The 40 Best Comedies on Amazon Prime (January 2019)

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The 40 Best Comedies on Amazon Prime (January 2019)

I still have no idea how many people know about Amazon Prime Instant Video. Yeah, it has its fair share of notable originals—Bosch, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Red Oaks, Mozart in the Jungle—but Amazon also replaced almost every executive who worked there, infamously tasking the new ones with finding a hit on the level of Game of Thrones. That doesn’t necessarily make it sound like viewership is all that high.

If you miss how Netflix was during its early streaming years, when it had a large lineup of movies from across the decades available for instant watching, you’d probably be a fan of Amazon Prime. The volume is just ridiculous. There’s so much stuff to watch here that finding it can be a nuisance, even through the official Prime Video apps. Much of what you’ll find are TV shows, including those Amazon originals, and thousands of other things you’ve probably never heard of before or since. There’s also a large library of hilarious movies, though, including some of the most beloved and influential comedies ever made. That’s what we’re here to share with you today: the best comedies on Amazon Prime Instant Video.

If you’re still confused, just know this: if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you get Prime Video for free. It’s part of your subscription. And you can watch it through apps on basically any device—your computer, your phone, your tablet, your videogame consoles, your smart TVs, etc.

Oh, and if you’ve ever read our lists of the best comedies on Netflix, you might’ve seen my regular disclaimer about how we judge comedies for this kind of thing. I’m the Comedy editor here at Paste. Our Movies editors did consult on this list, and we can vouch that every movie on this list is a professionally made film by actual film-making professionals. We are mostly interested in how much these movies make us laugh, though, meaning some movies that are pure comedies will rank higher than other movies that are better written or directed or acted, but just aren’t as purely funny. There is no universe where UHF is a better movie than Charade, but one of them definitely makes us laugh more, and it’s not the one Stanley Donen made.—Garrett Martin

For a broader list, check out The 50 Best Movies on Amazon Prime or you can peruse The 12 Best Stand-Up Comedy Specials on Amazon Prime or The 40 Best Comedy Movies on Netflix

Here are the 40 best comedy movies available to stream for free with Amazon Prime:


hitch.jpg 40. Hitch
Year: 2005
Director: Andy Tennant
Sure, Hitch never garnered any high-profile awards buzz. However, this standout 2005 romantic comedy did teach us the Q-tip dance, and we can all be thankful for that. Alex “Hitch” Hitchens is a professional dating consultant with an expertise in teaching nerdy men how to woo women. Played by the delightfully suave Will Smith, the “date doctor” is hired by Albert Brennamen in hopes to win the heart of beautiful celebrity Alegra Cole. While coaching Albert, Hitch also attempts to take his own advice as he charms cynical gossip columnist Sara Melas, who is not too pleased when finding out her beau is actually the man she is attempting to expose. Smith’s comedic chemistry with Kevin James is showcased when Hitch teaches Albert how to move it on the dance floor. If any studio executives decide to make a sequel, we suggest you take Aziz Ansari advice: “MINDYKALING AS A FEMALE HITCH!”—Stephanie Sharp


college.jpg 39. College
Year: 1927
Directors: Buster Keaton, James W. Horne
Sandwiched in Buster Keaton’s filmography between two elaborate, grand-scale epic masterpieces (The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr.), College naturally seems small by comparison, with its contemporary genre story of a nerd trying to learn athletics to woo the woman he loves. But don’t let that make you think The Great Stone Face didn’t pay the same attention to building gags, teasing the audience, and finishing it all off with a thrilling finale. The film also features a scene with Keaton in blackface, as his character gets a job as a “colored waiter.” While the racism shouldn’t be brushed aside, Keaton deconstructs the racial humor by surrounding himself with black staff members at the restaurant, who walk around the restaurant normally while his character increasingly turns up the racist pantomime as he senses his ruse unravelling. —Jeremy Mathews


movie poster hot tub.jpg 38. Hot Tub Time Machine
Year: 2010
Director: Steve Pink
Three friends tired with their lives—joined by one nerdy nephew—go on a weekend trip to their old vacation getaway to remember what life was like before everything went sour. Sounds like a normal premise, until you add a hot tub that is also a time machine—if you get drunk enough. After a night of wild partying full of illegal Russian energy drinks, men in bear suits and Chevy Chase, the tub takes them back to 1986, a pivotal year for the crew. In trying to keep things the way they should be—and not disastrously alter their “present”—the guys go off to recreate their fondest memories, making new ones along the way, and stealing at least one Black Eyed Peas song (humanity is fine with this). The humor may be on the raunchier side for most viewers, but then again, those are the funniest parts. It’s kind of like Grosse Point Blank if Martin got the do-over he wanted: It’s high time the hot tub was given its time-travelin’ dues. —Staff


