Home Movies Movie Lists

70 Greatest Comedies of the 21st Century

From rom-coms to raunch-coms, ‘Anchorman’ to ‘Girls Trip’ —our updated list of the funniest movies of the millennium so far

Shaun of the Dead

WHAT’S SO FUNNY? ? If you’re talking about screen comedy in the 21st century, the answer is easy: bumbling manchildren, the more boorish and clueless and stuck in their stunted adolescence, the better. Talking foxes, Huey Lewis-loving serial killers, world-saving marionettes, foul-mouthed political fixers and boisterous bridesmaids — all great as well. German father-daughter duos and goofy stoners? Bring ’em on! Headbanging teachers and backstabbing bureaucrats? Yes, we’ll take them too.

Since the turn of the century, we’ve giggled at the poignant and the perverse, rom-coms and raunch-coms, new-and-improved takes on singular comic types and loose, highly improvised ensemble pieces that spread the spotlight around. Some of these movies have been gently witty, while others have displayed all of the subtlety of a dose of Sex Panther cologne. But they’ve all consistently cracked us up, in a two-decade-plus span in which — let’s be honest — we’ve need a laugh or two. Or three. Or a dozen.

After a number of heated arguments and lots of name-calling and the occasional chaotic pie fight, we’ve narrowed down our choices for the greatest comedies of the 21st century. Culling this down was a tough call; humor is a seriously subjective topic, and every one of our 19 writers weighing in had their own idea of what constitutes “hilarious.” But this list represents the best cross-section of screen comedy of our millennium, a collection that runs the gamut from droll to bladder-loosening.

And, since we’d originally published this list in early 2018, we’ve updated it and added 20 new entries — including several first-rate comedies that were regrettably left off the list. (All apologies, Dewey Cox.) Given the high possibility of sidesplitting, you may wanna have a medical professional on hand. And don’t forget to stay classy, San Diego.

From Rolling Stone US


‘Frances Ha’

Who likes understated, black-and-white slice-of-life dramedies that pop with colorful humor and awkward comments? Twentysomething angst doesn’t get any better or more comically bittersweet than this cracked character study from director Noah Baumbach and cowriter/star Great Gerwig, in which the eponymous heroine aimlessly pings from downtown Manhattan to Northern California, Paris to Vassar – yet really just ends up going endlessly in circles. There are plenty of slapstick comedy moments as Gerwig’s lost soul busts up old friendships and burn bridges, but this minor gemthrives on the laughter bred from cringe-worthy moments. “I’m embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet.” Neither are we, Frances. Neither are we.KYK



Meet Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst who must reluctantly step away from her longtime desk post and fill in as a emergency-replacement field agent in order to track down an arms dealer’s daughter. Spoiler: It initially does not go well. Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy reunited for this uproariously funny send-up of Bond, Bourne, and their lesser espionage brethren. The notion of McCarthy as would-be super-spy is a grand slam to begin with, but the movie never goes for the easy gag. The laughs come from the sheer force of McCarthy’s personality, and her performance recalls the quick-thinking, fast-talking, foul-mouthed genius of Eddie Murphy’s early work; she’s perpetually underestimated but always the smartest person in the room, and the film’s witty screenplay serves as a wry, sly commentary on gender roles and workplace discrimination without ever stopping to obvious messaging.—J.B.


‘School of Rock’

There were always hints of Jack Black’s potential greatness in the acoustic-metal grandiosity of Tenacious D and the record-clerk pomposity of High Fidelity – but it took Richard Linklater to get a full-service performance out of him. The comedian’s passion for the guitar gods of yesteryear made him the only choice to play a would-be rocker who fakes his way into a fifth-grade substitute teaching gig and turns his musically gifted students into his backing band. The jam sessions and “rock appreciation and theory” classes find Black perfectly in his element, but little touches make the difference, too: His poor, rumpled approximation of what a teacher is supposed to sound like; his little shimmy toward Joan Cusack to Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen”: and his tender treatment of a young singer with stage fright. Play this comedy loud. ST


‘Burn After Reading’

It truly says something about the genius and prescience of the Coen brothers that they made the most pointed, insightful comedy about the Trump era…back in 2008. Assembling a cast of both repertory-company regulars (Frances McDormand, George Clooney, Richard Jenkins) and delightful one-and-doners (Brad Pitt, John Malkovich), Burn nails the deliciously dark and emotionally merciless vibe the filmmakers were clearly aiming for with near-misses like The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty, weaving a tale of deception, blackmail and murder on the fringes of the D.C. intelligence community. Pitt crafts one of the great dumb-guy supporting turns (topping even his own previous career best, True Romance) and Malkovich is at his Malkovich-iest, while the carefully crafted set-up and punch line to the mysterious goings-on in Clooney’s basement remains one of the single biggest laughs in the Coen canon.—J.B.


