There haven't been many good comedies in the last few years, which might explain why Neighbors has become such an unexpected phenomenon. The Seth Rogen/Zac Efron film about a young couple feuding with a fraternity has grossed $90 million this month, even knocking The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from the top of the box office. The movie's success is very simple: It's extremely funny. We felt this was a good time to poll our readers to determine their favorite comedies of all time. Click through to see the results.
Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg wrote this script when they were teenagers, but when they finally had enough to juice in Hollywood to make it a reality they were too old to star in it themselves. They brought in Michael Cera and Jonah Hill to play two high school best friends that go through one insane night while trying to lose their virginity. At the time, nobody could have predicted that Jonah Hill would one day be nominated for an Academy Award in a Martin Scorsese film. It also launched the career of Emma Stone.
Chris Farley made many bad movies during his all-too-brief life. Anyone remember Beverly Hills Ninja? How about Black Sheep? Thankfully, he managed to make one film that come close to the genius of his sketch comedy. In 1995's Tommy Boy he played the heir to a brake pad company struggling to keep the business open. It's a lot funnier than it sounds based on that description, and it also gave the world the song "Fat Guy in a Little Coat." That's enough to make it an absolute classic.
At the exact same time that Saturday Night Live was going through a major period of rebuilding after the departure of Lorne Michaels and the entire original cast, one of the show's most enduring sketches made the transition to the big screen. The Blues Brothers is the tale of Jake and Elwood Blues trying to save the orphanage where they were raised, but it's also a great comedy and a musical. That's a tough fusion to pull off (as proven by the disastrous sequel), but pull it off they did.
Stanley Kubrick was coming off the scandal of his big-screen adaptation of Lolita when he decided to film this hysterical cold war spoof. The film features Peter Sellers in multiple roles and deals with some very serious issues — most notably the possible end of the human race through a nuclear holocaust — but it never relents on the comedy for even a second. If anything, the film has only gotten funnier (and more relevant) with age.
The Coen Brothers' third movie is about a career criminal and a police woman who marry, only to discover she's infertile. They kidnap the baby of a local business tycoon and all hell breaks loose because, well, you can't kidnap a baby without severe repercussions, especially when there's a big reward for his return. This was the first Coen Brothers film to find a big audience, and it would be nearly a decade before they repeated the trick.
A lot of comedies are built around road trips where nothing seems to go right, and mostly they're lame retreads of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. John Hughes took a break from churning out Brat Pack teen movies to write and direct this movie about a shower-curtain-ring salesmen who travels from Chicago New York with an uptight marketing executive played by Steve Martin. Needless to stay, the trip is a complete disaster and Candy drives Martin completely insane. Hughes re-teamed with John Candy two years later for Uncle Buck.
Mike Judge was coming off the huge success of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America when he began work on Office Space, which totally tanked at the box office despite the presence of Jennifer Aniston. Thankfully, it soon found a huge audience on DVD. It's easy to understand why. People all over America suffer through jobs they hate, and Office Space is the ultimate fantasy. Who hasn't dreamed of knocking down the walls to their cubicle and ignoring their boss while playing Tetris?
The original Anchorman was a pretty big deal when it hit theaters in the summer of 2004, but it took a few years before it emerged as one of the most beloved comedies of the 21st century. That's simply because it's so bizarre and packed with jokes that it requires multiple viewers before the genius truly sinks in. By the sixth or seventh viewing you find yourself quoting the movie in casual conversation, which is the ultimate sign that a comedy has succeeded. The sequel was a lot of fun, but like most comedy sequels it didn't seem 100 percent necessary.
Anchorman has received far more attention over the years, but we're glad our readers agree that Step Bothers is the ultimate Will Ferrell/Adam McKay movie. It's a film about two moronic guys in their mid-40s that are forced to live together when their parents marry each other. They begin as mortal enemies, but quickly become best friends. Rumors circulated years ago that a sequel was in the works. We're all hoping it comes together at some point.
