The 10 Most Underrated Comedy Movies of The 2000s

6. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Jake Kasdan, 2007)

In a parody of the musician biopic genre, Walk Hard follows the tumultuous career of fictional rock ‘n’ roll singer Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) from 1953 to 2007.

Masterpiece is a word that’s assigned far too often to films. However, Walk Hard is, without question, a comedy masterpiece – one of the best comedies ever made. Bafflingly, it has remained a cult favourite and largely unseen by many. What they’re missing is an hour and a half crammed with nonstop laughter. Like Airplane!, what makes it excellent is its 100% commitment to being as ecstatically silly as possible. The entire encyclopaedia of 20th century musical genres is lampooned, specifically Johnny Cash (exploiting scenes from Walk the Line), but also Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, psychedelia and punk rock, among others.

There’s an illustrious ensemble cast: Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Jena Fischer, Craig Robinson, Harold Ramis, Paul Rudd and Jack Black (the latter two satirising John Lennon and Paul McCartney). John C. Reilly’s boundless comic genius is finally given the opportunity to forefront a film. Very few actors have ever brought to life funnier protagonists. This hilarity’s heightened by Reilly’s accomplished singing voice, crooning tongue-in-cheek originals like ‘Let’s Duet’ – great songs in their own right.

In similarity to Withnail & I, every ridiculous line of this laugh riot is quotable: “I was not able to reattach the top half of his body to the bottom half of his body.” “Speak English, doc. We ain’t scientists!” If there’s one comedy that must be on your watchlist, Walk Hard is it. It’s synonymous with the description ‘underrated.’


7. O’ Horten (Bent Hamer, 2007)

Odd Horten is retiring after a 40-year career as a train driver in Norway. After getting locked out of his own retirement party, he falls into a surrealist, existentialist odyssey across Oslo.

O’Horten’s a quiet, poetic and understated character study, its tone aided by the melancholy lighting and painterly, arthouse framing. That said, it’s embroidered with the dry, quaint irony of Norwegian humour, seen in the absurdist interactions Odd has with the array of eccentric characters. A particular humorous highlight is when Odd meets Trygve Sissener (Espen Skjønberg) and Trygve attempts to prove that he can drive them around Oslo blindfolded. Through Odd’s loss of direction following the break in his rigid routine, O’Horten meditates upon the themes of existential angst, the reassessment of one’s purpose and the fear of death.


8. A Town Called Panic (Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, 2009)

In 1991, Belgian animators Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar made a short film entitled ‘Panique au village.’ Its protagonists are plastic figurines of a cowboy, a Native American chief and a horse. The filmmakers expanded their idea into a 2002-2003 TV series. In their 2009 feature spinoff, Coboy, Indien and Cheval, looking to build a barbecue, accidentally purchase 50 million bricks. The delivery demolishes their house. After their rebuilt walls are continually stolen, the trio must venture to the centre of the Earth to catch the culprit.

Fast-paced, action-packed, endearing and utterly bonkers, A Town Called Panic is a kaleidoscope of absurdist humour. It feels like a daydream a child had whilst playing with their toys. The elephantine sets stretch from under the sea to Earth’s crust caverns to a giant robot penguin in the tundra, with a mid-bogglingly acute attention to detail.

There is great use of parody, seen in the Casablanca-inspired romantic encounters Cheval has with his love, another horse named Madame Longrée, and through the subversions of action movie tropes. Having premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, A Town Called Panic holds-up as a fun hidden gem of wacky entertainment, which adults and children can enjoy in equal measure.


9. It’s Complicated (Nancy Meyers, 2009)

Jane (Meryl Streep) starts having an affair with her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin), who’s now remarried. Concurrently, Jane and her architect, Adam (Steve Martin), also start dating. Jane’s forced to maintain a web of lies between Jake, Adam and her children.

It’s Complicated is another pitch-perfect, cheery, escapist rom-com from Nancy Meyers: the maestro of the genre. The aspirational sets are stunningly furnished and curated, in enticing rural California colonial revival settings. The screenplay assesses what constitutes true love, exploring the fickle temperament of desire. As with her best work in The Holiday, Meyers elicits an ideal pitch, ease and generous familiarity from her well-cast players, which include Caitlin FitzGerald, John Krasinski and Rita Wilson. In addition to the legendary Streep, whom effortlessly carries the piece, Steve Martin’s turn is likeable and relatable. Martin’s natural compassion and air of sadness contributes a truthfulness to his on-screen plight.

Furthermore, It’s Complicated’s one of Alec Baldwin’s career highlights. He plays a refined, poetic yuppie in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Baldwin reveals the entire spectrum of his emotional toolkit, garnering pathos with his playfulness, passion, mellifluous voice and vulnerability. His role is both a retrospective and a satire of his former roles as heavy-handed New York businessmen, seen in Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s Complicated’s a comforting, classical piece of Hollywood popcorn fun that’s largely been snubbed or forgotten. This status is wholly undeserved, given its insurmountable entertainment value and grounded, alluring premise. For lovers of rom-coms, this is the apogee of the genre.


10. Observe & Report (Jody Hill, 2009)

A shopping mall security guard with mental health issues (Seth Rogen) is determined to enlist in the police academy. At the same time, he’s attempting to catch a flasher whose been terrifying women at the mall. Anna Faris, Michael Peña, Ray Liotta, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride and Jesse Plemons co-star and there is a riveting rock soundtrack.

One of Observe & Report’s central qualities is the performance from Anna Faris, whom the New Yorker described as “Hollywood’s most original comedic actress,” apparent in her work in Lost in Translation. Despite this title, Faris’s supreme talent has gone chiefly unrecognised. Perhaps because she is such a gifted comedienne, audiences believe her to actually be like the characters she plays. In Observe and Report, Faris is granted the platform to express her mastery of irony, satire, slapstick and parody in what is a well-studied characterisation. Ideally, Faris would be identified as the comic magician she is and awarded a higher volume of the leading roles in comedies her talent so clearly warrants.

Additionally, Michael Peña is at his anarchic funniest and the film contains one of Seth Rogen’s strongest performances. Of the film’s release, Rogen claimed: “the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop came out a few months before and kinda f*cked us. We heard rumblings about Paul Blart and years later, I heard that they actually got the script and ripped us off. Paul Blart made, I think, six times the amount of money as Observe and Report. One way or another, I’m not thrilled with Paul Blart: Mall Cop in relation to how Observe and Report was received.”