When it comes to movies, comedy is perhaps my favorite genre. However, I’m pretty picky when it comes to my funny movies. For example, I didn’t love Fargo or The Big Lebowski as much as most people seem to like them. I could also take or leave Old School and Step Brothers, even though the bunk bed and, “F***ing Catalina Wine Mixer,” scenes are pretty choice.
With me, I guess it’s all a matter of what I’m in the mood for at the time. I do, however, tend to trend toward parodies, satire, and spoofs (within reason…by the time Scary Movie 27 rolled around, I had had my fill). However, when a unique comedy comes out, I’m willing to give it a shot. I figured I’d share some of my better comedy experiences with you.
Now, when I say, “ridiculously underrated,” allow me to explain. Underrated in this case means one of two things. First, it could mean that I just never heard the buzz about the movie in the news or amongst my friends. It might’ve done well on Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes (or in newspaper reviews, back when those were a thing), but it just didn’t seem to catch in theaters. The second type of underrated movie is pretty much the movies that got destroyed by critics, whether the movies did well in theaters or not.
Oh yeah, one last thing. Notice that the title of this article doesn’t contain the word “best” or “most.” These are just 15 movies that I don’t think got their due that you might enjoy. I’m not doing it to rank these movies over others that aren’t on the list; these are just the 15 movies that popped into my head first. If you see one and enjoy it, I’ll have considered my mission complete.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Let’s start with this spoof of the music-centric biopic that pokes fun of movies like Ray and Walk the Line. In this picture, John C. Reilly plays the titular Dewey Cox, who’s receiving a lifetime achievement award for his body of work. The movie flashes back to Dewey’s childhood and basically takes aim at every trope of biopics about musicians (the childhood trauma, the relationship issues, the inevitable drug- or alcohol-related fall from grace, and the phoenix-like return to the limelight).
This movie is equal parts dumb humor, clever jabs at biopics, and ridiculously good music. Reilly is clearly an excellent singer, and it shows in this movie. It’s a shame that Jenna Fischer, who plays the Reese Witherspoon/June Carter role, doesn’t do her own singing…because, otherwise, she does a great job playing Dewey’s long-suffering love interest. There are some other great cameos in this movie, as well…perhaps the best is when Dewey goes to India and meets “The Beatles.”
All in all, if you’ve seen other biopics, especially those about musicians, this movie is a gem. Reilly does great with the role, stepping out of Will Ferrell’s rather large comedic shadow. Sure, there are some dumb parts, but even some of the dumb parts are so dumb they’ll make you laugh. The clever bits, though, are really worth the price of admission.
Mystery Men (1999)
This is one of those movies that people seem to either love or hate. The cast is utterly incredible, including insanely talented actors like William H. Macy, Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Wes Studi, Paul Reubens, Greg Kinnear, Geoffrey Rush, Hank Azaria, and Eddie Izzard, among others.
The plot is pretty simple, when the city’s Batman-esque superhero, Captain Amazing (Kinnear), goes missing, it’s up to the second-stringers to save the day. How can people not love superheroes like The Spleen, The Shoveler, and The Bowler? The movie follows these D-list heroes as they learn what it takes to be truly “super.”
While I love this movie, I realize it’s not for everyone. It has some odd tonal shifts, jumping from serious, dark comedy to fart jokes at the drop of a hat. Some of the scenes that were cut (that are available on the DVD) do a better job of fleshing out the plot, which jumps around a bit in the final cut of the movie.
Like Walk Hard, this is a movie that you’ll probably enjoy more if you like superhero movies, but realize they’re all pretty similar. For example, in one scene, The Shoveler (Macy) and The Blue Radja (Azaria) are incredulous when Mr. Furious (Stiller) predicts that Captain Amazing and his alter ego, billionaire Lance Hunt, are the same person. Here’s the ensuing exchange:
The Shoveler: If we had a billionaire like Lance Hunt as our benefactor…
Mr. Furious: That’s because Lance Hunt is Captain Amazing!
The Shoveler: Oh, here we go…
The Shoveler: Don’t start that again. Lance Hunt wears glasses; Captain Amazing doesn’t wear glasses.
Mr. Furious: He takes them off when he transforms…
The Shoveler: That doesn’t make any sense; he wouldn’t be able to see!
