Here are our favorite comedy movies of the 2010s. In the current landscape of worldwide political division, rising international tensions and the impending global warming apocalypse, a good comedy movie is more important than ever. Laughter is universal, supposedly, and the best comedy films allow an audience to switch off from everyday life without the intensity of an action thriller or the cheesy sentimentality of a romance.
But as much as a great comedy film can bring people together and appeal to all sections of the market, the genre is also one of the most inherently subjective. It’s far easier to qualify exactly what makes a horror film scary or a superhero movie exciting than it is to define why a particular comedy is or isn’t funny. This is the very reason Adam Sandler is being paid lots of money by Netflix – some people can’t stand him, others can’t get enough. The other issue with comedy, recently highlighted by Todd Phillips, is the perception that society’s increasing focus of equality and tolerance is creating a culture where comedians are too limited in what they can get away with. Others might suggest that most fans can separate near-the-knuckle humor from the genuinely mean-spirited and only the latter is affected by the shifting times.
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And yet, a select few comedy films still hit all the right notes and emerge as timeless classics with broad appeal. The 2010s perhaps hasn’t been the best decade for comedy on the big screen, and lacks a real era-defining release in the mold of Shaun of the Dead, Blazing Saddles, Airplane! or the Monty Python series. But the decade still delivered a solid selection of films stacked with cutting-edge humor, skillful parody and gross visual gags. These are our 15 top comedy films of the past decade.
15. Paul (2011)
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost meet aliens in a road movie with a science-fiction twist. Like many other Pegg/Frost projects (the duo also wrote the script on this occasion), Paul is geeky, heartwarming and silly in all the right places. With Seth Rogen delivering a typically hilarious voice and motion-capture performance as the titular rogue extra-terrestrial, Paul finds a pleasing combination of British and U.S. humor and a more unique slant on a genre that all too often reverts to stereotype.
14. Neighbors (2014)
Speaking of Seth Rogen and genre stereotypes, 2014’s Neighbors saw Rogen and Rose Byrne play a young couple making their first foray into parenthood come up against a rowdy bunch of college student neighbors led by Zac Efron. With the “grown adult in college party environment” premise hardly uncharted territory, Neighbors looked to be another entry in a long line of generic, forgettable teen comedies. The finished film proved that assumption entirely misplaced. Relatable to both teenage hell-raisers and the sleep-deprived mid-twenties crowd, Neighbors‘ smart story and choice casting elevated the movie beyond expectations.
13. The World’s End (2013)
For the second time on this list, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost meet aliens, although this bunch are considerably less friendly than Paul. Reunited with Edgar Wright for the third installment in the Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End stars a who’s who of British comedy talent and charts a group of school friends who reunite as adults to recreate a legendary pub crawl from their youth. Naturally, they are interrupted by an alien invasion. Perhaps not as well-received as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, The World’s End still has all the hallmarks of a Wright, Pegg & Frost classic.
12. The Heat (2013)
Crime and spy-based action comedies hit theaters at a relentless rate throughout the 2010s and many of these fell by the wayside. A select few, however, found the right balance between action, comedy and story, and Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock’s The Heat is a prime example. Moving (partially) away from her usual comedic character template, McCarthy plays a police detective who teams up with Bullock’s super-professional FBI agent. The chemistry between the leading pair is the driving force behind The Heat‘s success, but Paul Feig’s loving take on action tropes also helps to separate this 2013 effort from the deluge of similar releases.
11. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
The Lonely Island‘s first major step onto the big screen wasn’t as commercially successful as their YouTube career or Andy Samberg’s starring role in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but Popstar is a vastly underrated mockumentary that carries the spirit of This Is Spinal Tap, albeit with a modern, hip-hop twist. Incorporating their famed musical comedy with a hilarious original script, Popstar was one of 2016’s hidden gems and proved popular with critics, if not the box office.
10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Edgar Wright directing a live-action adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim comic books always looked like a winning formula and so it proved, as critical praise was heaped upon this offbeat teenage video-game homage. Unfortunately, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World failed to turn a profit upon its theatrical release, but has since developed a strong cult following and is now fondly remembered for early appearances by a host of actors now deemed part of the Hollywood A-list.
9. Game Night (2018)
Finding an original concept for a comedy movie without blending several genres together is a tough ask in today’s saturated market, but Game Night provided just that, as Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams lead a dangerous criminal investigation, mistakenly under the impression they’re taking part in an interactive live-action role play game. As the mystery unravels, Game Night continues to twist and turn, keeping the audience guessing and laughing in equal measure.
