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The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Comedy Movies

Updated September 21, 2019 14.8k votes 969 voters 18.1k 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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  • National Lampoon's Animal House
    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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  • Spaceballs
    Video: YouTube
    Spaceballs is a 1987 American parody film co-written and directed by Mel Brooks and starring Brooks, Bill Pullman, John Candy and Rick Moranis. It also features Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, and the voice of Joan Rivers. It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 24, 1987, and was met with a mixed reception. It later became a cult classic on video and one of Brooks's most popular films. Its plot and characters parody the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as other sci-fi franchises including Star Trek, Alien, and the Planet of the Apes films. In addition to Brooks in a supporting role, the film also features Brooks regulars Dom DeLuise and Rudy De Luca in cameos....  more
    • Actors: Joan Rivers, John Hurt, Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis
    • Released: 1987
    • Directed by: Mel Brooks
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  • The Blues Brothers
    Video: YouTube
    The Blues Brothers is a 1980 American musical comedy film directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues, characters developed from "The Blues Brothers" musical sketch on the NBC variety series Saturday Night Live. It features musical numbers by rhythm and blues, soul, and blues singers James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker. The film is set in and around Chicago, Illinois, where it was filmed. It features non-musical supporting performances by John Candy, Carrie Fisher, Charles Napier, and Henry Gibson. The story is a tale of redemption for paroled convict Jake and his brother Elwood, who take on "a...  more
    • Actors: Carrie Fisher, Aretha Franklin, Steven Spielberg, Ray Charles, Dan Aykroyd
    • Released: 1980
    • Directed by: John Landis
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  • Trading Places
    Video: YouTube
    Trading Places is a 1983 American comedy film directed by John Landis, starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. It tells the story of an upper-class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler whose lives cross paths when they are unknowingly made part of an elaborate bet. Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, and Jamie Lee Curtis also star. The storyline is often called a modern take on Mark Twain's classic 19th-century novel The Prince and the Pauper. It also bears a resemblance to another of Mark Twain's stories, The Million Pound Bank Note. The film was written by Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod and was produced by Aaron Russo. It was released to theaters in North America...  more
    • Actors: Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Al Franken, Jim Belushi
    • Released: 1983
    • Directed by: John Landis
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