the burbs poster (Custom).jpg 37. The ’Burbs
Year: 1989
Director: Joe Dante
Yes, it is true that the star of Joe Dante began to dim somewhat in the horror scene after classics like Gremlins and The Howling, but The ’Burbs remains a film that is somewhat overlooked today. A darkly comic story with a touch of the macabre, it initially looks like a pretty conventional comedy until Tom Hanks starts suspecting their new neighbors of having killed and eaten the old man who lives at the end of the street. The cast is great, featuring Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, Corey Feldman and the diminutive (but hilarious) Henry Gibson in addition to Hanks. The star is at his spastic best, haranguing his neighbors about the disappearance and generally seeming extremely stressed—you can’t help but miss this comedic version of Tom Hanks, rather than the dour, dramatic actor he’s become. The cheeky cinematography only adds to the zany feel, as in the scene where Hanks and his neighbor realize the bone they’ve been tossing to the dog may well be from the deceased old man and engage in a protracted comedy scream while the camera zooms in and out. Gallows humor abounds, in what might be Joe Dante’s funniest overall movie. —Jim Vorel


movie poster back to school.jpg 36. Back to School
Year: 1986
Director: Alan Metter
Rodney Dangerfield, an ideal populist buffoon, graduates from one of four leads in Caddyshack to the star of the show in Back to School. It’s an almost perfect vehicle for Dangerfield’s bluster, which worked so well not just because of his thorough disregard for society’s arbitrary rules but also because of the core of sadness that clearly lurked within. That hint of pathos, along with Dangerfield’s decades-honed schtick, elevates Back to School above most ‘80s college comedies.—Garrett Martin


my-man-godfrey-criterion.jpg 35. My Man Godfrey
Year: 1936
Director: Gregory La Cava
Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey is kind of like a proto-Le Dîner de Cons—or Dinner for Schmucks—except that My Man Godfrey is really good and neither the latter nor the former film measure up to it. (Because Le Dîner de Cons is coarse, condescending trash, too.) La Cava’s inroads to skewering the upper crust is through the upper crust itself: The film takes its outsider protagonist, Godfrey “Smith” Parke (William Powell), who’s not an outsider at all but a man in exile from high society’s bosom, and inserts him into circumstances where he’s the sanest, sharpest man in the room. Rich people are wild. That’s the film’s subtext, or just its text, because Godfrey’s charges, the members of the family Bullock, are either completely out of their gourds or stuffed headfirst up their own asses. They’d have to be, perhaps, to mistake him for a vagrant when he’s actually a member of the elite class just like they are. They’d also have to be observant and considerably less self-absorbed to make these fine distinctions. La Cava has fun with the scenario, as does Powell, and as does the rest of the cast, in particular Carole Lombard, playing young Irene, who falls head over heels for Godfrey, blithely unconcerned with his disinterest, and Gail Patrick as the daffy Mrs. Bullock, full of unfettered, dizzying joy. Dizziness, of course, is a requirement. Films like My Man Godfrey, screwball joints that move at a laugh-a-minute pace, demand the exhaustion of their viewers, and La Cava wears us out as surely as he delights us. —Andy Crump


charade.jpg 34. Charade
Year: 1963
Director: Stanley Donen
Cary Grant is the most charming male lead ever. Audrey Hepburn is the most charming female lead ever. Everything else is just bonus in this romantic thriller about a woman pursued in Paris for her late husband’s stolen fortune: the Henry Mancini score, the Hitchcock-ian suspense, the plot twists and Walter Mathau as a CIA agent. It’s a screwball comedy and an international spy thriller, and works equally as both. —Michael Dunaway


movie poster age of consent.jpg 33. Age of Consent
Year: 1969
Director: Michael Powell
Two giants in their professions crossed paths in Age of Consent. With his second-to-last film, Scorsese-muse Michael Powell was on his way out, and in her breakthrough role, a young Helen Mirren’s cinematic adventure was just beginning. This coastal dramedy about an artist (James Mason) finding new inspiration at an old age through his infatuation with a friendly and inexperienced young girl (Mirren) is pretty much the usual wistful wish fulfillment story about how men of a certain age can be reinvigorated via young and hot innocence, like the underrated Clint Eastwood drama Breezy. Yet Mirren shows her range even this early in her career as her character, Cora, matures from a doe-eyed youngster to a self-assured woman. —Oktay Ege Kozak


