Many of the best comedy movies of 2021 have taken an unorthodox approach to the genre. In a year that was replete with superhero blockbusters and epic sci-fi films, comedy refused to take a break and took on the second year of the pandemic head-on. Indeed, 2021’s comedy lineup offers strange new premises, clever twists on old movie tricks, and genre-bending comedies.
While it remains to be seen whether or not 2021 will be the funniest year of the new decade, this year’s comedies certainly aimed at pushing the very limits of the genre. And the result is a superb lineup of fresh and genuinely funny new films. From the high concept sci-fi comedy of Free Guy, the disaster film parody that is Don’t Look Up, and the political humor of Moxie, comedy films take on a new dimension in 2021.
Many of the best comedy movies of 2021 are a mish-mash of different genres. As with any year in film history, these movies are a reflection of the year’s events and sociopolitical climate, which is apparent in almost every film on this list. Here’s a closer look at the 2021 comedies that are worth enjoying over and over again.
One of the most popular films of the year, Ryan Reynold’s vehicle Free Guy set the bar high for comedy movies in 2021. The smash-hit follows Millie (Jodie Comer) and Walter (Joe Keery), who develop a unique independent game with an advanced state-of-the-art AI, which gets stolen by Soonami CEO Antwan (Taika Waititi) in order to develop the NPCs of Free City, an open-world first-person RPG. However, the theft of Millie and Walter’s code soon comes to light when their proprietary software results in the awakening of the first true AI: Ryan Reynold’s Guy, an NPC who starts exhibiting signs of sentient behavior. Apart from being a CGI-powered laugh-out-loud comedy, Free Guy is a realistic AI creation story that raises real questions about society’s development in the era of widespread online gaming. And despite its heavy political themes, Free Guy still succeeds at being a laidback feel-good comedy.
This film is the unofficial culmination of comedian Eric Andre’s hidden camera comedy style, a content creation method that he has developed over the years as the host of Adult Swim’s surreal sketch comedy series The Eric Andre Show. Bad Trip follows the adventures of Chris (Eric Andre) and Bud (Lil Rey Howery) as the two drive across the country to New York in order to get to Maria (Michaela Conlin), Chris’ childhood crush. However, as Chris and Bud steal the car of Bud’s sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish) to go on their little road trip, the compulsively violent Trina escapes jail in order to hunt them down. The cast masterfully manipulates unsuspecting real people into being part of Bad Trip’s genuinely hilarious and touching scenes, pushing the limits of what hidden camera comedy can do.
In the Amy Poehler-directed Moxie, Vivian (Hadley Robinson) is a 16-year-old who gets fed up with how the girls at her high school are being blatantly bullied and harassed by a group of sexist jocks. She turns to her mother Lisa (Amy Poehler) for guidance, and Lisa shows her daughter how she used to stick it to the man back when she was 16: by harnessing the power of the almighty political zine. This leads Vivian to create the feminist zine Moxie, which introduces protesting and shifts the culture of sexism at her high school. Considering how Amy Poehler plays a totally different version of a “cool mom” in this movie, comparisons between Moxie and Mean Girls are inevitable. That being said, Moxie’s masterful mix of feminism and dry comedy stands tall as a solid entry into the coming-of-age comedic drama subgenre on its own.
Don’t Look Up
Almost no other entry on this list is as star-studded as acclaimed comedy director Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. A highly-satirical take on politicians’ responses to real-world crises, Don’t Look Up stars Leonardo di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers who struggle to find a way to warn the world about an approaching world-shattering comet. This quasi-parody of the blockbuster formula – made famous by films like Armageddon and Deep Impact – also stars Meryl Streep as the uncooperative President of the United States. Meanwhile, Jonah Hill is the president’s son and chief of staff. Joining this already Oscar-stacked lineup are Timothee Chalamet, Cate Blanchett, and Ron Perlman in supporting roles. Although Don’t Look Up has come out to mixed reviews, it’s certainly one of the most unique 2021 comedy movies.
Based on a 1941 theatrical play of the same name, Blithe Spirit is a period rom-com with a unique premise and strong performances. Madam Arcati (Judy Dench) is a mystic who helps writer Charles Condomine (Dan Stevens) summon the spirit of his dead wife Elvira (Leslie Mann) through a séance. Charles’ skepticism is shattered when Elvira appears inside his home, which results in Charles finally getting over his writer’s block, much to chagrin of his current and living wife Ruth (Isla Fisher). Peppered with laugh-out-loud moments, Blithe Spirit more than lives up to its farcical premise.
Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar
In Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar, Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig play the titular Barb and Star, two best friends who leave their Nebraska hometown for their first-time vacation to Vista Del Mar, Florida. They are then embroiled in the revenge plot of supervillain Sharon Fisherman – also played by Kristen Wiig – who plans to murder the citizens of Vista Del Mar with a swarm of lethal mosquitoes. Apart from Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar’s cast of veteran comedic actors, the story’s insane premise is definitely a breath of fresh air for even the most hardcore comedy fans.
In this weird combination of action, comedy, and grindhouse horror, Nicolas Cage stars as a quiet drifter who gets a flat tire on a remote country road and gets stranded in Hayesville, Nevada. The drifter ends up striking a deal with the owner of Willy’s Wonderland, a formerly successful family restaurant and entertainment center, for the owner to fix his car if he agrees to spend one night cleaning the place. Inside, it turns out that the eight decrepit animatronic mascots are possessed by the souls of various homicidal killers, prompting Nicolas Cage to dish out some good old ultra-violence. Interestingly, Nic Cage also never speaks throughout the movie, making it a great example if physical comedy.
One of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year, Ghostbusters: Afterlife follows legendary Ghostbuster Dr. Egon Spengler’s estranged daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two children after the family is evicted from their apartment and forced to move into the late Egon’s farm in Summerville, Nebraska. When the ghost that haunts Egon’s farm creates unnatural earthquakes in Summerville, which is nowhere near any fault lines, a new generation’s curiosity leads to the discovery of Egon’s ghost-busting equipment underneath the farm. Ghostbusters: Afterlife not only stars the likes of Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, and Finn Wolfhard, but also brings back actors such as Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver to reprise their roles from the original Ghostbusters movies. Apart from its talent-stacked cast, the plot and overall narrative of Ghostbusters: Afterlife pays homage to the source material while also successfully introducing new and interesting elements to the classic and beloved franchise. No wonder Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in almost every list of the best comedy movies of 2021.
More: Ghostbusters: Afterlife Just Retconned Ecto-1 In 2 Major Ways
No Way Home: Why Doctor Strange’s Astral Spell Is So Weak Against Spider-Man
About The Author