10 classic Hollywood comedies of the 21st century you can only love

As a genre, comedy has played a vital role in shaping the essence of Hollywood culture. Hollywood comedies unravel a wide range of emotions, a nuance which other genres cannot replicate.

Sub-genres like action comedies, comedic dramas, satire, black comedies and so on give it a wide canvas.

Despite the seamless flow, comedies are tough to make. They become instant classics and have immense replay value, alluring viewers to watch them again and again.

The 21st century has a rich repository of classic comedies. Here are ten must-watch Hollywood comedy classics.

1. Tropic Thunder

This star-studded 2008 comedy was a commercial success and was lauded by critics.

Written, directed and starring Ben Stiller, the movie is a spoof that lampoons Hollywood, war movies, actors and much more. The plot revolves around a group of actors trying to shoot a war movie but runs into trouble when one of them is captured by a drug cartel. Stiller plays a washed-up action movie star hoping to revive his fame.

Then there is a drug-addicted comedian (played by Jack Black), a rapper (Brandon T. Jackson) and a rookie actor (Jay Baruchel).

Tropic Thunder's standout performance is by Robert Downey Jr. as Kirk Lazarus, a critically lauded actor who undergoes a controversial surgery to play an African-American sergeant in the movie.

He was even nominated for an Oscar, which is a rare feat for comedy movies.

All though a bit vulgar at times, the arrogant and money-minded producer, played by Tom Cruise in a fat suit, is also a scene-stealer.

A better ‘war-movie movie’, as Roger Ebert put it, will be tough to zoom in.

2. Superbad

Superbad is probably the greatest millennial comedy of all time. Produced by Judd Apatow, who has arguably been a part of all the best comedies of the 21st century, it follows a script written by childhood friends Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, based on their high school days.

Keeping faithful to all other Judd Apatow productions, Superbad is raunchy to the core, but also delivers jokes consistently without getting repetitive.

The story, which is loosely based on the writers’ own experiences in high school, tells the tale of two boys, Seth and Evan, who are trying to ‘get lucky’ before they graduate.

The main characters, named after the writers themselves, are brilliantly played by Jonah Hill, in his real breakout role, as well as a Michael Cera, who had just started making his presence felt on the big screen. From one gut-busting incident to another, the movie is a must-watch for all, not just teens.

3. Bridesmaids

A fully female-led comedy is not rare now, but in 2011, it was. This changed when Bridesmaids, written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo and starring Wiig as the main character, was released – it shattered box office records raking a whopping $288.4 million on a budget of $32.5 million. Kristen Wiig plays Annie, a down-on-her-luck woman who is asked to be the maid of honour for her best friend’s birthday.

A hilarious sequence of events no one could ever have expected follows, providing a laugh riot.

Yet the movie is not for the light-hearted. Unless you can survive a scene of ‘diarrhoea in a sink’, this movie is not for you. Interestingly enough, Melissa McCarthy, the actress who has the unfortunate ‘incident’, was the Oscar nominee for the Best Supporting Actress in 2012.

This movie even turned out to be the previously mentioned Judd Apatow’s highest-grossing movie to date, which says a lot considering the huge number of movies he has produced.

4. Borat

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

After reading the title, you may not be able to figure out why this movie is amazing. So, let us tap the plot. A fictitious Kazhakhstani journalist travels to the US to make a documentary about the country. The filmmakers opted for a mockumentary format (a movie showing fictional events happening as a documentary) but featured real-life conversations and interactions between Borat, the journalist, and Americans.

Most of the movie was unscripted with unsuspecting Americans, as Borat interviewed them about different facets of American culture. The film is not only a comedy but also a social satire on the dark shades of American society and culture. The character of Borat was created and played to perfection by British actor Sacha Baron Cohen, with the role earning him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy.

A sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, was released 14 years later in 2020, to similar critical acclaim.

5. The Hangover

What if there was a movie with a bachelor party, a tiger, a baby, a Chinese gangster, a modern Rain man and Mike Tyson? Well, the Hangover provides you with the answer: It would prove to be the funniest 100 minutes of your life. When four friends go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, they wake up the next day to discover the groom-to-be missing.

Oh, and they also have a massive hangover and are not able to remember anything. The movie progresses as they slowly piece together information bit by bit, encompassing all of the things mentioned above. This 2009 comedy broke all records and became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time at that point, by raking in $469.3 million dollars on a mere 35-million-dollar budget. The movie also helped to establish Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms as leading comedy stars, who can carry movies on their own.