Steve Carell was transformed into a movie star when he landed the lead role in this Judd Apatow film about a lovable loser whose buddies pledge to get him laid when they discover he's a virgin. It was one of the biggest surprise hits of the year, basically setting up nearly every major comedy that's come in the last decade. It also showed the writers of The Office how to turn Michael Scott into a more sympathetic character, something they struggled with in Season One.
Five years after Monty Python dissolved, John Cleese co-wrote this 1988 movie about a group of jewel thieves that lose the loot from their latest heist, leading to all sorts of wackiness. Cleese stars in the movie alongside Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin and Kevin Kline. The movie was a huge hit and Kline won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, an extreme rarity for a comedy. The same exact crew reformed in 1997 for Fierce Creatures, but they didn't exactly recapture the magic.
It's difficult to pick the funniest scene in Borat. The "Running of the Jew" is hysterical, but it is really funnier than the naked fight or the rodeo where he sings a song about Kazakhstan's superior potassium? It's a tough call. The movie angered many of the real-life people, lead to a handful of lawsuits and got Sacha Baron Coen accused of anti-Semitism even though he's Jewish. It also had everyone around the country saying things like "sexy time" through much of 2006. That eventually got very, very annoying and lead some to conclude that the movie was overrated. It wasn't. If anything, it's funnier than you even remember.
The huge success of Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin meant that the Farrelly Brothers had a big budget and their pick of Hollywood stars when it came time to make There's Something About Mary. They cast Ben Stiller as a man obsessed with his high school crush, played by Cameron Diaz. He hires Mat Dillon to track her down, but he falls in love with her as well. It grossed over $350 million at the box office, turning the Farrelly Brothers into the most successful directing team on the planet. Unfortunately, it's been pretty downhill for them ever since.
The first time you watch The Big Lebowski you gotta keep a lot of strands in your head and it gets a little confusing. What exactly happened with the fake kidnapping? Will the Dude and his team triumph over Jesus and Liam in the bowling tournament? Why does Walter insist his ex-wife's dog is a Pomeranian when it's clearly a Yorkshire Terrier? It's still a funny movie the first time you see it, but it takes repeat viewings to fully appreciate it. By ten or so viewings many people are ready to start crafting a Knox Harrington costume and head to their local Lebowski Fest.
Long before he devoted his time to banjo albums and tours, Steve Martin was one of the funniest men on the planet. Nowhere was that more apparent than his 1979 movie The Jerk. It's the tale of a complete moron that grows up in a poor black family. Upon learning he's adopted, he leaves home to start his own life. He works at a gas station, a traveling fair and eventually earns becomes super wealthy before losing it all. Martin plays a naive fool better than just about anyone and even countless showings on basic cable can't diminish the genius of this movie.
Not a lot of people remember the 1982 TV show Police Squad. The hysterical spoof of police procedural shows by the same team that made Airplane! was canceled after just six episodes and seemed destined for obscurity, but six years later they somehow managed to turn it into a movie. The plot revolves around a millionaire's plan to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II, but it's really just an excuse for a series of gags. Of all the movies that followed in the wake of Airplane, this is the one that came closest to capturing that same magic and spirit.
Prior to 1994, Jim Carrey was merely known as "that white guy from In Loving Color." By the end of the year, he was one of the most famous men on the planet. That's because in that 12-month period he released, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and, that December, his masterpiece Dumb and Dumber. It's the tale of two idiots driving cross country in a van that looks like a dog in pursuit of a beautiful woman. Carrey has never been more on his game, and later this year the sequel is finally hitting just in time for the 20th anniversary. We're cautiously optimistic, even though there hasn't been a good Jim Carrey movie in a long, long time.
