140 Essential Comedy Movies To Watch Now
What makes a comedy a classic? Something that floats on the changing tides of time and taste, remaining relevant – and hilarious? It probably takes more than a football to the groin or a juiced-up fart on the audio track. (Though we’re not not saying those can sometimes be the pinnacle of professional-grade jokes.) We don’t have the answer, but with our Essential list assembling 140 of the best comedies ever made, we’re getting closer to laugh-out-loud enlightenment than humanly thought possible. We’re melting minds, splitting sides, and slapping knees here.
To that end, we’ve included all forms of the comedy movie. From slapstick (Dumb & Dumber, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) to silent (The General, Modern Times). Rom-coms (Moonstruck, Annie Hall) to screwball (It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby). Parody (Airplane!, Scary Movie) to postmodern (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Galaxy Quest). These 140 movies will take you to college (Old School, Animal House), past some fan favorites (Step Brothers, Super Troopers), and all around the globe (Kung Fu Hustle, Amelie).
There’s no minimum review count for this list. We opened it up to movies of yesteryear, which typically don’t get as many reviews as their modern comedy rivals. Many of these inducted films have high Tomatometer scores and are Certified Fresh, but the Tomatometer was not our only guide. Some comedies that stand the test of time did not necessarily pass the critical test on release, and we’re honoring those here. These are not the best-reviewed comedy films ever released, but they are the essential comedies, movies that broke the Laugh-O-Meter – we’ll totally trademark that soon, so dibs – shaped the genre, molded generations, and which audiences return to time and again, to lift the spirits.
Ready to whip out your funny bone and bash it violently on the nearest flat surface? Then you’re ready for our list of the best comedy movies ever: Rotten Tomatoes’ 140 Essential Comedies!
Adjusted Score: 42.391%
Critics Consensus: Hot Rod has brazen silliness and a few humorous set pieces on its side, but it's far too inconsistent to satisfy all but the least demanding slapstick lovers.
Amateur stuntman Rod Kimble has a problem--his step-father Frank is a jerk. Frank picks on Rod, tosses him around like... [More]
Adjusted Score: 52.73%
Critics Consensus: First Wives Club is headlined by a trio of comedic dynamos, but the script lets them down with tepid plotting and a fatal lack of satirical bite.
In this comedy-drama, a former classmate's suicide reunites three middle-aged college friends from the class of '69. These classmates have... [More]
Adjusted Score: 56.868%
Critics Consensus: Critics say Scary Movie overloads on crudity and grossness to get its laughs.
From the minds that brought you "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," "In Living Color" and "Don't Be A Menace In... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.382%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
In this film, the matchless W. C. Fields plays Egbert Souse, a bibulous denizen of Lompoc who supports his family... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.005%
Critics Consensus: The plot is utterly ridiculous, and the soccer in the movie is unlike any ever played anywhere on Earth, but watching Shaolin Soccer, you will probably find it impossible to care.
One of Hong Kong's top screen comics, Stephen Chow, co-wrote, co-directed, and headlines this three-way blend of sports, action, and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74.553%
Critics Consensus: On paper, Mrs. Doubtfire might seem excessively broad or sentimental, but Robin Williams shines so brightly in the title role that the end result is difficult to resist.
After out-of-work actor Daniel Hilliard (Robin Williams) loses custody of his three children to his ex-wife Miranda (Sally Field), he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.027%
Critics Consensus: Pitch Perfect's plot is formulaic, but the performances are excellent and the musical numbers are toe-tapping as well.
Beca (Anna Kendrick) is that girl who'd rather listen to what's coming out of her headphones than what's coming out... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.505%
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: 100.521%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
After Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, the silent film era's "third genius" was Harold Lloyd, who stars in this Horatio... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.607%
Critics Consensus: Refreshingly sweet and undeniably funny, Big is a showcase for Tom Hanks, who dives into his role and infuses it with charm and surprising poignancy.
More than anything else, 13-year old New Jerseyite Josh (David Moscow) wants to be "big". That's the wish he makes... [More]
Adjusted Score: 37.765%
Critics Consensus: Wet Hot American Summer's incredibly talented cast is too often outmatched by a deeply silly script that misses its targets at least as often as it skewers them.