Although the sequels did not prove to be as critically acclaimed, the legacy of the first Hangover still towers.

6. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Will Ferrell could do no wrong in the 2000s. Old School, Zoolander, Elf, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers were all big hits, but Anchorman’s zany and witty comedy made it an instant classic. Ferrell played by Ron Burgundy, a news anchor in the 1970s, faces problems when a new female co-anchor comes onto his show.

With one quotable line after the other, the movie banks on the delivery and comic timing of its main cast, which includes Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and Christina Applegate.

The characters and the story, written and directed by SNL alumni Adam McKay, is as odd and weird as one would expect from Will Ferrell, but it all somehow comes together to provide a stellar comedy. Will Ferrell himself accepts Ron Burgundy as his favourite character. The 2013 sequel, Ron Burgundy: The Legend Continues, also proved to be a critical success and a commercial darling.

7. 21 Jump Street

An adaptation of an 80s police procedural TV show is not really equivalent to comedic gold. Yet, somehow in 2012, that’s exactly what 21 Jump Street did. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill star as two rookie cops who go undercover in a high school to bust a drug ring.

Much of the film’s laughs can be owed to the unlikely comedic pairing of its two leads, who sync amazingly well with each other.

Rapper Ice Cube also shines as the hilarious ‘angry captain’ in charge of the assignment.

Although the movie is similar to Superbad, as it is partly a teen comedy starring Jonah Hill as well, the near-perfect blend of action and comedy helped elevate it great buddy cop movie.

The movie even gave cameos to stars of the original TV show, Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise, who reprise their roles for five seconds before getting killed by a shower of bullets in a literal blaze of glory. The movie has aged really well and had a sequel, 22 Jump Street, released two years later in 2014 to similar success.

8. Death of Stalin

Who knew that a movie about the struggle for political power immediately succeeding Stalin’s death would be the subject of an extremely funny black comedy? Unlike the other movies in this list, Death of Stalin is not as well known or as commercially successful. Nevertheless, the movie still stands out as one of the best political satires of the 21st century.

The story follows all of Stalin’s closest advisors as they all try to take power when the Red Tsar dies, particularly Lavrentiy Beria, the NKVD chief and Nikita Khrushchev, the head of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union.

The casting is excellent with each actor perfectly suited for their respective characters and having all their delivery on point. The director of the movie, Armando Iannucci, known for his political satires like Veep, outdid himself with the script along with David Schneider and Ian Martin, as it provided both social satires as well as some crude humour at points.

9. Game Night

This 2018 action-comedy movie provided a breath of fresh air in a scenario flooded with repetitive raunchy comedies from the Judd Apatow era.

This original script is about a group of friends who get into many antics when a game night takes a drastic turn -- one of them gets kidnapped. Game Night follows Max and Annie, a competitive couple, who partake in a periodic game night along with their friends.

When Max’s brother invites them to a game night at his house with the prize being a fancy sports car, they all accept and the movie kicks off.

Fast forward to the final parts of the movie and you see Max and Annie trying to figure out how to rescue his brother from an arms dealer on a plane about to take off.

Yet, in some bizarre way, the entire sequence of events up to that point makes sense and all crazy and wacky twists and turns come together to form a hilarious movie.

Jesse Plemons as a depressed cop trying to be included in the game night is one of the standout performers providing awkward humour. An action comedy with both the laughs and a good plot is hard to come by, but Game Night proved it isn’t impossible.

10. Grand Budapest Hotel

The weird, eccentric and kitschy tone of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel cannot be replicated by any other director. This 2014 movie tells the tale of a concierge from the Grand Budapest Hotel, who is caught up in the chase for a Renaissance painting, along with his bellhop (whose future self is narrating everything that took place). Grand Budapest proves to be an effective comedy as well as an endearing drama for the ages and earned nine Oscar nominations, winning four of them. Anderson’s unique visual style as well as his colourful cinematography is on full display throughout complementing the comedy. Although Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori, who play the concierge and the bellhop respectively, lead the ensemble, there are many other brilliant actors who all appear in small roles.

These include Adrien Brody, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan and a slew of others. Unlike other comedy movies, there are also many themes dealt with in the movie -- nostalgia, loyalty and fascism.

Grand Budapest Hotel is a weird combination, albeit a successful one.

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