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“The Best Comedy of the Year!” 2000’s

The television commercial for the new Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy movie Identity Thief makes the claim that it is “the first great comedy of the year!” Now I haven’t seen Identity Thief, so I have no personal experience to be able to refute this claim. Both Bateman and McCarthy are charming performers who have been funny in other stuff. So maybe that claim is fully reasonable. But somehow I doubt it.

This got me to thinking. How many “great” comedies are the producers of Identity Thief expecting to be released this year? Based on the history of modern English-speaking film, how many “great” comedies could reasonably be expected to hit screens in a single calendar year? Now, clearly this is a question without a definitive answer. What constitutes a great comedy will be very different from person to person. What I have decided to do is to look at film comedies from each year and select the best for each. At times I will also give my overall impression of the year in movie mirth. This first installment will cover the years 2000-2011, with future posts reflecting each decade. Right now, I expect to do five posts, with the last one covering the 1960s and 1959. If you can’t figure out why I would shoehorn 1959 in, keep reading and all will be revealed.

2000 – High Fidelity

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Well this was a no-brainer. You can read my full-length post which details the reasons for my love of this John Cusack flick as one of my “underappreciated masterpiece” entries. Like a lot of the movies you’ll find me championing here, High Fidelity, adapted from a novel by British author Nick Hornby, is not purely a comedy. It is about a morose jerk whose most recent live-in girlfriend has joined the ranks of those who have dumped him. A big part of the humor here is how a figure this self-involved can be so lacking in self-awareness. Also, there’s rock ‘n’ roll comedy madman Jack Black having a constant party in his wheelhouse as a loud-mouthed employee in Cusack’s too-cool-for-school Chicago record store. And there’s Tim Robbins as a very douchey romantic rival who is a fan of world music and claims to make a living in “conflict resolution.” Watch it.

Other decent comedies from 2000: Miss Congeniality, Best in Show & Meet the Parents

2001 – Wet Hot American Summer wethotamericansummer-sequel-showalter

Wet Hot American Summer is a recent discovery, and a good thing, too! Without it, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a really strong recommendation for 2001. It is a sneaky piece of film making, starting off as a period piece (the early 80s) about sexual hi-jinx at a northeastern summer camp and gradually morphing into a wild satire of every trope contained in these kinds of movies back in the Reagan era. Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, and Elizabeth Banks are the most recognizable faces, but this is a big cast and everybody gets a chance to goof around. Prepare to laugh in recognition and surprise as they both support and undermine all of your expectations.

Other decent comedies from 2001: not much here. maybe Hedwig and the Angry Inch or Bridget Jones’ Diary.

2002 – Adaptation

Charlie Kaufman, who first made an impression with 1999’s Being John Malkovich turns in another twisted meta-movie comedy, this time featuring Nicholas Cage playing dual roles as a film version of Kaufman himself and as his fictional twin brother. Cage/Kaufman is having trouble adapting a book called “The Orchid Thief” for the screen (the assignment which actually started Kaufman writing this script) while his vapid brother rolls into town with a vague notion of also writing movies and has no trouble selling a script for a brainless action flick. Or is that really what’s going on? Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, and Tilda Swinton also star.

Other decent comedies from 2002: Adaptation narrowly beat out another Nick Hornby adaptation About A Boy.

2003 – Down With Love

If you’ve never seen any of those early 60s “battle of the sexes” comedies which usually starred people like Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood and Tony Randall, then Down With Love may leave you blinking in confusion. Maybe if you imagine Mad Men as a frothy romantic comedy, that’ll do the trick. Having seen a few of those movies, I find Down With Love simply delightful. 2003 audiences did not agree with me and it got crushed at the box office by Return of the King, Finding Nemo, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Of course those same audiences turned out in droves for two Matrix sequels and Bad Boys II, so why should we trust them? Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor star as lovers-to-be competing to one-up each other in the quickly evolving sexual politics of the era. Equally fun are David Hyde Pierce (Frasier) and Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story) as their less assured sidekicks caught in the wake of their friends’ scheming and lies. Whether we should be asked to empathize with them is beside the point. Sit back and enjoy!

Other decent comedies from 2003: Lost in Translation, Love Actually, & School of Rock

2004 – Sideways 1512_sideways_wideweb__430x267

The human wrecks populating Alexander Payne’s wine-guzzling buddy picture Sideways may be a little too fully realized for crowds used to human dysfunction as occasion for a thoughtless guffaw, like in most Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell movies. The realism and sheer horror of these guys is what wins richer laughs for me, however. They start out as reasonably sympathetic and respectable figures. Why shouldn’t a tour through wine country with these guys be a light-hearted romp? And somehow, even after we see what ensues, we retain affection for them that goes beyond what we have for a simple clown. That’s no small trick pulled off by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church. It makes this one of the few comedies of mortification that really entertains me.

Other decent comedies from 2004: In Good Company, Shaun of the Dead

2005 – The 40 Year Old Virgin

 

Writer/Director Judd Apatow has since become a comedy juggernaut whose name does not command the guaranteed yucks paired with pathos that it used to. As a fan of his criminally short-lived television show “Freaks and Geeks,” I was pretty excited when I found out he was pairing with Steve Carell for what would clearly be a nerdy comedy. I was not expecting the rest of the movie-going public to buy in lock, stock, and barrel. Boy was I wrong. The 40 Year Old Virgin was a perfect vehicle for Carell and offered the ideal mix of the sensitive, smart, and profane. Catherine Keener made the leap from cold-hearted femme fatale to warm and sexy MILF and co-stars Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen rode the Apatow train to big time mainstream movie careers, adding to the mix their own brand of charm/smarm.

