The most laugh-out-loud flicks in cinema history.
THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN (2005) Directed by: Judd Apatow Starring: Steve Carell and Katherine Keener 9 to 5 (1980) Directed by: Colin Higgins Starring: Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin ADAM'S RIB (1949) Directed by: George Cukor Starring: Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn AFTER HOURS (1985) Directed by: Martin Scorsese Starring: Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette This farcical fever dream of a movie centers on Paul (Griffin Dunne), a hapless working stiff who ventures to Soho hoping to hook up with the comely yet unstable Marcy (Rosanna Arquette). When that fizzles, Paul finds himself marooned downtown with a dead-eyed bondage and domination maven named Horst, a vengeful Monkees enthusiast, and an angry mob that’s trying to kill him. Intense, dark, and frequently gut-bustingly funny, it is, in short, what you’d expect in a comedy directed by the guy who did “Taxi Driver.” --Jonathan Crow AIRPLANE! (1980) Directed by: Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker Starring: Julie Hagerty and Robert Hays ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz Starring: Bette Davis and Anne Baxter ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGANDY (2004) Directed by: Adam McKay Starring: Will Ferrell and Steve Carell ANNIE HALL (1977) Directed by: Woody Allen Starring: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton THE APARTMENT (1960) Directed by: Billy Wilde Starring: Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine THE ARISTOCRATS (2005) Directed by: Paul Provenza Starring: George Carlin and Don Rickles There is only one documentary on this list, but it contains more laughs per minute than virtually any other movie you're likely to see. Director and comedian Paul Provenza interviewed more than 100 fellow standups, writers, impressionists, and even mimes about a legendary dirty joke that has been passed down since the days of vaudeville. The film contains language so filthy it would make a sailor blush, but it also is a fascinating look into the psychology of comedy and how laughter can help us cope with tragic times. --Matt McDaniel ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944) Directed by: Frank Capra Starring: Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane ARTHUR (1981) Directed by: Steve Gordon Starring: Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY (1997) Directed by: Jay Roach Starring: Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley BAD SANTA (2003) Directed by: Terry Zwigoff Starring: Billy Bob Thornton and Bernie Mac BALL OF FIRE (1941) Directed by: Howard Hawks Starring: Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck Howard Hawks jazzes up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by inserting Barbara Stanwyck as wisecracking singer Sugarpuss O’Shea, a gangster’s moll hiding out among a den of seven lexicographers presided over by the prim yet handsome Professor Potts (Gary Cooper). This lesser-known screwball comedy shows Stanwyck at her friskiest, and reveals that even the often-serious Cooper can make a great romantic comic foil. --Thelma Adams THE BANK DICK (1940) Directed by: Edward F. Cline Starring: W.C. Fields BEST IN SHOW (2000) Directed by: Christopher Guest Starring: Fred Willard and Eugene Levy THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998) Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Julianne Moore BILLY MADISON (1995) Directed by: Tamra Davis Starring: Adam Sadler This stupid movie appeals to the juvenile delinquent in all of us. Admittedly, Adam Sandler has starred in a lot of terrible movies, but this is not one of them. Before he annoyed you as both “Jack & Jill” (2011), he slayed you as the beer-swilling, penguin-chasing Billy Madison. Some people disagree with this pick, but that’s probably because the movie caught fire and became part of mainstream adolescent communication. Sure, adolescents have been more annoying ever since, but that shouldn’t diminish the fact that “Billy Madison” is a stupid, juvenile, potty-mouthed, offensive, base, and downright hilarious comedy. --Adam Pockross BLACK DYNAMITE (2009) Directed by: Scott Sanders Starring: Michael Jai White and Arseno Hall He's not Shaft. He's not Dolemite. Baltimore Colts All-Star running back Ferrante Jones is Black Dynamite, and he's here to fight smack in the orphanage. Michael Jai White stars as a gun-toting, nunchuck-wielding ladies’ man and soul brother in this pitch-perfect parody of 1970s blaxploitation flicks. It's a hilarious, affectionate homage to a bygone genre, from the decidedly awful acting to low-budget production values. It ain't easy being this bad, but this movie hits the bull’s-eye. Dy-no-mite! --Philip Yu BLAZING SADDLES (1974) Directed by: Mel Brooks Starring: Clevon Little and Gene Wilder BORAT (2006) Directed by: Larry