The difference between a comedy and a funny movie is small, yet significant. “The Graduate” is a comedy in its premise, but it certainly doesn’t keep the audience in stitches. This is a list of the top 50 funny movies of all time — not necessarily the best movies, per se, but the ones with the greatest laughs.
While the recently released “Anchorman 2” may not have made it on the list (yet), there are plenty of great movies that did. Some of these films are true classics that have changed the way movies are made. Others have simply spawned so many memorable quotes that they can basically be recited by heart. To make the list, we consulted readers and made our own picks.
50. ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ (2001)
Memorable quote: “You taste like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.”
Laugh factor: This bizarre cult flick takes place at a Jewish summer camp in 1981 and features an all-star cast of comedians like Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, and Amy Poehler. But its biggest laughs come from an unlikely source—“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” tough guy Christopher Meloni as a Vietnam vet-turned-camp cook with a weakness for audibly mumbling his innermost thoughts.
49. ‘Vacation’ (1983)
Memorable quote: “Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that.”
Laugh factor: Sure, it’s easy to relate to the family car trip gone haywire. However, most travelers would likely have a limit to the madness. In this National Lampoon laugher, Chevy Chase and his clan must really want to make it to a fictional theme park to endure the massive obstacles that arise, one of which is of course Randy Quaid.
48. ‘Tommy Boy’ (1995)
Memorable quote: “Ugh, I can actually hear you getting fatter.”
Laugh factor: Channeling Laurel and Hardy, “Saturday Night Live” veterans Chris Farley and David Spade shared a special onscreen chemistry. The late Farley plays the idiot; Spade the lightning-quick sarcastic jerk. The movie is filled with jabs, mostly at Farley’s weight, but some level of revenge is exacted when the heavier fellow rips his colleague’s tiny jacket while singing “Fat guy in a little coat.”
47. ‘Old School’ (2003)
Memorable quote: “We’re... We’re going streaking! We’re going up the quad and to the gymnasium.”
Laugh factor: Rather than blindly riding the toga of “Animal House,” the holy grail of fraternity films, this movie adds a twist: the frat leaders are all middle-aged. Luke Wilson may be outmatched in the lead role, but he gets plenty of support from Will Ferrell as a dopey-but-sweet friend and Vince Vaughn playing his usual fast-talking man of action.
46. ‘Lost in America’ (1985)
Memorable quote: “I’m insane and responsible. This is a potent combination.”
Laugh factor: What are the hazards of a life lived too free? The consistently funny Albert Brooks allows us to find out, without the risk. His character uproots his life for a failed stint at an “Easy Rider” lifestyle, living out of a Winnebago on the open road. There are few things as funny as a yuppy in the wild.
45. ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ (1994)
Memorable quote: “Do not go in there. Woo!”
Laugh factor: While certainly not his best work, this film plucked Jim Carrey from relative obscurity (unless a stint on “In Living Color” counts) and propelled him to become his generation’s Jerry Lewis. You could argue that “Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls” actually has more laughs or that “The Cable Guy” might be his most underrated comedic turn (seriously, watch it again). But the original “Ace” deserves recognition as the catapult for the career of a true comedic genius.
44. ‘The Nutty Professor’ (1963)
Memorable quote: “Well, just don’t do something, sit there!”
Laugh factor: Speaking of the comedic genius of Jerry Lewis, how could this list be complete without perhaps his most significant onscreen role? Lewis was a comedian ahead of his time as a bookish professor who desperately wants to become a ladies’ man. When this movie was remade in 1996, plugging another legendary comedian, Eddie Murphy, into the lead role, it failed to bottle the magic of the original.
43. ‘The General’ (1926)
Memorable quote: “If you lose this war don’t blame me.”
Laugh factor: It can be difficult to compare modern films with early comedies, especially those of the silent era. This underdog classic (starring Buster Keaton as an engineer who chases both his train and romantic interest across enemy lines) didn’t get its due during its time. Today, many top critics consider it the best silent comedy ever produced. Next
42. ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ (2005)
Memorable quote: “I respect women! I love women! I respect them so much I completely stay away from them!”
Laugh factor: Then the star of “The Office,” Steve Carell co-wrote this movie with modern day comedy titan Judd Apatow (the man behind movies like “Superbad” and “Knocked Up”). Like many of Apatow’s films, there are long portions of unscripted, off-the-cuff joke-slinging. This can either be disastrous or gut-busting, depending on the cast attempting it. Luckily, this one delivers.
