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The 70 Best Comedies of the 21st Century

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

The best comedies of the 21st century include Support the Girls, Sorry to Bother You, and The Grand Budapest Hotel

Maybe with everything going the way it is in the world right now, we’re laughing in hopes of keeping less cheery emotions at bay. At least this bizarre, still-very-much-in-progress century has already produced any number of great comedies that you can fire up any time you need a serotonin burst, thanks to the ever-growing cadre of streaming services. The pandemic may be starting to recede but the specter of war has occupied our minds instead: so, in desperate need of some humor, we thought it was more important than ever to give our Greatest Comedies of the 21st Century list, originally published in 2017 (and last updated in August 2021), a rethink.

We’ve added 20 new films to the Top 50 list we unveiled in August. At that time, we dropped a number of titles from the original list that are funny, but not necessarily comedies. And we’ve added some titles released since 2017 that needed to be included, plus a handful of films released before then that the staff at IndieWire have deemed essential. As IndieWire has evolved, so has this list, and it will continue to do so as long as we keep finding films that make us laugh.

70. “Bad Luck Banging or Looney Porn” (2021)

bad luck banging or looney porn

“Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn”

Radu Jude’s “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” begins as the story of a sex tape gone wrong, with circumstances unfolding at the center on the restless streets of Bucharest, as the frantic problems of a schoolteacher and the community divided against her take place against much larger concerns. As the situation bubbles up to a conclusion, Jude unleashes three very different endings to Emi’s situation — and it’s the third, craziest possibility that makes this entire strange endeavor worth the wait: It all comes down to a John Waters-like eruption of grotesque rage and outré wish-fulfillment that works on too many levels to spoil here, except to say that they involve a jarring fantasy of female empowerment never put to screen before. —Eric Kohn

69. “Bad Grandpa” (2013)

JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA, (aka BAD GRANDPA), from left: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, 2013. ph: Sean Cliver/©Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

“Bad Grandpa”

©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Johnny Knoxville’s prosthetic immersion into playing naughty grandpa Irving Zisman was so impressive that makeup artist Stephen Prouty earned an Oscar nomination at the 86th Academy Awards. This typically raunchy “Jackass” spinoff entry directed by Jeff Tremaine follows Irving and his impressionable grandson (Jackson Nicoll) on a cross-country road trip that pairs them with society’s sleaziest and most unexpecting. Cameos from “Jackass” behind-the-scenes alum Spike Jonze and even Catherine Keener (though left on the cutting room floor) make for another hilarious experience that pushes the edges of good and bad taste. —Ryan Lattanzio

68. “World’s Greatest Dad” (2009)

WORLD'S GREATEST DAD, Robin Williams, 2009. ©Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“World’s Greatest Dad”

©Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“World’s Greatest Dad” sits next to “Four Lions” in the pantheon of recent films that turned the most unfunny subjects on the planet into indisputable comedy gold. Not every film could find a way to tell a touching and genuinely funny story about suicide, but not every film has the talents of Robin Williams at its disposal either. When Williams’ son dies in an embarrassing sexual accident, he does one last act of good parenting by trying to hide the details in a way that leads to his son’s memory becoming more beloved than it ever would have been otherwise. The material is an excellent showcase for both Williams’ comedic and dramatic chops, and manages to fearlessly look at the bizarre nature of posthumous celebrity worship without ever seeming tasteless. While the subject matter of “World’s Greatest Dad” has taken on a much sadder context in the wake of Williams’ tragic suicide, that is no reason not to appreciate the brilliant work that he did while he was still with us. —Christian Zilko

67. “Good Boys” (2019)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ed Araquel/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock (10369001ak)Keith L. Williams as Lucas, Jacob Tremblay as Max and Brady Noon as Thor'Good Boys' Film - 2019Three 7th grade boys ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls, and trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party.

“Good Boys”

Ed Araquel/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

Just think: Your favorite Judd Apatow comedy is scaled down and all those raunchy jokes are coming out of the mouths of tweens. Sure, it may sound gimmicky but “Good Boys” is anything but a typical tween movie. Jacob Tremblay hilariously leads the R-rated middle school comedy about growing up and growing out of his Beanbag Boys childhood friend group. From first kisses to flying drones, riding bikes to the mall to selling a sex doll, “Good Boys” doesn’t hold back for its laughs, and each joke is equally as adorable thanks to the ensemble cast including Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Lil Rey Howery, Will Forte, and Molly Gordon. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg produced the directorial debut from “The Office” writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, who also co-created Stephen Merchant’s “Hello Ladies” series. No matter how bad these middle school boys are, they will always be “Good,” if not even great. Did “Good Boys” singlehandedly resurrect the R-rated tween movie? We might dare to say so. —Samantha Bergeson

66. “The Climb” (2019)

"The Climb"

“The Climb”

SPC

The premise of “The Climb” has been told so many times it’s a small miracle that this one works at all: Two lifelong buddies test the boundaries of their friendship when a woman comes between them. Yet Michael Covino’s absorbing directorial debut confronts that challenge with stunning cinematic ambition, resulting in a brilliant reinvention of the buddy comedy. Testosterone-fueled dude movies have occupied every facet of the filmmaking landscape in recent years, from the Duplass brothers to “Step Brothers,” but “The Climb” transforms that trope into a fresh vision of boozy showdowns and awkward laments, resulting in a winning tragicomic vision of its own design. —Eric Kohn