Other decent comedies of 2005: Nada. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Apparently the 40 year old virgin sucked up all the funny that year.

2006 – Borat: Cultural Leanings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

When this movie was first released it was easy to come to the conclusion that Sacha Baron Cohen was merely a goofball provocateur, who managed to fall ass-backward into some funny situations. As time goes on, however, and he continues to expand his filmography it becomes difficult not to take him pretty seriously. Appearances in highly rated musicals Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables and in a wonderfully complex part in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo have almost wiped the memory of his naked wrestling match with his fat friend from my brain. Almost. His side-splitting performance of an anti-Semitic song in a Dixie honky-tonk is a more pleasant memory. Maybe his appearance as Freddie Mercury in a film planned for release in 2014 will finally do the trick.

Other decent comedies of 2006: Stranger Than Fiction My favorite Will Ferrell film and easily one of his lowest earners at the time.

2007 – Knocked Up

knocked-up-movie

Judd Apatow continued his winning streak with this divisive preggers comedy. The central conceit, that a “10” (Katherine Heigl) gets pregnant through a one night stand with a “5” (Seth Rogen) and then maintains a relationship with him was derided as fundamentally both insulting and implausible. That he turns his slacker life around and becomes a better man after some initial screw-ups is undeniably one of the more played-out movie tropes in film history. Somehow it works for me anyway. Part of the reason are the performances of Leslie Mann as Heigl’s sister and Paul Rudd (yet again) as Mann’s disconnected husband. This pair headed up a widely reviled follow-up to Knocked Up called This is 40. I haven’t seen that, so I’m not holding it against them.

Other decent comedies of 2007: Superbad. I almost named this movie instead of Knocked Up, but then I remembered how annoyed I was by Jonah Hill throughout it. I like Hill in other stuff, but not in Superbad. 2007 was not a good year for funny films.

2008 – Tropic Thunder

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Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr head this star-studded action comedy that relishes both in industry in-jokes and in showing how unsuited performers are for many real-life situations (of course how many of us are well suited for what these guys stumble into?). Tropic Thunder is inconsistent in tone, quality, and believability, but boasts several signature elements, including: the hysterical film-opening previews which introduce us to the main characters of the film, Tom Cruise’s take as a Harvey Weinstein clone, and most of all, Robert Downey Jr’s jaw-dropping performance as a white actor taking on the role of an African-American man, a right-on-the-edge portrayal that the character refuses to drop under any circumstances. The role won Downey an Oscar nomination. Tropic Thunder could have been a masterpiece if the rest of the film had been as fearless as Downey. But that’s a lot to ask for, and in another weak year for comedy, it still does enough to be its best.

Other decent comedies of 2008: Joel and Ethan Cohen’s Burn After Reading

2009 – Zombieland

Zombieland-Medium-580x413

Oh, Zombieland! How I love you! I love your rules. I love your gore. I love your quest for a simple Twinkie. The only thing that could have possibly made you better is if your rumored final act in Disneyland had come to pass. There are probably some moviegoers who are too queasy to even consider giving this a look. If that’s the case, they probably haven’t seen many straight zombie movies either, but they’re missing one of the best comedies of the last decade. I anticipate some love to be thrown to Shaun of the Dead in the comments section, and it is fair to point out that Shaun preceded Zombieland by four years. I find Zombieland to be wilder and funnier, however, with more engaging characters. As always, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Its creative construction and awesome unexpected superstar appearance help make Zombieland’s surprises both frightening and funny.

Other decent 2009 comedies: The Invention of Lying and The Hangover

2010 – Scott Pilgrim vs The Worldscott-pilgrim-vs-the-world-poster2
This is another comedy that depends maybe a little too heavily on the audience’s familiarity with its influences. I wouldn’t expect many people over the age of 50 to connect with the video game and underground comic book references that add so much to the humor. As a man in my 40s, I am certainly not in the film’s sweet spot. For that, I’d have to be about five years younger and have owned a Nintendo game system at some point. That said, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is a wonderfully imaginative and fun viewing experience that is a must for its target audience. The crowd I saw it with sure appreciated it, laughing, yelling, and applauding more than once. For these are the dramatic terms by which every generation of young adults defines their daily travails. And Jason Schwartzman plays one of the most delightful douches in recent memory.

Other decent 2010 comedies: Easy A and Dinner for Schmucks

2011 – Young Adult

I never thought I would see the day that Charlize Theron would star in the best comedy of any year. But like others, I appear to have seriously underestimated her. Her effort in Young Adult is not exactly the wacky sort of personality work that we classically associate with great comic performances, but it is perfect nonetheless. Diablo Cody’s dark, cynical, and smart script is a step past her award-winning writing from Juno and appears to get all the little details right from the opening credits as Mavis plays and replays a Teenage Fanclub song on a very specific style of cassette tape which would have been widely available when she was in high school. It was depressing, however, to learn that Remy, the talented rat chef from Ratatouille, had grown up to be a maimed hobbyist living in a garage somewhere in Minnesota. We wanted so much more for him. Despite this unfortunate reality, I give Young Adult my highest recommendation.

