The 10 best comedy movies: the funniest films of all time • Art de Vivre

The 10 best comedy movies: the funniest films of all time

Jun 12, 2023

Since the release of the first-ever comedy L'Arroseur Arrosé (‘The Waterer Watered’ or ‘The Sprinkler Sprinkled’) in 1895 by Louis Lumière, the comedy genre has been captivating the hearts of audiences around the world for more than a century. After the pioneering Lumière, many artists have created unique, original, and most importantly the funniest films of all time. 

Comedy films hold a profound importance in our lives, transcending the boundaries of mere entertainment. They have a unique ability to uplift our spirits and ignite a spark of joy within us. In a world often laden with hardships and complexities, these films serve as a respite, a delightful escape where laughter is the antidote. With their lighthearted charm, comedy films are able to bring people together in a collective celebration of happiness, a reminder to never lose sight of the enchanting power of laughter. If the next question you’re asking is what film to watch, then we have you covered with the very best comedy films of all time. 

1. National Lampoon's Animal House

‘National Lampoon's Animal House’, a 1978 comedy directed by John Landis, is a timeless college classic that revolutionised the comedy genre. The film follows freshmen Larry (Thomas Hulce) and Kent (Stephen Furst) as they strive to join the prestigious Omega Theta Pi House but end up joining the less reputable Delta Tau Chi House instead. The story escalates when the college dean (John Vernon) seeks to get rid of Deltas, and for this, he seeks help from Omega's president (James Daughton). The film stands as one of the greatest college comedies ever made, boldly pushing boundaries with its irreverent humour and challenging societal norms of the time. ‘National Lampoon's Animal House’ satirises 1960s college life and American society, exploring themes of rebellion, countercultural values, and the pursuit of freedom and fun.

2. The Big Lebowski 

'The Big Lebowski" is truly one of the most iconic comedies ever made. Created by Ethan and Joel Coen, it hit theatres in 1998 and immediately became a huge hit. The story revolves around a somewhat absurd adventure of a laid-back slacker called ‘The Dude’ who gets caught up in a mess after being mistaken for the wrong person. What makes the film truly special is its eccentric characters, clever dialogue, and wild situations. The movie strikes a perfect balance between humour, absurdity, and unforgettable lines that have become legendary. Since its release, 'The Big Lebowski' has not lost its relevance and still remains one of the wittiest and funniest stories of all time.  

3. Sorry to Bother You

‘Sorry to Bother You’ released in 2018, is an exceptional comedy crafted by Boots Riley, known for his originality and ability to provide sharp social commentary through his work. With a comedic lens, the film delves into the realms of capitalism, race, and corporate culture, while satirising these issues. At the heart of the story is Cassius Green, played by the brilliant LaKeith Stanfield, a struggling telemarketer who initially faces difficulty making sales with his authentic voice. However, when he adopts a so-called ‘white voice’, he suddenly captivates customers and surpasses all expectations within the company. The film seamlessly blends comedic moments with thought-provoking truths, making it a profound and meaningful addition to the comedy genre.

4. There’s Something About Mary

Released in 1998, ‘There's Something About Mary’ is a timeless comedy directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly that will easily become your go-to comfort movie. The story kicks off with a high school love story, centring around Ted, played by Ben Stiller, who just can't seem to move on from his teenage crush Mary, played by Cameron Diaz. As the plot unfolds, viewers are taken on a rollercoaster ride of hilariously outrageous scenarios, all the while being treated to genuine and emotionally resonant moments. With its clever and unpredictable comedic twists, and an ensemble cast delivering stellar performances, ‘There's Something About Mary’ firmly holds its place as a must-watch comedy.

5. Bridesmaids

Weddings, those joyous and meaningful celebrations, have the potential to turn into chaotic affairs, especially when the bridesmaids find themselves locked in fierce competition for the coveted role of maid of honour. This central predicament forms the core of the 2011 comedy ‘Bridesmaids’, directed by Paul Feig. Soon-to-be bride, Lillian (Melissa McCarthy) cannot imagine the wedding without her childhood best friend Annie (Kristen Wiig). Everything goes smoothly until a conflict arises between Annie and another bridesmaid, Helen (Rose Byrne). With hilarious stories and a comic plotline, ‘Bridesmaids’ is easily one of the most entertaining films of the last decade.

6. When Harry Met Sally

‘When Harry Met Sally’, a spectacular comedy released in 1989, is an absolute gem that continues to enchant audiences to this day. Directed by Rob Reiner, the film tells the story of Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan), two acquaintances turned friends who wrestle with the age-old question of whether men and women can truly be just friends. This timeless romantic comedy stands out for its witty and sharp dialogue, expertly written by Nora Ephron. What makes ‘When Harry Met Sally’ a must-watch is its ability to capture the nuances of relationships with honesty and authenticity, portraying the joys and challenges of navigating through the complexities of a romance.

7. American Psycho 

A blend of horror and dark comedy ‘American Psycho’ is a 2000 film by Mary Harron. It is an adaptation of the 1991 novel of the same title by Bret Easton Ellis. With a stellar performance by Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, a young, wealthy investment banker from New York, the film ruthlessly satirises the narcissism, shallowness, and absurdity of the 1980s, using dark humour to expose the underbelly of Bateman's sociopathic tendencies. The film is one of the best satires of the excessive and materialistic, ​​yuppie culture of the 1980s. 'American Psycho' provides an important commentary on consumerism, status obsession, and the emptiness of modern existence. 

8. Little Miss Sunshine

‘Little Miss Sunshine’ is a 2006 heart-warming comedy directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. The story revolves around the Hoover family, who take the smallest family member, Olive (Abigail Breslin) on a road trip to compete at a beauty pageant in California. The film beautifully explores the complexities of family dynamics, individual dreams, and the pursuit of happiness. Each character is brilliantly portrayed, and the ensemble cast, including Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, and Alan Arkin, deliver outstanding performances that bring depth and authenticity to their roles. 

9. Fantastic Mr. Fox 

'Fantastic Mr. Fox', a comedy released in 2009, directed by the iconic Wes Anderson is a film that deserves a special place in the hearts of both children and adults alike. This stop-motion animated film follows the story of charming Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney), who despite his best efforts to live a peaceful life, finds himself entangled in a heist against his gruesome neighbours - three ruthless farmers. With Anderson's signature quirkiness, the humour in the film appeals to both young and mature audiences, offering a story of a peculiar adventure. 

10. Annie Hall

‘Annie Hall’, a 1977 comedy, is a timeless comedy that deserves a spot on every cinephile's watchlist. Directed by Woody Allen and starring Allen himself alongside Diane Keaton, the film offers a witty and introspective exploration of love and relationships. With Allen’s original style and brilliant performances, ‘Annie Hall’ is a true masterpiece of the genre. If you're looking for a heartfelt and hilarious film that delves into the complexities of human connections, ‘Annie Hall’ is a must-watch. 

Enjoy comedy movies — enhance your health and mood

Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine, and once you immerse yourself in the world of comedy, you’re instantly rewarded with a boost to your health and mood. Laughter has been scientifically proven to release endorphins, reduce stress hormones, and even strengthen the immune system. It's a natural mood lifter that can uplift our spirits. So, the next time you're looking for a feel-good experience, reach for a comedy movie.


For more inspiring films to watch, check out our film critic's selection of the fascinating films about art and artists.

Credits for the Main photo: Annie Hall © IMDb

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