Comedy is a diverse genre. There’s straight-up comedy, black comedy, romantic comedy, crime comedy, teen comedy, farce, slapstick, dry comedy — there’s no limit to what can make us laugh. Plus, as we all know, what makes one person laugh won’t necessarily amuse everyone else. To some extent, comedy is subjective, but we can all agree that some movies tickle our funny bones every time. Keep reading for the greatest comedies of all time, ranked.
40. Step Brothers, 2008
Admittedly, actor Will Ferrell isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. While some of his movies are too over the top for some tastes, Step Brothers is almost (almost) sweet. The Judd Apatow movie also stars John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, and Kathryn Hahn.
Step Brothers follows two grown men who still live with their respective parents. When their mom and dad meet and decide to get married, sons Brennan and Reilly are forced to learn to live with each other. Also, there’s singing.
39. Being There, 1979
Being There is a subtle film, but an amusing one nonetheless. This 1979 movie stars Peter Sellers in the lead role, with Shirley MacLaine opposite and Melvyn Douglas in an Academy Award-winning supporting role.
Being There follows a naïve gardener who ventures out into the world and is mistaken for an upper-class, highly educated man. This film is actually a very early rumination on the idea of privilege, and how some people can move through the world with more ease than others.
38. Booksmart, 2019
Booksmart is the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde, and stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Denver. This coming-of-age film, which has been described as a mashup between Superbad and Bridesmaids, follows two well-behaved students as they try to have “one cool night” before school ends.
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produced this movie, and it holds an impressively high score on Rotten Tomatoes. This high school comedy has been described as “memorably relatable” and “humane and heartfelt.”
37. Clueless, 1995
There are several ‘90s and ‘00s teen comedies that are based on Jane Austen novels, and Clueless is one of them. This retelling of Emma stars Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Stacy Dash, and a fresh-faced Paul Rudd. In the movie, we follow Cher (Silverstone) — a popular, beautiful, and rich girl in high school.
Like in all good teen movies, the popular kids take in a new student (Murphy), and decide to transform her into one of them.
36. Legally Blonde, 2001
All hail Elle Woods, the blonde and bubbly protagonist of Legally Blonde. In this comedy, Reese Witherspoon plays a sorority girl that gets dumped and decides to follow her ex-boyfriend to law school. Of course, the movie is about Elle’s journey as she navigates a world more hostile and drab than she’s used to.
This movie has a chihuahua called Bruiser, a whole lot of bend and snapping, and a juicy crime subplot. It’s so good, they even made a musical out of it.
35. Sister Act, 1992
This ’90s comedy classic was one of the most financially successful comedies of the decade, and it’s not hard to see why. This musical comedy stars Whoopi Goldberg as Dolores Van Cartier, a lounge performer who has to flee her Vegas life to hide from her gangster boyfriend (Harvey Keitel). And where’s the best place to hide from a violent criminal? In a convent of course.
Cue the newly named Sister Mary Clarence teaching a gang of elderly and eccentric nuns how to sing.
34. In Bruges, 2008
In Bruges is the feature film directorial debut for Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. Also featuring two Irish actors — Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson — the movie follows two Irish hitmen as they hide from their boss after a job gone wrong. With a premise like that, how could you doubt that this movie is anything other than hilarious?
This dark comedy earned McDonagh an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay, and impressed critics. Robert Ebert called the film “an endlessly surprising, very dark, human comedy.”
33. Mean Girls, 2004
Written by Saturday Night Live alumni and 30 Rock creator Tina Fey, Mean Girls is a satire of the high school experience. Lindsay Lohan stars as Cady Heron, a homeschooled student that has returned from Africa with her parents after 12 years. Cady must navigate the high school eco-system for the first time and undergoes several identity crises.
With the help of the “Plastics,” Cady morphs into her worst nightmare and then decides to take them down. Also — Mean Girls is Amanda Seyfried’s movie debut.
32. City Lights, 1931
For those of you that like the old classics, 1931’s City Lights is hard to beat. Starring Charlie Chaplin himself, this romantic comedy is a pre-code film, meaning that it was made before the widespread adoption of sound in movies. Chaplin also directed, produced, and composed the music for this film, which follows his Tramp character as he falls in love with a blind woman.
Sound films were actually becoming more popular at this time, but Chaplin chose to make City Lights a silent production.