chalti-ka.jpg 32. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi
Year: 1958
Director: Satyen Bose
Given their original format to include all sorts of genres within a three-hour films—romance, comedy, action, drama, tragedy—it isn’t unusual to find both romance and comedy in many Bollywood films. Nevertheless, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was one of the first Hindi films to focus on a madcap comedy and romance angle, with the drama and action taking more than a backseat in the meandering plot. In fact, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi has also been described as Bollywood’s version of a Marx Brothers comedy. The story involves three brothers Brijmohan, Jagmohan and Manmohan who run an auto repair shop, played by three brothers in real life: Ashok Kumar, Anoop Kumar and Kishore Kumar. After being jilted in love, Brijmohan counsels his younger brothers never to trust women. Enter damsel-in-distress Renu, played by the luminous Madhubala, whose car breaks down one stormy night. Manmohan fixes her car, and the pair fall in love. But problems arise when Renu’s father, unaware of Renu’s interest in Manmohan, is approached by the villainous Raja Hardayal Singh, who wants his brother Prakashchand to marry Renu. Turns out that Singh’s royal coffers are empty, and this is one of his many schemes to acquire wealth. Fortunately, Manmohan and his brothers intervene, and after a bout of boxing, the three brothers are united with their loves. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi features classic songs that are hummed to this day, slapstick comedy and brilliant chemistry between the lead actors. —Aparita Bhandari


priceless-210.jpg 31. Priceless
Year: 2008
Director: Pierre Salvadori
In Priceless (often compared to Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Audrey Tautou plays Irène—the most beautiful, dangerous and unapologetic gold digger in the French Riviera. Her best-laid plans begin to go awry as she develops feelings for a man of average means. Rather than date him, she trains him to become an “opportunist” instead. In true rom-com fashion, a series of ridiculous scenes unfold with an important lesson in how-to-get-what-you-want-from-the-opposite-sex: “Not finishing your sentences—as if it pains you too much to go on,” she firmly advises, “is extremely effective.” Irène has little depth, and the same could be said about the film, but it’s pretty obvious that that’s the point. Tautou is such an authentic, Gucci-wearing, femme fatale that it’s difficult to simply loathe her. She is, as usual, sincere in her delivery—even when she is delivering a sincerely superficial character. She also plays an amazingly convincing drunk, which some of the best actresses of our day (ahem, Kate Winslet, ahem) have been unable to accomplish. —Shannon M. Houston


jerry-maguire.jpg 30. Jerry Maguire
Year: 1996
Director: Cameron Crowe 
Besides acting as the megahit blockbuster of 1996, Jerry Maguire also quickly achieved the status of the modern day romantic-comedy done right. Certainly, between Say Anything and Almost Famous, writer/director Cameron Crowe has never been one to hide his inner softie. Jerry Maguire is no different, featuring career-best performances from Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. as well as litany of memorable lines still quoted to this day. And, let’s face it, whoever doesn’t get at least a little bit teary-eyed when Renee Zellweger proclaims, “You had me at hello,” is probably a Cylon spy who should be blasted away at once. —Mark Rozeman


kings-of-summer.jpg 29. The Kings of Summer
Year: 2013
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Like adolescence itself, this coming-of-age story is sweet, sad and very, very funny. And in a film featuring Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Megan Mulally, many of The Kings of Summer’s biggest laughs come from a 19-year-old actor primarily known for his performance on Disney’s Hannah Montana. Moises Arias steals every scene he’s in as Biaggio, a loyal-but-hilariously-odd sidekick to two boys (Nick Robinson and Gabriel Basso) struggling to deal with oppressive family lives. —Josh Jackson


saint-ralph.jpg 28. Saint Ralph
Year: 2005
Director: Michael McGowan
Saint Ralph is the story of Ralph Walker, a precocious Catholic schoolboy living in Canada in the early 1950s. Blessed with an Eddie Haskell eagerness and plagued by a cruel libido, he’s willing, at one point, to receive fellatio from a swimming-pool jet. But, when the 14 year-old’s mom slips into a coma, he decides to win the Boston Marathon, a miracle he hopes will wake her. Ralph falls short as a sports film, but it succeeds as a coming-of-age comedy. To see this boy bring a jar of dog feces to his mother’s hospital bed because “smell is one of the strongest memories,” and to see him blanch from shock at the possibility of actually having a consensual kiss, is much more poignant and charming than the many training montages. First-time writer/director Michael McGowan, the steadfast Campbell Scott as Father Hibbert, and magnetic newcomer Adam Butcher as Ralph create an endearing tale of woe and redemption, redeeming the melodrama.—Kennan Mayo


appropriate-behavior.jpg 27. Appropriate Behavior
Year: 2014
Director: Desiree Akhavan
By default, being a twenty-something is messy—whether it’s dealing with crumbling relationships, jobs you’re too inexperienced for or the lies you tell to appease your parents. Desiree Akhavan explores that universal experience of untangling our identities in 2014’s Appropriate Behavior. Shirin (Akhavan) is a secretly bisexual woman fresh out of a break-up and dedicated to getting ?over her ex-girlfriend. But Shirin’s dispirited attempts to push every aspect of her life back on track fall awkwardly and disappointingly flat at every turn. Shirin can talk her way into a job and a date, but can she keep either? Appropriate Behavior follow one woman’s journey through life telling everyone she’s an adult … until she accidentally becomes one. Rather deftly, Akhavan’s film serves as a commentary on translation—the differences between the language we use, the things we actually mean, and how it all gets twisted. The narrative plays with Shirin’s identities—as an Iranian, a woman, a millennial and a bisexual—sometimes hilariously, other times rather poignantly. All 86 minutes of the film are spent watching Akhavan’s character desperately and unsuccessfully try to say what she wants. But as the responsibilities, one-night stands and brushes with her ex mount, Shirin begins to realize that the real trick to communication is taking the time to understand yourself before trying to communicate that to someone else. Appropriate Behavior is undoubtedly a comedy, but also a heartfelt look at how we learn to say what we mean and be who we are. —Abbey White


