The 50 Best Comedy Movies

When Harry Met Sally

by empire |
Updated on

"The only honest art form is laughter", said the great Lenny Bruce. "You can't fake it." With that in mind, allow Empire to guide you through 50 of the most honest films ever made, by which we mean our list of the 50 best comedies of all time. Whether you're a clown or a curmudgeon, there's guaranteed to be something here to target your funny bone. From slapstick to sly satire, we've listed it all. We've dived back through cine-history and also rounded up some recent rib-ticklers too.

Yet if you're still craving more laughter, but perhaps with a little added love, we can recommend our list of The 20 Best Romantic Comedies. And if you want your comedy to come with some extra good feelings, then head straight for 30 Feelgood Movies To Make You Smile. Because, after all, don't we still need that in our lives?

50. The Man With Two Brains

The Man With Two Brains

Dr Hfuhruhurr (Steve Martin) pioneers a new procedure allowing him to transplant human brains into new bodies. It's an out-there premise, even coming from the man behind The Jerk, and occasionally feels a bit uneven but it still yields plenty of laughs in what is Martin's early eighties high point. There are also a fair few jabs at male sexual vanity buried within as Hfuhruhurr agonises over whether or not he's lost his moral compass in pursuit of the perfect woman. Given that he attempts to poison Randi Brooks with window cleaner and throws Kathleen Turner into a bog, we're saying he probably has. "Into the mud, scum queen!"

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49. The Death Of Stalin

Death Of Stalin

Armando Iannucci has long proven himself capable of wringing laughs out of the stodgiest, most solemn topics imaginable. The Death Of Stalin, however, is his most impressive feat yet. After taking on Whitehall and Washington with TV shows The Thick Of It and Veep, the master satirist’s follow-up film tackles not only a slice of real-life Russian history, but a ruthless dictator whose government was responsible for famine, labour camps and mass executions. Incredibly, the results are absolutely hilarious.

Read Empire's The Death Of Stalin review here

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48. Zoolander

zoolander magnum

Ben Stiller co-wrote and directed this fashion world satire, which suffered lacklustre box office returns after being released in the direct aftermath of September 11, when no one was in the mood to be silly. Yet look beyond the financial troubles and it's a consistently hilarious dive into the world of really, really ridiculously good looking people and the weird universe in which they orbit. Stiller's great as the title character, but don't sleep on Owen Wilson's Hansel or the deep bench of supporting roles and cameos.

Read Empire's Zoolander review here

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47. Four Lions

Chris Morris' Four Lions (2010)

Chris Morris' satire of young Islamic men driven to jihad treads the line – like all his work – of comedy and pain. Omar (Riz Ahmed), a radicalised British Muslim, has formed a terrorist cell with his dim-witted brother Waj (Kayvan Novak), angry white convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay) and apprehensive bomb-maker Fessal (Adeel Akhtar). Guaranteed to offend people across the political and belief spectrum, Four Lions is consistently funny and horribly to the point. You'll never look at rubber dinghy rapids in quite the same way

Read Empire's Four Lions review here

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46. When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally

Can men and women ever truly be friends without sex getting in the way? Such is the question at the heart of Nora Ephron's brilliant script, which Rob Reiner perfectly immortalised on screen. Not a moment is wasted, the main cast is exemplary, and even as you dive down the supporting actor list, there are fantastic turns. Littered with classic scenes and quotable lines ("I'll have what she's having.") few films earn a schmaltzy ending quite as well as this one.

Read Empire's When Harry Met Sally review here

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45. Galaxy Quest

50 Greatest Comedies

Both a sharp spoof and a loving homage to the original Star Trek, Galaxy Quest reunites the ageing cast of an elderly TV show — none of whom much like each other anymore — and sends them off on an unlikely interstellar adventure. Tim Allen gives it some excellent Shatner, Sigourney Weaver is great as the smart woman playing the ditzy communications officer (complete with, later on, gratuitously exposed cleavage). But it’s Alan Rickman who steals the show as the Shakespearean thesp stuck with silly head make-up and a catchphrase he hates. Fans at a convention some years ago voted this a better Trek than Into Darkness. It's hard to disagree.