Again, the tone of this movie shifts quite a bit, as does the pace. Sometimes, jokes are delivered so rapid fire that you might miss them. Considering the director, Kinka Usher, directed only commercials up to that point, it’s easy to understand why the pace is so quick sometimes.
Anyway, if you like superhero movies, but don’t take them to seriously, this is a funny movie with a wickedly talented cast (with special kudos to Geoffrey Rush as the villain, Casanova Frankenstein) that do a good job with what they’ve given…even if the movie was a bit of a fustercluck behind the scenes; you can Google that and see what I mean. Anyway, the movie is still funny and I don’t think it’s given the credit it’s due sometimes.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
This movie also made another list of mine…best horror movies for people who don’t like horror movies. Essentially, this is the prototypical “teens go into the woods for a weekend of sex, drugs, and booze and meet up with deranged hillbillies.” The difference here is that the hillbillies aren’t deranged, simply misunderstood. Most of the movie is based around the teens thinking the title characters are murderous psychopaths when they’re just two country boys trying to do what country boys do.
Sure, this movie isn’t going to win any lifetime achievement awards, but it’s clever premise, goofy scenarios (sort of like an even sillier Final Destination), and likeable leads (the always funny Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine as Tucker and Dale, respectively) make this a funny horror movie that’s a little outside the lines of your typical “horror” movie…it’s more like a “horredy.” It’s probably gross enough for your typical horror fans, but funny enough for people who don’t love horror movies, but don’t mind them, either. Give this a watch and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
This was a movie I saw while on a trip to Boston. It had poured rain all day, and by the time my wife and I got back to our hotel room, we were soaked, tired, and frustrated. There was a movie theater next door to the hotel, so we picked the dumbest movie from the marquee to see to just have fun. I had zero expectations of this movie. However, as the credits rolled and we were treated to a song by the hit band, Motley Lue (If you haven’t seen the movie, watch the movie and you’ll get it.), I was pleasantly surprised.
Basically, three friends and one kid whose someone’s nephew, I think, are transported back in time when they spill an energy drink on a hot tub they’re relaxing in while trying to have a guy’s weekend to relive their glory days. They return to the glorious 80s, where they have to figure out what they need to do to get back to the present.
The plot cribs heavily from Back to the Future, with Clark Duke’s character playing the role of “Disappearing Marty” as the other three fellas’ try to figure out what it’ll take to go back.
This movie is goofy fun, with tons of 80s references, some fun casting choices (including Crispin Glover as a bellhop whose destined to lose his arm and pre-Winter Soldier Sabastian Stan as the jerky bully who beat up Lou (Rob Corddry), sending his life into a downward spiral), and a couple great scenes that spoof on the time-travel genre (including a sports betting moment gone awry). The sequel is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, but the original Hot Tub Time Machine is worth a watch if you’re looking for some goofy fun and 80s nostalgia.
Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
This is basically Walk Hard for the next generation. In this mockumentary, we follow the careers of The Style Boyz (played hysterically by the Lonely Island trio). During the course of the film, we learn of the group’s ascendance and subsequent decline as “front man” Conner4Real (played with gusto by Andy Samberg) becomes bigger than the group and splits off from the group (both of whom have been comically minimalized…especially the group’s DJ, Lawrence, who is reduced to a goofy-helmet-wearing-iPod button pusher).
This movie’s two biggest strengths are the cast (including so many cameos that it would be ridiculous to list them all) and the soundtrack. Most of the music is clever and the accompanying videos are fantastic.
I wasn’t a huge Lonely Island fan before this movie, but since I’m a fan of parody and mockumentaries (like This is Spinal Tap and Fear of a Black Hat), this was a natural progression of the genre. Give this movie a shot if you’re a fan of any type of parodies, or the humor of Lonely Island; they truly shine in this fun film.
Since I’m a Weird Al fanatic, this movie had to be on the list. Even many of Yankovic’s fans (especially newer ones that are finding his music videos on YouTube) didn’t know he did a movie. When it was released it was destroyed by critics and even a lot of Al’s fans weren’t thrilled with it, as it only had one actual music parody and a couple strong movie parodies (Raiders of the Lost Arc and Rambo II and III). However, some of the more subtle parodies (like Stanley Spadowski’s take on the, “I’m mad as hell…,” speech from Network) are unexpected in a movie that’s so overwhelmingly goofy.