65. “Klown” (2010)

KLOWN, (aka KLOVN: THE MOVIE), 2010. ph: Per Arnesen/©Drafthouse Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Klown”

Drafthouse Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

There may be better raunchy sex comedies, and there may be better parenting comedies, but no film in recent memory combines the two as well as “Klown.” The Danish blockbuster tells the story of an utter doofus who, upon learning that his girlfriend is pregnant, takes a 12-year-old boy on a very adult “boys trip” in a ham-fisted attempt to convince his girlfriend (and himself) that he is capable of being a father. Mikkel Nørgaard extracts a million funny scenarios from that simple premise, with plenty of help from his excellent stars Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen, resulting in some of the best cringe comedy produced on either side of the Atlantic this century. —Christian Zilko

64. “Bachelorette” (2012)

Bachelorette

“Bachelorette”

Radius-TWC

Leslye Headland’s often abrasive comedy about a bachelorette party of high-school best friends gone riotously awry has a lot of things going for it — but its MVP is Kirsten Dunst as an uptight careerist who unravels over a night of binge-drinking, cocaine-snorting, and a pileup of degrading hijinks that start with a blood stain on a wedding dress. The bride, played by Rebel Wilson, is in over her head rallying her best friends played by Dunst, chainsmoking, drug-doing rebel Lizzy Caplan, and “ditzy” Isla Fisher completely blitzed out of her mind. Taking course over one dark night of heavily intoxicated lost souls, the unhinged and fearless “Bachelorette” is adapted from Headland’s own play, and nearly a decade later, it’s ripe for cult movie status even if it got an unfairly short shrift back in 2012. —Ryan Lattanzio

63. “Force Majeure” (2013)

FORCE MAJEURE, (aka TURIST), Kristofer Hivju (beard), Johannes Kuhnke (right), 2014. ©Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Force Majeure”

©Magnolia Pictures / Everett Collection

In a decade that flayed white male insecurity in public, Ruben Östlund’s wickedly hilarious study of masculinity in crisis took a natural place as one of the definitive comedies of our time. Right from this film’s famous inciting incident – in which a dad named Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) instinctively abandons his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and their two children during a false-alarm avalanche at a ski resort — the upper-middle-class family’s comfortable existence is upended forever. Nested inside perverse Kubrickian long takes, Östlund’s shrewd choreography and cringe-worthy situations heralded the arrival of a major cinematic storyteller who isn’t afraid to dig his characters into such deep holes that they have no choice but to try and tunnel out on their own. Each scene of this film shovels further and further into unsettling truth that Tomas’ reaction was not simply an isolated primal act, but something far more primal and perverse. The result is an unholy buffet of squirm-inducing humor, but one that’s built atop a dark reservoir of real empathy. Östlund takes seriously the escalating trap the family finds themselves in, and it’s the way that Ebba is forced to rebalance the gender equation that makes “Force Majeure” one of the most profound and unflinching examinations of masculinity this decade. — Chris O’Falt

62. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (2005)

KISS KISS BANG BANG, Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, 2005, (c) Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”

©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

It’s always Christmas in Shane Black’s films, and our favorite present to unwrap during the holiday season is watching Robert Downey Jr. as a gruff thief named Harry Lockhart, who mistakenly auditions for a film while on the run from the cops. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” cemented the return of RDJ in 2005, three years before “Iron Man” hit theaters and gave a jolt to his career. A noir meets black comedy, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” also stars Michelle Monaghan as Harry’s childhood sweetheart Harmony Lane, and Val Kilmer plays the private investigator hired to track down Harry. Fun fact: The film is named after Pauline Kael’s 1968 collection of film reviews, so yes, all those cinephile Easter eggs are very much so intentional. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” parodies not only action films but SoCal-set neo-noir flicks, with Harry finding out that not everyone in Los Angeles gets their Hollywood ending. —Samantha Bergeson

61. “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (2020)

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM, (aka BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: DELIVERY OF PRODIGIOUS BRIBE TO AMERICAN REGIME FOR MAKE BENEFIT ONCE GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN), center: Sacha Baron Cohen, 2020. © Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

©Amazon/Courtesy Everett Collection

Sasha Baron Cohen moved away from “myyyy wifeee” and instead took on the 2020 presidential election to reflect back to viewers what America is like nowadays. “Borat 2” (or “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) is full of political stunts, pranks, and celebrity interviews, namely one oft-debated scene involving Rudy Giuliani. This time, Borat (Cohen) is accompanied by his 15-year-old daughter Tutar (an Oscar-nominated Maria Bakalova), whom he is planning on selling as a child bride to Vice President Mike Pence. The absurdities only take off from there, as Tutar travels in a metal cage and visits a pro-life clinic. Fact meets fiction as Borat crashes Pence’s CPAC speech and Tutar interviews Giuliani. The cringe comes only after the laughs, as we realize the joke inevitably is on us all. —Samantha Bergeson

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