Read Empire's Galaxy Quest review here

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44. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut

South Park Bigger Longer And Uncut

Holding the record for the most obscenities in an animated feature (at a whopping 399!), Trey Parker and Matt Stone take vulgarity to new levels in the big-screen version of their infamous TV series. Incredibly, they also find a host of new ways to be offensive, grafting their usual ingredients (scatology, thinly-veiled satirical jabs, deliberately crude animation) onto a plot which involves a war between Canada and America, and a love affair between Satan and Saddam Hussein. And it’s all presented in the format of a classic musical, obviously. As always, just as many viewers will love it as hate it, yet there are moments of comic brilliance here (see the ER send-up featuring George Clooney's voice) in amongst the digs at cinematic censorship, sweary movies and Jar-Jar Binks. Just like Cartman, this movie will warp your fragile little mind.

Read Empire's South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut review here

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43. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation


The jewel in the Vacation crown, this festive instalment in National Lampoon's holiday-centric franchise demonstrates just how funny Chevy Chase was in his prime. Clarke (Chase) does his best to orchestrate a traditional happy family Christmas, but is thwarted by odious relatives, uncooperative fairy lights and plain old bad luck. If this doesn't make you at least giggle, then you clearly don't understand the true meaning of Christmas - which is of course combustible toilets and electrified cats.

Read Empire's Christmas Vacationreview here

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42. Game Night

Game Night

Annie (Rachel McAdams) and Max (Jason Bateman) are a married couple whose weekly game night acts as a welcome distraction from their ongoing debate about whether to start a family (she’s pro, he’s against). But their sacred tradition falls to pieces like a Jenga tower when Max’s irritatingly successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) stages an elaborate murder mystery — only for it to be interrupted, forcing the pair and their pals to save him from actual criminals. But Game Night isn’t just after mindless laughs. Rather than resorting solely to slapstick, it boasts a witty, razor-sharp screenplay from Mark Perez, with a fully fleshed-out story. And, with Max and Annie’s discussions on both fertility and future at its centre, it has characters you really care about, not to mention one of the best delivered lines in cinema — "Oh no he died!"

Read Empire's Game Night review here

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41. Kind Hearts And Coronets

Robert Hamer's Kind Hearts And Coronets (1948)

Perhaps the apotheosis of the Ealing Comedy alongside the similarly marvellous The Ladykillers, Kind Hearts And Coronets is another blacker-than-black comedy about murder. It’s probably most famous for Alec Guinness brilliantly playing eight separate roles, both male and female. All are members of the D’Ascoyne family, one-by-one meeting with unfortunate accidents as Dennis Price pursues his destiny.

Read Empire's Kind Hearts And Coronets review here

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40. Dumb & Dumber

Dumb & Dumber

Lloyd (Jim Carrey) is a nice-but-dim taxi driver, who tries to return a suitcase full of money to a beautiful woman passenger. He and his friend Harry (Jeff Daniels) journey cross-country to find her in Aspen, where they begin to fight for her affections. Peter and Bobby Farrelly and their cast romp through proceedings with real gusto and impeccable comic timing, meaning the next jaw-jamming surge of giggles is never more than a moment away. The normally staid Daniels displayed hitherto untapped comic talent here, almost stealing the show from under the nose of his habitually imbecilic co-star.

Read Empire's review of Dumb & Dumber here

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39. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Andy Samberg in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

The life of superstar musician Conner4Real (Andy Samberg) appears to be a charmed one, filled with groupies, screaming crowds and sacks of cash. But trouble is on the horizon in the form of a scheming rapper (Chris Redd), a disastrous merchandise deal and a swarm of killer bees. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping squeezes laughs out of its tale like juice from a plum. If the music industry was silly back in the eighties, it’s really daft now, and Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer gleefully go to town sending up its absurdities.