8. Kick-Ass (2010)
Equal parts comedy and superhero movie, Kick-Ass is based on the comic books by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. and was lauded for its pull-no-punches attitude and hybrid genre mashup. Simultaneously aping and celebrating the world of superheroes, Kick-Ass functions as a comedy largely thanks to the leading duo of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz whose unlikely partnership forms the beating heart of the film. Throw an on-form Nicholas Cage into the mix, and Kick-Ass provides more laughs than many of the more traditional comedies out there.
7. 21 Jump Street (2012)
In terms of rebooting a forgotten property, 21 Jump Street has few equals and, like many of the decade’s finest comedies, focuses squarely on its lead characters and the relationship between them. Channing Tatum proved himself funnier than anyone ever expected and his friendship with Jonah Hill’s character eschewed the usual jock/nerd dynamic for something a little more contemporary. Earning a well-deserved sequel, 22 Jump Street made a post-credits gag at its own expanse by teasing a series of increasingly ridiculous sequels. Life almost imitated art, when a potential crossover between Jump Street and Men In Black was mooted for 2019.
6. Ted (2012)
Seth MacFarlane took his considerable talents from Family Guy to the big screen and yes, he did sound a lot like Peter Griffin. Combining a foul-mouthed toy bear with Mark Wahlberg was an unexpected stroke of genius and gave rise to a humorous selection of memorable lines and handy insults. Ted allowed Wahlberg to show off his comedic chops and helped solidify Mila Kunis as a bona fide star. By far the biggest benefactor, however, was Ted himself, who rapidly became a cultural icon in 2012 thanks to his lovable face and inventive use of profanity.
5. Bridesmaids (2011)
Another entry directed by the renowned Paul Feig, Bridesmaids assembled a stellar cast featuring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd and many more, going on to become a runaway success both in terms of positive reaction and box office figures. Interestingly, Bridesmaids doesn’t offer a particularly novel story or rely on any unique gimmick and one of its most memorable scenes is little more than a series of women defecating. But Bridesmaids doesn’t need such embellishments, and stands out by simply being a lot funnier than other films of its kind.
4. What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
This low-budget indie flick from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement was a success upon release in 2014 but failed to set the world alight and was generally considered a cult classic. Following Waititi’s move to the MCU with Thor: Ragnarok, however, What We Do In The Shadows has attracted feverish interest – and for good reason. An offbeat horror/comedy blend about four vampire roommates that offers a fascinating take on the Hollywood vampire portrayal, What We Do In The Shadows deserves its newfound fame and a TV series adaptation aired earlier this year.
3. Deadpool (2016)
Though arguably more of a superhero or action release to some, any movie that uses a regeneration superpower to make masturbation jokes has to be considered among the comedic elite of its era and Deadpool richly deserves its high ranking. Having convinced Fox to greenlight a mature, R-rated superhero movie, Ryan Reynolds gave a pitch perfect performance as the hilarious Wade Wilson and Deadpool‘s fourth-wall-breaking, no boundaries approach was a refreshing and revolutionary step in the development of superhero movies.
2. Paddington 2 (2017)
If 2019 is a time when Deadpool and Paddington Bear can coexist peacefully beside each other, then perhaps the world isn’t so bad after all. Dismissed by some as a mere family film for kids to enjoy and adults to endure, Paddington 2 surpassed all expectations by being a genuinely hilarious, engaging and touching piece of cinema. Sent to jail for a crime he didn’t commit, Paddington Bear is forced to assimilate with his new cellmates, attempt to clear his name and catch the real perpetrator. For those doubting Paddington 2‘s comedy credentials, Hugh Grant does a dance number in a bright pink prison jumpsuit.
1. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)
For many years, Steve Coogan was questioned on when his most famous character would finally return and after a lifetime of anticipation, the Partridge landed in 2013 for Alan’s debut appearance on the big screen. Set in the drama-filled confines of North Norfolk Digital radio station, Alan is forced to handle a delicate hostage situation of his own making, while also taking advantage of his new found fame as the “face of the siege.” All of the mannerisms and quips that made Coogan’s I’m Alan Partridge TV series so successful feel as relevant as ever and every scene in Alpha Papa is crammed with visual gags and cringing of the best sort.
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