(Photo by Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: New World/courtesy Everett Collection; Neon / courtesy Everett Collection.)
The 60 Best Black Comedies, Ranked By Tomatometer
Let’s say you’re the type to laugh while handling the darkest subject matters: Murder, doomsday, blackmail, and maybe even a lil’ tasty cannibalism. If so, twisted friend, you sure have arrived at the right spot to get your gallows guffaws: The 60 Best Dark Comedies, Ranked by Tomatometer!
All this dark material ranges in variation of glib macabre glee, different styles that we’ll touch upon in our selection of the best-reviewed funny black comedies. Most common are movies about murder and the subsequent covering-up, especially when the corpses have a habit of popping up at the most inconvenient times. Think Best Picture-winning Parasite, Fargo, Burn After Reading, and Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry.
Another style of the black comedy movie: Mining jokes out of political fallout when millions of lives are at stake, as seen in Dr. Strangelove, In the Loop, and The Producers. Or how about movies that get you on the serial killer’s side, like being on the ride for The Voices or Monsieur Verdoux. They twist you around enough to make you feel amusingly guilty hoping they’ll get away with it all.
The emergence of the black comedy movie seemed to come around in the 1940s, when filmmaking had evolved enough to artistically interpret real-world horrors (e.g. World War II) with mordant humor, as seen in To Be or Not to Be and Arsenic and Old Lace. Of course, how would they have known their groundbreaking path through the dark side would eventually come to the taboo of cannibalism, as seen in appetizing films like Delicatessen and Eating Raoul? And lest you assume we’re not in touch with our more subtle side when it comes to comedy of the damned, we’ve included philosophical destroyers Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?, Carnage, and the brilliant Withnail and I.
Major players in the realm of dark comedies include status quo-defecating John Waters (Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos), Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Todd Solondz (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse), and the devilish Danny DeVito (The War of the Roses, Ruthless People). Our final stipulation for their movies and everything else on the list is that each had to be rated Fresh, and have at least 20 reviews, to ensure enough critics have shared in the gleeful discomfort.
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad (feel free to keep adding more) world out there these days: Grab life by the ruffled lapel and throw it into the wood chipper with The 60 Best Black Comedies, Ranked!
Adjusted Score: 70.41%
Critics Consensus: Good and evil collide with interesting results in Adam's Apples, a dark Biblical allegory that's alternatively funny and shocking.
An overly-optimistic preacher with a penchant for taking in lost causes to help around his remote church finds his rose-tinted... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76.784%
Critics Consensus: It isn't as compelling on the screen as it was on the stage, but Carnage makes up for its flaws with Polanski's smooth direction and assured performances from Winslet and Foster.
Carnage is a razor sharp, biting comedy centered on parental differences. After two boys duke it out on a playground,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75.129%
Critics Consensus: Undeniably uneven and too dark for some, The Ref nonetheless boasts strong turns from Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey, as well as a sharply funny script.
Caroline and Lloyd (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) are a married couple constantly at each other's throats, masters at crafting... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76.948%
Critics Consensus: The Voices gives Ryan Reynolds an opportunity to deliver a highlight-reel performance -- and offers an off-kilter treat for fans of black comedies.
Jerry is a seemingly normal man trying to succeed in his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. He lives... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78.326%
Critics Consensus: Better Off Dead is an anarchic mix of black humor and surreal comedy, anchored by John Cusack's winsome, charming performance.
After being rejected by the object of his affection and suffering a series of other humiliations, a depressed teenager decides... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79.19%
Critics Consensus: Robert Zemeckis' pitch-black satire of American culture doesn't always hit the mark, but it's got enough manic comic energy to warrant a spin.
Used Cars is one of Robert Zemeckis' pre-Roger Rabbit and pre-Forrest Gump efforts starring Kurt Russell is a devious car... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78.64%
Critics Consensus: A modern update on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway is an audacious black comedy with a star-making performance from the young Reese Witherspoon.
In this postmodern exploitation flick loosely based on "Little Red Riding Hood," the uneducated daughter of a drug-addicted prostitute flees... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.304%
Critics Consensus: A gloriously rude and gleefully offensive black comedy, Bad Santa isn't for everyone, but grinches will find it uproariously funny.