41. ‘What’s Up, Doc?’ (1972)
Memorable quote: “Eunice? There’s a person named Eunice?”
Laugh factor: Confusion leads to laughs as this film tries to sort out four matching bags that get mixed up. If that premise seems old-fashioned, there’s a reason. It’s a throwback to the comedies of the 1930s and vintage cartoons—if the title alone didn’t give that away.
40. ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’ (1997)
Memorable quote: “Who throws a shoe? Honestly!”
Laugh factor: Mike Myers has a gift for sending catchphrases straight into the audience’s vernacular. His party boy persona in “Wayne’s World” delivered enough one-liners to snare a sequel. But it was his turn as this stuck-in-the-’60s, goofy James Bond that had America attempting poor British accents while saying, “Yeah, baby” and “Oh, behave.”
39. ‘Billy Madison’ (1995)
Memorable quote: “Of course I peed my pants, everyone my age pees their pants. It’s the coolest.”
Laugh factor: In the same way that “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” launched Jim Carrey’s career, this stupidly silly movie can’t be ignored for transforming Adam Sandler from an ex- “Saturday Night Live” cast member into a regular on Hollywood’s highest earners lists. It struck a chord with young men in particular, the core audience for Sandler’s immature humor, but it’s arrested development done right.
38. ‘Groundhog Day’ (1993)
Memorable quote: “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
Laugh factor: Billy Murray can deliver laughs in any role, but he is truly in his element as a crusty weatherman forced to relive the same day. In one particularly strange sequence, he tries nearly everything—even suicide—to keep the daily relapse from coming. But, of course, he’s got a lesson to learn first.
Memorable quote: “There’s always work at the post office.”
Laugh factor: Lampooning what Hollywood expects from black actors (like “Eddie Murphy-types,” as the film puts it), Robert Townsend produced, directed, and co-wrote this semi-autobiographical account. It’s smart, genuine humor with a purpose.
36. ‘Adam’s Rib’ (1949)
Memorable quote: “Lawyers should never marry other lawyers. This is called in-breeding. From this comes idiot children ... and other lawyers.”
Laugh factor: In this classic romantic comedy, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn play married lawyers at odds in the courtroom. Worse, they are representing dueling sides in the case of a woman shooting her husband for having an affair. It’s a true battle of the sexes and it’s awkward, sweet, and funny.
35. ‘There’s Something About Mary’ (1998)
Memorable quote: “Is it the frank or the beans?”
Laugh factor: The second movie by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the filmmaking brothers from Cumberland, R.I., also served as a significant boost to the comedy careers of Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller (who went on to huge comedic success with the “Meet the Parents” series). But this film has Farrelly brothers written all over it, featuring the pair’s trademark gross-out humor—including an unfortunate zipper mishap and later, the cause of Diaz’s hair standing on end.
34. ‘M*A*S*H’ (1970)
Memorable quote: “This isn’t a hospital. It’s an insane asylum. And it’s your fault.”
Laugh factor: Before the beloved TV show of the same name, this movie starring Elliott Gould, Sally Kellerman, and Donald Sutherland brought humor to a Korean War field hospital. Tall order, but effective.
33. ‘Friday’ (1995)
Memorable quote: “For most people, Friday’s just the day before the weekend. But after this Friday, the neighborhood’ll never be the same.”
Laugh factor: In some odd way, this movie is almost “Seinfeld”-esque. It’s basically about nothing, other than neighbors stopping by, funny banter, and getting mixed up in sticky situations. However, this was written by star Ice Cube and involves drug dealers, drive-by shootings, and a whole lot of bad language. OK, maybe it’s not that similar to “Seinfeld.”
32. ‘Bringing Up Baby’ (1938)
Memorable quote: “That’s a masterpiece of understatement.”
Laugh factor: Long before “The Hangover” put a tiger in the bathroom, “Bringing Up Baby” put a leopard in Katharine Hepburn’s apartment. The scene in which Cary Grant is first introduced to the cat, named “Baby,” is classic comedy.