Charles Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen BOWFINGER (1999) Directed by: Frank Oz Starring: Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy Steve Martin is Bobby Bowfinger, a hack producer who sets out to make his movie masterpiece with no budget, a ragtag crew, and a crazy plan. Eddie Murphy -- giving arguably his best comedic performance(s) of the last 20 years -- is the star who doesn't know he's in the movie. It's smart satire that skewers Hollywood, filmmaking, and the cult of celebrity (with a hilarious, thinly veiled swipe at Scientology), but at its heart, “Bowfinger” is a sweet tale of underdogs, misfits, and impossible dreams. --Philip Yu BRIDESMAIDS (2011) Directed by: Paul Fieg Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy I'm going to say this movie was the funniest thing to happen in 2011. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo's bitterly funny comedy about women, friendship, and what happens when one of them is tying the knot is something almost every woman has been through. Wiig leads the female-heavy cast through the somewhat strange and expensive ritual of being a bridesmaid. The film straddles the line between romantic and straight gross-out comedy, with jokes about masturbation, farts, and anal bleaching. It reaches its comedic height in an epic bridal boutique scene in which the entire bridal party comes down with debilitating food poisoning. --Jennifer Fox BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY (2001) Directed by: Sharon Maguire Starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant BRING IT ON (2000 ) Directed by: Peyton Reed Starring: Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku “I am a choreographer. That's what I do. You are cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded. What you do is a tiny, pathetic subset of dancing. I will attempt to turn your robotic routines into poetry, written with the human body. Follow me, or perish, sweater monkeys.” ’nuff said. --Matt Whitfield BULL DURHAM (1988) Directed by: Ron Shelton Starring: Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon CADDYSHACK (1980) Directed by: Harold Ramis Starring: Chevy Chase and Bill Murray A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) Directed by: Bob Clark Starring: Peter Billingsley and Melinda Dillon CLUELESS (1995) Directed by: Amy Heckerling Starring: Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd This is the movie that launched the careers of Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, and like cheese or wine only gets better with age. Amy Heckerling's witty writing is at its best navigating Cher and Dione, "both named for great singers of the past who now do infomercials," through the trials of being teenage girls, albeit popular ones. There are trips to the mall ("Been shopping with Dr. Seuss? Well, at least I wouldn't skin a collie for my bag"), listening to music ("Do you like Billy Holiday? I love him!"), classes ("What did you do at school today? Well, I broke in my purple clogs"), and of course getting your driver's license (" Girlie, as far as you're concerned, I am the messiah of the DMV"). Sure, saying someone is "kind of a Baldwin" might be a bit dated, but to that I say, "Whatever!" --Jennifer Fox COMING TO AMERICA (1988) Directed by: John Landis Starring: Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993) Directed by: Richard Linklater Starring: Jason London and Matthew McConaughey DINER (1982) Directed by: Berry Levinson Starring: Steve Guttenberg and Mickey Rourke DR. STRANGELOVE (1964) Directed by: Stanley Kubrick Starring: Peter Sellers and George C. Scott DUCK SOUP (1933) Directed by Leo McCarey Starring: Groucho Marx and Harpo Marx DUMB & DUMBER (1994) Directed by: Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly Starring: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ELECTION (1999) Directed by: Alexander Payne Starring: Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982) Directed by: Amy Heckerling Starring: Sean Penn, Phoebe Cates and Judge Reinhold FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF (1986) Directed by: John Hughes Starring: Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck A FISH CALLED WANDA (1988) Directed by: Charles Crichton Starring: John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis John Cleese’s post-Python knockout. The film features four perfectly pitched comic performances: Jamie Lee Curtis as a conniving vamp with a heart of gold, Michael Palin as a stuttering hired gun with a soft spot for animals, John Cleese as the beleaguered husband of a deliciously awful upper-class twit, and Kevin Kline as a psychotic Anglo-phobe who believes that Aristotle was Belgian and that a central tenet of Buddhism is “every man for himself.” One rollicking set piece follows another, making “A Fish Called Wanda” one of the funniest flicks of the ’80s, which was, of course, a pretty