The movie follow’s Yankovic’s character, George Newman, a chronic dreamer, as he loses a job at a burger joint and is then given control of a crappy UHF station (Kids can Google what UHF means.) that his uncle won in a poker game. George recruits some of his friends to help him run the station, which pretty quickly tanks until janitor Stanley Spadowski (played with goofy simplicity by pre-racist Michael Richards) appears on the station’s weekly kids’ show. The audience loves Spadowski, and behind him, the station rallies. This ruffles the feathers of network bigwig R.J. Fletcher (the late Kevin McCarthy as your prototypical corporate bad guy).
Yes, this movie is predictable. Yes, this movie is pretty stupid. No, Weird Al isn’t going to win an Oscar for his acting. However, this movie is cute and goofy and has a good story about achieving your dreams. If you’re a fan of the Naked Gun movies or you’re a fan of Weird Al, there are worse ways to spend a couple hours. You might not love this movie as much as me, but you might get a chuckle or two out of it.
When you say the names Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, nerds in the know immediately start to gush about how much they love Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and/or The World’s End (the famed “Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy”). One Pegg-Frost movie that doesn’t get as much love as the Edgar Wright-directed trilogy is Paul. In this movie, Pegg and Frost play a pair of geeky friends from England who have come to the U.S. for San Diego Comic-Con. While in the states, they decide to take a nerdy road trip to sites like Area 51 and Roswell. During the trip, they stumble upon the titular Paul, an alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) who’s attempting to escape the mysterious government agents who have held him captive for 60 years.
I went into this movie with optimism, since I loved the other movies starring Pegg and Frost, but it was tempered with the fact that Seth Rogen was voicing the alien and Edgar Wright wasn’t directing. Amazingly, after about 10 minutes, I completely forgot it was Seth Rogen and the film was really good. It helps that the supporting cast is extraordinary, including Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Kristen Wiig, John Carroll Lynch, and an awesome cameo that I won’t spoil here. Sure, this movie doesn’t do for the sci-fi genre or the buddy road trip genre what Shaun of the Dead did for the zombie genre, but this movie is an enjoyable film that is equal parts nerdy, funny, goofy, vulgar (to a tolerable degree; not over the top) and heartwarming. If you’re a fan of Pegg and Frost, definitely give this a shot. Even if you’re not a fan of the duo, the movie is still worth a watch.
Role Models (2008)
Before Paul Rudd was Ant Man and after Seann William Scott was Stifler, the duo starred in the totally underrated flick Role Models. In this movie, Rudd and Scott star as unlikely duo Danny and Wheeler, who work together at an energy drink company hocking the beverage at schools. Easygoing Wheeler loves his job, but high-strung Danny hates his…among a plethora of other things, including how coffee drinks are named at the coffee shop he frequents with his girlfriend, Beth (Elizabeth Banks). When Danny goes off the deep end at a school assembly, the duo ends up in some trouble. After choosing community service instead of jail, the two become “bigs” to a pair of “littles” (post-McLovin Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Augie and Bobb’e J. Thompson as Ronnie) at Sturdy Wings. Each of the two “littles” has his unique quirks, with the funnier one being Augie and his addiction to LARP (live-action role playing). Paul Rudd’s reactions to participating in LARP battles is hysterical. Sure, this movie is pretty formulaic, but everyone plays their roles really well (especially Jane Lynch, Danny’s and Wheeler’s point of contact at Sturdy Wings), and there are some genuinely funny moments throughout. Rudd’s ability to be funny by mumbling a few words is unreal, and you can’t help but like Auggie and Ronnie. This is one of those movies that’s almost impossible for me to pass up when it’s on cable…it’s a feel-good, funny movie that I don’t think gets enough credit.