The Christmas season just got a lot less joyous in this very dark comedy. Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.221%
Critics Consensus: With Burn After Reading, the Coen Brothers have crafted another clever comedy/thriller with an outlandish plot and memorable characters.
At the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Arlington, Va., analyst Osborne Cox arrives for a top-secret meeting. Unfortunately... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.058%
Critics Consensus: Catch-22 takes entertainingly chaotic aim at the insanity of armed conflict, supported by a terrific cast and smart, funny work from Buck Henry and Mike Nichols.
Sharply critical of the almost surreal bureaucracy of war, this scathing satire is based on Joseph Heller's novel. The story... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.907%
Critics Consensus: Violent, darkly comic, and full of strong performances, Killer Joe proves William Friedkin hasn't lost his touch, even if the plot may be too lurid for some.
When 22 year-old drug dealer Chris (Hirsch) has his stash of drugs stolen from him by his mother, he has... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.089%
Critics Consensus: Uproarious and appalling, Pink Flamingos is transgressive camp that proves as entertaining as it does shocking.
Renegade filmmaker and noted aficionado of expressive bad taste John Waters exploded into international infamy with this darkly comic, no-budget... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.036%
Critics Consensus: A high-concept high school reunion movie with an adroitly cast John Cusack and armed with a script of incisive wit.
Martin Blank, a professional assassin, is sent on a mission to Gorsse Pointe, a small Detroit suburb. Things get complicated... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.092%
Critics Consensus: Happiness is far from a cheerful viewing experience, but its grimly humorous script and fearless performances produce a perversely moving search for humanity within everyday depravity.
The lives of many individuals connected by the desire for happiness, often from sources usually considered dark or evil.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.342%
Critics Consensus: T2 Trainspotting adds an intoxicating, emotionally resonant postscript to its classic predecessor, even without fully recapturing the original's fresh, subversive thrill.
First there was an opportunity......then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.828%
Critics Consensus: Seven Psychopaths delivers sly cinematic commentary while serving up a heaping helping of sharp dialogue and gleeful violence.
Marty (Farrell) is a struggling writer who dreams of finishing his screenplay, "Seven Psychopaths". Billy (Rockwell) is Marty's best friend,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.283%
Critics Consensus: The Brand New Testament takes a surreal, subversive, and funny look at Biblical themes through a modern -- and refreshingly original -- lens.
God exists, and He's a jerk. He lives in a high-rise apartment in Brussels and never gets out of His... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.515%
Critics Consensus: Men & Chicken's bizarre setup only skims the surface of a challenging, well-acted comedy with a warm heart to match its grotesque visuals and dark themes.
Men & Chicken is a darkly hilarious slapstick comedy starring Mads Mikkelsen ("Hannibal," ingeniously cast against type) about a pair... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.613%
Critics Consensus: Its premise suggests brazenly tasteless humor, but Four Lions is actually a smart, pitch-black comedy that carries the unmistakable ring of truth.
In a British city, four men have a secret plan. Omar is disillusioned about the treatment of Muslims around the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.585%
Critics Consensus: Hal Ashby's comedy is too dark and twisted for some, and occasionally oversteps its bounds, but there's no denying the film's warm humor and big heart.
Harold, the 20-year-old son of a wealthy, neglectful woman, tries to gain attention for himself with various hilariously staged "suicides."... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.679%
Critics Consensus: The Art of Self-Defense grapples compellingly with modern American masculinity -- and serves as an outstanding calling card for writer-director Riley Stearns.
After he's attacked on the street at night by a roving motorcycle gang, timid bookkeeper Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) joins a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.244%
Critics Consensus: Featuring witty dialogue and deft performances, In Bruges is an effective mix of dark comedy and crime thriller elements.
Bruges (pronounced "broozh"), the most well-preserved medieval city in the whole of Belgium, is a welcoming destination for travelers from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.624%
Critics Consensus: The War of the Roses is a black comedy made even funnier by hanging onto its caustic convictions -- and further distinguished by Danny DeVito's stylish direction.
Divorce lawyer Danny De Vito warns his prospective client that the story he's about to tell isn't a pretty one,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.9%
Critics Consensus: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.
A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.722%
Critics Consensus: With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise -- and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists -- Game Night might be more fun than the real thing.
