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Categories: Features

Cameron Johnson counts down the funniest films of the 2010s so far, from “Bridesmaids” to “Neighbors” to “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”.


With June comes the middle of the year, and in the film world it’s our chance to look back and analyze how cinema has progressed throughout the year. This June is a very special one, though, especially for people like me who can’t get enough “best-of” lists, because we’re now halfway through the middle year of this decade and can write our first progress reports on the last 5 years without getting too worried that we write too many lists (but can there really ever be too many lists?).

Continuing with our comedy theme this month, I’ve decided to put together a ranking of the films I’ve seen over the last few years that made me laugh the most. There have been many funny films since 2010, but certain ones have stood out, inciting everything in me from belly-laughs to tears of joy to even (once) standing half way up in the theater to applaud a film before I realized I would block everyone’s view. These films aren’t just silly or gross or absurd or witty, they’re all of those things and more, comedies that split our sides further than we once thought possible, and do so in their own signature way.

Some honorable mentions, either because they’re non-comedies with funny moments or there simply wasn’t enough room for them on the list: 22 Jump Street, Attack the Block, Bad Milo! (reviewed here), BirdmanDjango Unchained (here for the uproarious “nobody brought an extra bag!” scene), Dear White PeopleDeath at a Funeral (U.S. version), Kick-Ass, Kung Fu Panda 2, Pain and Gain, Paul, Pitch PerfectSeven Psychopaths, Singham, Ted, Top FiveTusk and The Voices.

I surely haven’t seen every great comedy from the past 5 years, nor is my sense of humor the same as anyone else’s, so this list won’t be a comprehensive list of any sort. Simply put, these are the 15 films that made me laugh the most over the last 5 years:

15. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, directed by Martin Scorsese)


Martin Scorsese’s epic explosion of drugs, sex and greed stars Leonardo DiCaprio in perhaps his best role yet as Jordan Belfort, a real-life stock broker who made millions through illegal tactics and spent most of the money on a lavish life of prostitutes, cocaine, and (indoor) parades. Clocking in at an intimidating 3 hour run time, The Wolf of Wall Street is fortunately an explosively funny black comedy, held together in its hedonism by two outstanding performances from DiCaprio, who arguably should have won the Oscar over McConaughey (who also appears here) solely for the scene where he, numb from quaaludes, flops his way down a staircase and into his car, and Jonah Hill, proving once again the versatility of his comedic talents. For sheer number of laughs – all 180 minutes are outrageous in every way imaginable – it earns its place on the list.

14. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010, directed by Edgar Wright)

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Michael Cera’s quirky, awkward style isn’t for everyone, but in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World he’s given the perfect vehicle by Edgar Wright, perhaps the most stylish comedy director of his generation. Scott Pilgrim (Cera) is the bass guitar of garage band Sex Bob-omb who falls in love with the mysterious, blue-haired Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and is forced to fight her seven evil exes to win her hand. Amongst the exes are Chris Evans, who plays a super-strong skateboarder-turned-movie star and Mae Whitman as Roxy, a teleporting half-ninja. With stylish cinematography and editing to give the film a distinct comic book look, every line, expression and action is milked for maximum melodramatic silliness.

13. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, directed by Wes Anderson)


The film I argued should’ve won the Oscar for Best Picture earlier this year was also one of 2014’s funniest films, a controlled showcase in comic timing in which the laughs work alongside Anderson’s impeccably imagined world rather than against it. Ralph Fiennes is Gustave H., concierge of the magnificent Grand Budapest Hotel and connoisseur of etiquette and romantic poetry. In his most impressive performance to date, Fiennes owns every scene, finely balancing the line between civility and passion and effortlessly leading a cast that includes side-splitting turns from Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe and Adrian Brody. Anderson’s world is a unique and beautiful one, and, most importantly for this list, the film never loses its eccentric sense of humor. 