If you ever wanted to know what Deadpool did before he became an anti-hero, simply check out the 2005 movie Waiting. I will admit that this movie will definitely play better for folks that have worked in the food service industry; I worked in a grocery store and found a lot of overlap in the world of food service and the world of retail grocery. Anyway, this movie is actually centered around new Shenaniganz (which in no way resembles a Bennigan’s…at all) employee Mitch (Freaks and Geeks star John Francis Dale). However, Mitch is basically playing the role of the audience as he is typically shoved to the background by his new co-workers. Among them are oddball cooks Bishop, Raddimus, and Floyd (Chi McBride, Luiz Guzman, and Dane Cook); what-to-do-with-my-life server Dean (Justin Long), and too-well-spoken-for-this-job Monty (Ryan Reynolds). There are some other one-note characters in the movie, including the creepy manager, the hot hostess, the stoned busboys, and a couple of other weird servers, but they all play their parts dutifully. The movie is really a wannabe Clerks, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It isn’t quite as groundbreaking as Clerks, but it does have its moments. It’s especially funny and relatable (if not a little stereotypical) look at working at a middle-class restaurant.
Rat Race (2001)
There’s next to no one reading this article (including the guy who wrote it) who was alive when the movie that Rat Race was based on (It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World) was in theaters (1963). However, this updated version, which isn’t scored nearly as highly on movie review sites, is pretty decent in its own right.
The plot is simple: a rich guy (played with over-the-top giddiness by John Cleese) has placed a large sum of money in a locker and he has several teams of “contestants” race to find it. What the contestants don’t know is that they’re essentially pawns for the rich guy and his buddies to bet on.
As is always the case in these types of road trip comedies, hilarity (in some cases) ensues. Some of the contestants’ backgrounds and storylines are funny (John Lovitz and Kathy Najimy and Rowan Atkinson are especially fun), while others fall kinda’ flat (Whoopi Goldberg and Cuba Gooding Jr. have storylines that aren’t exactly great). The movie is basically a series of sketches, and while some of the sketches aren’t all that great, all of the actors seem like they’re having fun with the roles they’ve been given.
The story is a bit uneven and the ending is predictable enough to see a mile away, but the funny bits are funny enough to carry the movie and make it recommendable. Stick around if for no other reason than to see tongue-pierced conman Blaine Cody (Vince Vieluf) delivery one of the funniest lines in movie history at the end…one in which his brother/costar (Seth Green) can barely keep it together. It’s almost worth sitting through the movie for the one exchange.
Employee of the Month (2006)
If you were to recommend a movie to me by saying, “There’s this movie you have to see! It has Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, and Andy Dick in it!” I would probably have you committed to an insane asylum. However, Employee of the Month, starring those three less-than-stellar actors, is actually pretty funny. Most of that, however, is attributed to the “bad guys” in the movie, played with gusto by Dax Shepard and Efren Ramirez. This movie is a pretty by-the-numbers affair, where Cook plays slacker Zack, who’s finally motivated to become employee of the month when he hears through the grapevine that new girl Amy (Simpson) tends to shack up with EOM winners. As is typical in these movies, Zack learns that hard work is it’s own reward…yadda yadda yadda. From someone who worked in retail, this movie strikes a chord. It’s another one of those movies I tend to stop on every time I see it on cable.
As an aside, there are some particularly funny scenes in this movie involving store manager Glen Gary (Tim Bagley) and his brother, district manager Glen Ross (Danny Woodburn). I don’t know why, but the two of them made me laugh almost every time they were on screen together.
Get Smart (2008)
This is the first of two Steve Carell movies you’re going to see on this list, and this one is slightly harder to recommend, simply because it’s based on a television show a lot of people reading this didn’t watch. For those of you who don’t know the source material, Get Smart was the 60s version of The Office if Michael Scott was a spy and Pam Beasley was his partner (and eventually his wife). The only real difference is that Maxwell Smart (originally played by Don Adams, here played by Carell) is more of a loveable idiot who doesn’t deal in as much innuendo.
The movie centers around Maxwell Smart (Carell), an analyst at CONTROL, a government agency tasked with stopping evil groups like KAOS. When KAOS nearly destroys CONTROL and all of its agents, Max is finally promoted to a full-fledged agent, tasked with getting to the bottom of KAOS’s plot.
