope! Rescue the girl and then transfer her to an old pub where they will be safe from any threat. The film marked the beginning of the successful Ice Cream Trilogy, but also of a brilliant career that continued to evolve with risky projects like Scott Pilgrim and Baby Driver. The project’s legacy extended beyond the island even after screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick used this same story as the basis for their Zombieland.

School of Rock (Dir. Richard Linklater, 2003)

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Richard Linklater was among the top representatives of Generation X after his great work in Before Dawn. Just a few years later, the Texan spread his popularity among millennial comedy movie fans with his unforgettable School of Rock. The idea arose when writer Mike White moved in with Jack Black and decided to use him as an inspiration for his Dewey Finn: a charismatic individual who took every opportunity to express his rock passion. The film did not garner great recognition after its commercial run, but its funny story, its good chemistry between the young protagonists and its great musical selection allowed it to quadruple its initial investment to consolidate itself among the great successes of 2003. But the public demanded more: Jack Black revealed plans for a possible sequel in 2008; Andrew Lloyd Webber debuted a Broadway musical in 2015; finally Nickelodeon premiered a television series inspired by this same story. It seems that the hits will continue to come for many more years, as a good rocker knows that legends never die.

You might also be interested in: The best comedies of the past decade.

Borat (Dir. Larry Charles, 2006)

Sacha Baron Cohen demonstrated her talent since the late 1990s with Ali G, a satire on a Briton with a strong fondness for Jamaican culture. But his true rise to fame would come with the creation of Borat Sagdiyev, an eccentric Kazakh who makes a trip to the United States to better understand American culture and, if possible, marry Pamela Anderson. The synopsis sounds simplistic, and even absurd, but the character fascinated international critics for the harsh criticism of North American society from the perspective of an Eastern European. As if this were not enough, the project was favored by its mockumentary technique that delved into topics such as sexism, homophobia and racism. The actor was recognized with a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Actor, but the film went practically unnoticed by the Academy, which only nominated him for Best Adapted Screenplay. Predictable if we take into account that many North Americans were extremely uncomfortable when seeing their nature reflected in the film. In 2020, Cohen released the sequel Borat Subsequent Movie Film, which was placed among the best of the year.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Dir. Wes Anderson, 2014)

Wes Anderson’s ingenuity has delighted us with several cinematic gems: The eccentric Tenenbaums, The fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom, to name a few. They are all glorious comedy films, but if we have to choose the most important one, we choose The Grand Budapest Hotel. The film demonstrates the filmmaker’s maturity by capturing the best of his style: exquisite production design, a world-class cast, and a truly original story. To this we add an elegant style of humor and away from other contemporary proposals. This quality did not go unnoticed by the Academy, which recognized him with four Oscars and five more nominations, including the categories of Best Original Screenplay, Director and Film.

Little Miss Sunshine (Dir. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, 2006)

The debut feature Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris is also one of the most important independent films (comedy or not) of recent times. The story is apparently simple, but no less moving: a girl who wants to compete in a beauty pageant, even when she does not meet the standards imposed by society. This fact triggers a unique road trip that brings together a family estranged from the differences of its members, thus destroying numerous laughter and the occasional tear from the public. The film had an initial budget of just $ 8 million, Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired the distribution rights in Sundance for $ 10.5 million – one of the largest acquisitions in the history of the festival – and finally reaped a worldwide box office of $ 100.5 million.

Heavy Girls (Dir. Mark Waters, 2004)

It has been almost 20 years since Cady left African lands behind to venture into the dangerous American academic world. However, his legacy remains strong among audiences who take every opportunity to remember the exploits of the Plastics. And that’s so fetch! Unlike other comedy films, Heavy Girls – which was written by Tina Fey based on the non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes – has been embraced as a true life lesson by generations of teens who just want to feel accepted by their peers. of class. It sounds simple, but it is not. The greatest proof of this is that the very adaptation to the novel written by Rosalind Wiseman has struggled to start a franchise that extends the success of the original film: the direct sequel to home format went completely unnoticed; video games are practically unknown; the spin-off entitled Mean Moms has suffered continuous delays; while Lindsay Lohan’s efforts for a true sequel have been unsuccessful. The one that was a medium success was the Broadway musical, which received 12 Tony nominations in 2018 and of which a film version is already in the works.

Happened yesterday? (Dir. Todd Phillips, 2009)

For many, the most irreverent comedy of recent times, but also the most successful after garnering important accolades during the awards season – that includes a Golden Globe for Best Picture – and accumulating a global box office of $ 467.5 million that marked the beginning of a important trilogy. Much of its success was rooted in its wonderful script written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who explored the debauchery of four friends who decide to forget all their responsibilities during a bachelor party. However, none of this would have been possible without the third protagonist made up of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, who would take advantage of the good of the film to be incorporated into all kinds of subsequent projects: that includes films as risky as Birdman or titanic franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Luis Miguel Cruz Someday I will join the X-Men, the Rebel Alliance or the Night’s Watch. Proud member of Cine PREMIERE since 2008.