31. Shaun of the Dead, 2004
Shaun of the Dead is a horror-comedy featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost that was released in 2004. In the film, electronics salesman Shaun (Pegg) and his slacker pal Ed (Frost) wake up to a zombie apocalypse. The movie was the first in the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy, which includes buddy cop comedy Hot Fuzz and sci-fi comedy The World’s End.
Audiences and critics loved Shaun of the Dead, and it quickly became a cult movie. We can see why!
30. Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993
It would be absurd to compile a list of the best comedies of all time and not include something that stars Robin Williams. In this children’s classic, following the break-up of his marriage, a father takes on the persona of the eccentric Mrs. Doubtfire in order to spend more time with his children,.
Mrs. Doubtfire is full of laughs, buoyed by Williams’ infectious and unmatched spirit. The cast also includes Sally Field, Piers Brosnan, and a young Mara Wilson.
29. Blazing Saddles, 1974
This Western black comedy, directed by Mel Brooks, takes a host of tropes and stereotypes and turns them on their head. In the movie, a conniving attorney general schemes to appoint an African American sheriff, hoping that the townspeople will be offended and leave the town. Instead, Sherriff Bart ropes in the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) and starts to integrate the town with black, Chinese, and Irish railroad workers.
Furthermore, Blazing Saddles is now considered a historically significant movie.
28. Girls Trip, 2017
Girls Trip is packed full of recognizable names including Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Regina Hall. It was also the vehicle that brought us the inimitable Tiffany Haddish, who burst forth from this buddy movie a fully formed star.
Based on real-life experiences with girlfriends, Girls Trip follows four friends as they attend the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. This movie really pops due to the cast’s on-screen energy, chemistry, and comic timing.
27. Clerks, 1994
Clerks is an unusual movie — it’s black and white despite being made in the ‘90s, and it was extremely successful considering its low budget of $27,500. The buddy comedy was written, directed, and co-produced by Kevin Smith, and marks the first of Smith’s films that exist in the same fictional universe.
Clerks follows Dante who is called in to work to cover another employee’s shift at the grocery store. His best friend, Randal, is a clerk at the video store next door. Peter Travers called it “deadpan comic brilliance.”
26. The Big Sick, 2017
Actor Kumail Nanjiani was best known for his role as Dinesh in HBO’s Silicon Valley until he co-wrote and starred in an independent movie called The Big Sick. This romantic comedy is loosely based on Nanjiani’s relationship with his wife, Emily Gordon, and explores their cultural differences.
In the film, student Emily is put in an induced coma, forcing ex-boyfriend Kumail to interact with her parents. The Big Sick was praised by critics and has an impressive 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
25. Some Like it Hot, 1959
Let’s turn back time a little bit with black and white romantic comedy Some Like it Hot. Starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis, the 1959 film was directed, produced, and co-written by Billy Wilder. The movie sees Lemmon and Curtis as musicians who dress as women in order to escape mafia gangsters.
Some Like it Hot is considered one of the best comedies of all time, according to the BBC, the American Film Institute, and the British Film Institute.
24. Knocked Up, 2007
This 2007 Judd Apatow follows the aftermath of a one night stand between a freeloader and an uptight media personality. Starring a host of Apatow favorites — Seth Rogan, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann (Apatow’s real-life wife), Jonah Hill, and Jason Segal — Knocked Up is a slacker comedy that’s full of raunchy humor and improv.
Knocked Up is interesting because it subverts the usual unexpected pregnancy storyline. It isn’t a regular old rom-com, but a slightly surreal and always funny romp.
23. Bridget Jones’s Diary, 2001
It started off as a rather hilarious book by Helen Fielding, and then it became a rather hilarious movie starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth. Another Jane Austen adaptation — this time Pride and Prejudice — Bridget Jones’s Diary follows the hapless Bridget as she charts her career, her love life, and her weight.
The result is a feel-good romantic comedy from Richard Curtis that’s packed with memorable scenes, physical comedy, and hilarious one-liners. Plus, Jim Broadbent plays Bridget’s dad!
22. Spy, 2015
Actress Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig have worked together on several projects including Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy. In this action spy comedy, McCarthy’s desk-jockey CIA worker must take to the field and try to track down a stolen nuclear device.
Spy has a star-studded cast such as Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Jude Law, and Alison Janney. The movie scored very highly on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with critics celebrating Feig and McCarthy’s working relationship.