love-friendship.jpg 26. Love & Friendship
Director: Whit Stillman
The title of Whit Stillman’s latest comedy may be Love & Friendship, but while both are certainly present in the film, other, more negative qualities also abound: deception, manipulation, even outright hatred. Underneath its elegant period-picture surface—most obviously evident in Benjamin Esdraffo’s Baroque-style orchestral score and Louise Matthew’s ornate art direction—lies a darker vision of humanity that gives the film more of an ironic kick than one might have anticipated from the outset. Still, the humor in Love & Friendship is hardly of the misanthropic sort. As always with Stillman, his view of the foibles of the bourgeois is unsparing yet ultimately empathetic. Which means that, even as Stillman works his way toward a happy ending of sorts, the film leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste—which is probably as it should be. Such honesty has always been a hallmark of Stillman’s cinema, and even if Love & Friendship feels like more of a confection than his other films, that frankness, thankfully, still remains. —Kenji Fujishima


pride.jpg 25. Pride
Year: 2014
Director: Matthew Warchus
From its first frames, Pride opens itself wide to scrutiny: this is based on a true story. We’re used to this, of course. We turn to the cinema for escape, but by invoking REALITY the so-called “true story” breaks the illusion we’ve sought, and in turn, we feel it’s our obligation to call the veracity of every single element on the screen into question. Heartfelt speechifying, noble human gestures, lifelong struggles against adversity: when a film purporting to be true douses these idealistic pursuits in a sheen of Hollywood glitter, it’s hard to take that film seriously—let alone not resent it. Two hours of being willfully manipulated hardly sounds like a good time at the multiplex. Which makes Pride kind of remarkable, because unlike so many other attempts to translate honest-to-goodness life to celluloid, it refuses to take itself too seriously. —Andy Crump


movie poster kentucky fried movie.jpg 24. Kentucky Fried Movie
Year: 1977
Director: John Landis
Sketch comedy is rarely consistent, which makes the reliably hilarious Kentucky Fried Movie even more impressive. It might not entirely hold up today, over 40 years after it was first released, but in its day this anthology contained some of the sharpest and most transgressive parodies of pop culture yet seen, from trailers for fake exploitation films like Cleopatra Schwartz, to the absurd educational strip parody of “Zinc Oxide and You,” to the long-form Bruce Lee satire A Fistful of Yen. It also launched the careers of John Landis, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, who would all go on to define comedy over the next decade.—Garrett Martin


everybody-wants-some.jpg 23. Everybody Wants Some!!
Year: 2016
Director: Richard Linklater 
Everybody Wants Some!! is intended to play like a spiritual companion piece to Linklater’s ’70s-era Dazed and Confused, with the writer/director reveling in his turn-of-the-decade’s style and swagger. Big lapels, bigger hair, even bigger facial hair and outright enormous egos are the norm throughout this nostalgic saga. Boasting little in the way of plot, Linklater’s film is content to sidle up alongside Jake and his new friends to see where their appetites, whims and libidos will lead. And its laid-back vibe pays dividends as it progresses, given that one-note characters who initially appeared to be smug louts, hyper-gonzo wild cards, dim-bulb doofuses or inane hillbillies slowly develop semi-distinct personalities of their own. Their days devoted to slacking off, their nights spent trimming mustaches and dousing themselves in cologne before hitting the town in search of the next woman to bed, Linklater’s play-hard-and-party-harder characters are the embodiment of cocksure macho vitality, all of them rightly convinced that, at least for the moment, they have the world by the balls. But there’s also some requisite team-based hazing thrown in for good measure, which feels like an authentic representation of what dudes like this would be up to—and, consequently, serves as a buzzkill reminder of their fundamentally dude-bro nature. —Nick Schager