31. ‘Slap Shot’ (1977)
Memorable quote: “What are you guys doing?” “Puttin’ on the foil!” “
Laugh factor: Of the sports comedies that could be on this list (”The Waterboy,” “Major League,” “Kingpin”), few have the staying power of this epically foul-mouthed hockey film. Watching the legendary Paul Newman deliver some of the lines can still be unbelievable at times. But the Hansen brothers are the most memorable characters.
30. ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ (1987)
Memorable quote: “The last thing I want to be remembered as is an annoying blabbermouth.”
Laugh factor: As another mismatched duo—a fat doofus and a stiff like Farley and Spade in “Tommy Boy”—John Candy and Steve Martin make a potent comic team playing two men traveling from New York to Chicago before Thanksgiving. Like Farley, Candy supplies most of the firepower, rolling out long, hilarious diatribes while serving as the film’s emotional center.
29. ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut’ (1999)
Memorable quote: “That movie has warped my fragile little mind.”
Laugh factor: This film is so foul-mouthed that picking a clean memorable quote was quite a task. The popular TV show’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker use the big screen as a medium to rebuff critics of their series. In the film, the gang of boys sees a controversial movie and picks up swear words, which somehow leads to war between Canada and the US. In other words, don’t take the naughty language so seriously.
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28. ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (1984)
Memorable quote: “This is the cleanest and nicest police car I’ve ever been in in my life. This thing’s nicer than my apartment.”
Laugh factor: While you could argue that some of Eddie Murphy’s stand-up films (”Raw” and “Delirious”) could hold their own on a funniest movies list, he will forever be linked to this feature. And with good cause: his turn as a Detroit cop in Beverly Hills rocketed Murphy into one of the biggest box office draws of his era. In effect, the heat is on.
27. ‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ (2006)
Memorable quote: “I like to picture Jesus as a figure skater. He wears like a white outfit, and He does interpretive ice dances of my life’s journey.”
Laugh factor: Will Ferrell takes on NASCAR culture and brings plenty of ammo. But his comedic support, his loyal “shake-and-bake” partner (John C. Reilly) and rival competitor (Sacha Baron Cohen), are the driving forces behind this film’s fast-track humor.
26. ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ (1982)
Memorable quote: “What are you people? On dope?”
Laugh factor: While this could be just another sex and drugs teen comedy, a young Sean Penn delivers one of his most memorable performances as stoned surfer dude Jeff Spicoli. His jostling with his teacher Mr. Hand makes the movie and set the stage for wannabes like “Dazed & Confused.”
25. ‘Bridesmaids’ (2011)
Memorable quote: “It’s happening! It happened.”
Laugh factor: While writer-star Kristen Wiig of “Saturday Night Live” fame got the credit, Melissa McCarthy took home the glory, capturing a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her often cringeworthy use of physical comedy. One particular gruesome scene involving indigestion in a bridal gown shop is perched above the rest.
24. ‘The Producers’ (1968)
Memorable quote: “Not many people know it, but the Führer was a terrific dancer.”
Laugh factor: Mel Brooks has a strong influence on the comedy game, and his first film has a long shadow of its own. Although now a long-running Broadway musical, the dynamics here between Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel are pure comedy and difficult to replicate.
23. ‘Clueless’ (1995)
Memorable quote: “He does dress better than I do, what would I bring to the relationship?”
Laugh factor: To say Alicia Silverstone’s performance captured a generation would be taking it a bit too far (as if!). But her materialistic popular girl was the best example of the airhead ‘90s youth that “Mallrats” and “Biodome” were based around. The movie also introduced us to Paul Rudd and Brittany Murphy, and milked laughs out of Dan Hedaya as Silverstone’s lawyer father.
22. ‘City Lights’ (1931)
Memorable quote: “Be careful how you’re driving.” “Am I driving?”
Laugh factor: Charlie Chaplin was the master of comedy in his day and with this one, he had complete control as writer, director, producer, and star. Although it’s a moving tale, Chaplin makes sure to fill the movie with his trademark slapstick humor. Much of this comes as his character tries to woo a blind girl who always manages to accidentally hurt her admirer.
21. ‘Wayne’s World’ (1992)
Memorable quote: “I once thought I had mono for an entire year. It turned out I was just really bored.”