21. Sideways, 2004
Comedy-drama Sideways stars the always wonderful Paul Giamatti and the charming Thomas Haden Church. The pair play men in their forties — one a depressed teacher and the other an actor that’s past his prime. They decide to go on a week-long trip to Santa Barbara in order to celebrate one of their upcoming weddings.
Sideways took home the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was praised by critics. This movie also features a pre-Grey’s Anatomy Sandra Oh.
20. When Harry Met Sally, 1989
When Harry Met Sally is the fall-colored, quippy, yet romantic tale of two people that took some time to realize how they really felt for each other. Even people that haven’t seen this movie know about Sally’s performance in the diner, and that’s the sign of a truly iconic film.
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal star as the leads in this Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner movie that asks, “Can men and women ever just be friends?” We love it!
19. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, 1987
Next up is a John Hughes film that stars comedic greats Steve Martin and John Candy. Martin plays an uptight marketing executive who is forced to spend three days with sweet but simple shower curtain ring salesman Del (Candy).
Up until this movie, John Hughes had made teen movies including The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Sixteen Candles. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was an instant hit, and reviewers praised Martin and Candy’s comedic chemistry.
18. Bridesmaids, 2011
When Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids hit the scene in 2011, it caused a serious conversation. The movie was seen as a female version of male-centric comedy hits like The Hangover, and boasted an impressive cast of Hollywood funny women.
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo wrote the screenplay for Bridesmaids after Wiig starred in Apatow’s Knocked Up in 2007. Apatow also co-produced Bridesmaids and it became his first film to be nominated for an Academy Award.
17. Napoleon Dynamite, 2004
The bizarre Napoleon Dynamite has to be seen to be believed. This movie didn’t really make sense to anyone when it was released in 2004. Still, it managed to get under the skin and into the vocabularies of every teenager that ever watched it. Vote for Pedro!
Jon Heder plays the continually strange Napolean, Efren Ramirez plays Pedro — a Mexican transfer student — and Tina Majorino plays the shy yet entrepreneurial Deb. This cult movie is pretty inexplicable unless you just go for it.
16. The First Wives Club, 1996
Based on a novel of the same name, The First Wives Club is a comedy starring the holy trinity of Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton. In the movie, Annie, Elise, and Brenda are divorcees that seek revenge on their ex-husbands, who left them for younger models. Understandable!
Whilst critics were mixed on the film at the time, it became a surprise box office hit, and revitalized the careers of its leads. It has been called “a glamorous revenge romp.”
15. Trading Places, 1983
Screwball comedy Trading Places reignited the careers of its main cast, particularly Eddie Murphy, who went on to become one of the highest-paid comedians of the 1980s. The John Landis film stars Murphy as a street hustler alongside Dan Aykroyd as a stockbroker, as they find themselves living each other’s lives.
Trading Places also stars Jamie Lee Curtis, who had been mainly seen in horror movies before then. Critics praised both Aykroyd and Murphy’s performances, saying it was their best work to date.
14. 9 to 5, 1980
A film that boasts Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton as its leads is bound to be excellent, and that’s absolutely true in this case. 9 to 5 follows our three leading ladies as they try to get revenge on their “egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss. Doesn’t that sound fun?
9 to 5 turned the fabulous Dolly Parton into a mainstream figure, and the film was turned into a successful TV series and a Broadway show.
13. Best in Show, 2000
If you asked a 2020 audience who these two are, they would casually respond, “Well it’s John and Moira Schitt, of course!” But alas, before Schitt’s Creek — and its creator, Dan Levy — had ever been conceived of, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara starred in mockumentary Best in Show.
Co-written by Levy and director Christopher Guest, Best in Show follows five participants in a prestigious dog show. The cast includes comedic heavyweights like Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, and John Michael Higgins.
12. Crazy Rich Asians, 2018
This 2018 romantic-comedy is based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel, and is the first major Hollywood film to feature a predominantly Asian cast. Crazy Rich Asians follows economics professor Rachel as she travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family. As you might have guessed from the title, she soon discovers that her future in-laws are “crazy rich.”
This movie was a major success and was actually one of the highest-grossing romantic comedies of the 2010s.
11. Knives Out, 2019
Murder mystery capers aren’t as popular as they used to be, but 2019’s Knives Out brought the genre back with a bang. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the film is a modern whodunit with a great ensemble cast of wacky family members. Christopher Plummer plays the family’s patriarch, with Jamie Lee Curtis as his eldest daughter, Chris Evans as his grandson, and Ana de Armas as his nurse.