To do so, Max is paired with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), who plays a decent straight (wo)man to Carell’s bumbling Max. The two have decent enough chemistry and have some decent scenes together. The movie is pretty standard buddy cop/spy comedy fair, with some decent enough curveballs thrown in for good measure.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie, even though no particular part (script, acting, pacing, action) sticks out. Since most of the movies based on things from my childhood typically suck (I’m looking at you Transformers, GI Joe, the Robocop remake, and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull), it was good to see a remake/reboot that actually had some fun with the source material. If you’re a Steve Carell fan, this movie is pretty much him doing what he does best. If you’re not a fan and you just want to see a light-hearted, inoffensive comedy, this is a decent enough choice.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
When most people mention Kevin Smith, Clerks is the first movie that comes to mind. Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Dogma, and Clerks II aren’t far behind. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, however, is typically down on the list with the likes of Jersey Girl and Zack and Miri Make a Porno (but not quite as low as Tusk). While some Kevin Smith diehards don’t love this movie, I actually really liked it. It sort of pokes fun at Kevin Smith’s “View Askew” universe, even going so far as to cast Jason Lee play two of his roles from the Smith universe. Sure, the basic plot is paper-thin (Jay and Silent Bob are trying to stop a Blunt Man movie from being made), but the sheer insanity of their quest (and the detours they take along the way), mixed with the ridiculous number of cameos (including the likes of Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, James Van Der Beek (Da’ Dawson!), Jason Biggs, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill…and that’s about half the list), makes this a movie that’s at least worth a casual viewing. If you hate Kevin Smith and all he stands for, then avoid this movie like the plague. If you’ve seen most of Smith’s movies and like them, then this is some pretty decent fan service that has enough unique humor and in jokes to make you smile.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)
Yep, here’s the other Steve Carell movie. This movie got destroyed in the reviews, and I can sorta’ see why, but I really liked it. In this movie, Steve Carell plays Burt Wonderstone, who along with his partner, Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), have been performing magic for decades. When new guy in town Steve Gray (Jim Carrey, channeling his inner Criss Angel) begins upping the stakes, Burt and Anton find themselves on the outs.
Yes, this is essentially The Office with Michael Scott as a magician, but is that really so wrong? The sheer amount of cheese in this movie (beginning with Burt and Anton coming on stage to the Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra,” to Burt and Anton’s over-the-top hair, to the goofiness of their tricks…this movie has more cheese than your average delicatessen. However, the movie is actually a sweet (if not a little cliched) story of redemption. Carell and Buscemi do a great job hamming it up, while costars Carrey, Olivia Wilde (as the duo’s on-again-off-again assistant), and Alan Arkin (who’s always brilliant, playing Burt and Anton’s childhood hero, magician Rance Holloway) also do a great job with their parts.
Like most movies on this list, there aren’t any Oscar-winning performances in this movie, but it’s a goofy flick in which all of the actors seem to be having fun…and I had fun watching it.
Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
18 years ago, before Chris Evans was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and spoof movies hadn’t played themselves out (hell, in 2011, they actually made a movie titled Not Another Not Another Movie), Not Another Teen Movie was actually a pretty funny, and relatively competent, spoof on 80s and 90s teen movies like 16 Candles, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and She’s All That.
Unlike later spoof movies (like Epic Movie or Meet the Spartans), this movie stayed within the confines of teen movies…there weren’t any appearances from superheroes, or popular-at-the-time celebrities. Instead, we get the tale of Jake (Evans), as he bets his friends that he’s so popular that he can make any girl prom queen (ala She’s All That). The girl he picks is Janey Briggs (the absolutely stunning Chyler Leigh), who is ugly because she wears glasses and paint-splattered overalls. While Jake trying to turn Janey into prom queen is the primary storyline, other characters and plot clichés are also present, from the mean cheerleaders to the “token black guy” to the hot foreign exchange student (complete with horrible “foreign” accent) to the wise janitor (Mr. T in perhaps his greatest role). There’s also the requisite detention scene and the “big dance” at the end. A few choice teen movie cameos that I won’t ruin here are the cherry on this goofball spoof sundae.
If you were a kid in the 80s and/or 90s you loved John Hughes (or 90s teen movies inspired by Hughes), you should see this flick. Evans does a great job in the Freddie Prinze, Jr. role and Chyler Leigh is almost a spot-on Rachel Leigh Cook. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie…you may learn a few important life lessons from it, as well.