12. Neighbors (2014, directed by Nicholas Stoller) 


It’s somewhat blasphemous to put a film as sophomoric as Neighbors (Bad Neighbors in the UK) higher on any list than the masterful Grand Budapest Hotel, but flaws aside it’s the funnier film (not the better one), if only for a few moments that push the humor through the roof (once, literally). Seth Rogen and, especially, Rose Byrne are tons of fun as a married couple who are kept up night after night by their new neighbors, a mischievous fraternity led by a fantastic Zac Efron in what I would consider the funniest supporting performance of last year. Torn between the urge to stay young and anger against all the racket from Efron and friends’ wild parties that’s keeping their baby awake, Byrne and Rogen eventually descend into a dangerous prank war with the fraternity that only gets funnier – and wilder –  as the film progresses. Probably the most distinctly millennial comedy on this list, replete with colorful sunglasses, electronic music and neon lights, Neighbors is a ridiculous – and therefore ridiculously funny – slapstick film that simply has to be seen to be believed.

11. 21 Jump Street (2012, directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord)


The premise of 21 Jump Street alone – that Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play two cops assigned undercover at a high school – is enough to incite giggles, and in execution it fully lives up to the hype. Hill and Tatum are both exceptional in their own way, but it’s in the rapport between them – the “bromance”, as seems to be a trend in modern comedies – where the laughs really start rolling. Inadvertently taking on the wrong assignments at school – Hill becomes the popular party animal and Tatum the unpopular geek – a rift forms between the two, but it’s all in good fun, and eventually they of course have to save the day from the drug dealers they’ve been assigned to track down. Ice Cube is at his best as our heroes’ boss, and Dave Franco and Brie Larson sufficiently round out the supporting cast. Perhaps best of all about 21 Jump Street is that the sequel, 22 Jump Street, is equally as funny, but to avoid redundancy I only included the one.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, directed by James Gunn)


One of Marvel’s most original films yet is also one of their funniest, a light-hearted romp through space that has everything from taking raccoons to dancing trees to a capella singalongs to “O-o-h Child”. Confident in its style and tone, “Guardians of the Galaxy” has all the action you’d expect from a superhero movie, but revs up the humor with witty one-liners, characters with a sense of humor, and fun pop culture references. Guardians of the Galaxy is a complex comedy, but one that knows exactly what it wants to be and that does its thing with colorful swagger. Self-aware, infectiously stylized in everything from the costumes to the music, and proof that the same joke will never get old if continually done right (“I am Groot!”), Guardians of the Galaxy is an essential blockbuster comedy.

9. The Other Guys (2010, directed by Adam Mckay)


Many may vouch for Ted, but for me The Other Guys is still Mark Wahlberg’s best comedic work, an energetic buddy cop spoof with two excellent lead performances and an incredible supporting cast backing them up. Wahlberg plays Terry Hoitz, a volatile detective partnered with desk-job officer Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) after the latter accidentally shoots Derek Jeter during the World Series. Assigned to try and take down crooked businessman David Ershon (Steve Coogan), the two naturally must overcome their differences and problems and become idolized heroes like their coworkers Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson). Most of the laughs come from the dialogue between Ferrell – gloriously over-the-top in his mannerisms as always – and Wahlberg, though the film’s funniest scene – amongst the most hilarious I’ve ever seen – comes near the beginning, in which Danson and Highsmith overconfidently jump off a building in pursuit of petty criminals. 

8. What We Do in the Shadows (2014, directed by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi)


One of the funniest mockumentaries ever made, What We Do in the Shadows is also the funniest vampire movie ever made, a film that proves there’s still room for innovation in low-budget horror-comedy. Starring directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi as two of four vampires who share a flat together in modern New Zealand, the film is a ridiculous send-up of everything from documentary and found footage cliches, vampire, werewolf and zombie legends and gang hooliganism, showing a group of ancient yet casual (“you haven’t done the dishes in 5 years!”) vampires welcome a new addition to their crew, the young Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), who unwisely starts telling everyone in town that he’s a vampire. Highlights include a standoff with a gang of werewolves, which includes a hilarious back-and-forth of themed insults, a secret party for the undead community of Wellington, and a subplot involving the vampires’ servant Jackie (Jackie Van Beek), who one of the vampires, Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) has “promised” to one day turn into a vampire so she’ll do all their cleaning. Essential viewing for fans of horror-comedy. 