Other decent comedies of 2011: Horrible Bosses & Bridesmaids

2012 – Django Unchained

christopher-waltz-jamie-foxx-django-unchained
Let me start out here by saying that I’m really only a fan of the first half of Django Unchained. You know, the half that is funny and satisfying and has believable and plot-driven violence. The part that features a truly charismatic performance by Oscar winner and nominee Christoph Waltz. While I am typically a big proponent of writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s output, something about Django Unchained lost me after we joined Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie. Nothing against DiCaprio’s performance at all. The story just goes very dark places that stopped being fun for me. What is even more upsetting is that even half of a great comedy in Django Unchained is better than anything else that was out there last year.

Other decent comedies of 2012: Ted & Seven Psychopaths

Okay, so that’s it for everything here in the 21st century. You might have gathered that while I love several of the films mentioned above, that I’m not a big fan in general of the direction comedy on the big screen has gone in recent years. You should see that attitude change as we move backwards in time to films released during the halcyon days of my youth. This pattern can’t be unique to myself. While I clearly enjoy a higher percentage of big screen comedies starting in the mid 70s and stretching deep into the 90s, that can’t be simply because the films were better then, could it? I doubt it. It is much more likely that humor is not just personal, but also rather generational. If we had a large cross-section of people make this same kind of list, would we typically get a front-loaded curve like mine?

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Posted on February 17, 2013, in Analysis, Awards, Movies, reviews, sequels and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Nice you put “Down With Love”. I think is a really underrated movie, both McGregor and Zellweger are great. In my personal list i’d add

    Chocolat
    The Devil Wears Prada
    The Hangover
    Death at a Funeral (the british version)
    50/50
    My Big Fat Greek Wedding
    Midnight in Paris
    What Women Want
    Thank You For Smoking
    Lars and The Real Girl
    Saving Grace
    Something’s Gotta Give
    Julie and Julia
    O Brother Wher Art Thou
    Nicholas Nickelby
    No Man’s Land
    Bread and Tulips

    Maybe others will come in my mind later

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    • I definitely considered some of these. Comedy is such a subjective thing.

      I really like O Brother Where Art Thou as a period piece, and I recognize it as a comedy, but somehow I can’t then make the leap to really liking it as a comedy. Maybe I was disappointed because I had found a couple of the Cohen brothers’ other comedies much funnier

      I just find What Women Want to be intellectually reductionist and not nearly as smart as it thinks it is. I like seeing Marisa Tomei in it, though.

      Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated are both delightful romantic confusion pictures, but my brain does not immediately identify them as comedies.

      I absolutely love Midnight in Paris and am generally a fan of Woody Allen’s. I think of that film more as a lyrical, philosophical romance film.

      Clearly some of the films I named are just as close to the edge of not being comedies as any of these. But, like I said, comedy is very subjective.

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  2. Shame on me, I forgot “Bend it Like Beckham” 🙂

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  3. Great post and now I have some ideas for an Amazon.com movie buying spree. Actually intended to see “Down With Love” in theatre and somehow didn’t get around to it. Also, even though there may not be any Sandler fans here… not that I am any kind of dedicated Sandler fan…. but you have to add “Just Go with it” to the great comedy list. Sandler is not only funny here but even appears likeable for a change. Aniston has had years to perfect her comic timing, which was good anyway starting from the “Friends” years. And surprise of all surprises, Kidman tries her hand at comedy and nails it. You will laugh.

    “Young Adult” is an interesting addition to the comedy list, only because it has the slightly dark overtones. But in the end I have to agree, it is more comedy and not sinister, thanks largelt to Charlize Theron. The movie opens, interestingly, with her laying on her stomach in bed, so that you notice her straight back. Which is appropriate because she carries that movie on her back! Much respect for her after watching YA.

    Look forward to the next comedy installment!

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    • Great post! I have been putting off reading it so that I can take some time in my response.

      (Side note: for some reason, I’m having difficulty posting a comment that is not a response. WordPress does weird things sometimes.)

      2000 – I liked High Fidelity when I saw it, but didn’t love it. I have been meaning to go back and revisit it for years now. I don’t think Jack Black has ever been better. At the time, I really enjoyed Meet the Parents. But I am guessing that it hasn’t aged very gracefully. If push came to shove, I’d probably pick Best in Show of the movies you mentioned. I’m a little sad that Ms. Congeniality is even in the running.

      2001 – I recently discovered Wet Hot American Summer too. I’m glad for its growing cult. It’s a fun movie. I really liked Bridget Jones when it came out. But again, I think the sequel has probably dented it. WHAS is definitely the cooler choice.

      2002 – I came to the Adaptation party late and was actually kind of disappointed by the time I saw it. I had high expectations based on Malcovich and felt like Adaptation fell short. This is another movie that probably deserves a second look. I don’t really remember laughing very much. I actually have a hard time calling this one a comedy although there are definitely comedic elements. I remember liking but not loving About a Boy as well. Was 2002 really such a weak year for comedy?

      2003 – High expectations killed Down With Love for me too. I really, really wanted to like this movie. And really got bored with it. I appreciated what it was trying to do, but the clever premise just wore out its welcome for me. I loved Lost in Translation. So, that’s the clear winner for me. But I would also rank Pirates and Nemo pretty high. I was disappointed with School of Rock. That was the movie where I decided Black was best in small doses. Never saw Love, Actually.

      2004 – Sideways was another disappointment for me. I saw it after all the accolades and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. I am definitely going to need to watch it again with more reasonable expectations. I liked In Good Company, but it is more of a drama with comedic elements. Shaun of the Dead was good. It’s better than Zombieland (which I see makes the list down the line). But if these are the best comedies 2004 had to offer, that seems like a weak year.