disaster-artist-poster.jpg 22. The Disaster Artist
Year: 2017
Director: James Franco 
To tackle the ineffable mystery of Tommy Wiseau’s consciousness is to understand the mind of a crocodile, or of a shark, or of a space alien. I wouldn’t even know where to start. Which is precisely what makes James Franco’s portrayal of Wiseau in The Disaster Artist such an impressive and triumphant one. Franco has physically transformed into Wiseau in the same manner that usually draws praise for an actor such as Daniel Day Lewis: not necessarily via hair or makeup, but in a way that is more primal and intimate. Every odd little tic, every awkward laugh, each inexplicable grimace—the gestures all shine through as genuine to anyone who has seen The Room, or even an interview with Wiseau. The portrayal is a huge part of what makes The Disaster Artist so compelling and just plain fun. You could make a good argument that this is the greatest role of Franco’s career. And even if The Disaster Artist reads like it’s positioning for a shot at year-end honors and the largest possible audience, fans of The Room will ultimately get far more from the experience than the average multiplex dweller. It’s a film to see with an audience familiar with what it’s about to see, with people who can appreciate the dedication with which Franco and co. have recreated so many of the original film’s woeful charm. —Jim Vorel


movie poster mars attacks.jpg 21. Mars Attacks
Year: 1996
Director: Tim Burton 
With Jack Nicholson as president, Sarah Jessica Parker’s head appearing atop a chihuahua body and an alien race that speaks in a bird-like squawk, Mars Attacks is filled with enough campy goodness to make even the most serious sci-fi fan crack a smile. Although it was initially received poorly among critics and fans alike, repeat viewings of Mars Attacks made this one shine for a cult audience.—Sean Doyle


logan-lucky.jpg 20. Logan Lucky
Year: 2017
Director: Steven Soderbergh 
Steven Soderbergh has often been best after he has taken time off to recharge, and the four years of “retirement” after 2013’s Side Effects seem to have sharpened his filmmaking instincts. Logan Lucky has the briskness and sheen of a professional, a man who, after years of restlessness, has become comfortable enough to simply tell a story with confidence, clarity and gusto. You can feel Soderbergh in every frame of this thing, but he’s not foregrounded: He knows he doesn’t have to do that anymore. Soderbergh, for all his greatness, has never had a signature stamp, a theme or a vision that he consistently hits hard every time out. He just wants to make movies that are fun to watch. The Logans of the title are Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Adam Driver). Jimmy’s a West Virginian divorced, doting dad who has just lost his construction job at Charlotte Motor Speedway and decides, in an effort to change his life and to get back at the jerks who canned him, to get together with Clyde, a bartender who lost part of his left arm in Iraq, to rob the Speedway of millions of dollars. The brothers draw up their master plan, which consists of breaking an explosives expert named Joe Bank (played by a loose, undeniably funny Daniel Craig) out of jail, sneaking into the Speedway the same day as the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 and evading two insistent, suspicious detectives (Hilary Swank and Macon Blair). If you’re thinking this sounds like a redneck Ocean’s 11, well, Soderbergh is way ahead of you: At one point, a newscaster actually calls Jimmy and his gang “Ocean’s 7-11.” Logan Lucky isn’t the best movie Soderbergh has ever made, but it’s pointing him a most fascinating new direction—the auteur as compulsive entertainer. —Will Leitch


four-weddings.jpg 19. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Year: 1994
Director: Mike Newell
The first of several Richard Curtis-penned rom-coms starring Hugh Grant, Four Weddings and a Funeral follows our favorite bumbling Englishman as he repeatedly runs into the love of his life at—you guessed it—four weddings and a funeral. While much of the movie is lighthearted and some of it borders on cheesy (see Andie MacDowell’s infamous “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed” line in its finale), its graver moments, like Fiona (Kristen Scott Thomas) dealing with unrequited love or the titular funeral, remind us that love may be goofy and complicated and wonderful, but finding that one true love is serious business. The Academy agreed, nominating the film for Best Picture in a stacked year that included Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. —Bonnie Stiernberg


bull-durham.jpg 18. Bull Durham
Year: 1988
Director: Ron Shelton
I believe in ridiculous names like Crash Davis and Nuke LaLoosh. I believe in romantic comedies about giving up on a certain phase of your life where characters stand up and deliver cliched “I believe” speeches that, despite being borderline cheesy, somehow ring completely true. And yes, I too believe there should be a Constitutional Amendment banning Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in Bull Durham. The most engaging presentation of the minor-league life on film—and a pretty salute to baseball, in general—this first installment in the unofficial Kevin Costner Baseball Trilogy proved that baseball could equal big box office. Costner and Susan Sarandon anchor this film that does its part to engender a love for the game and the people who court it. —Bonnie Stiernberg & Michael Burgin


