Back to IndieWire

The 25 Best Comedies of the 21st Century, Ranked

If it's true that laughter is the best medicine, consider this list a panacea.

5. “Team America: World Police” (2004)

During the buildup for the invasion of Iraq, filmmakers Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote an R-rated puppet movie that was a sophisticated deconstruction of the cliches of Jerry Bruckheimer action pictures like “Armageddon.” The plot is simple: When Team America learns that ruthless North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is disseminating weapons of mass destruction, it recruits a Broadway actor to join the international police squad to help save the world. This politically incorrect comedy is all about getting laughs from blowing up elaborate sets of Big Ben, the Great Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower — as well as 22-inch puppets who resemble outspoken liberal celebrities such as Janeane Garofalo, Tim Robbins and Michael Moore. “America: Fuck yeah!” —AT

4. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014)

From the opening frames of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” you know you are in Wes Anderson Land. It’s lush and gorgeous and colorful and twee and utterly obviously fake — even while the filmmaker scouted locations for funiculars in Karlovy Vary. And it’s a rib-tickler, with a sprawling ensemble of mustache-twirling comedians – led by the remarkable Ralph Fiennes as the legendary hotel concierge, M. Gustave – crammed into every nook and cranny. This twisty peripatetic narrative with multiple time frames, set during a time of turbulent change between the two World Wars, is infectiously entertaining, thanks especially to returning Anderson faves Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel. They know exactly what’s going for and give it to him. —AT

3. “Lost in Translation” (2003)

For relaxing times, make it “Lost in Translation” time. Bill Murray has been playing slight variations on the same character for decades now, but only in Sofia Coppola’s charmer does he match — if not surpass — the heights of “Groundhog Day” and “Rushmore.” Scarlett Johansson is no less moody and moving, forming a friendship so involving that you eventually move past the will-they-or-won’t-they question and, like them, get caught up in the moment. —MN

2. “School of Rock” (2003)

No one has been able to harness Jack Black’s manic energy quite like Richard Linklater, whose first collaboration with the musically inclined actor resulted in this definitive performance. Sweet, funny and catchy as hell, this earworm of a movie has inspired actual schools of rock to open up across the country and teach impressionable children the power of the riff. That’s good news, as some of the most important lessons — like remembering to get the led out — aren’t found on normal curricula. —MN

1. “Sideways” (2004)

Many accoutrements pair well with “Sideways” — fine cheese, grapes, existential dread — but one most certainly does not: fuckin’ Merlot. Led by one of the greatest performances to ever go unnominated by the Academy (snub of all snubs!), Alexander Payne’s wine-drunk dramedy is, like any good glass of vino, likely to inspire buzzed introspection and giddy laughs in equal measure. Paul Giamatti is almost-middle-aged ennui personified, with Thomas Haden Church as his unfaithful sidekick; though steeped in melancholy, their raucous last hurrah in wine country is a celebration for the ages. —MN

Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , , ,


Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox

Newswire