In case you haven’t noticed, 2021 hasn’t been a particularly amusing year. The bulk of the recent year has been filled with plenty of turmoil and despair for individuals all around the world, making it difficult to find times to guffaw, chuckle, or even giggle. The cinema industry has had its own method of heightening these sentiments, since one of the major things we’ve greatly missed is the sense of laughing together with a large audience while seeing a big screen comedy.
But, even if one half of the equation has been lacking, it should still be noted that several really humorous films have been published, providing a great lot of joy at a difficult period.
Now that it’s almost the end of the year, it’s time to celebrate the best of the best. So let’s get started, starting with a film that was one of the first new releases in 2020.
January feels like it was 12 years ago rather than just 12 months ago, but those who can remember that long back may also recall appreciating Bert and Bertie’s lovely scout comedy Troop Zero. It’s thrilling to see Viola Davis and Allison Janney compete as rival scout leaders, but it’s also a picture with plenty of charm and a charming cast of young performers led by star-in-the-making Mckenna Grace. The spirit of classics such as Troop Beverly Hills pervades throughout, and unlike most of the other choices on our list, it can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.
Michael Showalter’s The Lovebirds is a basic, high-concept comedy that follows a couple on the rocks through a crazy night after being suspected of murder, but it’s also an excellent example of material that can fly owing to the talent involved. Showalter is putting his distinct preferences to good use after following My Name Is Doris and The Big Sick, and Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae make a terrific team with their sharp humor. While the comedians and humorous scenarios are the headliners of the show, there is also a great mystery and twist to throw at the audience.
Bill & Ted Face The Music
Fans of the first two Bill & Ted movies were left hanging for so long waiting for the trilogy-capper to receive funding and go into production that a flop would have been terrible, but a huge part of what makes Dean Parisot’s Bill & Ted Face The Music so fantastic is that it perfectly fulfills. Almost everything else in the film, which reunites Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as the titular artists desperately trying to produce a song that will save the world, is fantastic. It’s a terrific antidote to any pessimism, and it’s tough not to laugh out loud.
The Personal History Of David Copperfield
Armando Iannucci is today’s great comedic voices thanks to The Death Of Stalin, The Think Of It, In The Loop, Veep, and Avenue 5, but The Personal History Of David Copperfield is arguably the filmmaker at the pinnacle of his powers, delivering a Charles Dickens adaptation that is equal parts funny and delightful. It doesn’t depart far from the source material, but Iannucci’s sense of humour and a fantastic cast that includes Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi, and others make it engaging and easily hilarious. It’s probably maybe the most dramatic title on our list, but that shouldn’t detract from how often it makes you laugh out loud.
Stuffy dramas normally reign supreme in pre-1900 period works, yet here we are in 2021, with both a Charles Dickens and a Jane Austen adaptation on the list of the year’s finest comedy. Emma was already converted into an all-time comedy, serving as the inspiration for Amy Heckerling’s 1990s hit Clueless, but Autumn de Wilde’s more accurate rendition nevertheless entertains beautifully in that shadow. Anya Taylor-Joy plays Emma Woodhouse well, gracefully conveying both her kindness and selfishness, and the film is simply a visual feast, making great use of color in its production design, costumes, and cinematography. Its distribution was significantly disrupted by the epidemic, having entered theaters in the first week of March, but maybe it’s been properly recognized and enjoyed by now.
An American Pickle
What could be better than one Seth Rogen? The arithmetic says you need two Seth Rogens – and that’s the clever throbbing core of Brandon Trost’s superb An American Pickle. The film, written by the talented Simon Rich, begins with an unusual premise that allows a hapless app developer (Rogen) to spend time with his immigrant ancestor (also Rogen) through the magic of pickle brine, and what follows is an unconventional-but-hilarious generational battle that examines how cultural values have evolved over time. Rogen maintains his reputation as one of Hollywood’s most dependable actors, doing some of his most amusing work as the boisterous, opinionated Herschel Greenbaum while also demonstrating his very genuine versatility.
Every year, we are inundated with a slew of Christmas movies, so when a new title comes along that genuinely stands out in terms of quality, it may turn a lot of heads. Clea DuVall’s Happiest Season is a perfect example from 2021, and what a fantastic surprise. It seems like a classic movie in many respects, showing all of the drama that may develop from being around your family and meeting prospective future in-laws, but it also adds a nice dose of progressive and modern with a charming gay romance at its core. Mackenzie Davis, Kristen Stewart, and Aubrey Plaza are the show’s main stars, but Dan Levy and Mary Holland give two of the year’s most funny supporting performances.
You could be asking yourself right now, “What the heck is Spontaneous?” and you’d be justified. The film, directed by Brian Duffield, had a limited release this past fall and has received little notice. That being said, please use this portion as a reason to seek it out, because you will not be disappointed. Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer starred as a couple who fell in love amidst a weird ongoing phenomena in their community in which youths suddenly explode. It’s a picture that’s clearly better for people with darker comic tastes, but if you speak its language, you’re going to fall hard for it. It’s easy to see it gaining a sizable cult following in the future years, and it’s a group you should join as soon as possible.
Borat Comedy sequels frequently underperform as a result of attempting to exactly reproduce their predecessor’s popularity – but that’s the equivalent of having someone tell you a joke you’ve previously heard. Given the character-driven nature of the material, Jason Woliner’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm appears to be a follow-up that might easily fall into that trap, but part of what makes it wonderful is how it nimbly dances around it instead. Not only is Sacha Baron Cohen reprising his role as Borat, but it also contains one of the most amazing breakthrough performances in years by Maria Bakalova as Borat’s daughter, Tutar Sagdiyev. It’s one of the year’s funniest and most infamous new releases, as well as a film that will be regarded as a type of time capsule for the year 2021.
Between Happy Death Day, Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, and other films, viewers have seen a broad range of approaches to time loop scenarios, and yet Max Barbakow’s Palm Springs still manages to create a fresh viewpoint, providing some of the finest chuckles of 2021. We usually see these types of stories from the perspective of a single character, but following both Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg’s protagonists through the recurring story opens up a world of interesting and unique possibilities (which the movie then brilliantly capitalizes on). It masterfully blends suspense and drama to keep you committed, but it’s largely just laugh-out-loud funny, and it’s our favorite comedy of the year.