good decade for comedies. --Jonathan Crow FLETCH (1985) Directed by: Michael Ritchie Starring: Chevy Chase and Jon Don Baker Gregory McDonald, who wrote the popular detective novels the film is based on, had final say in casting the lead role, selecting Chevy Chase over the likes of Burt Reynolds and Mick Jagger. The script was written by Andrew Bergman, who also wrote three other comedies on our list: "Blazing Saddles" (1974), "The In-Laws" (1979), and "Soapdish" (1991). The final product is quintessential Chase, actively ad-libbing at the 6'5" height of his comedic power ("6'9" with Afro") while playing the parts of Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher, Harry S. Truman, Ted Nugent, Dr. Rosenrosen, Arnold Babar, John Cocktolstoy, Igor Stravinsky, Don Corleone, Billy Jean King... --Adam Pockross FRIDAY (1995) Directed by: F. Gary Gary Starring: Ice Cube and Chris Tucker THE GENERAL (1926) Directed by: Buster Keaton Starring: Buster Keaton GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) Directed by: Ivan Reitman Starring: Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) Directed by: Harold Ramis Starring: Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell THE HANGOVER (2009) Directed by: Todd Phillips Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE (2004) Directed by: Danny Leiner Starring: John Cho and Kal Penn At first glance, this looks like your typical lowbrow, gross-out road comedy. On a wild quest to find the perfect munchies, John Cho and Kal Penn encounter a runaway cheetah, a giant anthropomorphic bag of marijuana, and a very naughty Neil Patrick Harris, among other calamities. But amid the weed, bare breasts, and bathroom humor, this tale of two unlikely stoner heroes also offers some clever observations on race and masculinity. And a rousing rendition of Wilson Phillips's "Hold On." --Philip Yu HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971) Directed by: Hal Ashby Starring: Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort This hipster “Romeo & Juliet” from ’70s director Hal Ashby pairs a nihilistic, hearse-driving rich boy (Bud Cort) and a free-spirited senior (Ruth Gordon). They “meet cute” at a funeral. The comedy captures the pot-fueled cockeyed optimism of the decade with crack dialogue and sharp characterizations all set to the music of Cat Stevens at his peak (“If you want to be free, be free”). --Thelma Adams HEATHERS (1988) Directed by: Michael Lehmann Starring: Winona Ryder and Christian Slater HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978) Directed by: Warren Beatty Starring: Warren Beatty and James Mason HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) Directed by: Harold Hawks Starring: Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell HOT FUZZ (2007) Directed by: Edgar Wright Starring: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953) Directed by: Jean Negulesco Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall IN THE LOOP (2009) Directed by: Armando Iannucci Starring: Tom Hollander and James Gandolfini THE IN-LAWS (1979) Directed by: Arthur Hiller Starring: Peter Falk and Alan Arkin IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) Directed by: Frank Capra Starring: Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert THE JERK(1979) Directed by: Carl Reiner Starring: Steve Martin KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949) Directed by: Robert Hamer Starring: Alec Guinness and Dennis Price Ealing Studios filmed some of the greatest comedies in British cinema history, but the one with the darkest edge and, consequently, most enduring legacy is "Kind Hearts and Coronets." Dennis Price plays the black sheep of a noble family who decides to bump off all of the heirs standing between him and his dukedom. But it's Alec Guinness, who plays all eight members of the D'Ascoyne family, who gets the most laughs. Predating the multiple roles of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and even Peter Sellers, Guinness completely disappears into a variety of characters (including one woman) and nearly makes you forget they're all the same actor. --Matt McDaniel KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004) Directed by: Stephen Chow Starring: Stephen Chow and Wah Yuen Producer/director/star Stephen Chow's 2004 genre-busting action comedy epic defies expectations with every kick, punch, and pratfall. Set in the slums of 1940s Shanghai, against the backdrop of a vicious gang turf war and a menagerie of quirky characters, the unlikely hero's journey of lowlife Sing is altogether a master class in sight gags and comic timing, an homage to classic Hong Kong martial arts flicks, a Looney Tunes-worthy live-action cartoon, and something else wholly original and fantastic. --Philip Yu LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (1978) Directed by: Edouard Molinaro Starring: Ugo Tognazzi and Michael Serrault LOVE AND