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The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Comedy Movies

Updated September 21, 2019 23.3k votes 970 voters 18.3k views25 items

List RulesVote up the comedy movies that define the genre and should be required viewing for beginners in an Intro to Comedy Movies Class.

Comedies have been a staple of filmmaking since the dawn of the movie industry, and it's understandable. Who doesn't love a good, healthy laugh? Essential comedy films did something new with the genre, often pushing boundaries, making political points, or questioning traditional societal roles in a satirical fashion. If you feel like you want to get to know comedy better as a genre, check out these comedy films for beginners. 

What makes a comedy movie great has everything to do with its ability to make you laugh. Must-see funny movies always strive to find new and innovative ways to elicit giggles from their audiences. The most popular comedy movies often break new ground for cinema in general while doing so. The Big Lebowski introduced us to innovative storytelling and quirky characters. Bridesmaids made it clear that comedy would no longer be a solely male arena. These are comedy movies everyone should see, especially if you're looking for a better understanding of the genre as a whole.  

For a movie to make it onto a list like this one, it has to fit one distinct criteria - it has to be able to make you laugh, whether it's the first time you are watching it or the 300th time. It's highly unlikely you haven't seen at least one of the films found here, but if you are new to the genre, consider this your intro to comedy movies. Without a doubt, the films found below are some of the most famous and influential films in the genre. 

Beginners, intermediate, and advanced viewers alike - find your favorite comedy movie on this list and vote it up! 

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  • Video: YouTube
    Blazing Saddles is a 1974 satirical Western comedy film directed by Mel Brooks. Starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder, the film was written by Brooks, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg, and Al Uger, and was based on Bergman's story and draft. The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards, and is ranked No. 6 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Laughs list. Brooks appears in two supporting roles, Governor William J. Le Petomane and a Yiddish-speaking Indian chief; he also dubs lines for one of Lili von Shtupp's backing troupe....  more
    • Actors: Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Anne Bancroft, Madeline Kahn, Alex Karras
    • Released: 1974
    • Directed by: Mel Brooks
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    #116 of 1,436 The Most Rewatchable Movies#119 of 552 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made#11 of 552 The Best '70s Movies

  • Video: YouTube
    Caddyshack is a 1980 American sports comedy film directed by Harold Ramis and written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Ramis and Douglas Kenney. It stars Michael O'Keefe, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, and Bill Murray. Doyle-Murray also has a supporting role. This was Ramis' first feature film and was a major boost to Dangerfield's film career; previously, he was known mostly for his stand-up comedy. Grossing nearly $40 million at the domestic box office, it was the first of a series of similar comedies. A sequel, Caddyshack II, followed in 1988, although only Chase reprised his role and the film was poorly received. Caddyshack has garnered a large cult following and has been hailed by...  more
    • Actors: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Brian Doyle-Murray, Ted Knight
    • Released: 1980
    • Directed by: Harold Ramis
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    #40 of 272 The Greatest Movie Soundtracks Of All Time#73 of 375 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime#2 of 305 The Funniest '80s Movies

  • Video: YouTube
    National Lampoon's Animal House is a 1978 American comedy film directed by John Landis. The film was a direct spinoff from National Lampoon magazine. It is about a misfit group of fraternity members who challenge the dean of Faber College. The screenplay was adapted by Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller, and Harold Ramis from stories written by Miller and published in National Lampoon magazine. The stories were based on Miller's experiences in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth College. Other influences on the film came from Ramis's experiences in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis, and producer Ivan Reitman's experiences at Delta Upsilon at McMaster...  more
    • Actors: Kevin Bacon, John Belushi, Donald Sutherland, Karen Allen, John Landis
    • Released: 1978
    • Directed by: John Landis
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    #406 of 557 The Best Film Scores Of All Time#18 of 126 The Funniest Movies Starring SNL Cast Members#4 of 927 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

  • Video: YouTube
    Ghostbusters is a 1984 American sci-fi-fantasy comedy film, directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as three eccentric parapsychologists in New York City who start a ghost-catching business. Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis co-star as a client and her neighbor. The Ghostbusters business booms after initial skepticism, eventually requiring a fourth Ghostbuster, played by Ernie Hudson; but, when an uptown high-rise apartment building becomes the focal point of spirit activity linked to the ancient god Gozer, it threatens to overwhelm the team and the entire world. Originally intended by Aykroyd as a...  more
    • Actors: Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Walton, Ron Jeremy
    • Released: 1984
    • Directed by: Ivan Reitman
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    The Bizarre History Of The Dueling Ghostbusters#16 of 512 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked#29 of 1,142 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time