      2005 – 40 Year Old Virgin was pretty great. Really, nothing else that year?

      2006 – Borat was shockingly funny. I think low expectations really helped that one. I recently rewatched most of it and it holds up reasonably well. Stranger Than Fiction started off well but lost me by the end.

      2007 – I was right in the middle on Knocked Up. I didn’t necessarily find the premise insulting. But it was uninteresting. Most movies have hot actresses falling for schlubs. Call it the Woody Allen factor. Knocked Up is the movie where Apatow kind of goes off the rails for me. All of his strengths and weaknesses are very noticeable here. In the years since, I’ve overdosed on Apatow. I think we all have. His influence is everywhere. I’m not sure I would care it sit through Knocked Up again. I have similar feelings about Superbad. It’s a good movie, but I don’t really feel the need to watch it a second time.

      2008 – I’m in total agreement with Tropic Thunder. The whole is less than the sum of its parts. But parts of it are inspired. Usually those parts center on Downey or Cruise. “Uneven” is the word to describe it. I’m a Coen brothers fan, but Burn After Reading wasn’t one of my favorites. How about Vicky Cristina Barcelona?

      2009 – I love the first hour of Zombieland. But it should have ended at Bill Murray’s house. It had nowhere left to go. The last half hour at the amusement park throws away a lot of goodwill. The characters all become brain dead. It’s a shame because the first hour is so great. And the last 30 minutes are borderline unwatchable. Great cast though! Invention of Lying strikes me as a really smart religious satire that got dumbed down to the point where it didn’t satisfy anyone. The Hangover was alright but vastly over-rated. Seems like there was another comedy that year I liked better than The Hangover

      2010 – I respect Scott Pilgrim, but didn’t enjoy it very much. I give it credit for style, but the substance was so repetitive. I had trouble making it through all the boyfriends even if some of the cameos were great. I’ll watch individual scenes, but I’m never going to subject myself to the whole thing again. Easy A was frustrating in a Invention of Lying way. It seemed like there was a smarter movie in there somewhere. I have heard mostly bad things about Dinner for Schmucks, so I have never watched it.

      2011 – So Young Adult has been staring at me from Netflix. But I must admit, I don’t even remember it. So I haven’t watched it. I’m adding it to my queue as soon as I finish writing this response. I liked Bridesmaids and Horrible Bosses quite well. Of the two I have seen, HB is the winner. I’m not ashamed to say I laughed my ass off. I’m also a big fan of Midnight in Paris.

      2012 – I’m with you on Django. I like the movie as a whole quite a but. But the first half was better than the second half. I’m not sure I can call it a comedy though. A lot of movies on your list are at least 30-40% comedy. Django has funny parts. Like all Tarrantino, it’s a mix of genres. But I don’t think it has enough comedy DNA to be called a comedy. I haven’t seen either of your other suggestions, so I am left without an alternative which is sad.

      Like you said, comedy is subjective. Your list is a good one even if it skews a little high brow (which is weird to say of a list that includes Zombieland, Tropic Thunder and The 40-Year-Old Virgin).

      This list actually makes me sad in a way. Not a lot of really good comedies in the last 12 years! I hadn’t realized that before reading this. I will be interested to see if other decades look stronger as you get back into my youth. That’s got to be a bias. But as we’re roughly the same age, I imagine I will share your bias.

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      • I totally understand, and to a degree agree with, your above observations.

        Some of the films I listed made the cut just because they were reasonably enjoyable (Miss Congeniality, Bridget Jones, The Hangover…) and some of the yearly winners are hardly what I would call “great.”

        Part of the problem is that film genres have become much less defined. Overall that is a good thing, but what we’ve been left with in comedy is a gaping chasm between quality and laughs. So often nowadays the movies that are supposed to be pure comedies are just so stupid and insulting that I end up not laughing. I am generally not a fan of movies about unbelievably stupid or crass people, and boy is that a lot of what we’ve gotten in the last 12 years.

        Screenwriters do not seem to know how to write both smart and funny. It’s a real problem.

        I also readily admit that some of my choices could just as easily have been identified as dramas or romances or adventures. I went with a first impression upon thinking of the individual movie and did not second guess myself about whether it was a comedy or not. There are other films which I did not include because I did not think of them as comedies. A detailed breakdown of why may or may not support those choices.

        One big example is (500) Days of Summer. I really like it a lot, and I’ve seen it listed elsewhere as a comedy. But when it came to mind, my immediate reaction was that it was more of a romantic drama with some funny moments. So I left it out. I decided not to over-think these decisions. Such hair-splitting will not be nearly as necessary in following posts.

        The state of film comedy is why I had the initial reaction to the Identity Thief ad which then motivated this post. It is my belief that as we cover films in the next couple of posts there will be more slam dunk greats and fewer half-hearted choices.

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        • Great points. You have actually made me stop and ponder “the state of comedy” which is not something I had done before. I have sometimes thought about the sorry state of romantic comedies or horror. But never comedy. So, well done there.

          I agree with your example of (500) Days. I enjoyed it as well. But it is a bit more of a romantic drama than a comedy.

          Definitely looking forward to the next installment for comparison.

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        • I watched Young Adult last night. It’s a good movie, but I found it frustrating. Obviously, the main character is not sympathetic. At all. And she doesn’t change one bit. I would recommend the movie as a drama, but I can’t endorse it as best comedy of the year. I laughed at some of the clever dialogue, but I was wincing through most of the movie.