Read Empire's Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping review here

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38. Sons Of The Desert

Sons of the Desert
Sons of the Desert ©TMDB

Sneaking off for a weekend with their masonic lodge, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are, sadly, very quickly busted by their wives in what is easily the best of their longer films. Rather than a series of slapstick set-pieces haphazardly strung together (great as those are), this is the first L&H feature to structure itself through story and situation: Laurel working with new writers to help nail the formula. And unlike the almost-as-great Way Out West, this one doesn’t stop for songs - although there are still some cherished musical moments along the way.

Read Empire'sSons Of The Desert review here

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37. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is John Hughes' unadulterated celebration of what it's like to be young, white, middle class and well-heeled in mid eighties America. So it should, on paper at least, be an unbearably smug celebration of crass consumerism. Consider: Ferris's (Matthew Broderick) idea of a good time is bombing around in a vintage Ferrari, a visit to the Chicago stock exchange followed by lunch in the city's swankiest restaurant – posh grub for which his method of payment goes undisclosed. It's also a hymn to capitalism and the advantages offered to a metropolitan teenager. Ken Loach this obviously ain't. Which makes the fact that it's an almost irresistibly likeable, defiantly sunny comedy all the more astounding.

Read Empire's Ferris Bueller's Day Of_f_ review here

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36. His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday
His Girl Friday ©TMDB

If your romantic-comedy tastes lean more towards crackerjack repartee and flirty chemistry than body contact, you can’t really go wrong with this Howard Hawks classic. Cary Grant is the charismatic Walter Burns, dismayed (but trying his best to hide it) that his superstar reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is getting married and might head off to pastures new. Oh, and she’s his ex-wife, to boot. Newsrooms may no longer sing with typewriter voices, but this one doesn’t age.

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35. M. Hulot's Holiday


An almost silent film made in the 1950s as a pure slapstick farce with a blithely oblivious central buffoon, this film must have seemed anachronistic even before the prints were developed. Perhaps that's because it's a classic, with Jacques Tati's beautifully drawn M. Hulot innocently causing havoc and misery to all around him as he enjoys a welcome break at the seaside. Often imitated (cf. Jerry LewisRowan Atkinson), this has never been bettered, a perfect comedy meandering along despite the lack of anything resembling a real plot.

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34. Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

John Hughes uses the mad dash back for the Thanksgiving holiday to squash Steve Martin's uptight family man, Neal Page, together with John Candy's schlubby, loveable salesman, Del Griffith. There is travel chaos, cramped motel beds and a classic swearing scene at an airport counter. Martin and Candy's duelling energies create magic and Hughes' big heart wins out in the end.

Read Empire's Planes, Trains & Automobiles review here

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33. Shaun Of The Dead

Edgar Wright's Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

A film so original that it formed the basis for a new genre, the rom-zom-com (see also: Zombieland), Shaun saw the Spaced team of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright bring their talents for writing likeable losers and inventive genre spins to the big screen. The results are frankly hilarious, with Shaun and hetero-life-partner Ed trying to save those they love amidst a zombie apocalypse. Their plans are persistently rubbish, their weapons of choice bizarrely selective (only bad records should be used to behead the undead) and their leadership all messed up. It's a welcome change from the more gung-ho American responses to these outbreaks, and the sublimely effective contrast of twee tea-making and zombie mayhem makes it a slice of fried gold.

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32. Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona

A childless couple (Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter) decide it would be for the best if they kidnapped one of a set of quintuplets. Unfortunately, their unscrupulous friends have their own ideas about uses for the new baby. Following up a movie like Blood Simple was never going to be an easy task, but Joel and Ethan Coen succeed admirably, with Arizona setting a precedent for many of the quirky trademarks that have punctuated their subsequent efforts and giving John Goodman his first great Coen role. Best remembered for Cage's hysterical 'baby-chasing' sequence, and small bunnies being blown up by The Lone Biker Of The Apocalypse.

