Comedies take many forms: You got your classic rom-coms and buddy-comedies, and even a few explosions laced in between the chuckles with your action-comedies. If you like a little realness with your yucks, you can pop on a tested and true dramedy, or you can go the complete other way and get a few nightmares with your gags with a scary-funny horror-comedy. Mixing things up, you got your mockumentaries, short and sweet family comedies, and even some period comedies if you wanna get all fancy with things. Hell, one thing that has come out of this decade is studios realizing there’s nothing wrong with making summer blockbusters as funny as they are exhilarating. In short, with comedy, there are no boundaries, and this decade we have had no shortage of all sorts of funny flicks.
For this look back at the 2010s, we did our best to make a compilation that honored some of the very best comedies – coming from many different stripes. While this year saw some tremendous drama-comedies – even in the last few years alone (LADY BIRD, THE BIG SICK), horror-comedies (CABIN IN THE WOODS, TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL) and other meshes, in trying to make a diverse list that meant cutting out a lot of excellent movies. You could make a list alone out of the best dramedies or best action-comedies of the decade, so going deep to find the best of the best was no easy task. In the end, comedy is the most subjective of any movie form, and we here at JoBlo are proud to list these as the movies that made us laugh, cheer, and maybe even shed a tear.
As with the other Best of the Decade lists here at JoBlo, the proceeding titles are listed alphabetically.
21 Jump Street (2012)
At the rate things are going now, it was only inevitable that the powers that be would’ve found a way to bring a revival/remake of the hit ‘80s show “21 Jump Street” to audiences. The call was made to do a movie version back in 2008, and instead of it being a similarly dramatic and gritty show, this one was meant to be an R-rated comedy set 20 years after the events of the show. Originally starring pre-rock-n-roll stepdad Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise, this new version enlisted the unlikely pairing of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, and surely, the early 2010s internet had a blast tearing this thing apart pre-release. However, the surprising combination yielded tremendous results, with critics and audiences praising the adaptation, leading to an impressive $201 million at the global box office, and even kicked off what would essentially be the Year of Tatum (MAGIC MIKE, THE VOW, HAYWIRE). All of this led to a rush into a sequel, which is arguably just as good and was an even bigger hit at the box office – wondering why it’s been five years with no plans set for a third.
As mentioned before, there was perhaps more scorn aimed at 21 JUMP STREET than anticipation heading into its release, but that’s what made its wild success even sweeter. Together, Hill and Tatum proved an unexpectedly perfect comedy duo, wringing out endless laughs with their natural chemistry, and with the writing from Michael Bacall highlighting enough of their characters’ differences to make the mission taking them back to high school all the more meaningful. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were coming off the CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS hit, making a seamless transition to movies that would lead to THE LEGO MOVIE, INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE and, er, I guess STAR WARS? Blending the depth of high school movies from John Hughes with delightfully raunchy humor and an often hysterical supporting cast (Dave Franco, Brie Larson, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube) and the leading pair, 21 JUMP STREET hasn’t aged a day and remains the kind of comedy you can pop on at any time and laugh yourself stupid with.
Comedy guru Judd Apatow has an eye for talent, and it didn’t take him long to see that Kristen Wiig was a true genius. After working with her on KNOCKED UP he asked her if she had any screenplay ideas, leading to her and writing partner and actress Annie Mumolo to write what would become BRIDESMAIDS. Primarily releasing dude-centric comedies like STEP BROTHERS, ANCHORMAN and more, this would be the first of Apatow’s filmography to center on a primarily female-led ensemble with Paul Feig (THE OFFICE, and later SPY, GHOSTBUSTERS) directing. While Apatow’s movies had received praise and great box office results in the past, BRIDESMAIDS — with the pitch-perfect ensemble of Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey leading the charge — blew them out of the water, making $288 million worldwide, earning rave reviews and leading to a bevy of awards attention, including two Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa McCarthy).