DEATH (1975) Directed by: Woody Allen Starring: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton M.A.S.H. (1970) Directed by: Robert Altman Starring: Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould MODERN TIMES (1936) Directed by: Charles Chaplin Starring: Charles Chaplin MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974) Directed by: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones Starring: Graham Chapman and John Cleese MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN (1979) Directed by: Terry Jones Starring: Graham Chapman and John Cleese “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” might be more quotable (at one point in my life, I could pretty much recite the entire movie verbatim) and “The Meaning of Life” might have more bodily fluids, but “The Life of Brian” is the Python’s best flick both for being the most narratively cohesive and for daring to take on that most sacred of sacred cows, religion. The film begins with complaints of audience members who can barely hear the Sermon on the Mount (“Blessed are the cheese makers?”) and ends with a surprisingly upbeat musical number of the crucified condemned (“Always look at the bright side of life”). It’s not surprising that religious groups weren’t happy when this film was released, but whatever your faith, there’s no denying that this is one wickedly funny flick. --Jonathan Crow NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978) Directed by: John Landis Starring: John Belushi and Tom Hulce NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION (1983) Directed by Harold Ramis Starring: Chevy Chase and Beverly DiAngelo THE ODD COUPLE (1968) Directed by: Gene Saks Starring: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau OFFICE SPACE (1999) Directed by: Mike Judge Starring: Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston OLD SCHOOL (2003) Directed by: Todd Phillips Starring: Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn This fratty film garners laughs for a number of reasons, but it makes our list mainly for one: Will Ferrell as Frank Ricard. “Frank the Tank,” who hires the world's greatest wedding band; who gives his buddy Mitch the same bread maker twice; who hopes to have himself a "nice little Saturday" but ends up funneling beers, streaking, and trying to get Snoop Dogg to follow him to the quad; who goes to couples' therapy and gets lost in his "trust tree"; who sings "Dust in the Wind" to his fallen brother Joseph "Blue" Palasky; who does rhythmic ballet... --Adam Pockross PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985) Directed by : Tim Burton Starring: Paul Reubens and Elizabeth Daily PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) Directed by: John Hughes Starring: Steve Martin and John Candy THE PLAYER (1992) Directed by: Robert Altman Starring: Tim Robbins and Greta Scacchi THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987) Directed by: Rob Reiner Starring: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright and Billy Crystal Inigo Montoya, Fezzik, Prince Humperdinck, Princess Buttercup, the Dread Pirate Roberts, Fred Savage: Even the names are funny in this beautiful, romantic, and magical comedy. William Goldman’s script -- which was based on his novella -- goes for laughs the whole way through, from Miracle Max’s MLT sandwich (“Where the mutton is nice and lean”) to the inconceivable advice Vizzini dispenses (“Never get involved with a Sicilian, when death’s on the line!”) to the most eloquent marriage sermon ever delivered (“Wuv, twoo wuv...”). Of course, what would you expect from director Rob Reiner, aka Meathead, aka the guy who helmed “This Is Spinal Tap” and “When Harry Met Sally,” both of which appear on our list? --Adam Pockross THE PRODUCERS (1968) Directed by: Mel Brooks Starring: Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder PULP FICTION (1994) Directed by: Quentin Tarantino Starring: John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson RAISING ARIZONA (1987) Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen Starring: Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter RUSHMORE (1998) Directed by: Wes Anderson Starring: Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray SERIAL MOM (1994) Directed by: John Waters Starring: Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterson After making a name for himself in the underground film scene -- with trash flicks like the transgressive masterpieces “Polyester” and “Pink Flamingos” -- writer/director John Waters delivered his most accessible movie with 1988’s “Hairspray.” But it wasn’t until 1994’s “Serial Mom” that the mustachioed madman successfully combined the bite of the former and the production quality of the latter to craft a hilarious satire of suburban terror, starring a demented, kill-happy Kathleen Turner in her greatest (and most underrated) screen performance to date. --Matt Whitfield SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004) Directed by: Edgar Wright Starring: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost A SHOT IN THE DARK ( 1964) Directed by: Blake Edwards Starring: Peter Sellers and Elke Sommer SLAP SHOT (1977) Directed by: George Roy Hill Starring: Paul Newman and Strother Martin SOAPDISH (1991) Directed by: Michael Hoffman Starring: Sally Field, Kevin Kline and Robert Downey Jr. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) Directed by: Billy Wilder Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT (1999) Directed by: Trey Parker Starring: Trey Parker and Matt Stone SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (1941) Directed by: Preston Sturgess Starring: Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake SWINGERS (1996) Directed by: Doug Liman Starring: Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau TAMPOPO (1985) Directed by: Juzo Itami Starring: Tsutomu Yamazaki and Nobuko Miyamoto Who would have thought that ramen noodles could be so funny? “Tampopo” is ostensibly about one widow’s dogged pursuit of the perfect bowl of noodles, aided by a craggy-faced Shane-like stranger, but director Juzo Itami casts his satirical net wide with a series of hilarious and perverse narrative digressions. From the scene in which the Man in the White Suit and his moll perform an unnatural act with a raw egg to the near pornographic slurping of pasta by a roomful of debutantes to an old woman who molests fruit in a grocery store, food, sex, and subversion all get hilariously woven together in this gleeful thumb in the eye of Japan's money-mad culture of the 1980s. --Jonathan Crow THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998) Directed by: Bobby and Peter Farrelly Starring: Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984) Directed by: Rob Reiner Starring: Rob Reiner and Christopher Guest TOOTSIE (1982) Directed by: Sydney Pollack Starring: Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange TRADING PLACES (1983) Directed by: John Landis Starring: Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy TROPIC THUNDER (2008) Directed by: Ben Stiller Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black USED CARS (1980) Directed by: Robert Zemeckis Starring: Kurt Russell and Jack Warden "Used Cars" is a very funny movie that had very bad timing. It opened the week after "Airplane!" hit theaters, and it was completely overshadowed at the box office. But it became a cable TV mainstay and developed a devoted cult following. It stars Kurt Russell as an unscrupulous car salesman caught between two feuding brothers (both played by Jack Warden). Director Robert Zemeckis and his co-writer Bob Gale went on to have massive hits with the "Back to the Future" trilogy, but this grimy, fast-paced, and gleefully cynical look at the shady side of capitalism remains their funniest collaboration. --Matt McDaniel WAITING FOR GUFFMAN (1996) Directed by Christopher Guest Starring: Christopher Guest and Fred Willard WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER (2001) Directed by: David Wain Starring: Janeane Garfalo and David Hyde Pierce Released by and starring members of the sketch comedy troupe The State in July 2001, “Wet Hot American Summer” barely registered at the box office. Despite being a commercial and critical flop, the film -- which chronicles the shenanigans that take place during the final day at a fictional Jewish summer camp -- has since become a cult hit. Instead of relying on cheap puns and pranks, the nostalgia-filled film lovingly re-creates the feel of early ’80s camp-set comedies while offering up its fair share of raunchiness, cinema’s best/funniest drug binge scene (I know that sounds wrong, but it’s oh so right), and some of the most quotable lines in comedic movie history, delivered by an all-star cast that includes Janeane Garafalo, Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, a pre-“SNL” Amy Poehler, and then-unknowns Elizabeth Banks and Bradley Cooper. --Matt Whitfield WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989) Directed by Rob Reiner Starring: Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal WITHNAIL & I (1987) Directed by: Bruce Robinson Starring: Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) Directed by: Mel Brooks Starring: Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn Mel Brooks does horror with schmaltz. The movie is a smorgasbord of great comic acting: Peter Boyle as a well-endowed monster; Gene Wilder at his manic peak as the skeptical doctor of the title; the wild-eyed Marty Feldman as his assistant (“Hump, what hump?”); and the late, sultry Madeline Kahn leading with her quips. It’s a lesson in comic timing, breathless hilarity, and the idea that pretty much everything is funnier in Yiddish. --Thelma Adams ZOOLANDER (2001) Directed by: Ben Stiller Starring: Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson