Most film fans would probably be lying if they said that from time to time that didn’t just want to sit back and enjoy something more relaxed and silly than most films they’d usually watch, and there is nothing better for a relaxed watch than a light comedy. If you watch the right one at the right time, a comedy can genuinely work wonders for mood and give you a certain boost to watch more pushing watches afterwards.
So, without rambling any more, here are ten brilliant films that are almost guaranteed to cheer anyone up to a certain extent… ten films to watch whenever you just need to laugh at something! These aren’t really ranked at all because, of course, humour is massively subjective and so it’s a little difficult to rank these by just how funny they are as it completely depends on what you find funny, so, have a read and see which ones appeal to you!
1. The Toxic Avenger (Lloyd Kaufman, 1984)
Starting off with easily the silliest film on here, Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma classic The Toxic Avenger is one of the most instantly recognisable ‘so bad it’s good’ classics, not far behind films like The Room, Birdemic and all kinds of other weird and wonderful treasures that can be found by looking deep into brilliant midnight movies.
Though the sequels are nowhere near as fun, the first Toxic Avenger film just clicks perfectly, working as a wonderfully violent and silly gratification for anyone looking for something to have a good time with.
From the hilariously ridiculous over-acting, the dazzling 80s soundtrack and the surprisingly good special effects which are bound to get gasps and groans from anyone you watch it with, The Toxic Avenger is one of the most enjoyable film viewing experiences one could ever ask for. Some would be willing to say that this is just about the best time you can have watching a sillier movie!
2. Sightseers (Ben Wheatley, 2012)
Admittedly, dark comedy definitely isn’t something that anyone can easily enjoy, so take what is said here and keep in mind that it is coming from a fan of dark comedy. This definitely isn’t a film for everyone, however, that being said, any fans of dark comedy will likely find this to be a great time.
Wheatley is perhaps mostly known as a director for his most recent comedy outing, Free Fire (2016), however, it is with Sightseers that he really shows his talent as a comic director, with a plot that manages to continuously escalate in a way that one could easily get away with comparing it to something as vivacious as Scorsese’s brilliant After Hours (1985), in that just about every time you think you have a handle on it, it spins further out of control. It’s brutal, brilliantly funny and the pencil gag is not only hilarious, but also surprisingly accurate.
3. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007)
Has a more quotable film been released this century than Edgar Wright’s excellent 2007 film, Hot Fuzz? Following police officer Nicholas Angel (played by Simon Pegg, in one of his best performances) as he is forced to work in a small village called Sandford and slowly discovers that the town’s perfection is only a facade.
Working simultaneously as a buddy cop comedy (with plenty of references to many buddy cop films, especially Point Break and Bad Boys II), a slasher film and and a surprisingly strong thriller, the film shows Wright’s versatility beautifully (maybe more so than any other film he has been involved in) and is really just a joy to watch.
It’s also ridiculously easy to watch time and time again, as the mystery of the film isn’t the real focus and therefore knowing the ending doesn’t hurt the film on revisits. It’s a perfect film to watch when you need a little uplifting, as chances are no one can make it through this film without laughing at least once.
4. Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
Maybe the most beloved of all films on this list, Jacques Tati’s sprawling comedy classic is not only hilarious but also the pinnacle of Tati’s body of work, essentially working as a stunning routine of non-stop laughs, using just about every type of comedy there is, from slapstick to parody and eventually all the way back again.
Not only is Tati directing, but also starring and somehow creating a comic world that feels more lived in than maybe any other film ever made. And it all seems so effortless, somehow, despite the fact that anyone can realise just how difficult the behind the scenes must have been for the film, with Tati creating this entire world and then throwing himself into it as a fish out of water gag that goes for the entire runtime, and furthermore, Tati himself giving one of the all time greatest comic performances, only to be rivalled by the likes of Chaplin and Jerry Lewis.
It’s a complete celebration of Tati’s work, of his style, and it all gels together so beautifully that it’s impossible not to, at the very least, be endlessly charmed by the film, for both its quality and its innocence, which knows no bounds. It’s also a brilliantly bittersweet look at how the technology in France (and the entire world, essentially, even if the focus is more on the dynamics in France) in the 1960s, with a fear of what’s to come but also a certain excitement about it. And Tati manages to accomplish something to this level multiple times… making him one of cinema’s all time best comedians.
Playtime is one of the rare comedies that almost anyone can find something to enjoy in, mainly due to the innocence of the jokes, the beauty of the spirit of it, Tati’s phenomenal performance and the brilliant use of sets and sound to create some of the most unexpected and brilliant gags ever put to screen. It’s an absolute must see.
5. Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)
Though it sounds quite serious, rest assured that Alexander Payne’s largely overlooked 1999 high school comedy, starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon (in her best role alongside Big Little Lies as Tracy Flick), is really anything but serious.
The film details an election from start to finish, with a twist… it’s an election for school president. We follow the perspective of teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) for the majority of the film, which allows us to watch his life slowly fall apart as his personal life and his work life continue to escalate into a living, breathing hell that he can’t seem to escape.
When this is paired with Witherspoon’s excellent Tracy Flick character, all hell is bound to break loose, and it definitely does, working as this brilliant extended mockery of larger political elections whilst also serving as a brilliant work of situational comedy and relentless plot escalation that, in any normal film, would become exhausting, but this is no normal film with Payne at the helm, and so, it manages to continue to be utterly hilarious, never losing its focus for a second, from start to finish. It has brilliant performances, a stunner of a script and some of the most memorable extended gags in… maybe any American comedy.