Between all his producing and directing efforts, BRIDESMAIDS stands out from the pack and by a country mile. Wiig, McCarthy and the rest of the cast stomped up to the R-rated comedy sandbox that all the boys were playing in, took all their toys and showed them how it’s done. Deliriously funny, the movie sports countless scenes that should be etched into the cinematic comedy history books, like Annie’s (Wiig) in-flight meltdown and the collective diarrhea explosion in the wedding gown shop (re-live below). It’s crass, sometimes disgusting and never not hilarious, all on top of being incredibly poignant in its themes of friendship and growing older. Perhaps more so than any of the other movies on this list, BRIDESMAIDS provides numerous reasons for why it will be remembered long into the future as a comedy classic, and as we look forward to covering the Best of the Century list 80 years from now, I’m sure it will have a firm place on all lists.
Eighth Grade (2018)
After going through a bit of an emotional, existential crisis himself, comedian Bo Burnham decided to explore themes of anxiety and self-discovery by examining the life of an eighth-grade girl, and in turn, an entire generation linked to YouTube and social media. Shopping the project around for a bit, Burnham eventually got $2 million to make the movie from A24, under his condition that he direct. Star Elsie Fisher was cast from many young girls who auditioned, Burnham believing her the most genuine. Leading up to release the movie built some fantastic buzz coming out of festivals like Sundance, with critics hailing Burnham’s writing, directing and Fisher’s performance. Upon its release the rave reviews held, making it one of the best-reviewed movies of the year and poising it for awards potential. Despite the praise, the movie didn’t quite break the box office as it should’ve ($14 million), and it was shut out of the Oscars entirely (Fisher was nominated for a Golden Globe), but it remains an indie classic and one of A24’s more notable titles.
No movie will likely capture the anxiety and intricacies of the Gen-Z crowd quite like EIGHTH GRADE. Coming at it from a curious and empathetic point of view, Burnham’s movie explores Kayla’s desire for acceptance and quest to find her place in a world lived online with equal parts hilarity and depth. On the comedy side, Burnham masterfully captured the voices of his young actors, their awkwardness and innocence of full display, while weaving in a sense of realness that audiences of all ages can relate to. The way Kayla throws her phone across the room after her dad enters as she was looking up some risque content, or him catching her “experimenting” with a banana, there’s tons to laugh and cringe with here. The movie’s greatest claim to fame though is how it manages to fully capture what it’s like to be going through so much discovery, no matter how unintentionally funny it is for a young person, or how emotionally jarring or, sometimes, terrifying. There were plenty of great comedy-dramas this decade, but EIGHTH GRADE, coming a bit late in the game, is the funniest and most soul-piercing of the lot.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The eighth film from filmmaker and master of the eccentric comedy, Wes Anderson, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is based on the stories of author Stefan Zweig and found Anderson reuniting with some of his usual suspects for a grand European adventure. The number of talented people in the ensemble ranges near two dozen, but the major players include Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray. Anderson had found success on the indie circuit before and received several Oscar nominations for movies like THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS and THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, but BUDAPEST marked a peak for both critical reception and box office. Blowing past his other movies like a finely-mustachioed gentleman sledding down a snowy mountain, BUDAPEST brought in $175 million globally (off a $25 million budget), and wracked up nine Oscar nominations (Anderson receiving his first for Best Director), and winning four for Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Anderson has demonstrated from his earliest films to be a master at blending in style, grace, and wit with the high strangeness of his stories and characters. With BUDAPEST we see this master at his finest, with his precision to detail in framing the immaculate production values, including picturesque mountains and lavish architecture. Within these fine buildings and small, snowy towns is his most colorful assortment of characters – including his finest leading character yet in Fiennes’ M. Gustave. A man full of poems and elegant quips, he also drops hysterical, crass bits like “Did you see her? She was shaking like a shitting dog.” Along with Fiennes you get an incredible ensemble at their quirkiest, like Dafoe as the scowling, intense but still somehow goofy J.G. Jopling; Harvey Keitel as a bald, tattooed inmate, Ludwig and; Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban and more as members of the Society of Crossed Keys. A sweet story on a grand scale, BUDAPEST ranks high on the list of one the best comedies of the decade, as well as Anderson’s filmography, as it shows the director pushing himself aesthetically, but still delivering on the style and sheer, strange hilarity we should all expect.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Director Taika Waititi began adapting the book “Wild Pork and Watercress” back in the mid-’00s but didn’t get to make it for almost a decade. Starring Julian Dennison (DEADPOOL 2) and New Zealand’s favorite son, Sam Neill, the movie centers on a young boy venturing into the NZ bush with his foster dad — with the two becoming quite close in the process. Rhys Darby (FLIGHT OF THE CONCORDS) and Waititi regular Rachel House flesh out the cast and the whole thing was made several weeks for about NZ$4.5 million. Waititi had received acclaim for past movies BOY and WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, the former of which once stood as the highest-grossing NZ film ever ($9 million). WILDERPEOPLE can be seen as Waititi breaking into the mainstream, surpassing BOY and now holding the record for the highest-grossing NZ movie ever ($12 million), all while earning rave reviews from critics. It surely helped Waititi break into bigger projects, leading to his hiring for THOR: RAGNAROK, the upcoming sequel, work within the STAR WARS universe and basically becoming an Avenger himself as the lovable rock alien, Korg.