Read Empire's Raising Arizona review here

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31. Duck Soup

Duck Soup

The Marx Brothers' final film for Paramount is the apex of their career, a perfectly formed masterpiece before their move to the forced-romantic subplots and overblown musical interludes of the MGM years. Predictably, it was considered a disappointment on release in 1933. It sees Groucho as Rufus T. Firefly, installed by his frequent nemesis Margaret Dumont as leader of the bankrupt Freedonia, an arrangement that obviously takes the country into anarchic war with neighbouring Sylvania. A surprisingly excoriating war satire as well as a thoroughly ridiculous knockabout, Duck Soup is probably most famous for the "mirror sketch" between Groucho and Harpo, but there's far more to it than just that.

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30. The Princess Bride

Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is many things. It's a fantasy, it's a comedy, it's a romance, it's an adventure, it's a swashbuckler. It's a fairy tale, primarily, a whirlwind yarn of princes and princesses, pirates and giants, villages and castles. It's also a wry take on fairy tales, with a sly satirical edge, and whimsically silly names like Prince Humperdinck, Fezzik and Buttercup. It is ultimately a simple and sweetly straightforward story-within-a-story, and fundamentally very old-fashioned. Languishing for years in the dungeons of development hell, it almost never made it to screen – a thought that now seems, well, inconceivable.

Read Empire's The Princess Bride review here

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29. Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery

Austin Powers International Man Of Mystery

Mike Myers and director Jay Roach's spy spoof had a relatively quiet start at the box office, but grew into a quote-torrent behemoth by the third. Still, without this first wellspring and its high hit-rate of gags, none of that would be possible. Myers is back in multi-role mode, playing Austin and Dr. Evil this time (more would follow), and was ably supported by the likes of Seth Green, Michael York and Robert Wagner. The task at hand is a gleeful undermining of the staple clichés of spy culture — the cliffhanger escape sequences, the nutty global threat, the gadgets and gimmickry all brought down to size.

Read Empire's Austin Powers review here

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28. Four Weddings And A Funeral

Four Weddings And A Funerl

We all have that friend who, try as we might to set them up, remains single. In Mike Newell’s classic of the genre, Hugh Grant’s Charles is that friend. Over the course of four weddings, and – yes – a funeral, fate intervenes as he keeps bumping (or bumbling) into Andie MacDowell. This is Richard Curtis at his absolute best, perfectly managing a blend of sweet sentimentality and precision-targeted laughs, all brought together by a cast of brilliantly memorable characters. An awfully British conglomeration of laughter, love and tears, Four Weddings also taught us the importance of setting that crucial alarm clock.

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27. Trading Places


Few films tackle the go-go eighies with as much delicious wit as John Landis' Trading Places. The decade of excess is riotously skewered in a Mark Twain-inspired fable that sees Eddie Murphy's homeless hustler unwittingly swap lives with Dan Aykroyd's snooty commodities trader — all in service to a far-fetched wager. It's a smart examination of rich and poor from a time when the gap was widening, and it's hilarious to boot. As a bonus, it also boasts one of the best looks-to-camera in cinema history.

Read Empire's Trading Places review here

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26. The Producers

50 Greatest Comedies

Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder collaborate for the first time and immediately prove themselves a classic pairing - although Zero Mostel is also key to this film’s success. It’s the story of unscrupulous theatricals who bet the house on a new musical being a disaster, only to unwittingly create an hilarious success. The set piece show tune 'Springtime For Hitler', complete with dancing Nazis, is justly famous. But scenes of Wilder losing his shit in that inimitable way are also amply represented. Never take away his blue blankie.

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25. Anchorman


It really shouldn't work. On paper, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell's rambling, surreal and dementedly illogical film doesn't sound like it should have such a consistently high hit rate for its gags, but astute work on both sides of the camera see to that. So much footage was shot that an entire (funny) bonus film was created from alternate scenes and discarded subplots, handily released as Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, and what was winnowed to appear in the main film is barmily brilliant. Though it may not have made a huge impact at the box office, some films are destined to grow from humble beginnings into cult behemoths. Never seen it? Resisted watching it because you were worried it wouldn't live up to the hype? We invite you to the pants party. The party… with the pants.

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24. Team America: World Police

Team America: World Police
Team America: World Police ©TMDB films 3989

One of the most deliberately offensive movies of the modern age, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone simultaneously lampoon US foreign policy, Michael Bay action movies and liberal Hollywood stars in one combustible satire. Though it's hard to credit the movie with any form of subtlety, there are brilliant moments (such as the hammer suicide gag or the utter destruction of Paris) and the decision to use marionette puppets is a masterstroke which allows the filmmakers to get away with any amount of ludicrousness. From Alec Baldwin to Kim Jong Il to Michael Moore, nobody is safe from Parker and Stone's wrath, while all your cherished Thunderbirds memories will be soiled forever after seeing these puppets swear, puke and – yes, they went there – having sex. Despite not having any genitalia.

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23. ¡Three Amigos!


The sound of inflated egos whistling as the air quickly escapes permeates this memorable comedy, which showcases Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. It might be set in 1916 during the reign of silent movies, but ¡Three Amigos! skewering actorly attitudes works perfectly in the star-driven eighties as three faux gunslingers are called upon to save a small Mexican village from bandits, but misunderstand it as a request for them to perform. Physical gags (that salute!) sit comfortably alongside verbal sparring, while the three leads mesh brilliantly. And earn ten trivia points from the Burning Bush if you knew that this film was co-written by composer Randy Newman.

Read Empire's ¡Three Amigos! review here

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22. Modern Times

50 Greatest Comedies

Prison riots, factory shenanigans and blindfold rollerskating pile up in Chaplin's uproarious classic, in which he plays an assembly line worker left behind by progress. Part of his later period, when he was still doggedly ignoring the advent of sound, it was something of a comeback after a few years of relative inactivity, but showed he'd lost nothing. In fact, he'd gained some bite: critics have interpreted the film as a satire on industry in general and Hollywood specifically. But at its core it's still the tramp vs. the system. Twas ever thus.

Read Empire's Modern Times review here

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21. Coming To America

Coming To America

Eddie Murphy's second collaboration with John Landis after Trading Places, Coming To America is a masterclass in well-executed laughs. The premise – African prince arrives in New York to look for a wife who wasn't chosen or subservient and deals with some big culture clashes – offered real promise, which the star ran with. Motormouth Murphy is, of course, perfectly cast as the prince (as well as hilariously-drawn minor roles), whilst Arsenio Hall does a superb job as his wing-man and James Earl Jones brings some meat to the jilted father role.

Read Empire's Coming To America review here

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20. Withnail & I

Withnail And I

Endlessly quotable, and the focus of many a drinking game, Withnail & I is both farcical and moving in its depiction of the end of the sixties, and of the friendship between its two leads. It's one of those films that's so good, it's almost an albatross around the necks of its cast and crew. Writer/director Bruce Robinson has struggled to repeat its scurrilous success and Richard E. Grant will be forever associated with demanding to have some booze, going on holiday by mistake, and wanting to fork things. Still, how better to be remembered than as part of one of the most intelligent, literate, and fundamentally funny British comedies of all time?

Read Empire's Withnail & I review here

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19. Annie Hall

Annie Hall

The dividing line between Woody Allen's "early, funny™" films and whatever you want to call what came after, Annie Hall saw the nebbish auteur aiming for greater profundity than in the likes of Take The Money And Run and Bananas. That's not to say there aren't still abundant laughs, but there was now also wistful romance in the relationship between Diane Keaton's Annie and Allen's Alvie, and the beginnings of the love affair with New York that Allen would expand into Manhattan. Allen's preferred title was Anhedonia, which is the inability to experience pleasure from things usually considered enjoyable. His co-writer Marshall Brickman's suggestions meanwhile, apparently included It Had To Be Jew and Me And My Goy.

Read Empire's Annie Hall review here

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18. Beverly Hills Cop

Beverly Hills Cop

The film that turned Eddie Murphy from stand-up and Saturday Night Live regular to superstar. After his childhood buddy is murdered while visiting Detroit, rebellious cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) follows the leads to Beverly Hills, California, under the auspices of a vacation. He checks in with old friend Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher) and starts to believe her boss, art dealer Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff), might somehow be involved in the murder. Now if only he could get the authorities to A) believe in his task and B) back his unusual, wise-cracking, banana-in-tail-pipe attitude to police work. And let's not forget the instant classic theme Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer.

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17. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat (2006)

Bringing the second of his three popular personalities from Da Ali G Show to the big screen, opinion-splitting comedian Sacha Baron Cohen scored a hugely-successful mega-hit with this lengthily-titled opus. Having learned a few lessons from Ali G InDaHouse, Cohen wisely returns to interacting with real people who are unaware they're talking to a film character, with the semi-improvised style both revealing the hidden side of the American mindset and yielding hilariously discomforting moments. The movie's instant impact was such that when it was first released you couldn't turn round without hearing "Niiice!" or "Hiiigh five!".

Read Empire's Borat review here

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16. Bridesmaids


You know that best friend you’ve had since playschool who will never, ever leave your side? Bridesmaids deals with the fallout of what happens when your BFF finds the love of her life. Aside from girly fallouts (and excess body fluids), Paul Feig’s film boasts a very sweet love story between Kristen Wiig's failed baker and Chris O’Dowd’s police officer. A relationship based on cake is one we can all invest in.

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15. The Apartment

Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon in The Apartment (1960)

Billy Wilder at the height of his powers. He crams real heart and heavyweight topics into what could otherwise have been a fluffy, flirty, sometimes farcical comedy. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine spar and yearn, and it boasts one of the best scripts of any on this list thanks to Wilder and regular collaborator I.A.L. Diamond, who between them rarely found a genre they couldn’t crack.

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14. Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles

It starts with the sight of a chain gang singing Cole Porter, and ends with its heroes watching themselves in the cinema. In between, Blazing Saddles manages to be both crazily scattershot and impressively focused, madly meta but also sweetly traditional. The sheer volume of jokes thrown out onto the prairie of Mel Brooks' comedy western is immense, but it never forgets its story – black sheriff helps white town defeat the railroad – and actually has thoughtful things to say about the genre's inherent racism, if you care to look beyond the farting. It also gets better and better the more Westerns you watch. Richard Pryor was one of the co-writers, choosing to get the train rather than fly from New York to LA for the production, since it allowed for more drinking time. Gotta have priorities.

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13. Hot Fuzz

Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz (2007)

The middle plank of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's Cornetto Trilogy has its eye on the outlandish set pieces of the action genre. Setting the movie in the quaint country town of Sanford (where the big finale takes place in a model village), Hot Fuzz spoofs but also celebrates the likes of Point Break and Bad Boys. Pegg and Frost remain a winning duo and the supporting cast boast a bunch of reliable character types and a few acting legends, including Paddy Considine, Olivia Colman, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Billie Whitelaw and Timothy "The Dalt" Dalton. Okay, no one calls him that, but we like it.

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12. The Blues Brothers


Whether you come for the jokes and stay for the music or vice versa, this offers the best of both worlds. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are the titular musical siblings (adoptive), on a mission from God to save an orphanage. The pair had an easy chemistry that drives this film, neither wasting a word, but still able to raise a laugh with little more than the twitch of an eyebrow. Never before (or since) in human history has the quest to pay a tax bill resulted in so much vehicular carnage, so much damage to the Illinois Nazi cause, and so much great music.