          But thanks for the recommendation. I would have never checked it out if you hadn’t brought it to my attention. Good movie even if it made me angry more than it made me laugh.

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        • Perhaps if I looked at it a second time, I would perceive it a little differently, but I remembered laughing quite a bit (as well as experiencing some delightful mortification), so I decided to include it.
          A recent second viewing of Horrible Bosses reminded me of both its strengths and its weaknesses. I’d say that if you’re just looking for laughs, that’s the way to go, but that it also disappointingly pushes just a little outside its own reality in a couple of spots, making it frustratingly imperfect.

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        • Agreed. Young Adult is clearly superior as a piece of film making. But when I’m ranking comedies, I give a lot of weight to how much I laugh. And I laughed a lot harder at Horrible Bosses than I did at Young Adult.

          I rewatched Soapdish for the first time in years last night. It was as good as I remembered. So, thanks for the reminder to revisit it.

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  4. No Hot Fuzz …I am going to watch it again as a protest at not even getting a mention

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  5. i agree Lebeau that YA doesn’t make it as a laugh out loud comedy but there is something oddly humorous about the character herself. The humor is maybe because the viewer has a grip on reality and the Charlize character does not, but that can also inspire a certain amount of compassion. And you’re right she does not change, but she does change things around her, which makes the movie interesting, to me anyway. Again new respect for Charlize Theron watching her carry that vehicle. After this discussion have to watch this again.

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    • It’s a movie I respected more than I enjoyed. I know too many people like that character I guess. Even watching her make an ass of herself was annoying to me.

      In life, people like that rarely wise up. And in that regard, the movie was very truthful. But I could have done with a little less truth and a little more Hollywood in that respect.

      I saw one critic who complained that it wasn’t so much that the Theron character didn’t change. It was that no matter how awful she was, everyone else seemed to love and adore her. I guess that’s true to a certain extent for people who look like Charlize Theron. But I kept waiting for some one to call her out on her BS.

      I liked the movie as an indie character study. But less so as a comedy.

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  6. I love Young Adult, but mostly for Charlize’s fearless performance. The script clearly has some issues – i feel like at the same time it tries to be unconventional but still formulaic, and WORSE – there are moments i feel like the characters don’t have any real emotion/motivation for what they do, instead the writer just throws out a bunch of stuff/ideas to shock audiences. It raises a lot of questions, but never truly or fully answer those questions. But I like the fact that the bitch doesn’t change in the end, YA could have been a great dark comic film and ended up being quite half-baked. That being said, Charlize was wicked in it, had the script been better I’d even prefer this to Monster (and tbh, from what I’ve read about her, she is ALLEGEDLY quite close to that character irl). Her & Tilda in “Kevin” are major snubs that year.

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  7. 2012 has quite good comedy movies too. Here are some I like:

    1. The 5-year engagement: I understand many people found it long and boring, but trust me it was worth the time. It doesn’t have great jokes, but some enjoyable ones (like the cookie scene). But mostly I think it is super charming and real. BTW it is not the type of movies suitable at cinemas (long, not many big jokes – like i said its best quality is heartfelt), so if u saw it at theater and hated it, I think u should give it a chance and see it at homes. I also like Emily Blunt’s “Salmon fishing in the yemen” too, it was cute and charming though has some logical plotholes, but way better than Les Miserables!

    2. Hope Springs: it is more objective. When the movie first starts and I see that’s a female writer, I thought hmm the movie may feel female-viewed. About 30 mins in, I didn’t think so as the story felt quite honest & close to old people around me. In the end, though, u can tell it has a very strong pov coming from women. Im not at that point in life/relationship but I quite sympathize with it.

    3. Pitch Perfect is a bit overrated, the best part of the movie is actually the music (No Diggity!) and the cast. The material is ehh but Anna & Rebel were doing the best. It probably helps that there aren’t many high-school movies anymore.

    4. Perks of being a wallflower, however, is really underrated 😦 I can see it will have some kind of cult status, at least in around 3 years idk?

    5. The Sessions & Silver Linings Playbook. Both are good but I dont want to call them comedy, i think they both are character study with plenty of laughs. Esp the latter when many dismiss it as a romcom, imo JLAW is a supporting character.

    Also, have u seen Bachelorette? Enjoyable and predictable, certain parts i like. There’s one problem: why do people always make such a fuss when women play unlikable roles – and ite there is only 1 in the movie that is bitchy.

    I also like 21 Jump Street (I don’t even know of the TV series before seeing the movie btw) & Dictator. Planning to see Seeking a friend for the end of the world, Ruby Sparks & Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. On the fence about Magic Mike because I like Soderberg (I was the only 1 among my friends that love Haywire, such a shame on them) but I dont like Channing or the topic enough.

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  8. Just a last cmt here =) This year doesn’t have the type of BIG comedy like Hangover or Bridesmaids. I dont get the like of Ted????? I never saw Family Guy so maybe i dont like that guy Seth enough (btw he sucks at Oscar). It has a good concept but not so much in the material – there are many scenes when I ask if an actor plays that part Ted will people find it funny? The only BIG funny scene is at the party with Flash! There are spontaneous funny scenes like the Fuck song or the poop scene or the fight but that’s all. if the movie lacks big funny scenes but still emotional then it’s good (see 5-y engagements) but def not this case. Average. Not up to the hype. Mila was hot btw but u know given she is the only 1 I like at that movie and in the end she is still stuck with that manchild, duh,

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  9. Bridesmaids, excellent, highly recommend.
    5-Year Engagement: Loved this one too. It’s not very often I will say this about any move..ever.. but the longer running time was actually a plus and it underscored the movie’s themes all the more effectively. You get more immersed in the lives of the two leads and it makes the ending, when it all finally does tie together, surprisingly powerful. Emily Blunt takes us through that final sequence very deftly. Brought a tear to my eye but hopefully this is more to people than a chick flick. And plenty of laughs along the way.

    The Campaign is another 2012 comedy worth seeing. It’s a bit more dark-ish than movies I normally rave about, and the dark elements develop after the initial comedy. Very interesting window into political forces, too, regardless of your particular beliefs. It’s definitely not a rom/com, not a chick flick, and not a drama. It is a well developed comedic/satiric treatment of its subject matter.

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  10. 1. When do we get the 60s?

    2. Saw Safety Not Guaranteed last night. Check it out. It earned my top spot for 2012 (of the few comedies I have seen). I won’t say more because I don’t want to bias you.

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  11. I am finding that the 60s are needing a lot more research (i.e.: watching movies I haven’t seen) than the previous decades did. But they are coming eventually because some of the movies included there definitely are examples of great comedy. A wrap up will then follow.

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    • I can see that. I have seen several comedies from the 60s, but I have a lot of blanks that would need to be filled in. Can’t wait! But I guess I’ll have to.

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  12. 2000-I’d say Best In Show. Almost Famous I considered at one point. But it’s more a dramedy than a straight comedy.

    2001-I liked didn’t love WHAS. Probably should revisit it. In some ways, the original Shrek might take my spot for top comedy of that year.

    2002-I’d move About A Boy into the top spot for that year. Runners up would include the original Barbershop and Undercover Brother, which is close to being on the same level as the original Austin Powers and way ahead of the mediocre sequels.

    2003-Bad Santa easily takes the top spot for me. It’s one I go back to at least once each year (around the holidays) and it holds up quite well. Forget the sequel. Lost In Translation to me, always skirted the line between comedy and drama. Others from 2003: Looney Tunes: Back In Action.

    2004-In 100% agreement on Sideways. Others: Mean Girls, Shaun Of The Dead and Anchorman.

    2005-A tossup for me between The 40 Year Old Virgin and Wedding Crashers. Others: Hitch with Will Smith was decent at the time. Not too sure how well it holds up 13 years later.

    2006-Re-watched Borat recently and found it still holds up. Some of the shock value humor has worn off. But the satire is still on target and still funny. Others: Thank You For Smoking and Clerks 2.

    2007-Superbad would take the top spot for me.

    2008-Tropic Thunder definitely or maybe Pineapple Express. Others: Can’t think of any.

    2009-I’d go for Adventureland, a well-done coming of age comedy with some well-placed drama thrown in. Not as funny as Superbad. But in some ways more ambitious. Others: Zombirland, Up In The Air and Fantastic Mr. Fox,

    2010-Kick Ass. After the toothless Mystery Men from a few years prior, it was good to see a superhero satire that could hit where it hurts. This one manages to do so while still having affection for its targets. Others: Not too sure. this was a pretty weak year for comedy.

    2011-The Descendants. Another weak year for comedy (and a weak year for film in general). The Descendants was the one comedy of the year that I could say I was enthusiastic about. Others: Bridesmaids and Horrible Bosses.

    2012-An overall better year for film. But in terms of comedy, not much to write home about. I love Django. But can’t quite classify it as a comedy. Ted had funny moments. But does not hold up very well, mainly to having a one-joke premise. Silver Linings Playbook would probably take the spot, even though it falls more into the dramedy category.

    as for the years since.

    2014-The Wolf Of Wall Street. Yes, there’s a level of anger in this Scorsese film. But it uses the anger to fuel the comedy and keep us laughing even as we’re ready to scream. Others: American Hustle. From the director of Silver Linings Playbook. This one has dramatic moments (not surprising having been based on the real life Abscam incident of the late 70s). But falls more into the dark comedy category than the dramedy one. Hence its inclusion here.

    2014-I’d have to go with Chris Rock’s Top Five. Birdman,has its funny moments but falls more into the dramedy category. Top Five works well as a straight-up comedy. Others: Dear White People is an excellent piece of satire. Not full of white-bashing as a lot of people assumed when it was released.

    2015-The Big Short. Similar to what Scorsese accomplished with The Wolf Of Wall Street, Anchorman director Adam McKay takes us behind the scenes of the 2008 financial crisis and exposes the evildoers behind it, yet does it in a way that keeps us laughing. Others: Kingsman is more of a hybrid action/comedy. But has enough humor and audacity to make it a runner-up.

    2016-The Nice Guys was probably the leading candidate for laughs that year. Others: Not too sure.

    2017-Still Undecided.

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  13. I have to mostly agree with you here. Sideways was my favorite film of that year. How Charlize did NOT get nominated for “Young Adult” I don’t know. “the 40 Year Old Virgin” might be the sweetest raunchy sex comedy ever. And I think Seth Rogen is a total “10”. (Hey, I love scruffy, obnoxious bears. What can I say?)

    Not a fan of “Adaptation” or “Down with Love”, but those are two I really should re-visit, because they have lots of qualities I should have liked.

