I’ve never kept it a secret that comedy is not my favorite genre, but in 2019 I found myself enjoying quite a few laugh-out-loud features on the big screen. Many standouts from this past year have been comedy features that have something extra to say but there have also been several that were simply entertaining for the sake of being entertaining. One thing is for sure, going into 2020 I definitely have a whole new respect for this genre and these ten films are part of the reason why. As 2019 comes to a close I’m looking at the best movies from each genre and picking my favorites from the crop I’ve reviewed here on Cinema Spotlight. So let’s take a look at the most hilarious and effective comedy experiences of the year. These are my picks for the Top 10 Comedy Films of 2019.
For this list I looked at any movie that was primarily considered a comedy film even if they fit into other genres. These movies benefited from fun ideas and scripts and an abundance of humorous moments that helped make them among the most enjoyable pictures on the big screen over the last twelve months. I had to have seen and reviewed these movies for them to be considered.
With that in mind there is almost definitely a few comedies I skipped or that didn’t make this list that you may have enjoyed. So as always I want to know from you, my readers. What were your favorite comedy movies of 2019? Let me know in the comments below. Now, on with the list!
10. “Long Shot”
Some of the best comedies are the ones that have something to say but still find plenty of ways to have fun. “Long Shot” is an overlooked gem from 2019 that did just that commenting on the political divide of modern America while focusing on a foul-mouthed speech writers bonding with the Secretary of State who is seeking to become the first female president of the United States. While it doesn’t completely own its most important message of tolerance when it comes to party politics “Long Shot” still provides more than enough humor and insightful commentary to be worth the time. In my review I called it a film “with something to say touching on the politics and societal divide of today” acknowledging it as a stoner comedy that works better when it’s not trying so hard. This one just barely made my list for the end of the year, but it’s here with good reason so check it out for yourself if you have the time.
9. “Isn’t It Romantic”
Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen and it’s nothing new for movies to tackle the clichés built into these films, but there’s just something about “Isn’t It Romantic” that made it one of my favorite meta movies of recent memory. Led by Rebel Wilson (a hit or miss actress for me on the best of days) “Isn’t It Romantic’s” focuses on an “unattractive” woman who wishes for the fantasy life of a romantic comedy but when she gets that experience after a bump on the head she learns a valuable lesson about the true measure of beauty. While it’s not very subtle or original “Isn’t It Romantic” is a hysterical and ridiculous showcase of the false expectations that romantic comedies present and yet is also serves as loving tribute to the popularity of the genre. I reflected this in my review saying, “It exposes the fantasy while simultaneously acknowledging why the genre is so beloved” and remains an underappreciated favorite from the year in my book.
8. “Fighting with My Family”
I’m not a huge fan of the WWE but I can understand its appeal especially after watching this comedic biopick about Paige, based on the 2012 documentary also focusing on the WWE superstar. With the capable Florence Pugh in the leading role, “Fighting with My Family” is at once charming and hilarious in its showcase of a family who cherish wrestling and the entertainment is provides. It matches every laugh with a heartfelt reflection on the commitment and talent it takes to be a star in the WWE matching levity with emotion blow for blow every step of the way. This inspiring but amusing story felt tailor made for a big screen adaptation and in my review I called the final result something I would highly recommend as a film that’s “clearly a dramatized product that might rub some viewers the wrong way, but if you can look past that and enjoy it for what it is and the great things it does have to offer you just might find yourself both entertained and inspired.”
7. “Brittany Runs a Marathon”
From one real life dramady to another, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is based on a real story of a woman who changes her life and goes on to become a marathon runner. With Jillian Bell in the title role, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” does embrace a few too many clichés for my taste but is an overall fun experience. Its message of body positivity is spot on and when it comes to the comedy “Brittany Runs a Marathon” balances great, relatable humor with it’s often depressing focus on one woman’s struggle with self-image and self-esteem. This creates a fine blend of laughs and heart that helps keeps the film grounded and prevents it from delving too deep into pretentious territory. In my review I said “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is one of the more fun and well-paced comedies of 2019 and its impressive tact and willingness to touch on some harsh realities should be commended.” It’s inspiring story alone is worth experiencing even if the film doesn’t quite stick the landing as well as it should and could have.
