One of the reasons we go to the cinema is because movies have the potential to make us do or feel many things. One of those things is laugh. We watch comedies in hopes of lightening our mood and providing us 90-120 minutes of laughter. Comedies are also the most subjective genre of film; our senses of humor are all different, after all. Still, there are some that rise above and showcase themselves as funnier than the rest.
Here are the funniest movies of 2016.
20th Century Women
20th Century Women is a coming-of-age movie that has a teenage male protagonist get advice about being a man from three women—during the late 1970s, when punk rock and second-wave feminism was prominent. It’s a warm, loving movie that’s also hilarious and gives a lot of depth to its characters. Coming-of-age movies can often feel very similar to each other, but 20th Century Women manages to distinguish itself from the pack.
Captain Fantastic is not a superhero movie. I feel like, with the title it has, it’s important to make that distinction right off the bat. It is, instead, a movie about a family who, after living in relative isolation for several years, has to return to society during a road trip to attend a funeral. It’s at its funniest when it’s making commentary about society—seen through the eyes of a man who refused to participate in it and children who never had the opportunity. It’s clever, it’s smart, it’ll make you think, and it’s very funny.
The Edge of Seventeen
Interestingly enough, The Edge of Seventeen is another coming-of-age movie on this list. Well, kind of. It’s about a teenager in high school and the problems that she deals with over the course of several months. It’s hilarious, and does a great job of capturing how teenagers act and talk—in large part because, unlike many high school movies, it was given an R rating. Its acting is great, and it has more depth than you typically expect from these sorts of movies.
Everybody Wants Some!!
Have you seen Dazed and Confused? If you haven’t, you absolutely should. If you have, would you like its spiritual successor? Well here it is: Everybody Wants Some!! Yes, those two exclamation marks are part of its title.
Writer-director Richard Linklater takes on the 1980s with Everybody Wants Some!!, following up from the Dazed and Confused ’70s. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it does a great job of capturing its time period—it’s just a lot of fun. It focuses on a team of college baseball players and all of the things they get up to while in school. It’s wonderful.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is written and directed by Taika Waititi. If you recognize that name, it’s probably because you wanted to see who made Thor: Ragnarok. He’s a funny man. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is probably the funniest movie I saw in 2016.
It follows a child and his foster father as they trek through the local forest—eventually becoming the subject of a manhunt. Their interactions are hilarious, everyone they run into is too silly to take seriously, and the whole thing is a riot. It’s got a good heart, too, but the most important takeaway is that it’ll have you in stitches throughout.
Love & Friendship
Love & Friendship is a .. smarter comedy than most of the films on this list. I think that’s a fair way to put it. It’s a period piece based on a Jane Austen novella, and it has dialogue that’s quick, sharp, and refuses to pander. You have to pay attention to it and be able to process it quickly in order to truly “get” it. And if you do that, you’ll find very funny movie that lampoons society and its expectations of its time period—as well as some observations that can be paralleled to the present day. I’m not saying you have to be a genius to watch it, but you do have to pay attention; which isn’t something that can be said of all the films on this list.
For example, Sausage Party is not something that most people would consider “intellectual”—even though its central metaphor and message about organized religion is more clever than one might expect going in. The basic premise here is that food is sentient and dreams of nothing more than being purchased at a supermarket—believing that once a human takes it home, it’ll live in peace forever. When some of the food finds out that we murder and eat them, it causes something of an existential crisis. All while lots of rude, crude, and profane jokes are being told.
Sausage Party isn’t for everyone, and if you don’t like raunchy comedies—or things that poke fun at religion—you’re not going to enjoy it. For the rest of us? Hang on, as it’s a heck of a ride.
Sing Street is more of a musical than a comedy, but since it is pretty funny and the two genres get lumped together rather frequently—hello, Golden Globes—I don’t feel bad about including it here.
At its core, it’s about a teenager in 1980s Ireland who starts a band to impress a girl. It doesn’t do a whole lot more than that, but the story it tells is great, the music is fantastic, and it’s got enough humor to pass itself off as a comedy.
Swiss Army Man
Swiss Army Man is weird. Full disclosure about that right off the bat. It’s an odd movie. It tells the story of a man who, marooned on an island, uses a corpse in order to save himself, using its various “functions” as tools, so to speak. For instance, the corpse has flatulence that he’s able to use as a propulsion to get across the water.
Beyond its oddball premise, it also delivers some strong character moments—the protagonist starts talking to the corpse, which eventually talks back—great performances, and lots of laughs. Well, lots of laughs assuming a gassy corpse that gets ridden like a jet ski is funny to you.
Zootopia is one of 2016’s greatest movies. It’s a buddy-cop movie about animals that Disney released that’s also about societal prejudice—racism, sexism, primarily—and the toxic ways we treat each other. That’s kind of crazy, isn’t it? You go in expecting to see the bunny cop solve a mystery and come away having learned a thing or two about society.
More importantly, it’s a very funny movie, which is why it’s on this list. Its animation is fantastic, its plot is engaging, it’s got a lot of jokes, and it’s smarter than your average bear. Wait, is that insensitive? Time to rewatch Zootopia, I guess!