Read Empire's The Blues Brothers review here

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11. Dr Strangelove

Dr Strangelove

Stanley Kubrick's jet black comedy famously stars Peter Sellers playing three separate roles and wildly improvising in all of them. He's the buttoned-down British Group Captain Lionel Mandrake; the ineffectual US President Merkin Muffley; and the mechanically-armed cartoon ex-Nazi Dr Strangelove (real name "Merkwürdigliebe") who can't quite get out of the habit of calling the president "Mein Fuhrer". Sellers was also supposed to play Texan Air Force Major TJ "King" Kong, but injured himself and couldn't work in the fighter plane's cockpit (he was replaced by Slim Pickens). Devastatingly deadpan, this has the darkest of all imaginable endings, which is all the more impressive given that it originally climaxed with a pie fight. Kubrick, wisely, thunk again.

Read Empire's Dr. Strangelove review here

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10. Monty Python And The Holy Grail

Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)

The first real film from the surrealist superstars of the Pythons, Holy Grail contains some of the most inspired writing ever committed to celluloid, with the team playing King Arthur and his loyal(ish) knights on a ragtag quest for the titular cup. Sure, the budget appears to have been about 50p, but that spurs the team to greater heights of fancy, substituting coconut halves for horses' hooves and using excellent inanity instead of epic scale. The jokes have spawned a billion student imitators, from claims that "it's just a flesh wound" to Gallic insults to knights who say "ni" and demand shrubberies to elaborate discursions on the appropriate base for a system of government. Worth it for the Trojan rabbit gag alone.

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9. Airplane!


Zucker, Abrams and Zucker were ruthless with their magnum opus, playing numerous rough cuts of the film to college audiences and excising anything that didn't get a big laugh. The streamlined disaster movie riff that is left, then, is pure quadruple-distilled comedy, with a gag rate of about three hilarious jokes per minute and a perfect mix of surrealism, wit, parody and inspired physical comedy. It has inspired approximately a billion quotes and homages in the 30 years since it first hit screens and still hasn't ever been equalled by its many, many imitators. Looks like it paid off for the ZAZ team to kill so many of their babies – comedy like this is a seriously tough business.

Read Empire'sAirplane!review here

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8. Ghostbusters


Originally, the Peter Venkman role was written for John Belushi; the Rick Moranis part for John Candy. But having seen the greatest effects-comedy ever made, it's impossible to imagine anyone else doing such a good job as this cast – in particular Bill Murray's free-wheeling Venkman. And there are genuine scares in here to make the laughs all the louder by comparison (we defy you not to jump a little at the Library Ghost). The lead trio expertly mine every facet of the supernatural for possible laughs, from crooked researchers to gross-out slime ghosts and enormous inter-dimensional invasions. They even turned Sigourney Weaver into a terrifying beast, something even the Alien franchise never quite managed.

Read Empire's Ghostbusters review here

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7. The General

Empire's action top 50

Three steps to train-fight glory: first, witness the theft of your beloved train; next, give fanatical chase; finally, steal train back and steam home. Simple, right? Not so much. Put it this way: The Buster Keaton Train Timetable wouldn’t sell a single copy on this evidence. It’s pure narrow-gauge mayhem when Old Stone Face takes on a nefarious posse of Union spies who have stolen his locomotive. There are none of those traditional railway fistfights here, but there are sleepers on the line, a whopping great trench mortar and that climactic moment where an entire bridge collapses. It’s basically two trains rolling up their sleeves and beating lumps out of each other and it remains, 87 years later, utterly glorious cinema.

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The Big Lebowski

6. The Big Lebowski

The Coen Brothers' version of a Raymond Chandler noir, The Big Lebowski sees Jeff Bridges as The Dude, drifting, Philip Marlowe-like, around and through the middle of a tortuous mystery with nebulous results. He stumbles onto kidnapping, embezzlement, nymphomaniacs and nihilists – And all he wanted was compensation for his rug. There's also, of course, plenty of time for bowling with crazed 'Nam vet John Goodman and simple Steve Buscemi, leading to some cherishable face-offs with John Turturro's pink-clad, backwards-dancing, sex-offending Jesus Quintana. The bowling was important in suggesting an anachronistic time-period, Joel Coen explained. "It sent us back to a not-so-far-away era, but one that was nevertheless truly gone." The Big Lebowski is truly gone indeed.

Read Empire's The Big Lebowski review here

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5. Life Of Brian

Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979)

Hailed by many as the pinnacle of the Python troupe's work, Monty Python's Life Of Brian is a contender for the greatest comedy ever made. The film famously came into being when Eric Idle flippantly announced at a press conference that their next project would be called 'Jesus Christ: Lust For Glory'. Despite blasphemy allegations from the Catholic Church and funding issues (until Python fan George Harrison stumped up the cash simply because he wanted to see the movie), the Pythons pulled together an irreverent feast of clever allegory, sharp satire and in-depth discussions of Latin grammar as it applies to anti-Roman graffiti.

Read Empire's Life Of Brian review here

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4. Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot

Everybody knows that Marilyn Monroe was gorgeous, but people don't give her enough credit for her comedy chops – and they're brilliantly showcased here. Sure, she was a nightmare to work with on set, requiring scores of takes on the simplest lines, but director Billy Wilder persisted until he captured her unique lightning in a bottle. Not that this is a one-woman show. The male leads do the heavy lifting: Jack Lemmon was on top form, and Tony Curtis never funnier than here, playing two jazz musicians on the run from the mob and disguised as women in an all-girl band. Men in drag may be a cheap way to mine laughs, but this is the absolute pinnacle of the form, Wilder and his cast turning a cheap sex comedy into a fizzy, flawless farce.

Read Empire's Some Like It Hot review here

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3. The Naked Gun

Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun

The sixth episode of Police Squad could have been the last we saw of Lieutenant Frank Drebin. Cancelled by ABC, reportedly over fears that it required the audience to pay too much attention, the show languished for six years before it was resurrected for this, the first of three films. As with Zucker-Abrams-Zucker's pervious Airplane! the biggest joke is the dead seriousness of Leslie Nielsen. Here, however, he's finally and gloriously centre stage, spouting ludicrous hard-boiled cop clichés as chaos reigns around him (much of it chaos of his own making). Props too, to George Kennedy and Priscilla Presley as, respectively, Drebin's long-suffering boss and newly put-upon love interest. These days though, it has to be said that the presence of O.J. Simpson as Nordberg feels distinctly awkward.

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2. This Is Spinal Tap

This Is Spinal Tap

If you're a fan of The Office (and, given that you're reading a feature about great comedy, chances are high), then you can thank Rob Reiner's inspirational mock-doc for the show. Based on Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz, Reiner's scarily plausible rockumentary is both a brilliant depiction of the music business and one of the best comedies ever to strut onto the big screen in tight leather pants and improbable hair. The fruit of hundreds of hours of footage with a large amount of improv, the authenticity on show is quite staggering, while the hit rate of the gags goes all the way up to eleven.

Read Empire's This Is Spinal Tap review here

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1. Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

A decade after Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day saw Harold Ramis and Bill Murray in more thoughtful form. Murray's cynical weatherman Phil Connors makes a Scrooge-like emotional journey from recluse to romantic, via a karmic time loop that sees him endlessly revisiting the same day until he gets it right. Murray's hangdog exasperation is a joy as always, but he's also revealed here as a surprisingly credible romantic lead. The specifics of what happens to him are never explained (some guff about a voodoo curse was thankfully dropped), and his time in limbo is up to individual interpretation: Ramis said it's anything from ten years to 10,000. Coincidentally, that's also the number of times you can watch the film without it getting old.

Read Empire's Groundhog Day review here

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