‘The Trip’

In which British comedians and longtime buds/collaborators Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon drive through the English countryside, sampling food and wine that costs more than your monthly rent and turning dueling Michael Caine impersonations into a game of showbiz oneupmanship. The first in a series of comic travelogues that the duo did for the BBC and turned into feature-length free-for-all goofs, it’s a road movie that enjoys taking the piss out of male insecurities and showbiz narcissism almost as much as providing a showcase for its stars’ particular gifts. It’s the comedic My Dinner With Andre that you never knew you were waiting for. KL


‘Sorry to Bother You’

For years, Boots Riley blew minds as the leader of the political rap-funk group the Coup, dropping tracke wherein he decried racism, spat in the face of capitalism, and had some dark laughs about how fucked-up life can be. No surprise, then, that his feature debut as writer-director would be similarly brazen and hilarious, with LaKeith Stanfield playing a going-nowhere Bay Area dude who takes a job as a telemarketer. He then discovers that he can be a superstar salesman by affecting a dopey white-guy voice on his calls. Part enraged commentary about racial inequality, part Charlie Kaufman-y trip into the surreal, this freewheeling satire gathers a brilliant ensemble — including Tessa Thompson, Danny Glover and Steven Yeun — who are all on Riley’s warped wavelength. But don’t let the title fool you: Riley and his coconspirators very much want to bother you, provocatively challenging our allegiance to corporations and the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Few films in recent years possess the chaotic energy and righteous anger of a street protest, but it’s also WTF hysterical: It says something about this shocking comedy that now-disgraced star Armie Hammer’s cameo as a whacked-out CEO is far from the movie’s strangest sight.—T.G.


‘The LEGO Movie’

Forget theSolo debacle: No two filmmakers are better at skewering the whiz-bang sugar rush of blockbuster cinema than Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The geniuses behind the Jump Street films transformed what could have been a toy ad into a subversive, thrilling action-comedy that celebrated the power of make-believe while mocking the conformity of corporate culture. Chris Pratt voiced the sweet, enthusiastic Emmet, who learns that he’s “the one” who alone can save the universe – a clichéd movie trope that, like many other tentpole tenets, Lord and Miller have a ball spoofing. Equally hilarious and heartfelt, The Lego Movie is a tsunami of sight gags, pop-culture ribbing and killer zingers. It imagines a universe where Superman desperately wants to get away from the super-needy Green Lantern; where the love interest goes by Wyldstyle but really doesn’t want you thinking she’s a DJ; and where Batman is the biggest douche on the block. Everything is awesome!TG


‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’

Was Sacha Baron Cohen exploiting his unsuspecting marks – be they big city feminists, bigoted rodeo audiences, psycho gun merchants, unsuspecting news anchors or craven politicians – by pretending to be a dimwitted, bigoted Kazakh journalist on a journey through America? Was he being unfair to the people of Kazakhstan? Is it against the law to take a dump in front of Trump Tower? Should people refrain from ever saying “my wife” in that accent? All of these things may be true, and yet Borat has lost none of its punch as a laugh machine, in part because the humor often come from deeply uncomfortable places. Indeed, it sometimes feels like the film both captured and embodied something rotten in the American soul at a critical point. Yes, this movie becomes harder to watch as the years pass by. And yet, somehow, it also becomes funnier. BE


‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

Wes Anderson drops his patented doll-house stylistics and deep-cut quirk into Mitteleuropa on the eve of World War II, as various folks pass through a lavish luxury hotel run by one Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) – a buffoonish dandy, “ruthless adventurer and a con artist, who prays on feeble-minded, sick old ladies” and realizes, too late, that his worldview is on a collision course with history. There’s the usual stable of Anderson rep company players (Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton), a mentor/student relationship involving a bellboy named Moustafa (Tony Revolori) and absurd side plots involving invaluable paintings and prison breaks. But what really makes this comedy work is the Fiennes madness at its center; done in between Voldemort duties and other villainous roles, his living relic of a bygone age is one of the greatest comic creations of recent years, elevating themovie beyond the meticulous charm the filmmaker naturally delivers. “I go to bed with all of my friends.” EZ