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!
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 on Wikipedia
Actors: Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Walton, Ron Jeremy, + more
Initial Release: 1984
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
#1 on The Funniest '80s Movies
#89 on The Best Movies for Tweens
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 on Wikipedia
Actors: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Brian Doyle-Murray, Ted Knight, + more
Initial Release: 1980
Directed by: Harold Ramis
#63 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
#5 on The Funniest '80s Movies
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 on Wikipedia
Actors: Joan Rivers, John Hurt, Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis, + more
Initial Release: 1987
Directed by: Mel Brooks
#51 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
#12 on The Funniest '80s Movies
The Big Lebowski is a 1998 stoner crime comedy film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, an unemployed Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler. After he becomes the victim in a case of mistaken identity, The Dude finds a millionaire also named Jeffrey Lebowski who was the intended victim. When the millionaire Lebowski's trophy wife is kidnapped, he commissions The Dude to deliver the ransom to secure her release. The plan goes awry when the Dude's friend Walter Sobchak schemes to keep the full ransom. Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi also star, with David Huddleston, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Tara Reid ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Tara Reid, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, + more
Initial Release: 1998
Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
#18 on The Funniest '90s Movies