8. Team America: World Police (2004)
From the men who brought you South Park and The Book of Mormon, here comes puppets, humping puppets. A satire of big-budget action films and their associated clichés and stereotypes, with particular humorous emphasis on the global implications of the politics of the United States, Team America: World Police used marionette dolls to cuss their way to saving the world from Kim Jong-il.
The writing team of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Pam Brady worked on the script for nearly two years. the filmmakers fought with the Motion Picture Association of America, who returned the film over nine times with an NC-17 rating. The film was recut by a few seconds and rated R.
The film’s songs, co-written by Parker are hilarious, detailed and diverse, my personal favorite being “Freedom Isn’t Free”, a parody of patriotic country songs. Team America: World Police did the unthinkable, well unless you’re Parker and Stone, they made fun of countless political ideologies, actors, ways of life and both conservatives and liberals laughing in the aisles. If you haven’t seen this film, go watch it now, especially the unrated version.
You’ll be surprised at how subtle and thought-provoking the jokes are, as you are watching a film about a team of world-saving marionettes. I think Rotten Tomatoes put it perfectly in their critical synopsis of the film “Team America will either offend you or leave you in stitches. It’ll probably do both.”
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
From the quirky director who has brought the world gems like Moonrise Kingdom and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and is either one of your favorites, or you hate everything he ever makes, Wes Anderson gives the quirky to say the least The Grand Budapest Hotel. The screenplay by Anderson is from a story by Anderson and Hugo Guinness, inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig.
It stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with one of his employees (Tony Revolori) to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. The film is broken down into seven parts including a prologue and epilogue and features some of Anderson’s favorites to work with, including Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray.
The film was released to widespread acclaim and was featured on many top 10 lists of the year by critics. It also garnered nine Academy Award nominations, the joint most (with Birdman) for the ceremony, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won the Academy Awards for Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The film was financially successful and features an all-star cast.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is very Wes Anderson, from the large cast, to the smart and complex humor, to the setting in another time period, if you are a fan of his, or even if you aren’t you can at least see that this is one of his best and one of the best written of his works.
6. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Directed by Edgar Wright and written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead is the first in Wright and Pegg’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, followed by 2007’s Hot Fuzz and 2013’s The World’s End. Any of these three films could have been included in this list.
Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Pegg plays Shaun, a man attempting to get some kind of focus in his life as he deals with his girlfriend, his mother and stepfather. At the same time, he has to cope with an apocalyptic zombie uprising. The film was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for a BAFTA. Shaun of the Dead masterfully balances gory and gross out humor with side-splitting gags, with a script filled with both of them.
It’s pacily directed and nicely acted. When the end of the noughties decade came, Shaun of the Dead was featured in plenty Best of lists. In 2004, Total Film magazine named Shaun of the Dead the 49th greatest British film of all time. In 2005, it was rated as the third greatest comedy film of all time in a Channel 4 poll.
Bloody Disgusting ranked the film second in their list of the ‘Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade’. In March 2011, the film was voted by BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra listeners as their second favourite film of all time. Already a classic in horror and comedy, Shaun of the Dead and its creators will continue to be loved for decades to come.
5. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Directed by Adam McKay, a man who has brought us many comedy classics throughout the century, Anchorman is the quotable classic starring Will Ferrell as the titular newsman. Written by McKay and Ferrell, The film is a tongue-in-cheek take on the culture of the 1970s, particularly the new Action News format. It portrays a San Diego TV station where Ferrell’s title character clashes with his new female counterpart.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy received generally positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 66% based on 196 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. Although the film only received generally positive reviews, it has been a massive hit with audiences and has truly become a huge part of pop culture.
Characters like the incomparable Ron Burgundy, a character ranked by Empire magazine #26 in their “The 100 Greatest Movie Characters” poll and #40 in Entertainment Weekly’s “The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years” poll, and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) have provided plenty of pop culture bits in the last decade.
Fellow cast members Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, David Koechner, and more cameos to shake a stick at, bring classic lines and huge laughs. When the guys start singing “Afternoon Delight”, one of my favorite scenes of the decade. Anchorman, and its lesser sequel have given us amazing characters, moments, cameos, and so much more.
4. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
The directorial debut of one of the kings of comedy from this century Judd Apatow, The 40- Year-Old Virgin is a slice of comedic gold. Co-written by its star Steve Carell, the film follows its title and is about a 40-year-old man trying to lose his virginity. The cast, of soon to be regulars of Apatow’s brand of raunchy adult comedies, were off to a great start here.
Actors like Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann provided huge laughs throughout. Some of the funniest parts of the film were improvised, as some of the dialogue throughout the film was. Improvisation is sometimes the best writing, especially when you have such a good cast and director. The film is also sweet and insightful, human and wise, especially the characters of Andy (Carell) and Trish (Catherine Keener).
It received positive reviews overall and was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of their best films of the year for 2005, the only true comedy to be selected. The film was also a box office success, opening at number one and cracked the top 25 for global gross that year. The 40-Year-Old Virgin remains a go-to funny film for all types of audiences and its writing, a mix of crude and sweet, is the reason why.
3. Best in Show (2000)
A great way to start the century. Made by director Christopher Guest, director of Waiting for Guffman, This Is Spinal Tap, and For Your Consideration, Best in Show follows five entrants in a prestigious dog show and focuses on the surreal interactions among the various owners and handlers as they travel to the show and compete, and after the show, as well as how the personalities and characteristics of the owners match those of their dogs.
It is shot in a mockumentary style. Starring Guest regulars like Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, and Catherine O’Hara, it is an improved romp. Its quirky premise and immensely talented cast will make you forget you are watching a film about a dog show. It doesn’t have much of a narrative, but revels, just as its style suggests, in the moments. All of the funny, slightly deadpan moments come together into quite the show.
Although this list is supposed to be about how well these comedies are written, I couldn’t leave Best in Show off the list. It is so funny that you would think it would take a team of writers to sit down and write all of the witty dialogue and retorts. They were improvised, sometimes the best form of writing.
2. Bridesmaids (2011)
Absolutely genius is one way to describe this Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo penned film. It is quotable and hilarious, but also poignant and deep. That’s a lot to cover in about two hours. The plot centers on Annie (Wiig), who suffers a series of misfortunes after being asked to serve as maid of honor for her best friend, Lillian, played by Maya Rudolph.
Directed by Paul Feig and produced by millennial comedy legend Judd Apatow, Bridesmaids was commercially and critically successful and served as a touchstone to discuss the role of women in comedy.
The film also did the unthinkable and was nominated for two Academy Awards. One for the writing of Wiig and Mumolo and one for the incredible performance of Melissa McCarthy as Megan. It was also included in the Movies of the Year, conducted by the American Film Institute and countless critics’ best of lists. The cast is so stellar, each one bringing something different to the film. Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey co-star as Lillian’s bridesmaids, each is hilarious in their own right.
Bridesmaids set the bar for raunchier comedies, setting a revolution of female-driven comedies and a better appreciation for women in comedy. It is raunchy and fearless, smartly written and honest about what is going on in women’s lives. It connects with more than just the unruly teenage audience that most comedies, raunchy or otherwise, are trying to reach. Bridesmaids will surely go down as one of the best comedies of this era, and will give audiences laughs for years to come.
1. Midnight in Paris (2011)
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert called Woody Allen “ a treasure of the cinema”. Allen demonstrated his magic with Midnight in Paris.
I chose it for a couple of reasons, its witty one liners, themes of modernism and nostalgia, and Owen Wilson’s performance as the Woody Allen character. Allen won his third Academy Award for Original Screenplay, more than anyone else. He combines romantic comedy with time travel and the literary and artistic greats of the 1920s, including The Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, and Salvador Dali, together in one script, creating a magical yet intelligent environment filled with self-reflection and wit.
He was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture for Midnight in Paris. Although his recent efforts, outside of Blue Jasmine, have been met with mixed reviews, this time travel laugh fest will be remembered fondly as one of Allen’s best of this century.
Author Bio: Ryan Anderson is a sophomore at Miami University in Oxford Ohio, where he is studying Zoology and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. His love of classic cinema and film history keeps his love for film strong and ever-present in his life.