Waititi may be all hotshot now as he directs Marvel movies while wearing assorted shirts with pineapples on them, but he’s a man who can do wonders on the small scale (see this year’s JOJO RABBIT), and in terms of his ability to blend earnest sweetness and gut-busting laughs, WILDERPEOPLE has no equal. Dennison’s Ricky Baker and Neill’s Hec are two richly written characters, both of whom have their own issues to get over, their clash of personalities making for an affecting, hilarious dynamic. Like Wes Anderson, Waititi is able to inject a pitch-perfect, precise sense of humor throughout every scene of his films, getting the best possible actors to deliver quirky lines with effortless charm, and in the case of the wonderful House, a deadpan approach that steals the show. Waititi has an almost childlike imagination and sense of play in him, and between movies like BOY, WILDERPEOPLE and this year’s JOJO RABBIT, he digs into the issues kids can have with deep emotion and an infectious sense of humor. Between House, Darby’s insane bush-dweller and the dynamic between Ricky and Hec there’s just so much to find funny in WILDERPEOPLE, and just as much to warm your heart with.
Yet another SNL sketch to make it to the big screen (WAYNE’S WORLD, NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY), MACGRUBER was an attempt to take the mullet-wearing secret agent with a knack for making impromptu gadgets that never work and turn him into a hero the satirical action-comedy genre sorely needed. Starring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer and brought to life by the Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone, the movie did…not do well. Mediocre reviews from critics, an obscure character, and coming out at the start of summer killed it at the box office, leading to a dismal global bow of $9 million off of a rather low $10 million budget, quickly blowing it out of theaters. However, it didn’t take long for the movie to become a cult classic, and after coming out on DVD it began making the rounds and becoming an instantly quotable comedy gem.
MACGRUBER is the sort of movie that’s easy for even the most passionate of fans to point at and say, “It’s so funny because it’s so stupid!” To that I say, the only thing stupid about MACGRUBER is the face it gives when you’re laughing so hard you’re nearing suffocation. MACGRUBER is, in no hyperbolic sense of the word, absolutely f**king genius. In the same class as an action-comedy that hit three years earlier — Edgar Wright‘s HOT FUZZ — it’s instantly evident that the love is there for the ridiculous 80s-90s actions flicks the movie spoofs. Because of this clear passion, writers Taccone, Forte and John Soloman were able to pinpoint hallmarks of the genre — from the kind of car the character drives, the haircuts, the saxophone music, and our hero’s undoubted sexual prowess — and spin them with their unabashedly bizarre sense of humor. Like Mac himself, the humor only ever operates at an 11, with not a single moment lacking in gut-busting absurdity or crassness. Forte is a true comedy titan, a master of delivering lines so that Mac’s wild emotional fluctuations can dominate scenes in all sorts of hysterical ways. His performance is so infectiously fun, and such is the movie itself, that I think what makes MACGRUBER something that’s resonated so well with audiences this decade is that it seems like it was never not a blast to make. You can picture everyone cracking up as they figured out a way to push a scene further. Along with Forte giving it 120% is Wiig, much funnier in a low-key way, hilarious in her undying love for the mulleted hero. Truly, every inch of this movie is unforgettably funny, and as far as pure comedies go, few movies that have come out this decade have been able to match it. Next year marks 10 years since it’s arrival, and though plans for a sequel have floated around, this one remains a singular, bizarre work of comedic genius.