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  14. I’ve been catching up on my movie-watching these past few years, but this article shows how far behind I still am: in most cases, I’ve seen neither daffy’s picks nor his honorable mentions! (A number of them are among the movies I’ve acquired, but haven’t gotten to watching yet.) To see what I’d choose, I consulted several yearly lists of comedies to figure out which ones I’d seen. Here are my selections (unless otherwise noted, the author’s winners are out of contention simply because I haven’t seen them):

    2000
    Bring It On

    Wait a minute, you may say, isn’t that kind of a lame choice for the best comedy of that year? I’d agree, but apparently the only other 2000 comedies I’ve seen are Coyote Ugly, which I enjoyed but don’t think of as a comedy (and is no more a “great film” than BIO), and Charlie’s Angels, which was only all right.

    2001
    Not Another Teen Movie

    Despite more choices for 2001, there’s still not a home run in the bunch. I settled on NATM. I know the critics think it’s a trite, uninspired parody. But having seen She’s All That, 10 Things, and Bring It On, I got enough of the jokes to laugh throughout, and I really liked the ending, with the hero speaking bluntly about what usually befalls the teen romances that are such a big deal in teen movies, and a cameo from former teen queen Molly Ringwald.

    Saving Silverman is the film I almost went with. Yeah, it’s kind of silly, but it’s fun (and Amanda Peet is smokin’!).

    I don’t regret watching Josie and the Pussycats, but (as someone may have said about a different film) I don’t think it’s as smart or sharp as it wants to be. Much the same could be said about Sugar & Spice.

    The Princess Diaries has its charms, but is a bit saccharine, particularly during the big final speech. And it’s borderline as a comedy.

    Rush Hour 2 is a fun, solid follow-up to the original action-comedy. Many years ago, I saw the Korean film, My Wife Is a Gangster, which is also a martial arts action-comedy that spawned sequels. Unlike the Rush Hour flicks, however, it is graphically violent and emphasizes the action side over the comic.

    2002
    Bend It Like Beckham

    This sweet, smart, hilarious, moving British comedy, delivering a heartfelt performance by Parminder Nagra and launching Keira Knightley towards stardom, would surely be worthy of being anybody’s favorite comedy of 2002. Then again, my only alternatives were the inferior rom-coms Sweet Home Alabama and You Stupid Man!

    2003
    11:14

    It’s fortunate I finally ran across a list with 11:14 on it; up until then, it looked like the only 2003 comedy I’d watched was Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle! This ensemble film, about the seemingly disparate misfortunes that befall several people near an overpass one night, isn’t particularly funny, but it is clever in revealing how the events are interconnected, and I liked it.

    2004
    Bride & Prejudice

    From the writer/director of Bend It, Gurinder Chadha, comes this lively Austen/Bollywood mash-up. Star Aishwarya Rai is joined by other crack Indian actors like Indira Varma and Naveen Andrews.

    13 Going on 30 is my runner-up. Some may call it fluff, but Jennifer Garner’s charm, backed by Judy Greer (and Alexandra Kyle) as her frenemy, wins me over.

    C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America is a satirical mock documentary set in a timeline where the Confederacy didn’t just survive, it conquered the North and reconstructed the United States in its image. The director explores what he thinks would have changed – and what wouldn’t. A lot of the satire lands, and this movie might rank even higher if I hadn’t been reminded of it at the last minute, after I’d already invested in my choices.

    50 First Dates put a smile on my face, but it’s not deep or brilliant.

    It’s apparent that Mean Girls had a bigger impact on some people than it did on me, perhaps because I’m too old and too male.

    Sleepover and Ella Enchanted are nice tween flicks. Princess Diaries 2, as sequels are wont to do, loses most of the original’s charm.

    One film I found execrable, but unaccountably has its fans, is Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda. (Incidentally, I’ve read that he originally wanted Winona Ryder for the lead that went to Radha Mitchell, but because of her shoplifting conviction, he couldn’t get a completion bond for the film with her.)

    This was also the year of Napoleon Dynamite. I infer from daffy’s failure to cite it among his “decent” comedies that he’s not a member of the Pedro cult. I once was going through the TV schedule and had a choice between ND and something that was coming on several minutes later. Having heard so much about ND, I decided to give it a shot. But as the start time of the other program approached, and absolutely nothing interesting had happened yet, I switched.

    2005
    Hoodwinked

    There’s some confusion about whether to consider Hoodwinked a 2005 or 2006 film. Apparently it had an LA premiere in December, but didn’t go wide until January. I’m going to go with 2005, because my other choices present a weak field.

    To the extent that I liked Mr. & Mrs. Smith, it’s as an action movie. Are We There Yet? is a fun family time-passer, but I’m under no illusions that it’s a great movie. Must Love Dogs is a middling rom-com, with lackluster chemistry.

    Then there’s In the Mix: haters tried to “Gigli” it, pushing it down to #3 on IMDb’s Worst Movies list at one point. (At least they had a reason to be upset, as the misleading marketing led moviegoers to expect a gritty urban crime drama.) While it’s hardly that awful, it’s still a bad movie.

    By contrast, this animated Rashomon-style tale seems inventive.

    2006
    The Devil Wears Prada

    This witty, tart look at the worlds of fashion and publishing still has a devoted following today. Anne Hathaway looks luminous in both haute-couture and “dowdy” clothes, while it gave Emily Blunt her breakout. Some critics even opined that Hathaway phoned it in and that Blunt stole the movie from her, but I don’t agree at all. Hathaway holds her own against Meryl Streep, and the film has my enthusiastic recommendation.

