Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2013. We’ve selected it as one of the posts we’re republishing for our 10th anniversary celebrations in May 2017.
Today, the Criterion Collection continues doing God’s work by releasing, in glorious, bonus-filled DVD and Blu-ray editions, Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 classic To Be or Not To Be, surely one of the funniest films ever made. But when we throw around a label like that, what exactly are we talking about? Rankings of the funniest movies ever are, it must be said, an inherently personal thing — comedies may well be the most subjective of all films, since everyone has very specific notions of what they find funny, and nothing I can say is going to convince you that, say, Casanova’s Big Night is uproarious and Jack and Jill isn’t, if you’ve made up your mind. But there’s a fair number of films that we all seem to have agreed are the funniest — and by that I’m talking sheer number of laughs, as opposed to being great movies that also happen to be comedies (i.e., Groundhog Day is a better movie than Stripes, but Stripes has more laughs, just to give one example which many people will probably disagree with). So with all of those disclaimers out of the way, here’s Flavorwire’s picks for the 50 funniest movies of all time.
It’s all but impossible to parody comedy; unlike the dead-serious Universal horror films that Mel Brooks sent up in Young Frankenstein, for example, the idea of spoofing what is already funny is usually an exercise in futility. The again, the subgenre of early-’80s summer camp comedies (with the exception of Meatballs) were often strained and desperate anyway. This 2001 comedy — from several of the minds behind the cult comedy The State — took an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, parodying not just those movies, but the time period, romantic movie conventions, gender roles, and more.