The Nice Guys (2016)
The development of this project went all the way back to the early 00s, with writer/director Shane Black working on drafts with Anthony Bagarozzi. Being turned down and failing to get it even into TV form, it eventually got the green light from Warner Bros. — perhaps having something to do with Black directing the megahit IRON MAN 3. Finding his leading duo in Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, the rest of the cast includes Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Kim Basinger, Beau Knapp and Keith David. A critical darling, the movie didn’t fare as well at the box office, coming in amid lots of other competition (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, ANGRY BIRDS, NEIGHBORS 2). Still, the movie made a fair amount of money considering it was an R-rated period comedy coming out in summer, making $62 million…against a budget of about $50 million, at the least. Chances of a sequel aren’t great, but there could still be hopes for a proposed show, but who knows how long until that comes around.
Much like 21 JUMP STREET, the pairing of Gosling and Crowe seemed like it could be either genius or a disaster. In the end, the two solidified themselves as an on-screen pair few could get tired of watching, and in part that’s thanks to them fully embodying the terrible, often hilarious men, of which Black wrote so well. They both play to their strengths, but get to turn things a bit askew in ways that work incredibly well. Crowe is a burly muscle man with an imposing attitude, but there’s a sweetness to him too, which makes his arm-breaking seem almost endearing. Gosling gets to be the suave wise-cracker, but he’s a shit father and a drunk, but also in a way that’s charming enough to root for him. Together they are a brilliant, unexpected comedy pairing, and they work wonders are they sleuth around the expertly crafted 70s-era Los Angeles, making for a seedy, sometimes sexy, and always crass and outlandish mystery on-par with Black’s KISS KISS BANG BANG. It’s an intelligent, adult comedy that fits in perfectly in the buddy-cop canon, one that has a ton of fun playing with the setting, getting the most of it’s two impeccable leading men, and offering a cavalcade of jokes and set pieces that can range deadpan to silly and all the way to gleefully violent.
Paddington 2 (2018)
After the first PADDINGTON movie cuddled its way into hearts around the world with its unflinching optimism and undeniably delightful, well, everything, a sequel was a no brainer for producer David Heyman (HARRY POTTER) and the team. Director Paul King came back on the direct and to co-write the script with Simon Farnaby, with the main cast reprising including Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon and Ben Whishaw as the marmalade-loving bear. Joining the cast were Brendan Gleeson as the salty prison cook Knuckles McGinty and Hugh Grant as the big bad, Phoenix Buchanan. The movie remains to this day the best-reviewed movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes, besting TOY STORY 2 to have the most reviews ever and remain at a 100% rating. Despite the critical reviews the movie didn’t fare as well stateside at the box office compared to the first, making $40 million where the first made $72 million. The international numbers were still solid, pulling in $277 million globally. A third movie is not yet in the works, which I’m sure is violating some sort of humanitarian law.
If there is any movie on this list, or out of all the movies this whole decade, that could actually make the world a better place, it’s PADDINGTON 2. The adorable CGI bear from Peru is the harbinger of kindness and warmth, and this new adventure of his is more thrilling, funnier, and more immaculate on a craft level. The visual effects, the production design, the score from Dario Marianelli all add to the incredible wit and cleverness to make not just a top-tier family film, but an extraordinary film, period. Making matters unbelievably better is a show-stopping performance from Hugh Grant, leaning into the over-the-top deviousness of Buchanan with enough showmanship to steal the show from even Paddington himself. It’s a genuinely fantastic performance in an incredible movie, and one that should’ve even warranted some awards attention — and that fact he didn’t get it is, also, a violation of all that’s good and pure. PADDINGTON 2 is a family comedy that’s a litmus test for the soul, one that reaffirms all that’s good and magical in this world, aone that can make you walk away from it wanting to be a better person. If not that, then at least the visual of Paddington using his furry body to wash windows can make you ugly-laugh in public.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Graphic novel writer Bryan Lee O’Malley published the first volume of “Scott Pilgrim” in 2004, and it was soon after he was being commissioned for the movie rights. Nabbed by Universal, they looked to SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ director Edgar Wright to bring it all to life, which was destined to be challenging and expensive. In the end, he got a cast that is rivaled only by GRAND BUDAPEST on this list, including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Chris Evans, Alison Pill, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Jason Schwartzmann, Ellen Wong and Brandon Routh. Collaborating on the script with Michael Bacall (21 JUMP STREET), with contributions from O’Malley, it took Wright a few years to get this movie to theaters, arriving in the latter half of 2010. The biggest project of Wright’s to date, the movie cost a gross $85 million to make but netted a disappointing $47 million worldwide. The movie left the top ten at the box office by its second week, many labeling a box office bomb for Universal. But as we’ve seen with another movie on this list, it didn’t take long for an audience to find it on home video, and it’s been hailed as a cult classic and a black sheep in the comic book movie world.
