Top 20 Comedy Movies That Were Way Better Than We Expected

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Top 20 Comedy Movies That Were Way Better Than We Expected

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut & Jason McLean
These comedies were WAY better than expected! For this list, we'll be looking at funniest comedy films that exceeded expectations. Our countdown includes "Mean Girls", “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”, "21 Jump Street", "Elf", “Booksmart”, and more!
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Top 20 Comedy Movies That Were Way Better Than We Expected


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Comedy Movies That Were Way Better Than We Expected.

For this list, we’ll be looking at funniest comedy films that exceeded expectations.

Which comedy took you totally by surprise? Let us know in the comments!


#20: “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” (2004)


The thing about "Dodgeball" is that it delivers exactly what it advertises in its title. Led by Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, "Dodgeball" is an over-the-top and predictable parody of the sports genre that matches an uplifting zeroes to heroes story with wrenches to the face and other parts of the body. Now, these would be criticisms if not for the fact that "Dodgeball" embraces its nonsense wholeheartedly, creating a really fun movie in the process. Ben Stiller going super macho should get grating after a while, but it just works in "Dodgeball."




#19: “Grandma’s Boy” (2006)


Detested by critics but adored by many, "Grandma's Boy" is unapologetically stupid and all the better for it. Although this Happy Madison production has something resembling a plot, the story is irrelevant: it's all about the hilarious characters. Incredibly quotable and endlessly rewatchable, "Grandma's Boy's" great cast turn countless absurd and silly lines into comedic gold, with Dante and J.P. being particularly memorable. "Grandma's Boy" is a perfect comedy for a party, the type of movie a group of friends can throw on so they can laugh with and at it.



#18: “Hot Tub Time Machine” (2010)


You shouldn't judge a movie by its title, but come on, "Hot Tub Time Machine" just sounds so dumb! Four guys throw a drink into a hot tub and find themselves back in the decade of hair metal and massive portable phones. If that wasn't strange enough, Chevy Chase shows up to educate them on the butterfly effect. "Hot Tub Time Machine" has all the silliness someone might expect from such a movie, but the film also has a surprising amount of heart. "Hot Tub" treats its characters as people rather than punchline dispensaries, and the film also happens to make excellent use of its cast.



#17: “Blockers” (2018)


It's prom night and friends Julie, Kayla and Sam plan to go the distance, a pact that terrifies their parents. So, they set out to make sure that doesn't happen. A sex comedy with a heartbeat and the occasional cringe-inducing scene, "Blockers" clearly shows that the parents are in the wrong. The film explores why these characters go to such extreme lengths to control their daughters. Containing its share of gross-out jokes, "Blockers" is built upon the strength of its core trio, all of which supply plenty of laughs and even an emotional moment every once in a while.



#16: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” (2010)


Now, this is a doozy of a movie. "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" is a comedy slasher flick that not only does justice to both genres but excels in them. Turning the horror cliche of the evil hillbillies on its head, Tucker and Dale only wish to renovate their summer home, a plan that hits a snag when college students keep on rudely dying all over the pair's property. Smart, warm, and laugh-out-loud funny, "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" offers way more than just a role reversal and a few creative deaths.



#15: “Booksmart” (2019)


With high school ending and the rest of their lives quickly approaching, two unpopular students decide to make up for lost time all in one night. "Booksmart" takes a well-worn premise and makes it feel fresh again, courtesy of the movie's stellar direction, the realistic dynamic shared between the two protagonists, and plenty of exceptional secondary characters. As Olivia Wilde's directorial feature debut, "Booksmart" is out of this world, with one scene in a pool being especially brilliant. "Booksmart" feels like a movie that comes out once per generation; it's that special.




#14: “Paddington” (2014)


A CGI animal moves to a big city and hijinks ensues can be used to describe plenty of forgettable movies, and a slapstick-filled trailer did little to suggest "Paddington" would be any different. Then the movie came out and everyone fell in love with the bear. "Paddington" represents the pinnacle of family-friendly entertainment; the movie is heartwarming, whimsical, positive, and doesn't talk down to its audience. While the bear steals the show, "Paddington" also gathers one hell of a game cast, with the entire Brown family and Nicole Kidman's wicked Millicent knocking every scene out of the park.




#13: “Elf” (2003)


The idea of Will Ferrell being raised as an elf sounds like the premise of an "SNL" sketch and not a feature-length movie. Yet, "Elf" has become something of a modern Christmas staple. After learning that he's not like other elves, Buddy heads to New York to reunite with his grumpy father. Will Ferrell's man-child shtick tends to be polarizing, but "Elf's" Buddy substitutes immaturity with innocence, giving the film a warm and fuzzy feeling. Buddy's wide-eyed antics are juxtaposed brilliantly with James Caan's Walter, and "Elf" even has a surprisingly effective romance.



#12: “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” (2007)


A mock biopic, "Walk Hard" is an exercise in excess in the best possible way. Dewey Cox's story is one of tragedy, love, success, failure, and machetes. As a parody, "Walk Hard" has a blast poking fun at rock n' roll while also celebrating it. The movie is tied together through an awesome soundtrack and John C. Reilly's dedicated performance. The impressive thing about "Walk Hard" is that it holds up regardless of someone's familiarity with biopics or rock. Dewey's oddly moving journey has pathos, heart, and a whole lot of clever character-driven gags and running jokes.