movie poster bill and ted.jpg 17/16. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure / Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
Year: 1989 / 1991
Director: Stephen Herek / Pete Hewett
In the end we just can’t pick between these two. Both movies are classics, but for different reasons. Both movies are part celebration and part knowing parody of the California party dude stereotype that was so popular in the ‘80s, and although Excellent Adventure might be the more beloved movie today because of its historical set pieces and the simple fact that it came first, Bogus Journey is the stronger, smarter, and, yes, more challenging movie. It’s a surreal trip through the afterlife that at times feels like Tim Burton with more edge, succeeding at both low brow, crowd-pleasing humor and slightly deeper, more philosophical material. (Yeah, today’s pretentious Rick & Morty Redditors probably love this movie.) Both are far better than they need to be, two hilarious bookends that prove that sequels can be great, and that not all series need to be trilogies. (Although there is now a third one on the way, almost 30 years later.)—Garrett Martin


steamboat-bill-jr.jpg 15. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Director: Buster Keaton and Charles Reisner
Year: 1928
Steamboat Bill, Jr.’s climactic cyclone sequence—which is at once great action and great comedy—would on its own earn the film a place on this list. The iconic shot of a house’s facade falling on Keaton is only one of many great moments in the free-flowing, hard-blowing sequence. But the film also showcases some of Keaton’s best intimate acting, including a scene in which his father tries to find him a more manly hat, and a painfully hilarious attempt to pantomime of a jailbreak plan. —Jeremy Mathews


movie posters uhf.jpg 14. UHF
Year: 1989
Director: Jay Levey

If we ranked these 40 movies based on the quality of their filmmaking, UHF would probably be at the very bottom. This is the definition of a star vehicle, so much so that it was directed by its star’s manager, who has never directed another movie before or since. That star, of course, is “Weird Al” Yankovic, and UHF’s vignette-like approach to parody makes it a film analogue to Yankovic’s albums. Few movies on this (or any other) list pack this many laughs into its running time. It’s like a Zucker Abrahams Zucker movie with a little bit more room to breath, bolstered by a manic performance from a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards and some of Yankovic’s best music.—Garrett Martin


eighth-grade-movie-poster.jpg 13. Eighth Grade
Year: 2018
Director: Bo Burnham
In Eighth Grade, the feature debut of comedian-singer-songwriter Bo Burnham, you’re either a Kayla (Elsie Fisher) or you know a Kayla from your days as an over-it-all punk-ass. The distinction is key to your experience. The film stages a too-real reenactment of middle school’s rigors, but it’s the people we endure those rigors with who shape our turbulent pubescence. Sure, sitting through Ms. Hawking’s ornithology lessons was hell, but hell’s preferable to striking up conversation with your classmates. Burnham uses the awkward terrain of juvenile social interaction as Eighth Grade’s focal point, painting the daunting exercise of talking to other kids as a stairway to embarrassment. We meet Kayla pre-humiliation, recording clips for her YouTube channel in her room, dispensing life advice in the coltish manner of a newly minted teen. She’s extraordinarily inarticulate, but in her ramblings we find the profound insight only a 13-year-old can offer. “Aren’t I always being myself?” she says to her camera, the sage instructing the benighted. “Well, yeah, for sure.” She’s a self-help layman, but her sincerity is charming. Don’t change who you are to impress others. Words to live by. Kayla, like anyone else trying to stay afloat in the sometimes cutthroat world of middle school, sells out her ideals almost immediately, a defensive posture to deflect her loneliness. Being a teenage girl isn’t easy. Occasionally, it’s perilous. That Eighth Grade so genuinely conveys those difficulties and dangers is miraculous considering its source. Burnham invites us to recall our own adolescence, and also to consider how adolescence has changed in the time of social media. It’s compassionate, radiating retroactive kindness for the children we all were to soothe the adults we are now. —Andy Crump


what we do in the shadows-movie-poster.jpg 12. What We Do in the Shadows
Year: 2015
Directors: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
 Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement co-stars in and co-directs this clever mockumentary about the banal bummers of the afterlife, when vampires stop being polite and start getting real. As “documented” by a camera crew, Clement and collaborator Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok) share a flat with fellow bloodsuckers who, when they aren’t bickering over dish duty and rent, are schooling a green new vamp—who in turn brings the centuries-old creatures into the technology age. The New Zealand-made horror-comedy is deeply self-aware, reveling in its silly practicalities: It’s tough to go clubbing when your undead identity requires that you be invited inside. When you’ve got nothing but time, the mundane becomes even more ridiculous, and Shadows’ way with the absurd is spot-on. (And that’s before we meet a pack of smug rivals who refuse to lower themselves to “swearwolves.”) What the genre- and cliché-bending film lacks in plot it more than makes up for in tongue-in-cheek charm. Who would’ve thought vampires were such dorks? —Amanda Schurr


movie posters sucka.jpg 11. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka
Year: 1988
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Wayans’s first and best movie is a cutting parody of blaxpoitation films that clearly has love for its subject. Sucka doesn’t just riff on surface-level observations of ‘70s black cinema, like low production values or stilted acting, but critiques how blaxpoitation films presented African-American culture to the public while also celebrating that culture. It’s a marvelous bit of long-form satire, with a cast that unites some of the biggest stars of the ‘70s with some of the best rising young comics of the late ‘80s.—Garrett Martin


boogie-nights.jpg 10. Boogie Nights
Year: 1997
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson 
Although Boogie Nights was Paul Thomas Anderson’s first epic production with an ensemble cast, time and perspective show it’s his closest brush with perfection. The auteur specializes in building up characters to break them down, and no one in his 1997 exploration of the pornography business is exempt from his deconstructive impulses: Few directors balance the hilarious and harrowing so seamlessly, and even fewer rely on dramatic irony to achieve both. Boogie Nights may be amusing because its characters—from Mark Wahlberg’s young rising star, to Julianne Moore’s fading starlet, to Burt Reynold’s once-famous director who must deal with an industry changing without him—are so hapless, but their ignorance is equally heartbreaking; they earnestly desire to make a good product, even if they struggle to figure out what constitutes quality anymore. Anderson’s fictional pornographers may desperately and futilely cling to a time before video and amateur acting, but Anderson himself managed to put out a two-and-a-half hour film that is careful to never overstay its welcome—even when it asks for “one last thing.” —Allie Conti


movie poster shot in the dark.jpg 9. A Shot in the Dark
Director: Blake Edwards
Amazing to think that when the first film in the Pink Panther series was made, it was intended as a vehicle for its top-billed star David Niven. Wisely, director Blake Edwards realized the true star of the show was the bumbling French policeman Inspector Clouseau, as embodied by the brilliant Peter Sellers. So, they rushed another film into production (it was released in the States a mere three months after The Pink Panther) and comedy greatness was born. Ever the sport, Sellers quite literally threw himself into the part, crashing and stumbling through his investigation of murder and mangling the English language each step of the way. Try as they might to recapture the fire of this first sequel, nothing quite matched the freewheeling spirit of A Shot in the Dark. —Robert Ham


dirty-rotten-scoundrels.jpg 8. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Year: 1988
Director: Frank Oz
The story of two rival con men working a wealthy heiress is a comedy classic for two reasons: Steve Martin and Michael Caine. Watching Martin’s American street hustler Freddy Benson try to learn from and outwit his reluctant mentor, Caine’s refined British Lawrence Jameson, while they both desperately attempt to win a bet of swindling $50,000 from their agreed mark (Glenne Headly as Janet Colgate), offers plenty of laughs, even if the plot is fairly conventional. With Benson reduced to playing the dimwit Ruprecht, Steve Martin is in his physical comedy prime. —Josh Jackson


lady-bird-movie-poster.jpg 7. Lady Bird
Year: 2017
Director: Greta Gerwig 
Before Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan)—Lady Bird is her given name, as in “[she] gave it to [her]self”—auditions for the school musical, she watches a young man belting the final notes to “Being Alive” from Stephen Sondheim’s Company. A few moments before, while in a car with her mother, she lays her head on the window wistfully and says with a sigh, “I wish I could just live through something.” Stuck in Sacramento, where she thinks there’s nothing to be offered her while paying acute attention to everything her home does have to offer, Lady Bird—and the film, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, that shares her name—has ambivalence running through her veins. What a perfect match: Stephen Sondheim and Greta Gerwig. Few filmmakers are able to capture the same kind of ambiguity and mixed feelings that involve the refusal to make up one’s mind: look to 35-year-old Bobby impulsively wanting to marry a friend, but never committing to any of his girlfriends, in Company; the “hemming and hawing” of Cinderella on the, ahem, steps of the palace; or Mrs. Lovett’s cause for pause in telling Sweeney her real motives. Lady Bird isn’t as high-concept as many of Sondheim’s works, but there’s a piercing truthfulness to the film, and arguably Gerwig’s work in general, that makes its anxieties and tenderness reverberate in the viewer’s heart with equal frequency. —Kyle Turner


6. The Apartment
Year: 1960
Director: Billy Wilder
Filmmaker Billy Wilder had perhaps one of the greatest, most diverse track records in film history from 1944 to 1960. In this period, he tackled an Oscar-winning drama about alcoholism (The Lost Weekend), two well-regarded film noirs (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard), a war drama (Stalag 17), two light-hearted rom-coms (Sabrina, Seven Year Itch) a gripping murder-mystery (Witness for the Prosecution) and perhaps the funniest American movie of all time (Some Like It Hot). Yet, of all these golden credits, one Wilder’s most beloved and memorable achievements was 1960’s The Apartment. Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, an ambitious office worker who, desperate to climb the corporate ladder, allows his bosses to use his apartment to carry on discreet affairs with their mistresses. Things get complicated, however, when he discovers that his office crush, quirky elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), is one of his bosses’ mistresses. While it actually gets quite dark at times, The Apartment strikes a perfect balance between laugh-out-loud comedy and emotionally honest drama. Following the career highlight that was his drag-heavy performance in Some Like It Hot, Lemmon here proves that he can play the low-key, straight man with equal dexterity. Likewise, MacLaine’s charming portrayal as the damaged, yet lovable Kubelik would provide the model for manic pixie dream girls for years to come. —Mark Rozeman