IRON MAN and THE DARK KNIGHT hit theaters two years before PILGRIM, and while the comic book movie market was building towards domination it hadn’t quite taken over just yet. This decade has seen an explosion in the genre, and still, no movie looks, sounds or feels like Wright’s SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. Nothing about it looks like it’s trying to be grounded or even realistic, with words hitting the screen now and again to give it a comic book vibe, and sounds and style to make it feel like you’re inside a colorful video game. Every ounce of this movie is pure imagination and escapism, nothing too wild or off-kilter. Sleek, stylish and action-packed, but at its core, it’s truly a romantic comedy, centering on the love-stricken Scott Pilgrim (Cera) and his inescapable infatuation with Ramona Flowers (Winstead). He’s not a perfect person, but you still root for him nonetheless as he leaps into every new and unique fight. This is a Wright movie, and just as dominating as the visuals is the abundance of humor, with every character big or small bringing some sort of funny to the stage — like Pill’s monotone Kim, Routh’s uber-dramatic-vegan Todd, and especially Evans chewing the scenery as typical gravel-voiced-action-archetype Lucas Lee. PILGRIM is strange, intoxicating, and as hysterical as it is visually arresting, and so it’s no wonder how it’s managed to stay above the pack of both comedies and comic book films as an untouchable classic modern in its own class.
What We Do In the Shadows (2014)
A feature-length version of a 2005 short film from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, “What We Do in the Shadows: Interviews with Some Vampires,” WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS marked Waititi’s first feature after his successful BOY. He rounded up the cast from the short, including himself, Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Stu Rutherford, and got to make his flick for just under $2 million. Proving BOY was no fluke, his movie was praised by critics for giving a fresh bite to the mockumentary format, blending horror, humor and a peppering of sweetness. Not destined to be a big hit around the world, the movie is included among BOY and HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE as one of the biggest movies ever in New Zealand, making nearly $7 million worldwide.
Under his belt, Waititi has tender coming-of-age tales and a massive blockbuster (one more soon to be underway soon), with WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS being a special gem that stands apart. Inspired by his and Clement’s love for movies like INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA and BLADE, the movie has a blast playing with vampire movie tropes and lore. The brilliance comes from Waititi and Clement’s script, which blends the eternal lives of the three vampire roommates with a quirky, naturalistic sense of humor, like how they all debate over who’s going to do the mountain of blood-soaked dishes or having to help each other dress because they can’t see themselves in the mirror. It might not have the colorful, crazy sense of humor he put on display in THOR: RAGNAROK, but for me WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is pound-for-pound Waititi’s funniest film, with everyone in the cast being so naturally funny that it feels like the whole thing was improvised. While very different comedically this movie reminds me a lot of MACGRUBER, in that the love for the subjects and the genre is clearly evident, and everyone involved is having so much fun poking at every little aspect. There’s something very low key and effortless about Waitit’s sense of humor, and meshing that with a mockumentary style with vampires as the main characters made for the perfect comedy brew, and when mentioning the 2010’s in comedy would not be worthwhile without including this hysterical entry. I mean, how can you not laugh at “What are we? Werewolves, not swearwolves?”