Trust us when we say that this movie is seriously smart and sharply funny.
10. Coming to America, 1988
Eddie Murphy created the story on which Coming to America was based, and starred in the movie’s lead role. Murphy plays Akeem Joffer, the prince of a fictional African nation who travels to the USA in order to find a wife. The movie also stars James Earl Joes, John Amos, and Arsenio Hall.
Coming to America was the second collaboration between Eddie Murphy and director John Landis, following their success in Trading Places. This time around, there was a little more tension between the pair.
9. Superbad, 2007
Superbad is another teen comedy that really swept the cultural scene. At the time, it really felt like everyone was talking about this Judd Apatow produced coming-of-age movie. The film follows two teenagers — Seth and Evan — as they try to go to a high school party.
Superbad was written by, and based on the lives of, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. Rogen wanted to play himself in the movie but ended up playing a police officer due to his age.
8. Slap Shot, 1977
In Slap Shot, we have something fairly unusual — a sports comedy written by a woman. Starring Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean, Slap Shot tells the story of a minor league ice hockey team that chooses a strange and violent route to success. This movie wasn’t totally appreciated in its time but has gone on to become a beloved cult classic.
Slap Shot is foul-mouthed, raunchy, and violent. Unsurprisingly, it divided critics when it was released. It’s both funny and kind of brutal.
7. Big, 1988
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of fantasy comedy, especially when we’re talking about Penny Marshall’s 1988 film Big. Starring Tom Hanks, the movie follows a young boy who transforms into a fully grown adult overnight. Naturally, hijinks ensue, leading to a variety of unforgettable and charming moments.
Big was a huge hit when it was released, and unsurprisingly, the crowds went wild for Tom Hanks. And really, with that smile, who could blame them?
6. Airplane! 1980
Parody movie Airplane! is a fast-paced and surreal slapstick comedy that’s packed full of visual gags, puns, and bizarre humor. Whilst the movie was a huge hit at the time of its release, its popularity has only grown since then. The film parodies disaster movies as it follows the exploits of a rogue pilot and his ex-girlfriend turned stewardess.
This 1980 movie mocks the disaster films of the decade before, and was adored by audiences and critics alike.
5. Parasite, 2019
Bong Joon Ho’s black comedy Parasite swept the 2019 Academy Awards, taking home the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. And boy, it sure deserved it. This meticulously crafted film tells the story of two Korean families whose lives become increasingly intertwined.
Parasite is darkly funny and engaging from beginning to end. Its almost perfect score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes tells you everything you need to know.
4. The Big Lebowski
Another hit cult comedy is the 1998 Coen brothers movie, The Big Lebowski. Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore, this crime caper is stuffed full of acting talent. In the movie, Bridges plays “The Dude,” a slacker who gets caught up in the world of crime after an assault gone wrong. The Dude must deliver a ransom whilst keeping his chaotic gang of friends at bay.
The Big Lebowski has become more popular over time thanks to its memorable characters and distinctive dialogue.
3. This Is Spinal Tap: A Rockumentary, 1984
One of the most beloved mockumentaries of all time is 1984’s This Is Spinal Tap. The docu-comedy was actor Rob Reiner’s directorial debut, and by all accounts, it went pretty well. The movie stars Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest as English rockers from heavy metal band Spinal Tap. In a lovely touch of meta, Reiner plays Marty, a filmmaker who follows them on a tour.
This is Spinal Tap satirizes rock documentaries and the musicians that star in them, and is almost entirely improvised.
2. Juno, 2007
Juno is quite unlike anything else. Directed by Diablo Cody (hooray! A female director!) and starring Ellen Page, Juno follows an independent teenager that finds herself unintentionally pregnant. With a protective J.K. Simmons as her father, Alison Janney as her stepmother, and Michael Cera as her love interest, Page’s Juno crackles alongside any scene partner.
This coming-of-age comedy won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and prompted Roger Ebert to call it “just about the best movie of the year.”
1. School of Rock, 2003
Like Will Ferrell, for some, Jack Black is an acquired taste. Listen — we get it. Whilst we can take Black’s manic energy in Tenacious D, we can’t really be bothered with him in Nacho Libre. But, without doubt, the best role of Jack Black’s career is his turn as Dewey Finn in the musical-comedy, School of Rock.
Black stars as a hapless musician who pretends to be a substitute teacher, and ends up with a ragtag child rock band. It’s adorable, and it’s hilarious.