6. “Dolemite Is My Name”
A Golden Globe nominated film and the comeback movie for Eddie Murphy, I didn’t consider “Dolemite Is My Name” to be among the best the year offered but it’s still a hilarious look at the rise of the Godfather of Rap Rudy Ray Moore. Showcasing Moore’s rise to stardom and the formation of his alter ego, Dolemite, that became an iconic Blaxploitation movie character “Dolemite Is My Name” offers a great message of the true measure of success in the world of art and film without going out if its way to glorify its subject. In my review I said of the film “like the man who is center stage in its narrative, this movie finds its own way of being rewarding and fun and engaging even if it’s not very memorable” and found it to be a great mix of humor and drama that takes full advantage of its stranger-than-fiction real life story. Is it one of the best movies of 2019? Not in my opinion. But it’s definitely a highlight of the comedy genre for sure.
5. “Good Boys”
Raunchy comedies are usually a hit with moviegoers these days and “Good Boys” was by far one of the year’s raunchiest. Following a trio of young middle school friends who find themselves on a misadventure to replace a drone “Good Boys” is a fine addition to the modern classic subgenre of subversive humor where normally innocent characters partake in swearing, sex humor and other outrageous scenarios. While the very idea of this movie alone made the trailers hilarious, the film itself doubles down on that style of humor resulting in one of the year’s most consistently entertaining comedies and films overall. In my review I said, “a committed and fun cast, nonstop energy, and some important life lessons all come together to create one of the best comedies of the past few years and, quite honestly, maybe the decade.” While calling it one of the best of the decade might have been a little premature, it’s still very much one of the year’s best in the genre.
4. “Late Night”
The year 2019 will be remembered as a year when Hollywood attempted to course correct by putting more women in the spotlight even if not all of these efforts paid off. One such effort that was sadly overlooked was “Late Night”, a film that sees Mindy Kaling as an aspiring writer for a late night show hosted by the first female late night host, played by Emma Thompson, who is extremely set in her ways. The film explores numerous themes effectively including the role, or lack there of, of both women and minorities in the entertainment industry and pokes fun at prejudices that are still all too relevant in today’s world. In my review I said “’Late Night’ tackles every issue with an understanding that not everyone sees the world in the same way” and complimented the product as “the kind of comedy the world really deserves.” I know a lot of people didn’t get to see this film but it really is one you should check out even if only for the great humor that comes along with its social subtext.
Speaking of female driven movies nobody saw, “Booksmart” was probably even more criminally overlooked than “Late Night” seeing as the comedic style of this film is right up there with the likes of “Good Boys” and “Superbad”. Not only is “Booksmart” a hilarious take on established cliches of Generation Z and the culture they are growing up in, it’s also just a genuinely hilarious teen-centered comedy about two young women who decide to ditch their bookworm ways for one night of partying before graduation. In my review I praised the film as “an often raucous and wild ride that kept me laughing from start to finish, sometimes uncomfortably and sometimes with a fantastic acceptance of the irony of the joke.” Why this movie failed I will never know as it offers pretty much everything people look for in raunchy teen comedies these days, but if you haven’t gone against the grain and given this movie a chance yet I suggest you do. It’s definitely worth your time.
2. “Jojo Rabbit”
Of all the movie premises in 2019 this one was probably the riskiest and most out there and yet it worked so well. Directed by and co-starring Taika Waititi, “Jojo Rabbit” focuses on the titular Hitler youth who struggles with his Nazi ideals when he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl all the while working through his conflict with an imaginary version of Hitler by his side. What could have, and frankly should have been a pretty tasteless concept actually results in an awesome film that uses one of the worst men and hate groups in history to drive home themes of tolerance and the idea that much of our hatred for others is brought about by misconceptions and misinformation. In my review I called this fantastic and hilarious film “pretty ingenious” and that “it finds the perfect balance between amusement and social commentary showing us just how little we as a people have changed while also allowing us the find a bit of humor in the flaws of humanity.” It might be one of the most bizarre concepts for a movie in 2019, but it all works so well in the final product that it’s also one of the year’s best.
1. “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”
Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood could have actually made several of my end of the year lists, but I chose to consider it the best comedy of the year because, well, it is. Led by powerhouse performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt and showcasing an alternate history of the Manson Murders, “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood” mixes action, drama and plenty of hilarious comedy to drive home its extensive, multi-layered story but the humor is what’s most present. Sometimes dry, other times straight forward, the laughs are always coming helping add levity to story and character arcs that often turn out to be pretty dark and gritty. In my review I complimented this as one of Tarantino’s best and a “fascinating breath of fresh air in a year lacking much creativity.” This comedy drama is proof that Tarantino is still one of the best at his craft and it easily one of the most engrossing, engaging and fun original movies of 2019.