#11: “We're the Millers” (2013)


Garnering a mixed reception, "We're the Millers" seems like the type of movie destined to go straight to the discount bin. While the story is forgettable, this 2013 film goes all out in the raunch department, fully earning its R MPAA rating. Having absolutely no time for modesty, "We're the Millers" throws drugs, corrupt cops, and tarantulas at the screen to see what gets a laugh, and quite a few things hit the bullseye. Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston have been in their share of terrible films, but their comedic timing is beyond question, and they are in rhythm throughout "We're the Millers."



#10: “Game Night” (2018)


The premise seems simple: a competitive couple participate in a game night with their friends, and unusual hijinks ensue. But despite sounding like a cookie-cutter comedy, this 2018 film is far from it. Instead, the team behind “Horrible Bosses” delivers enough twists and turns to keep the audience constantly guessing. The charismatic ensemble cast manages the difficult trick of keeping viewers on the edge of their seats, while also making them laugh. With popular party games incorporated into the characters’ attempts to foil a kidnapping, this is genuinely a game night to remember!


#9: “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (2005)


This one could have been so bad. Based on the title, viewers could have been forgiven for expecting vulgar low-brow humor and stereotypes. The late Roger Ebert sure thought that’s what he was in for and was delighted to instead find it “surprisingly insightful”, with “a good heart and a lovable hero.” Most moviegoers concurred and the film became a substantial hit. Steve Carell was previously best known for his contributions to “The Daily Show” and this film put both him and director co-writer Judd Apatow firmly on the Hollywood map - for good reason.


#8: “Girls Trip” (2017)


Deft direction and a strong cast can turn a standard comedic premise into a really good movie. And as premises go, a group of friends going on a road trip is about as standard as you can get. But Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett Smith made their characters believable and fresh - with Haddish stealing the show as the hilarious Dina. Their friendship felt so real that audiences were only too happy to laugh along with them, and “Girl’s Trip” was a huge critical and commercial success. The result: a trip that’s surprisingly fun to take.




#7: “Zombieland” (2009)


At the time of “Zombieland’s” release, many felt the zombie craze was dying down. Could a zombie comedy with an odd Twinkie fascination could really resurrect the genre? Add to that the fact it was director Ruben Fleischer’s first feature film, and expectations weren’t exactly sky high. Yet this offbeat flick became one of the genre’s biggest hits - and was hilarious to boot. Credit sharp writing, a solid cast, and some funny action sequences for its success. And, of course, that Bill Murray cameo was a major plus. Mix it all together and you get a comedy that defies expectations.


#6: “Mean Girls” (2004)


It was written by Tina Fey, produced by Lorne Michaels, and had Tim Meadows in the cast - so it’s easy to assume this would be a run-of-the-mill SNL movie. Turns out this teen comedy bucked the trend and was an original, thoughtful, and funny flick. The real surprise, though, is this 2004 film’s cultural impact. While “Mean Girls” is an apt title, “Meme Girls “would have worked as well; more than a decade later, the film’s characters and one-liners live on in numerous memes. Endlessly quotable, relatable, and hilarious all at once, “Mean Girls” is timeless.


#5: “21 Jump Street” (2012)


Turning an old TV show into a big screen action comedy has been done so many times that it’s about as commonplace as ... well, as the undercover cop trope. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s adaptation of “21 Jump Street” involves both those things, yet it turned out to be incredibly entertaining - in no small part thanks to the on-screen chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. It also had solid character development, just the right amount of self-referential humor, and one hell of a comedy- and action-packed limo chase. In fact, the movie was such a hit that it spawned a solid sequel and ALMOST a “Men in Black” crossover.


#4: “Bridesmaids” (2011)


In 2011, Paul Feig had a strong TV resume but was mostly unknown in film, and the same could be said for several of "Bridesmaids'" actors. So, few people foresaw the film being such a resounding success, both financially and critically. "Bridesmaids" manages to be totally irreverent and also kind of sweet, blending realism with over-the-top shenanigans in a way that elevates both tones. Melissa McCarthy delivered a star-making performance, while Kristen Wiig proved she could not only write brilliant comedies but also lead them. While it might not be too surprising that "Bridesmaids" dedicates a scene to a poop joke, the fact it's painfully hilarious is shocking.




#3: “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004)


On the surface, this might look like your standard stoner comedy and road trip movie. But “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” is so much more than a one- or two-note jokefest. Instead, it’s a comedic odyssey through various communities that deals with some serious social issues, such as bigotry and racial profiling. It also offers an abundance of twists and turns along the way. As two friends who just want to reach White Castle, John Cho and Kal Penn are well-defined and sympathetic enough to keep the audience rooting for them, even if their goal IS a fast food restaurant. The movie launched their careers and led to a sequel.



#2: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (2017)


The original “Jumanji” starring Robin Williams is a classic, so audiences could have been forgiven for viewing this belated sequel with trepidation. But with a fresh modern twist on the premise, it was a surprisingly fun and side-splitting movie. While in 1995’s “Jumanji,” a brother and sister get sucked into a board game, “Welcome to the Jungle” puts an entirely new cast inside a video game instead. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Kevin Hart all give great performances and the fast-paced comedic action really works. It’s since spawned a sequel of its own and is poised to become a franchise.


#1: “Napoleon Dynamite” (2004)


Talk about coming out of nowhere. This quirky small-town comedy made for $400 000 by a team just out of college went on to make $46 million and become a cult hit - complete with merchandising and a bronze statue at 20th Century Fox studios. With an unknown director and no known stars, no one expected much - and so were surprised by the film’s heart and originality. It was director Jared Hess and star Jon Heder’s first feature film - and boy did they knock it out of the park. This simple, personal story about ordinary high school students, told with irreverent humor, struck a chord with audiences and is still quoted today.
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