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The 25 Best Comedies of the 21st Century, Ranked

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

15. “Obvious Child” (2014)

Writer-director Gillian Robespierre crafted this indie hit dramedy for the talents of standup comic Jenny Slate, launching both their careers. Slate plays a version of herself, in effect, and embraced her character’s on-screen dilemma: after she has enthusiastic sex with a guy one night, she finds herself pregnant and considering an abortion. While tackling a taboo subject on film, Robespierre and Slate nail the tone: real, funny, hopeful and romantic, too. —AT

14. “Neighbors” (2014)

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Like his master teacher Judd Apatow on “Freaks and Geeks,” “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express,” Seth Rogen is a multitasker: he writes, acts, produces and directs. He and partner Evan Goldberg developed and produced “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller’s raunchy, R-rated “Neighbors,” a well-constructed contemporary slapstick comedy costarring Rogen and “Bridesmaids” star Rose Byrne as hip young parents with an adorable baby. They’ve never been funnier. When a raucous fraternity house dominated by well-muscled ringleader Zac Efron move in next door, the neighbors initially seek to get along, but are soon engaged in all-out war. —AT

13. “In Bruges” (2008)

Irish directors bring out the best in fellow countryman Colin Farrell. Playwright-director Martin McDonagh, made his film feature directing debut with this anarchic black comedy (and earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay), handing Farrell his richest comedy role to date as a soulful hitman. Farrell’s Ray is sweetly violent as he hangs out in dullsville Belgium with his partner Ken (Brendan Gleeson), making mischief and mayhem while seeking an ounce of redemption. —AT

12. “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)

An actress who relies on her instincts on how to read a character and make her real, Jennifer Lawrence earned stardom with her Oscar-nominated role in “Winter’s Bone” and iconic action heroine Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games.” But she came into her own (and won the Oscar)  in David O. Russell’s unsentimental romance “Silver Linings Playbook.” In this delicately edited relationship comedy, she and Bradley Cooper play two lost, emotionally damaged yet attractive people who find comfort and kinship. We root for them to heal each other, win their dance contest and make their families happy ever after. —AT

11. “Mistress America” (2015)

“Frances Ha” received more acclaim, but “Mistress America” is Noah Baumbach’s best, funniest film since at least ‘The Squid and the Whale” — if not ever. Few movies have so accurately portrayed the early days of college, and the occasionally antagonistic bond that forms between Lola Kirke and Greta Gerwig (who co-wrote the script with Baumbach) is its own kind of sisterhood. Gerwig is as charming as she is off-putting, striking a rare balance for difficult characters: you want to get closer to her even as you want to push her away. Listen to Spirit and give it a chance. —MN

Check out choices 10 – 6 on the next page, including teen high jinks and a pair of lovely romances. 

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