There is no genre on earth that is probably more personal or more subjective than comedy -- as the saying goes: "Dying is easy, Comedy is hard". The 2000s were a great decade for comedy thanks to the rise of R-rated laughs, but it wasn't just a decade for adults -- there was something for everyone. The last ten years marked some of the smartest and some of the 'dumbest' comedies to come along in a very long time. But that's what I love about comedy, it doesn't have to be smart, it just has to be funny -- at least to me anyway.
So in the spirit of looking at the decade that was, sooner or later we were going to have to rank the best and the worst -- and today's about the best. Now that the 2000s are on their way out, we've been in a pretty retrospective frame of mind here at Cinematical, as we've already taken a look at the best comic book flicks, action, foreign films, and documentaries of the decade, so I think it's about time we started to look back on what passed for funny in the 00's.
After the jump: my picks for the best comedies of the 2000s...
Now obviously there are just too many films to choose from to make a coherent list (remember what your parents told you about apples and oranges), so instead I decided to break it down into some easy digestible categories ...
R-Rated Comedy: The 40-Year-Old Virgin
If there was one defining trait in comedy in the 00's it was the return to R-rated laughs. So while most of the credit could probably be given to Old School for bringing back a little raunch to our humor, I'm going to have to give the distinction of 'best' to The 40-Year Old Virgin. It was the film that made Steve Carell and the 'Clan Apatow' stars, and even reminded us why we all liked Paul Rudd so much in the 90's. It's highly quotable and despite the sex and drugs, there is plenty of sweetness to go around. Carell's portrayal of Andy was something that you usually don't see in an R-rated comedy (and it was the element that was missing in films like The Hangover): in the end you actually cared about what happens to him.
Horror-Comedy: Shaun of the Dead
To be completely fair, it's not like Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright had that much competition this decade when it came to horror comedies, but I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that it's unlikely the Scary Movie franchise will be remembered as fondly as the British film about a pair of losers facing off against a Zombie apocalypse. The movie managed to strike the right balance of genuine horror with comedy to make it one of the most memorable Zombie movies in history.
Teen Comedy: Mean Girls
Comedy for teens has traditionally meant sex jokes and run-of-the-mill gross-out gags. But in Tina Fey's 2004 comedy based on the best-selling book, the inner life of teenage girls got a little air time and the results were funny and sad, and there was even a nice little message about girl-on-girl crime. There was a level of sophistication in Fey's story about the new girl in town (Lindsay Lohan in what was probably her best role) that went far beyond the usual teen movie plot lines that revolve around 'losin it', and instead we got a film that adults and teens could feel good about watching -- and that is so fetch!
Romantic Comedy: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Yes, I know what you're thinking: of all the romantic comedies that have been released in the last 10 years, I had to go and pick this one. So yes, I know that fans of the Bridget Jones series are probably frothing at the mouth right now, but for my money the story of Peter Bremner and the break-up from hell managed to do something that very few rom-coms can do: create likable flesh and blood characters. Usually in a standard rom-com there is the good girl and bad girl, or the good guy and the jerky new boyfriend. But what made Sarah Marshall stand out was that it never provided those easy answers and you actually get a surprisingly sensitive look at the trials and tribulations of a break-up. Plus any film that can give Jack McBrayer a little more screen time is OK in my books.
Action-Comedy: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
You have to hand it to the film that introduced a whole new generation to the adorable lunacy that is Johnny Depp. The film was the start of one of the most profitable action franchises in Disney's history, and even made pirates a viable Halloween costume again. But as much as fans of the franchise might have been entranced by the tall-ships, state of the art CGI and Orlando Bloom's pouting, it was Depp's comedic portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow that was truly the star of the show.
Family Comedy: The Reign of Pixar
When it comes to family-friendly fare, it's pretty safe to say that Pixar ruled the 00's. In just 10 short years, you had Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up -- and frankly it's almost impossible to choose just one favorite. Personally, I would have to go with The Incredibles, but even that one was an awfully close call, so I think in the interest of diplomacy, I'll leave it to you out there to fight amongst yourselves.
Dramedy: Punch Drunk Love
Here's another tough category with solid competition from The Royal Tenebaums, Little Miss Sunshine, Adaptation, and 24 Hour Party People. But in Paul Thomas Anderson's story about a small time salesman with a rage problem, he proved that his films are like no other and like all good dramatic comedies, half the time you couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry. The film had some controversial ideas about manhood and the modern condition, but even in the midst of all the strangeness, there are some genuinely funny moments (for example this line of dialog that never fails to make me laugh: "I have to get more pudding for this trip to Hawaii. As I just said that out loud I realize it sounded a little strange but its not.") Not to mention that any film that can convince you of the acting abilities of Adam Sandler deserves a spot in the best of the decade.
So Dumb it's Good: Zoolander
OK, this is an honorary category, but I couldn't let this decade pass without a nod to Ben Stiller's male modeling comedy, Zoolander. You can't get much sillier than the world of fashion, and Ben Stiller's comedy about a plot to assassinate a world leader was about as dumb as it gets, but that doesn't mean it isn't funny. The film brought Blue Steel into the pop culture consciousness, and Derek Zoolander remains one of Stiller's most enduring creations.