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The Top 10 Best Comedy Films Ever Made

Updated on August 4, 2020
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I wrote film reviews for over a decade in a variety of formats.

My wife defined a great comedy in an interesting way the other day: She said: "A great comedy is a movie that gets funnier every time you watch it." Perhaps another way to define a great comedy is to say that it's a movie one never tires of watching again.

This is a list of my top ten comedy films. It's entirely subjective and what's great about top ten film lists is they cause debate and discussion. Feel free to comment in the "Comments" section and offer up any suggestions for titles I might have missed. Of course, if I missed something, than a title has to be eliminated, so let me know which title you'd eliminate as well.

Here is my list of top ten comedy films.

10. Airplane

Year of release: 1980

Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker

Funny line:

Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker: Surely you can't be serious.
Rumack: I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: So, "Airplane" is to cinematic comedy what Rodney Dangerfield is to stand-up comedy, right? Basically, the goal of "Airplane" was to pack as many funny, crude, quick jokes into its running time as humanly possible yet still maintain some semblance of a story. This it does with gusto. Think of all the movies that owe something to "Airplane": "Naked Gun", "Scream", "Hot Shots" - it opened to door for parody (remember those pesky "Airport" films?) on a grand scale but no movie does it better than the original. It's hard to imagine a top ten comedy films list without "Airplane".

9. Office Space

Year of release: 1999

Director: Mike Judge

Funny line:

Milton Waddams: [talking on the phone] And I said, I don't care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I'm, I'm quitting, I'm going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they've moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire...

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: I think if you look at Mike Judge's career, he has this ability to drill down to the lowest common denominator where humor is concerned. Since "Office Space" is in my list of top ten films, I hardly mean this as an insult. Rather, I mean that he's able to distill the humor that most of us find funny - the essence of certain things. I think "Beavis and Butthead" does this. I think "Idiocracy" does this. For the working stiff, which is everyone pretty much, "Office Space" does it the best.

8. Sleeper

Year of release: 1973

Director: Woody Allen

Funny line:

"When I asked my mother where babies came from, she thought I said "rabies." She said you get them from being bitten by a dog. The next week, a woman on my block gave birth to triplets... I thought she'd been bitten by a great dane."

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: Obviously there's an argument to be made for other Woody Allen films being the funniest Woody Allen film. Among them: "Annie Hall", "Manhattan", and "Bananas". That's probably not even a good list of funniest Woody Allen films. Still, for my money, "Sleeper" is the funniest. It's Woody at his comedic, silliest best. Sure, it's early Woody and much less mature than his later work, but that's why I picked it. Woody Allen has made so many funny films that a top ten list of "funniest Woody Allen" films is a definite possibility.

7. This is Spinal Tap

Year of release:1984

Director: Rob Reiner

Funny line:

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: Really, one of those comedies that was just a revelation. So funny because it was practically indistinguishable from reality. We probably have this movie to thank for making all the great Christopher Guest movies that followed (even though Rob Reiner directed this particular one). This was the first of a certain type of faux documentary that many of us couldn't live without.

6. Blazing Saddles

Year of release: 1974

Director: Mel Brooks

Funny line:

Sherriff Bart: "Where the white women?"

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: Asking which Mel Brooks film is the funniest is like asking which Kardashian is hotter. Okay, maybe it's more like asking which Ben & Jerry's flavor is the best - like which one you'd take on a desert island if you could only have just one. Do you take "Young Frankenstein" or "History of the World: Part 1", "High Anxiety", or "The Producers". Can you pick just one?

I'm going with this one.

5. Bad Santa

Year of release: 2003

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Funny line: (most are not printable)

Kid: How did you get sick?
Willie: I loved a woman who wasn't clean.
Kid: Mrs. Santa?
Willie: No, it was her sister

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: Look, it's not for everyone, but "Bad Santa" made me laugh-out-loud more times than I can count. I'm just not a traditional, religious sort of guy, so taking it to Christmas is my kind of funny. That aside, what I loved about this movie was the relationship between Santa and the young boy. I love that the profanity doesn't stop just because there's a kid there.

4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Year of release: 1975

Director: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones

Funny line:

French Soldier: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: Let's have another debate about which Monty Python film belongs on this list. Is it "Life of Brian", this one, or "The Meaning of Life". Actually, I think it's safe to say that "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is the best of those three films, with so many quotable, hysterical moments that are impossible to forget.

3. Caddyshack

Year of release: 1980

Director: Harold Ramis

Funny line:

Carl Spackler: A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-lagunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: This film is great even if you don't like golf and never worked as a caddy. Fortunately, I have been around golf all my life and actually ran a caddy program and worked at a country club, one of the most exclusive in the country. Although I can't say anything happened like it did in "Caddyshack", this film resonated with me in a way that many did not. It's one of those films that'll be quoted forever.

2. The Big Lebowski

Year of release: 1998

Director: Joel Coen

Funny line:

Walter: "You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me."

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: I love the Coen brothers. Always have. But I have to admit, when I first saw "The Big Lebowski" I just didn't think that much of it. Of course, it's one of those films where you watch it again and again and it just gets better and better. I wouldn't call too many films brilliant, but "The Big Lebowski" is about as perfect a comedy as they come.

1. Dr. Strangelove

Year of release: 1964

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Funny line:

President Merkin Muffley: "General Turgidson, I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to order the use of nuclear weapons."

General "Buck" Turgidson: "That's right, sir, you are the only person authorized to do so. And although I, uh, hate to judge before all the facts are in, it's beginning to look like, uh, General Ripper exceeded his authority."

What Makes it a Top 10 Film: Watch this film in combination with "Failsafe" sometime. The two films are both brilliant, but on polar ends of an approach to the issue of nuclear war that was so on the minds of folks in 1964. I think "Dr. Strangelove" is probably the funniest film ever made, but it's also one of the best films ever made. This is what great comedy does: it makes us laugh and makes us think all at the same time. Though comedy doesn't have to make us think to be great, somehow the laughs resonate even more when they hurt. I can watch this film over and over and over again.

Which movie is the funniest?

See results

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