Monty Python's third movie has a pretty brilliant concept: What if some other Jewish guy was born on the same exact day as Jesus Christ in the stable next door? George Harrison loved the idea so much that he personally bankrolled it just so he could see the finished product. The film is a rather mild spoof of Christianity and didn't generate nearly as much controversy as one might imagine, though some towns in England considered it blasphemous and refused to allow screenings. The film remains a cult classic, though it's most enduring legacy is the song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Eric Idle wrote the tune for the movie's grand finale and it's become a sing-along classic all throughout England.
Not of lot of things went right for Black Sabbath when they hit the road in support of their 1983 LP Born Again. They were on their third lead singer in four years and ticket sales were pretty dismal. The second song on the album is titled "Stonehenge," so they commissioned a model of the monument for the show. The finished product was so massive that it wouldn't fit on most stages. Bassist Geezer Butler relayed his misery to the screenwriters of This Is Spinal Tap, who were writing a groundbreaking mockumentary about a British band going through a similar rough patch. Directed by Ron Reiner, the movie found a huge audience, but hit a little too close to home for many rock stars, though we've never heard of any group getting second billing to a puppet show.
Harold Ramis had an amazing run in the 1980s, writing Ghostbusters, Back to School, Stripes and directing National Lampoon's Vacation. He kicked the decade off by writing and directing Caddyshack, a slobs vs. snobs film about a group of golfers at a country club. It helped establish Rodney Dangerfield as a movie star and kick-started Chevy Chase's film career after a series of missteps in the 1970s. Chase was the only star of the film foolish to sign on for the horrendous Caddyshack II in 1988. That guy doesn't always make the best decisions.
After spoofing Westerns with 1974's Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks decided to mock monster movies with Young Frankenstein. Gene Wilder plays the grandson of Dr. Frankenstein, who travels to Transylvania after inheriting his father's estate. He's ashamed of his family's legacy, but quickly gets pulled into the madness when the monster is set free. It was turned into a Broadway musical in 2007 and ran a little over a year.
Long before the title "National Lampoon's" signified a low budget, crap fest of a movie like National Lampoon Presents Dorm Doze or National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, it was a mark of impeccable quality. National Lampoon magazine churned out one brilliant issue after the next in the 1970s, and since many of the writers were recent college graduates they decided to write a screenplay based on their own experiences. John Landis signed on to direct the picture and he cast largely unknowns as the students, with the rather large exception of Saturday Night Live star John Belushi. He did attempt to also cast Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, but they all turned it down. That was a poor decision since the movie became an instant sensation and laid the groundwork for countless 1980s knock-off films about a crazy bunch of college kids that battle an evil dean.
British comedy troupe Monty Python were near the peak of their popularity when they decided to shoot a film parodying King Arthur's quest to find the Holy Grail during a break between seasons of their BBC sketch show. Their first film, 1971's And Now for Something Completely Different, was merely a collection of sketches. This time around, they aimed far higher and stuck to a single premise. The result was an absolute masterpiece that immediately attracted a fiercely devoted plot. It even lead to a Broadway musical adaptation in 2005.
Leslie Nielsen was a dramatic actor before he took on the role of Dr. Rumack in this slapstick film, which forever changed his career and the face of comedy in general. Shot on a relatively tiny budget in 1979, Airplane! spoofed the many disaster movies of the decade and managed to cram a stunning number of jokes into 87 minutes. Lines like "of course I'm serious, and quit calling me Shirley" have been quoted roughly 500,000 times since the movie hit theaters in the summer of 1980. A lot of great slapstick movies followed Airplane and some, like Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad came very close, but none have surpassed Airplane!.
The Hollywood Western as on its last legs in 1974 when Mel Brooks decided to create this spoof, which took all the cliches from the genre and totally subverted them. Cleavon Little plays a black sheriff in an all-white town that's being pushed away to make room for a new line of train tracks. No attempt whatsoever is made to be historical, and it even feature a cameo by Count Basie playing himself and a gag about Adolf Hitler. More importantly, it's relentlessly silly. There's been talk of transforming it into a Broadway play like The Producers and Young Frankenstein, but so far it hasn't happened. Maybe this one is best left as a movie.