The setting is Camp Firewood, the year 1981. It's the last day before everyone goes back to the real world,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.148%
Critics Consensus: Besides bringing on the laughs, Barbershop displays a big heart and demonstrates the value of community.
An ensemble comedy about a day in the life of a barbershop on the south side of Chicago. It's Calvin's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.296%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an excellent ensemble cast, a precise feel for the 1970s, and a killer soundtrack, Dazed and Confused is a funny, affectionate, and clear-eyed look at high school life.
Like George Lucas' American Graffiti, Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused is an affectionate look at the youth culture of a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 51.482%
Critics Consensus: Jim Carrey's twitchy antics and gross-out humor are on full, bombastic display in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which is great news for fans of his particular brand of comedy but likely unsatisfying for anyone else.
When your dog, bird, or water-dwelling mammal disappears, who do you call? Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) is a low-rent private... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76.756%
Critics Consensus: Idiocracy delivers the hilarity and biting satire that could only come from Mike Judge.
In 2005, average in every way private Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) is selected to take part in a secret military... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.366%
Critics Consensus: Team America will either offend you or leave you in stitches. It'll probably do both.
Team America, an international police force dedicated to maintaining global stability, learns that a power hungry dictator is brokering weapons... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.249%
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: 84.269%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
While taking a train trip from L.A. to Chicago, mild-mannered George Caldwell (Gene Wilder) makes the acquaintance of Hilly Burns... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.982%
Critics Consensus: A trite but refreshing and comical spin on nature of love.
A woman searching for the perfect man instead discovers the perfect woman in this romantic comedy. Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.423%
Critics Consensus: Trainwreck drags commitment out of all but the most rom-com-phobic filmgoers with sharp humor, relatable characters, and hilarious work from Amy Schumer.
Since she was a little girl, it's been drilled into Amy's (Schumer) head by her rascal of a dad (Colin... [More]
Adjusted Score: 48.326%
Critics Consensus: Oft-quoted but undeniably flawed, Up In Smoke is a seminal piece of stoner cinema thanks to the likability of its two counterculture icons.
Then professional potheads Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong teamed up for Cheech & Chong: Up In Smoke, which features the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.089%
Critics Consensus: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure brings Paul Reubens' famous character to the big screen intact, along with enough inspired silliness to dazzle children of all ages.
Co-written by Paul Reubens and Phil Hartman, Pee Wee's Big Adventure marks the debut of director Tim Burton, who stamps... [More]
Adjusted Score: 60.453%
Critics Consensus: A robust ensemble of game actors elevate Clue above its schematic source material, but this farce's reliance on novelty over organic wit makes its entertainment value a roll of the dice.
In this spoof of McCarthy-era paranoia and 1950s wholesomeness, the characters and plot are drawn from the popular Parker Brothers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 44.352%
Critics Consensus: Though it benefits from the comic charms of its two leads, Tommy Boy too often feels like a familiar sketch stretched thin.
Saturday Night Live star Chris Farley had his first starring role in this frankly lowbrow comedy, which teamed him with... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68.261%
Critics Consensus: A wacky satire on the fashion industry, Zoolander is one of those deliberately dumb comedies that can deliver genuine laughs.
Comic actor Ben Stiller co-wrote, directed, and stars in this spoof of the fashion industry that began as a short... [More]
Adjusted Score: 36.92%
Critics Consensus: A more-miss -than-hit affair, Super Troopers will most likely appeal to those looking for something silly.
A handful of state troopers are put in the uncomfortable position of having to actually enforce the law in this... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63.649%
Critics Consensus: Those who enjoy Adam Sandler's schtick will find plenty to love in this gleefully juvenile take on professional golf; those who don't, however, will find it unfunny and forgettable.
A failed hockey player turned unconventional golf whiz is determined to win a PGA tournament to save his grandmother's house... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.898%
Critics Consensus: A smart, affectionate satire of '80s nostalgia and teen movie tropes, 21 Jump Street offers rowdy mainstream comedy with a surprisingly satisfying bite.
In the action-comedy 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.268%
Critics Consensus: Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are just charming, goofy, and silly enough to make this fluffy time-travel Adventure work.
When a couple air-headed rock-star wannabes are faced with the break-up of their band as a result of poor grades,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.685%
Critics Consensus: Blockbuster dramatist James L. Brooks delivers with Broadcast News, fully entertaining with deft, deep characterization.