7. The Avengers (2012, directed by Joss Whedon)

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Though not a full-on comedy, The Avengers nonetheless had me laughing more than most films over the past few years, partly because I went to see it in a packed theater with a bunch of my rowdy friends but also partly because the one-liners are so damn incredible. Though after a second or third viewing the effect wore off a bit, I can’t deny the sheer ecstasy I experienced upon my maiden viewing of Whedon’s bombastic realization of Marvel’s manifesto, a no-holds-barred entertainment showcase that announced Marvel as the kings of Hollywood, a position they haven’t given up since. Successful largely because it assembled such an impressive group of larger-than-life characters and made to ensure they all had their fair share of the action (o.k., maybe not Black Widow and Hawkeye), The Avengers focuses mainly on tongue-in-cheek meta humor intent on getting fans cheering, providing them with a rush to keep them addicted to its big-budget heroin. Combined with spectacular visuals and a smattering of slapstick – the scene in which Hulk slams Loki is arguably the funniest moment in a superhero movie ever – it’s an approach that works, and ensures The Avengers remains the template for modern superhero films post-Dark Knight.

6. Easy A (2010, directed by Will Gluck)

easy-a-emma-stone-as-oliveA smart, stylish and, most importantly, hysterical vehicle for Emma Stone, Easy A is the best teen comedy since Mean Girls, an insightful modern tribute to The Scarlet Letter with sharp commentary on sex, gossip, partying and teen culture. Stone is Olive Penderghast, an independent and sarcastic girl who lies about losing her virginity to a college guy and becomes known as the school “skank” in the process. Instead of taking the more formulaic route of Olive trying to instantly clear up the rumors as soon as things start to get crazy, she instead plays along with the rumors, helping boys in the school improve their reputation by pretending she slept with them. It’s a film full of shocks and surprises, all of them good-humored thanks to a nuanced turn from Stone, one of our generation’s funniest actresses. Lisa Kudrow adds an extra layer of fun as the school’s guidance counselor, who also enlists Olive’s help when she gives a 20-year-old chlamydia and needs someone to cover it up.

5. The LEGO Movie (2014, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller)

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At the beginning of this article I mentioned a film that had me “standing half way up in the theater to applaud a film before I realized I would block everyone’s view”. The LEGO Movie was that film (the specific moment was near the end, and involved an Oscar-worthy scene from Will Ferrell). The LEGO Movie is, for all intents and purposes, the funniest animated film in at least a decade, probably more so. While others reached higher highs in other departments, it was LEGO that had us all connected with a film with a glee hearkening back to our childhoods. A boisterous explosion of color and energy, LEGO is above all else a celebration of fun, and there’s not a single second of the film devoid of life. Hyperactive in the most extreme ways possible, LEGO sweeps you off your feet with stunning animation, lively music and impenetrable optimism, urging us to more and more laughter with every blissful second. Even the bleak Batman ditty “darkness, no parents!” – potentially my favorite part of the film – is indelibly hilarious, a lighthearted dig on pop culture that everyone can connect to.

4. The Dictator (2012, directed by Larry Charles)


This film is probably higher on this list than it deserves to be thanks to my unfaltering love for Sacha Baron Cohen, but it’s hard to deny how much fun I had with the politically incorrect, vulgar, and blatantly blatant The Dictator. Most had had enough of Cohen by the time this film came around, deciding it an inferior sibling to Borat and Bruno, but I enjoyed it just as much despite lacking any of the shocking real-life reactions from people that Cohen and Charles’ earlier films captured. The Dictator is completely scripted, featuring a relatively formulaic fish-out-of-water plot that sees Cohen’s Admiral General President Prime Minister Haffaz Aladeen, a racist, sexist man-child stuck homeless in America after he’s replaced by a lookalike by his uncle (Ben Kingsley). Despite the conventions of its plot, The Dictator has some of the biggest laughs in Cohen’s filmography, many of which are founded on its satirically insensitive dialogue and Aladeen’s culture shock when he’s forced to work in an organic food market run by an activist (Anna Farris). Provocative, gross, and often repulsive, The Dictator is cringe comedy at its finest. Also, I can’t get enough of Aladeen’s personal theme song, a parody of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “The Next Episode”.