    I liked Stranger Than Fiction, but apparently not as much as the author.

    I also saw the so-so Bandidas, which I’d classify as light action rather than comedy.

    2007
    Juno

    From his comments on Young Adult, it’s obvious that the author is aware of Juno. But apparently daffy doesn’t just prefer YA, Juno fails to measure up to his demanding standard to be considered a “decent” comedy, and he calls 2007 “not a good year for funny films.” On the other hand, I found Juno amazingly smart and funny.

    Meanwhile, author favorite Knocked Up didn’t make much of an impression on me. It felt like something I had playing in the background as I did some chore, even though I wasn’t. Perhaps I was sleepy, or my high expectations got in the way. I’ll try to revisit this one some day.

    Rush Hour 3 is weaker than its predecessors, but still fun.

    St. Trinian’s makes a fine retort to Anglophiles who imagine that British audiences are more discerning and sophisticated than ours.

    The Jane Austen Book Club wasn’t bad, but I’d also say it wasn’t really a comedy.

    2008-12 to follow…

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  15. 2008
    Forgetting Sarah Marshall

    I’m surprised that this movie hasn’t already come up, at least in the comments. I thought it was a movie with heart, with a meaningful commentary on relationships alongside its (many) laughs. And it was a popular hit, not some obscure cult film that readers may not have even heard of. So when daffy (implicitly) dissed it, not citing it among the decent and dismissing 2008 as “another weak year for comedy,” I would have expected someone to speak up for it.

    (NOTE: From here on out, I’ve seen enough comedies from each year that I’m not going to cover each one.)

    27 Dresses and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist are two rom-coms that I really enjoyed.

    Two excellent movies that others have categorized as comedies, but didn’t feel like comedies to me, are WALL·E and The Wackness. (I found out from your Golden Raspberries coverage that in nominating Ben Kingsley for that year, they included his role in The Wackness in their citation, though his part in The Love Guru was surely actually responsible for getting him the nomination. Unjustified, it was a fine performance.)

    Yes Man was pleasing, but not great.

    While I enjoyed and appreciated Vicky Cristina Barcelona as a male fantasy (being a male), I found the voiceover narration intrusive and overdone, and the movie good but not great overall. (As an aside, I find Rebecca Hall’s recent comments ungrateful, considering that this movie put her on the map.)

    Get Smart was a real disappointment; I’m not sure how I would have responded if I hadn’t seen the original series in reruns. Anne Hathaway delivered as 99, but a surprising letdown was the legendary Terence Stamp. Who would have expected General Zod to play Siegfried as a grim straight man? At least the audience was treated to a cameo from the real Siegfried, Bernie Kopell.

    I don’t think Pineapple Express‘ style of humor is a good fit for me. Where other people see great hilarity, I simply see people doing and saying idiotic things while stoned. I liked the opening sequence where Seth Rogen is process serving, and Amber Heard is electric in her scenes, but otherwise this film is a total loss.

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  16. 2009
    The Hangover

    For 2009, I’ll go with the big hit. Vox populi! Maybe it fell just a tad short of my high, high expectations, but that means it’s still pretty good.

    The Men Who Stare at Goats would be my runner-up, though I’d say it’s a movie I liked rather than loved.

    Up in the Air was a very good film, but I’m not sure I’d embrace it as a comedy? Watching people getting fired from their livelihoods isn’t exactly a laugh riot. Like others, I think (500) Days of Summer is very good, but not as a comedy.

    One comedy that probably isn’t good enough to be in contention for best of the year, but I still liked a lot, is The Answer Man.

    Jennifer’s Body, Diablo Cody’s sophomore effort, is nowhere near the level of Juno, but I still enjoyed it.

    17 Again was all right. It was certainly better than the other teen movie I saw, the excruciating I Love You, Beth Cooper.

    This was a year full of chick flick/rom-com sludge: The Proposal, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Bride Wars, Falling Up.

    I didn’t care for Observe and Report, but Collette Wolfe’s performance as a food court worker stood out as a bright spot. From my adult perspective, Shorts was awful, but it was aimed at kids.

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  17. 2010
    Love & Other Drugs

    Both Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Kick-Ass are great movies, worthy to be considered best of the year. But another movie I really liked was Love & Other Drugs (featuring Anne Hathaway looking luminous in both clothes and no clothes). I was surprised to find out that it got a very mixed response from both critics and audiences, when I had embraced it very strongly. Some thought its mix of satire, romantic comedy, and drama didn’t gel, whereas I felt they blended well. It can be accused of losing its nerve and closing with a standard Hollywood rom-com ending, but then again, so can Scott Pilgrim (test screeners hated the original ending where he chose Knives Chau over Ramona).

    Other comedies I liked from that year would include the animated Tangled, Lena Dunham’s indie vehicle Tiny Furniture, and Life as We Know It (though more for drama than laughs).

    I agree with lebeau, that Easy A seemed to have the potential to be smarter. I liked parts of Valentine’s Day (Taylors Swift and Lautner having fun with his Twilight role, Hathaway again), though the many characters and storylines meant that it couldn’t go deep into any one. Morning Glory lacked a spark.

    That year’s mediocre to inferior rom-coms include Letters to Juliet, Leap Year, She’s Out of My League, and The Bounty Hunter (in more or less that order).

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    • I likes Love and Other Drugs a lot, but I just don’t consider it to be a comedy. It feels more like a romantic drama with comedic moments to me.

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