2008 was a good year for comedies, and this coming from a guy who rates comedies as the least desirable genre. I actually do really enjoy comedies, but I like action flicks and depressing dramas much, much more. But in the absence of really great dramas, this genre rose up to truly deliver….
- In Bruges
Most people haven’t seen this movie, but it is certainly worth it. Unlike the four or five movies that follow on this list, In Bruges may not be the non-stop laughfest, but it comes pretty close. More importantly, it is a unique and surprisingly excellent drama-comedy that features Colin Farrell bashing the poor town of Bruges for two hours, getting overly excited about cracked-out midgets and telling fat Americans that they can’t climb up some steep stairs. OK, so that explanation does the comedy absolutely no justice, but this is a movie that blew me away in more ways than one.
- Role Models
Based on the previews, who could have seen this one coming? Role Models flew in under the radar, looking like a decent but generic comedy starring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott. But from the first minute, Role Models is a consistently funny and vulgar picture that has a surprising amount of heart and more laughs than you’ll know what to do with.
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall
This one looked like an instant dud. It’s not that the previews weren’t funny, but the movie starred Jason Segel (who?), had a rather odd name, and, more than anything else, there just wasn’t any buzz leading up to the release. And then… surprise hit. Why? Because Forgetting Sarah Marshall is hilarious and anything but forgettable. Fans of Knocked Up and Superbad found more of the same kind of humor here, once again with a heartful touch combined with raunch humor. And way too much Jason Segel penis.
- Zack and Miri Make a Porno
This one seemed like a match made in heaven: Sudden comedy heavyweight Seth Rogen teams with the father of heartfelt-but-crude comedies Kevin Smith to make a movie that is about making amateur porn. The reality: quick flop. Why this one failed to register with audiences is anyone’s guess, though one has to assume that the general audiences that were being lured into all of the crude comedies over the last few years were turned off by the “porno” word. Or maybe it was that Smith found it hard to market his movie appropriately when cities and the MPAA were banning most of their rather innocent marketing initiatives. Regardless, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is hilarious and also features the most disturbing scene you’ll see all year.
- Gran Torino
As I point out in my review, Gran Torino is not a comedy. It’s a drama. It’s a drama about what Dirty Harry would be like in retirement, and his efforts to protect a family of Asian immigrants from a local gang. That being said, between all of the earthy growls and racial slurs Clint Eastwood unloads upon the audience, Gran Torino is indeed one of the funniest and entertaining movies of 2008. Sadly, I’ve read several reviews where the critics just didn’t get the humor, but if you want some good laughs coupled with a strong story, look no further.
Bill Maher’s so-called documentary is biased and will do nothing to help his cause, because anyone who feels strongly about their religious beliefs would screw a nun before sitting down to be subjected to Maher’s onslaught of why religion – and God – make no sense. For atheists like me, however, Religious is a hilarious, how-can-other-people-not-get-this-through-their-thick-skulls adventure into absurdity. Still, it’s a big step down from the top five movies listed above.
- Pineapple Express
Seth Rogen is on this list for the second time, and his co-star, James Franco, earned a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of a smoked-out drugdealer in this rather odd buddy action-comedy. Yet another Judd Apatow production, Pineapple Express has an indie look to it but a mainstream presence that is surprisingly effective. As many laughs as there are, though, it doesn’t quite get into a rhythm the way some of Apatow’s best films do.
- Sex and the City: The Movie
I’m a guy, yes, and I’m straight. But having lived with women for a year or two in college, I’ve seen just about every Sex and the City episode and have to admit that it’s a pretty damn good show. And the movie, despite being nearly two and a half hours long, is a pretty good continuation of that show, both in terms of character and entertainment value. Non-fans may not get the quirkiness of the characters, but if you’re used to the four gals, you’ll find plenty to laugh about here.
- Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay
The highly anticipated Harold and Kumar sequel picks up where the last one left off – literally. This time, though, the two Americans are confused for North Korean/Al Qaeda terrorists and sent to Guantanamo Bay, from where they escape into the south to be persecuted by the KKK and NPH. The movie’s many jabs at racism resonate well, though the film doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor. Still, it’s worth seeing of only for the cyclops. Yes, the cyclops.
- Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda is not the best animated film of the year – that title easily goes to Wall-E – but Wall-E isn’t nearly as funny as this surprisingly excellent cartoon. Frankly, despite glowing reviews, this one looked God-awful, but it has just the right levels of charm, wit, humor and action to pull off a story about an overweight panda who becomes a kung fu legend. Jack Black leads an all-star cast, and really raises things another notch.
Now view the worst comedies of 2008.