Comedy movies have changed a lot over the years. For the most part, the change has come in the form of scenes that couldn’t be shot in previous decades. The 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s had some decent comedies in their own right, but certainly none that strived to push boundaries.
Then, the 1970s came in and blew the doors off with a National Lampoon movie, and, the way Redditors see it, that was the start of true comedy movie history. Users of the forum can even pinpoint which years saw the release of the best comedies, with some 365-day spans proving particularly prolific for the genre.
The late ’70s, particularly 1978, could be seen as the birth years of the stoner comedy. 1978 alone saw the release of Up in Smoke, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and National Lampoon’s Animal House. There were also two Burt Reynolds laughers, Hooper and The End, as well as Warren Beatty’s excellent Heaven Can Wait.
The king of gross-out comedy movies, National Lampoon’s Animal House is hysterical to this day even if not all of it is particularly well-aged. Ggroover97 started a thread to discuss the film, writing “This movie is just packed with so many memorable scenes from the ‘Shout’ performance at the toga frat party to the Delta house trial, it became a favorite of mine real fast.”
The 1980s got off to a major start in terms of comedy releases. 1980 alone saw the release of 9 to 5, Private Benjamin with Goldie Hawn, Caddyshack, Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I, The Blues Brothers, and Airplane!.
One of the first major spoof movies, Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers’ Airplane! is still the best, even with over 40 years between its release and the modern time. Franchises like Scary Movie have come close to replicating its success, but the Leslie Nielsen career-rebooting movie remains one of the most quotable comedies of all time. As emilyguy started a thread to write, “Good God, finally watched this movie last week and it’s great.”
According to Box Office Mojo, Beverly Hills Cop was the highest-grossing film at the domestic box office for 1984. In second place by a thin margin was Ghostbusters. They were films featuring SNL stars that were so big they exceeded the domestic total of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom by about 50 million. When adjusted for inflation, that amounts to 135 million. If 1984 was anything for movies, it was the year of the blockbuster comedy. Other successful comedies released during the year were Police Academy, Sixteen Candles, Top Secret!, and This Is Spinal Tap
Bertrum hopped on a thread to explain their feelings for Ghostbusters: “…it’s a perfect blend of comedic writing and genre horror elements which isn’t easy to do and the script is truly marvelous….” On a separate thread, NotReallyChrisMedina wrote that Beverly Hills Cop is “a delightful blast to the past for someone who wasn’t alive to experience it when it originally released.”
1994 was the year of Jim Carrey’s breakthrough, and it happened in a major way. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was released in February and did very well, but then The Mask hit theatres that Summer and became a blockbuster success. Dumb and Dumber then hit theatres in times for the holidays and became another blockbuster. 1995 would produce similar results for Adam Sandler with Billy Madison, but one performer releasing three big successes in a single year is the ultimate Hollywood breakthrough.
Dumb and Dumber arguably stands as Jim Carrey’s funniest movie to date, and no amount of remarkably misguided and sexist sequels can alter its impact. Or, as Randym1982 called his thread, “Dumb and Dumber is still a classic and good movie till this day.”
Along with the gross-out comedy reviving American Pie, 1999 gave audiences Adam Sandler’s smash hit Big Daddy, the Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal comedy Analyze This, and the blockbuster sequel Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. There was also Mike Judge’s infinitely rewatchable first live-action film, Office Space.
Featuring one of the best comedy movie villains of the ’90s, Office Space has a cult following that grows year by year. Toxicysl started a thread to ask if the movie was worth watching. A now-deleted user replied with “Good God, yes. If you have ever worked in a midsized to large office, this movie is 100% relatable. Please give it a watch.”
2004 contributed several classics to the comedy genre, like Shaun of the Dead, Dodgeball, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, cult-favorite Napoleon Dynamite, and Team America: World Police.
Of Will Ferrell’s most iconic film, a now-deleted user wrote “It’s just so Go***mn goofy and I unapologetically love everything about it.” It is goofy, but Anchorman‘s off-the-wall goofiness is so well-written that the film is somehow just as watchable nearly 20 years later as it was in 2004.
2007 wasn’t perfect when it came to comedy movies. On the low side, there was the Farrelly brothers’ massively disappointing The Heartbreak Kid, Epic Movie, Evan Almighty, and Norbit. However, even considering Norbit, the benefits far outweighed the deficit. 2007 saw the release of classics or minor classics such as Hot Fuzz, Hot Rod, Knocked Up, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Juno, and Superbad.
One Redditor, dcan1992, started a thread that spelled out their opinion of Superbad in blatant phrasing, calling it “a masterpiece…not just because it’s hilarious and is full of great characters and moments, but because it doesn’t date like many sex comedies of the past tend to do.”
2009 provided comedy fans with minor classics such as Zombieland, Adventureland, Extract, and I Love You, Man, but its most interesting contribution(s) to the genre came down to a single weekend. In the summer of 2009, there wasn’t much hype building for either Land of the Lost, a megabudget adaptation of a 1974 Sid and Marty Krofft TV series, or The Hangover, a comedy which, at that time, featured no major stars. Logic would dictate that the megabudget movie would take the crown, but the polar opposite happened, and for The Hangover, it happened weekend after weekend.
Leslie Chow is one of the best comedy movie villains of the 2000s, but he’s just one reason why the original The Hangover is a comedy masterpiece. Unfortunately, many feel that the sequels tarnished the first film’s reputation. Like Jnewton1018, who wrote “The first Hangover is amazing and when it came out it was a cultural phenomenon. Then the cash-grab sequels made the whole trilogy just seem kinda ‘meh.'”
2011 was the year for high-concept comedies, some of which took off, and some of which did not. On the latter side, there was Paul, 30 Minutes or Less, The Change-Up, Hall Pass, and Your Highness, all of which still have cult appeal. Then there were the major box office hits, like Bad Teacher, Horrible Bosses, Todd Phillips’s not perfect but entertaining The Hangover Part II, and Paul Feig’s modern classic, Bridesmaids.
Rose Byrne’s Helen is one of the best comedy movie villains of the 2010s, but she’s also just one aspect of Bridesmaids that allows it to function so well. Back when it was released, Pudie got on a Reddit thread to write “I thought it was the funniest movie I’ve seen in a couple of years.”
2012 had its fair share of comedy movies that failed to capture both critical and audience approval, such as That’s My Boy, The Watch, This is 40, and The Dictator. But then there were massive successes like Seth MacFarlane’s Ted as well as Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s phenomenal 21 Jump Street. The year also saw the release of underseen charmers like Seeking A Friend for the End of the World and David Wain’s Wanderlust.
21 Jump Street is not only a whip-smart comedy and easily one of the better films from 2012 overall, but it also served as somewhat of a career revitalization for Channing Tatum. A now-deleted user wrote of the actor’s performance: “Channing Tatum surprised me with his feel for comedy. I thought he was just eye candy for my girlfriend, but he was hilarious in this.”
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