Bateman and McAdams star as Max and Annie, whose weekly couples game night gets kicked up a notch when Max's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.255%
Critics Consensus: Eating Raoul serves up its spectacularly lurid tale with a healthy heaping of pitch-black humor and anarchic vigor.
Eating Raoul was celebrated at the time of its release as the perfect marriage between mainstream moviemaking and the so-called... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.728%
Critics Consensus: In Order of Disappearance's black comedy doesn't always hit its targets, but on the whole, it still adds up to a sly, entertaining revenge thriller.
Introverted and hard-working snow plow driver Nils has just been named Citizen of The Year, when he receives news that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.689%
Critics Consensus: Led by strong performances from Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, Ingrid Goes West delivers smart, topical humor underlined by timely social observations.
Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) is an unhinged social media stalker with a history of confusing "likes" for meaningful relationships. Taylor... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.402%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Arsenic and Old Lace is director Frank Capra's spin on the classic Joseph Kesselring stage comedy, which concerns the sweet... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.36%
Critics Consensus: Director John Waters' affection for camp brings texture to societal transgression in Female Trouble, a brazenly subversive dive into celebrity and mayhem.
A riotously funny bad-taste epic from director John Waters, Baltimore's "Prince of Puke," this sick classic tells the depraved life... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.301%
Critics Consensus: Gleefully nasty and darkly hilarious, Cheap Thrills lives down to its title in the best possible way.
Cheap Thrills follows Craig (Pat Healy, Compliance), a struggling family man who loses his low-wage job and is threatened with... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.279%
Critics Consensus: World's Greatest Dad is a risky, deadpan, dark comedy that effectively explores the nature of posthumous cults of celebrity.
"World's Greatest Dad" is a story about a man that learns the things you want most may not be the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.956%
Critics Consensus: As strange as it is thrillingly ambitious, The Lobster is definitely an acquired taste -- but for viewers with the fortitude to crack through Yorgos Lanthimos' offbeat sensibilities, it should prove a savory cinematic treat.
Colin Farrell stars as David, a man who has just been dumped by his wife. To make matters worse, David... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.011%
Critics Consensus: Bursting with frantic energy and tinged with black humor, After Hours is a masterful -- and often overlooked -- detour in Martin Scorsese's filmography.
A Manhattan Yuppie's night out becomes a comic nightmare, courtesy of director Martin Scorsese. Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette star... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.683%
Critics Consensus: Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet deftly combines horror, sci-fi, and humor in Delicatessen, a morbid comedy set in a visually ravishing futuristic dystopia.
A post-apocalyptic future becomes the setting for pitch black humor in this visually intricate French comedy. The action takes place... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.929%
Critics Consensus: An outstanding sophomore feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse sees writer-director Todd Solondz mining suburban teen angst for black, biting comedy.
An unpopular seventh-grade girl finds her life a living hell, thanks to the ridicule of her peers and the indifference... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.509%
Critics Consensus: A hilarious satire of the business side of Hollywood, The Producers is one of Mel Brooks' finest, as well as funniest films, featuring standout performances by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel.
Theatrical producer Max Bialystock has fallen on hard times. In an attempt to acquire some money, Max and his accountant... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.086%
Critics Consensus: Blending dark humor with profoundly personal themes, the Coen brothers deliver what might be their most mature -- if not their best -- film to date.
"A Serious Man" is the story of an ordinary man's search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108.339%
Critics Consensus: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deftly balances black comedy against searing drama -- and draws unforgettable performances from its veteran cast along the way.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is a darkly comic drama from Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh (IN BRUGES). After months... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.356%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
In this film, Jerry Mathers stumbles upon Harry's corpse in the woods. Mathers alerts his mother Shirley MacLaine, who recognizes... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.548%
Critics Consensus: As proudly tacky as its titular fabric, Polyester finds writer-director John Waters moving ever so slightly into the mainstream without losing any of his subversive charm.
After making a name for himself with such underground gross-out epics as Pink Flamingos and Desperate Living, director John Waters... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.89%
Critics Consensus: The Firemen's Ball is an uproarious comedy of incompetence, mining laughs and sharp satire from an allegory that is amusing and distressing in equal measure.
Firemen's Ball was Czechoslovakian director Milos Forman's final film in his home country; he was scouting locations in Paris when... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.754%
Critics Consensus: A brutal, often times funny, other times terrifying portrayal of drug addiction in Edinburgh. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth viewing as a realistic and entertaining reminder of the horrors of drug use.
Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), a young man with few prospects and fewer ambitions, lives in economically depressed Edinburgh. Like most... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.12%
Critics Consensus: A thrilling leap forward for director Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman is an ambitious technical showcase powered by a layered story and outstanding performances from Michael Keaton and Edward Norton.
BIRDMAN or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.047%
Critics Consensus: Dark, cynical, and subversive, Heathers gently applies a chainsaw to the conventions of the high school movie -- changing the game for teen comedies to follow.
A deliciously nasty black comedy, Heathers is set at a cliquish high school in Ohio. The most exclusive of those... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.296%
Critics Consensus: Violent, quirky, and darkly funny, Fargo delivers an original crime story and a wonderful performance by McDormand.
A pregnant police chief is investigating a series of homicides across the frozen tundra. Against a sprawling Minnesota landscape, a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.213%
Critics Consensus: Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann prove irresistibly hilarious as two misanthropic slackers in Withnail and I, a biting examination of artists living on the fringes of prosperity and good taste.
Screenwriter Bruce Robinson made his directorial debut with this British comedy. Withnail (Richard E. Grant) is an unsuccessful, pill-popping actor;... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.806%
Critics Consensus: It's sometimes crude and tasteless, but Ruthless People wrings acid-soaked laughs out of its dark premise and gleefully misanthropic characters.
The last film to be co-directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, Ruthless People stars Bette Midler (capitalizing... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.418%
Critics Consensus: In the Loop is an uncommonly funny political satire that blends Dr. Strangelove with Spinal Tap for the Iraq war era.
The run-up to war makes for curious rivalries and uneasy alliances in this political satire from director and co-screenwriter Armando... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.977%
Critics Consensus: Led by a volcanic performance from Elizabeth Taylor, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a scathing adaptation of the Edward Albee play that serves as a brilliant calling card for debuting director Mike Nichols.
In this film, married couple George and Martha know just how to push each other's buttons. Tiring of attacking each... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106.394%
Critics Consensus: The Death of Stalin finds director/co-writer Arnando Iannucci in riotous form, bringing his scabrous political humor to bear on a chapter in history with painfully timely parallels.
The one-liners fly as fast as political fortunes fall in this uproarious, wickedly irreverent satire from Armando Iannucci (Veep, In... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.489%
Critics Consensus: Charles Chaplin adds an undercurrent of malice to his comedic persona in Monsieur Verdoux, an unsettling satire that subverts the tramp's image to perversely amusing effect.
In this controversial "comedy of murders," Charlie Chaplin stars as Verdoux, a mild-mannered family man of pre-war France. Verdoux has... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.157%
Critics Consensus: A complex and timely satire with as much darkness as slapstick, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be delicately balances humor and ethics.
Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be is a black comedy about a Polish theater company--led by Joseph and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.205%
Critics Consensus: Brazil, Terry Gilliam's visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy, filled with strange, imaginative visuals.
Terry Gilliam's 1985 film is a surrealist nightmare of a low-level bureaucrat in a dismal world of the near future.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106.922%
Critics Consensus: Stanley Kubrick's brilliant Cold War satire remains as funny and razor-sharp today as it was in 1964.
In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers' minds, the Cold War at its frostiest, and the hydrogen... [More]
Adjusted Score: 119.021%
Critics Consensus: An urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes, Parasite finds writer-director Bong Joon Ho in near-total command of his craft.
Bong Joon Ho brings his work home to Korea in this pitch-black modern fairytale. Meet the Park Family: the picture... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.899%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
John Waters' gloriously grotesque, unavailable-for-decades second feature comes to theaters at long last, replete with all manner of depravity, from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.605%
Critics Consensus: The Ladykillers is a macabre slow-burn with quirky performances of even quirkier characters.
Music professor Alec Guinness rents a London flat from sweet old lady Katie Johnson. He tells her that, from time... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103.344%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Elaine May wrote and directed (credits May attempted to have removed after the studio made extensive cuts in the film)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107.172%
Critics Consensus: Performed with chameleonic brio by Alec Guinness, Kind Hearts and Coronets is a triumphant farce.
A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs... [More]