movie poster naked gun.jpg 5. The Naked Gun
Year: 1988
Director: David Zucker
The final hoorah from the comedy trio David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker—ZAZ for short—The Naked Gun is so stupid it’s hilarious. This, of course, was ZAZ’s secret weapon in films like Airplane!, and in Leslie Nielsen’s stone-faced imbecility they found their muse. A former dramatic actor, Nielsen rejuvenated his career by playing Frank Drebin, a hapless L.A. police detective trying to prevent the assassination of Queen Elizabeth. (And in his courting of possible femme fatale Priscilla Presley, he taught us the importance of wearing full-body condoms.) A wonder of slapstick and deadpan silliness, The Naked Gun makes jokes about terrorists, gay panic, boobs, even “The Star-Spangled Banner.” There’s a character named Pahpshmir. Good lord, it’s all so gloriously idiotic. —Tim Grierson


the-kid.jpg 4. The Kid
Year: 1921
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Leave cynicism at the door: The Kid is for the wide-eyed optimists of the world. This loving movie is often hilarious and at times truly heart wrenching in its portrayal of a father and his adopted son. With the restored 4K version of Chaplin’s 1972 rerelease, he has never looked better on Blu-ray. Jackie Coogan also shines, running the gamut from giggles to tears in the role of John, and Chaplin’s Tramp character may not have been portrayed more sweetly than here. His full-length feature debut, The Kid is the work of a true auteur, and a serious master. In the realm of comedy Chaplin manages a wealth of emotions, something that would follow with his later, more politically charged films. The power and depth of 1952’s Limelight can still be traced back to The Kid. Chaplin knew what he was doing, and there’s nothing juvenile about this early work. Special features include audio commentary by Chaplin historian Charles Maland, as well as deleted scenes and titles from the original 1921 version. Do not ignore this one, cinephiles. —Nelson Maddaloni


movie poster some like it hot.jpg 3. Some Like It Hot
Year: 1959
Director: Billy Wilder
Is Some Like It Hot one of Marilyn Monroe’s best films, or one of her most antithetical? Sugar Kane is, in a nutshell, the kind of character Marilyn struggled so hard to avoid playing for the bulk of her career: a ditzy blonde, a pure sex symbol, someone who exists in the context of the movie just to tickle the male gaze, whether within the story or without. She’s given nothing to work with, as the bulk of the film’s heavy lifting is accorded to Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon instead. Watching the film in 2017, you may wonder why Billy Wilder slacked on investing Sugar with any level of empathy, why he wrote the character as a one-dimensional object, a trophy for Lemmon and Curtis to compete over. You may also not wonder at all. Some Like It Hot works, even if Marilyn has little to work with other than her persona and her co-star; it’s funny, it’s quick on its feet, and it sells its central joke—that nobody, save for the audience, can see that Curtis and Lemmon are obviously dudes in drag—perfectly, layering just enough self-awareness of its own ridiculousness to keep the gag from going sour. —Andy Crump


his-girl-friday-poster.jpg 2. His Girl Friday
Year: 1940
Director: Howard Hawks
Special effects have become so sophisticated that many of us have probably forgotten how much pure amazement you can wreak with a great story and a script that doesn’t let up for one second. This amazing, dizzyingly paced screwball comedy by Howard Hawks stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, and takes us back into two of the decade’s hallmark preoccupations: The “remarriage comedy” and the intrigue and obsessiveness of the newspaper world. The minute Russell’s Lindy Johnson stalks into the newspaper office run by her ex-husband Walter Burns (Grant), you know it’s to tell him she’s getting remarried and leaving journalism to raise a family, and you know that’s not how it’s going to end. No high-suspense mystery here. What puts you on the edge of your seat in this film is how you get there. Hilariously acted and expertly filmed, His Girl Friday derives much of its comedic impact from the incredibly clever and lightning-fast banter of the characters. Don’t even think about checking your phone while you’re watching this. In fact, try to blink as little as possible. —Amy Glynn


movie poster fish called wanda.jpg 1. A Fish Called Wanda
Year: 1988
Director: Charles Crichton
This ensemble piece shows what can happen when four skilled comic actors (John Cleese, fellow Monty Python alum Michael Palin, Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis) are given a script (written by Cleese) that puts them all on equal footing. The result is a tour-de-force of crisply delivered, character-driven comedy that, while tough on old ladies, fish and terriers, continues to reward new and returning viewers. (The film also broke through the Academy’s normal bias against comedies, winning Kevin Kline a richly deserved Best Supporting Actor for his role as Otto.) —Michael Burgin

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