3. Bridesmaids (2011, directed by Paul Feig)


I only actually saw Bridesmaids for the first time relatively recently, but it’s been a favorite of best-of lists for quite a while and I can easily say it deserves its place here. Of all the comedies on this list, Bridesmaids has the most heart, connecting us with its central character Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig, who also co-wrote the film with Annie Mumolo) by fleshing out every layer of her character and allowing us to emphasize quite easily with her feelings. Annie, an unsuccessful baker working in a jewelry store when we meet her, is asked to be Maid of Honor by her only friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and finds herself competing for attention against Lillian’s rich friend Helen (Rose Byrne). Also along for the ride are Megan (Melissa McCarthy – Oscar nominated!!), foul-mouthed sister of the groom, Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), and Becca (Ellie Kemper, now of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fame). The cast are outrageously entertaining together, each actress bringing their own personality and creating a fully-realized character. Though a gross-out comedy at heart – one diarrhea scene at a dress fitting is especially gruesome – the humor of Bridesmaids is all in the sisterhood; this is friendship laughter – we laugh because the film makes us feel like a part of the group, and that’s all down to thorough, intelligent scripting.

2. The World’s End (2013, directed by Edgar Wright)


The final film in Edgar Wright’s Blood and Ice Cream trilogy is, in my opinion, his best, a rousing, alluring sci-fi comedy that has us binging on not only the cracking performances and riotous action sequences but also on the film’s gorgeous color palette, one that perfectly captures the seductive forces that alcohol holds over hero Gary King (Simon Pegg). The alcoholic Gary, along with old friends played by Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine, returns to his hometown of Newton Haven to partake in his favorite pastime: drinking. With obscenely specific continuity, The World’s End takes us on a ride through the greatest pub crawl ever imagined, one that gets weirder and weirder as the night goes on. A few pubs in, the group realizes that something is wrong with their old town; specifically, it has been taken over by robots who have replaced every citizen. To avoid being caught by the robots, the group have to go through their pub crawl like it’s business as usual, but Gary is the only one who actually wants to do the crawl – and they couldn’t finish it the first time they tried, as teenagers. Absurd, creative and constantly escalating, The World’s End is a near-masterpiece in every regard, but above all else it’s absolutely hysterical. Bonus points for great supporting turns from Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Smiley, David Bradley and Bill Nighy.

1. This is the End (2013, directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg)


In truth, there was very little doubt before I ranked this list that This is the End, one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, would be on top. True, it’s crass, crude, obscene, disgusting, ridiculous and utterly, completely stupid, but scene-for-scene, moment-for-moment, This is the End is the most laughter inducing film I’ve seen over the past 5 years. Many will be unhappy with this placement. My dad, for instance, couldn’t sit through the entire film, considering it repulsive. I don’t blame him – there’s a scene in which James Franco and Danny McBride graphically argue about masturbation rights – but, honesty is honesty, I laughed more times while watching this film than I think I’ve laughed at any film, ever, and I laughed just as much if not more the second time around. Part of the charm – if that’s the right word – of This is the End is certainly down to the fact that each of the characters is playing themselves, and even though they’re technically playing self-parodies a big part of all of us believes that, really, this is what all of these guys are like in real life.

Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, James Franco and Danny McBride make up the main cast, a group of celebrities trapped in limbo after the apocalypse because, as celebrities, they weren’t good or bad enough to be sent to either heaven or hell, and they’re supported by downright transcendent turns from Michael Cera (a hyper, coked-up inversion of his normally awkward persona), Mindy Kaling, Emma Watson, Aziz Ansari, Channing Tatum and even The Backstreet Boys. This is the End works as stoner comedy, disaster/post-apocalyptic movie parody, bromance, Hollywood satire and even has some legitimately intriguing themes about religion and spirituality. To be sure, it’s the grossest film on this list, full of body fluids and explicit content of every form, but it’s also the funniest, a comedy that’s both the quintessential example of everything it encompasses, and a boundary-breaking fusion of everything great about modern comedy into something new, fresh, and incalculably exciting.

So, there you have it, those are my favorite comedies of the past 5 years. I’d love to hear how wrong I am, so let us know in the comments what your favorites have been!

Posted on Jun 1, 2015

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