Writer/director/producer James L. Brooks scores on all counts with this clear-eyed look at the television news business and the dysfunctional... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.908%
Critics Consensus: A satire of the American fantasy of leaving it all behind, Lost in America features some of Albert Brooks' best, most consistent writing and cultural jabs.
Two dissatisfied yuppies leave their suburban lives behind and embark on a journey to rediscover America and themselves. This idea... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.288%
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: 105.726%
Critics Consensus: With a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle, Crazy Rich Asians takes a satisfying step forward for screen representation while deftly drawing inspiration from the classic -- and still effective -- rom-com formula.
"Crazy Rich Asians" follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Golding), to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.384%
Critics Consensus: House Party is a light, entertaining teen comedy with an infectious energy.
House Party is an infectious, engaging comedy starring the rap duo Kid 'N Play. Kid (Christopher Reid) decides to throw... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81.243%
Critics Consensus: Mike Nichols wrangles agreeably amusing performances from Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in this fun, if not quite essential, remake of the French comedy La Cage aux Folles.
Armand Goldman owns a popular drag nightclub in South Miami Beach. His long-time lover, Albert, stars there as Starina. "Their"... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.956%
Critics Consensus: With a supremely talented cast and just enough midlife drama to add weight to its wildly silly overtones, City Slickers uses universal themes to earn big laughs.
City Slickers blends sight gags, one-liners, and sincerity, with both humor and drama arising from the characters and their situations.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.196%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Having accidentally caused a merchant ship to blow up, stowaways Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are shipwrecked on the African... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.695%
Critics Consensus: Typically stylish but deceptively thoughtful, The Grand Budapest Hotel finds Wes Anderson once again using ornate visual environments to explore deeply emotional ideas.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.106%
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: 66.592%
Critics Consensus: So embarrassing it's believable, American Pie succeeds in bringing back the teen movie genre.
In this wild Unrated version of the hit comedy, follow the raging hormones of four teenage boys and their girls... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.112%
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: 73.491%
Critics Consensus: Though the material is predictable and formulaic, Reese Witherspoon's funny, nuanced performance makes this movie better than it would have been otherwise.
Elle Woods has it all. She's the president of her sorority, a Hawaiian Tropic girl, Miss June in her campus... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.305%
Critics Consensus: Earnest without being didactic and uplifting without stooping to sentimentality, Pride is a joyous crowd-pleaser that genuinely works.
PRIDE is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It's the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.492%
Critics Consensus: While Fast Times at Ridgemont High features Sean Penn's legendary performance, the film endures because it accurately captured the small details of school, work, and teenage life.
Based on 22-year-old Cameron Crowe's undercover exposé on life in a Southern California public high school, this groundbreaking effort presents... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88%
Critics Consensus: Brilliantly bizarre and overflowing with ideas, Beetlejuice offers some of Michael Keaton's most deliciously manic work - and creepy, funny fun for the whole family.
Thanks to the carelessness of a cute little dog, newlyweds Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin are killed in a freak... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.381%
Critics Consensus: A raucous military comedy that features Bill Murray and his merry cohorts approaching the peak of their talents.
A charming, self-elected leader winds up commanding an outfit of misfits.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.129%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and humorous satire with an excellent cast -- no previous Trekkie knowledge needed to enjoy this one.
For four years, the courageous crew of the NSEA Protector donned their uniforms and set out on thrilling and often... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.112%
Critics Consensus: With biting satire, plenty of subversive humor, and an unforgettable turn by Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder is a triumphant late Summer comedy.
Ben Stiller's satirical look at Hollywood, Tropic Thunder concerns the production of an epic Vietnam War film that quickly derails... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.481%
Critics Consensus: A zany horror spoof that plays up and then plays into the best of Universal horror cliches.
It seems that Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), in league with a beautiful but diabolical lady scientist (Lenore Aubert), needs a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.697%
Critics Consensus: Sentimental and light, but still thoroughly charming, A League of Their Own is buoyed by solid performances from a wonderful cast.
The All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League was founded in 1943, when most of the men of baseball-playing age were far... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.38%
Critics Consensus: Simultaneously broad and progressive, Spy offers further proof that Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig bring out the best in one another -- and delivers scores of belly laughs along the way.
Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency's most dangerous missions.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.105%
Critics Consensus: Though there was controversy over the choice of casting, Zellweger's Bridget Jones is a sympathetic, likable, funny character, giving this romantic comedy a lot of charm.
Based on Helen Fielding's hugely popular novel, this romantic comedy follows Bridget (Renee Zellweger), a post-feminist, thirty-something British woman who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.547%
Critics Consensus: Black's exuberant, gleeful performance turns School of Rock into a hilarious, rocking good time.
The world's least-employable heavy metal guitarist is entrusted with the minds of upstate New York's best and brightest in this... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.713%
Critics Consensus: In Sleeper, Woody Allen's madcap futurist comedy, practically each joke and one-liner hits it target.
In 1973, health-food store owner Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) enters the hospital for a routine gall bladder operation. When he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.466%
Critics Consensus: Led by energetic performances from Nicolas Cage and Cher, Moonstruck is an exuberantly funny tribute to love and one of the decade's most appealing comedies.
When there's a full moon over Brooklyn, anything can happen, and everything happens in the neighborhood where widowed bookkeeper Loretta... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.421%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Dentist Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin) is a respectable man. He has a daughter who is about to marry the son... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.398%
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: 91.304%
Critics Consensus: A buoyant, clever update of the conman flick Bedtime Story, with plenty of comedic jousting resulting from a winning chemistry between Michael Caine and Steve Martin.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a remake of the 1964 film farce Bedtime Story. Steve Martin and Michael Caine take over... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.002%
Critics Consensus: A well-calibrated blend of manic comedy and poignant drama, Good Morning, Vietnam offers a captivating look at a wide range of Robin Williams' cinematic gifts.
The film begins in 1965, when disc jockey Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) is assigned to take over the AFR's Saigon... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.021%
Critics Consensus: Bold, timely, subversive, and above all funny, M*A*S*H remains a high point in Robert Altman's distinguished filmography.
Although he was not the first choice to direct it, the hit black comedy MASH established Robert Altman as one... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.357%
Critics Consensus: Rob Reiner's touching, funny film set a new standard for romantic comedies, and he was ably abetted by the sharp interplay between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77.75%
Critics Consensus: The likable leads and subversion of racial stereotypes elevate Harold and Kumar above the typical stoner comedy.
Directed by Danny Leiner, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle follows the life-changing (and mind-altering) journey of Korean-American investment... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.911%
Critics Consensus: A funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati.
Jane Austen might never have imagined that her 1816 novel Emma could be turned into a fresh and satirical look... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75.59%
Critics Consensus: A charming, quirky, and often funny comedy.
The directorial debut of filmmaker Jared Hess, who also co-wrote the screenplay, Napoleon Dynamite is a quirky, offbeat comedy set... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
The ads for Arthur suggested that this was an obnoxious film about an obnoxious man, an eternally drunken millionaire indulging... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.382%
Critics Consensus: Tootsie doesn't squander its high-concept comedy premise with fine dialogue and sympathetic treatment of the characters.
Michael Dorsey is a talented actor, but his demanding nature and stubborn temperament have antagonized every producer in New York.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.701%
Critics Consensus: A fine example of writer-director-star Christopher Guest's gift for improv comedy, Best in Show boasts an appealingly quirky premise and a brilliantly talented cast.
A "behind the scenes" look into the highly competitive and cut-throat world of dog-shows through the eyes of a group... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.387%
Critics Consensus: While its premise is ripe for comedy -- and it certainly delivers its fair share of laughs -- Priscilla is also a surprisingly tender and thoughtful road movie with some outstanding performances.
The usually menacing British actor Terence Stamp does a complete turnaround as Bernadette, an aging transsexual who tours the backwaters... [More]
Adjusted Score: 64.578%
Critics Consensus: While not consistently funny, the movie does have its moments.
A trio of twenty something buddies tries to recapture the outrageous, irrepressible fun of their college years by starting their... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79.105%
Critics Consensus: What Friday might lack in taut construction or directorial flair, it more than makes up with its vibrant (albeit consistently crass) humor and the charming, energetic performances of its leads.
Hard-core rapper Ice Cube, after appearing in such hard-hitting films as Boyz 'N the Hood and Higher Learning, played his... [More]