Laugh factor: Wayne and Garth from the popular “Saturday Night Live” skit successfully crossed over to the big screen thanks to a script that can nearly be recited word-for-word. It’s loose, fun humor, and offers multiple hilarious endings before the climactic “mega happy ending.” The duo followed this up with “Wayne’s World 2,” which really isn’t as bad as you remember. Trust us.
20. ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980)
Memorable quote: “They’re not gonna catch us. We’re on a mission from God.”
Laugh factor: Before Wayne and Garth, there was Jake and Elwood. This film is perhaps the greatest success story among any “Saturday Night Live” sketch transitioning to the silver screen (of course, there are many flops in this category). With singing, dancing, and joking, the movie shows off the multiple talents of its stars, Dan Aykroyd and the late, abnormally versatile John Belushi.
19. ‘Tootsie’ (1982)
Memorable quote: “I don’t believe in hell. I believe in unemployment, but not hell.”
Laugh factor: Dustin Hoffman in drag is already pretty great, but the star inhabits this daring role as an actor desperate enough to secretly audition as a woman. The gusto he brings is an epic comedy performance that lifts the film to another level.
18. ‘My Cousin Vinny’ (1992)
Memorable quote: “I fit in better than you. At least I’m wearing cowboy boots.”
Laugh factor: In a fish-out-of-water comedy, laughs are cheap. New Yorkers in rural Alabama? Easy. But as unbelievable as they may be as a couple, Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei share considerable on-screen chemistry as squabbling urbanites. Pesci’s usual tough guy persona is such a stark contrast in the American South that you forget he’s arguing a murder trial.
17. ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ (2006)
Memorable quote: “High five!”
Laugh factor: Using a similar model to “My Cousin Vinny,” Sacha Baron Cohen thrives on being a fish-out-of-water in the American south in this faux documentary. Sure, redneck culture is an easy target for his bumbling foreign journalist from “Da Ali G Show,” but Baron Cohen still uses his lightning wit to torpedo everything in his path.
16. ‘Airplane!’ (1980)
Memorable quote: “Can you fly this plane, and land it?” “Surely you can’t be serious.” “I am serious... and don’t call me Shirley.”
Laugh factor: This screwball comedy has lived on cable TV for years, and rightfully so. Based on the 1957 film “Zero Hour!,” it’s slapstick and packed with one-liners from a top flight cast, including Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, and yes, NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
15. ‘Duck Soup’ (1933)
Memorable quote: “I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.”
Laugh factor: This musical comedy from the four Marx brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo) is now considered their best work, even if it wasn’t properly appreciated at the time. Its most famous scene—in which one character pretends to be the other’s reflection in the mirror—is a cultural touchstone that has inspired endless parodies.
14. ‘The Hangover’ (2009)
Memorable quote: “There’s a jungle cat in the bathroom!”
Laugh factor: Everything about this movie could have been a disaster. It had no true star. It could be just another naughty-in-Las Vegas tale. But with a clever twist (the characters piece together their wild night in reverse) and the presence of laugh-a-minute comedian Zach Galifianakis, it was a monster hit. Now “The Hangover” T-shirts are sold in shops on the Vegas strip and Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, and Ed Helms are legitimate movie stars. This wolfpack will have you howling.
13. ‘This is Spinal Tap’ (1984)
Memorable quote: “These go to 11.”
Laugh factor: Got a thing for drummers? Be careful, they have been known to spontaneously combust. Writer-star Christopher Guest’s later movies (”Best in Show,” “Waiting for Guffman,” “A Mighty Wind”) follow the same unscripted model employed through much of “Tap,” but the film’s influence cuts deeper. Other filmmakers are still trying to capture the magic of this brilliant off-the-cuff banter, most notably Judd Apatow.
12. ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ (2004)
Memorable quote: “Vote for me and all your wildest dreams will come true.”
Laugh factor: With a mostly unknown cast and riding buzz from the Sundance Film Festival, “Napoleon Dynamite” arrived in theaters as a question mark. But it left a wealth of quotable quotes that still circulate through pop culture, from the “Vote For Pedro” campaign to the sweet non-swears (”Gosh!,” “Frickin’ idiot!”).
11. ‘Blazing Saddles’ (1974)
Memorable quote: “Men, you are about to embark on a great crusade to stamp out runaway decency in the west. Now you men will only be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.”
Laugh factor: Mel Brooks strikes again, this time sending up westerns with this classic about a black sheriff coming to town. Brooks also appears in numerous roles, including an Indian chief who speaks Yiddish.
10. ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ (1964)
Memorable quote: “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.”
Laugh factor: Master of bizarre films Stanley Kubrick directed, produced, and co-wrote this comedy, now the epitome of political satire. With Peter Sellers playing multiple roles, it takes on the Cold War era’s nuclear weapons hysteria, a taboo at the time. Nonetheless, the film received warm reception and was nominated for a best picture Oscar.
9. ‘Office Space’ (1999)
Memorable quote: “Well, I generally come in at least 15 minutes late, ah, I use the side door—that way Lumbergh can’t see me—and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour.”
Laugh factor: Before “The Office” milked drab life in a fishbowl for laughs, “Office Space” perfectly captured workplace monotony and then blew it to pieces. Gary Cole steals the show as the slow-talking, overbearing boss Bill Lumbergh.
8. ‘Some Like It Hot' (1959)
Memorable quote: “Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.”
Laugh factor: Like “Tootsie,” this is a cross-dressing comedy. Unlike “Tootsie,” it features one Marilyn Monroe as a ukelele player. So the question becomes, how does a guy win Marilyn Monroe while dressed in drag? Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon have a lot of fun trying to find out.
7. ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ (2004)
Memorable quote: “Stay classy, San Diego.”
Laugh factor: Even if you’ve never seen this movie, odds are you are familiar with at least a handful of lines from its script (”I love lamp” or “I’m kind of a big deal”). With Ferrell playing the macho male newscaster being pushed aside by an ambitious female counterpart, the role is a perfect fit. He whines, he taunts, and he’s invariably immature. It all works, with a great supporting cast to boot.
6. ‘The Big Lebowski’ (1998)
Memorable quote: “That rug really tied the room together.”
Laugh factor: Following their Oscar-winning breakthrough drama “Fargo,” the brother duo of Joel and Ethan Coen wrote and directed this half-sports-comedy/half-whodunit, which promptly toiled in relative obscurity. But it slowly gained cult status through a steady stream of one-liners told in bars and dorm rooms. Now, it inspires festivals throughout the country and may as well be considered its generation’s “Caddyshack.” Just swap out golf for bowling and let the quotes fly.
5. ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ (1975)
Memorable quote: “We are the Knights who say... NI.”
Laugh factor: “Monty Python” fans unite! While the comedy troupe’s “Life of Brian” is considered by some to be the better picture, this may be the most quotable film ever produced. The holy grail of comedy films? Close. Now go and boil your bottoms, you sons of silly persons.
4. ‘Caddyshack’ (1980)
Memorable quote: “I got to get into this dude’s pelt and crawl around for a few days. Who’s the gopher’s ally? His friends? The harmless squirrel and the friendly rabbit.”
Laugh factor: The de facto greatest sports comedy ever made. This film launched Bill Murray and Chevy Chase from “Saturday Night Live” standouts to legitimate movie stars and reinvigorated the flagging career of Rodney Dangerfield. Its script is jammed with quotable lines still repeated on golf courses and in board rooms.
3. ‘Dumb & Dumber’ (1994)
Memorable quote: “Hey, I guess they’re right. Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose. I’ll be right back. Don’t you go dying on me!”
Laugh factor: The title alone underscores that this movie is dumb. It is the definition of sophomoric humor. But it also features the funniest performance of Jim Carrey’s stellar comedy career. The Farrelly brothers, such devotees of “The Three Stooges” that they recently rebooted the franchise, approach the stupid, physical humor employed by their idols.
2. ‘The Jerk’ (1979)
Memorable quote: “For one dollar I’ll guess your weight, your height, or your sex.”
Laugh factor: Steve Martin gives everything he’s got in this high-wired comedy, also his first lead role. He plays the oblivious idiot—the guy with success he didn’t earn and doesn’t appreciate. He’s a jerk. You hate that guy. Well, here, you love to hate him.
1. ‘Animal House’ (1978)
Memorable quote: “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”
Laugh factor: Did this movie inspire the modern bromance? Though “Old School” tried mimicking its frat house humor, countless movies on this list have attempted to capture its boys gone wild spirit. But nobody nailed it quite like John Belushi and company. It remains the top movie about male hijinks and continues to be both parodied and imitated. Grab a brew.
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