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Best comedy movies of all time

  • Best comedy movies of all time

    In 1895, early filmmaking legend Louis Lumière produced and directed a movie called “L'Arroseur Arrosé” (also known as “The Waterer Watered” or “The Sprinkler Sprinkled”), in which a mischievous young boy plays pranks on a gardener. The short film clocked in at a mere 45 seconds, but that was long enough to give birth to cinema’s comedy genre.

    During the silent era, comedy was largely a slapstick affair, with performers like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd serving up many of the genre’s finest examples. Then, with the introduction of sound into movies, the genre broadened significantly in scope, delivering slapstick to satire to everything in between. Nowadays, comedy endures in all its permutations, and can guarantee a great time at the movies—when executed properly, of course. Since making a successful comedy is easier said than done, there are numerous clunkers for every bona fide hit. However, when a solid comedy does indeed land its punches, it powerfully permeates the pop culture sphere, often for decades at a time. 

    But which American comedy movies rank highest among viewers? Stacker is here with the answer. Specifically, Stacker used IMDb data to rank American feature films labeled under the comedy genre. To qualify, each film needed at least 5,000 user votes, and in the case of a tie, movies with more user votes were ranked higher on the list. Counting down from #50, here are the best comedy movies of all time.

    RELATED: Click here to see original movies that were better than their sequels

  • #50. Zootopia (2016)

    IMDb rating: 8.0
    Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
    Runtime: 108 minutes

    This Oscar-winning animated feature from Disney takes place in a city run by anthropomorphic animals, where there’s not a human being in sight. In the film, a rookie bunny cop teams up with a wily con-artist fox to investigate a mysterious case involving crocus bulbs and night howlers. As the two dig deeper, they unearth a dangerous conspiracy and some big laughs as well.

  • #49. Groundhog Day (1993)

    IMDb rating: 8.0
    Directed by: Harold Ramis
    Runtime: 101 minutes

    Comedy icon Bill Murray plays weatherman Phil Connors in this classic 1993 comedy, which sees Connors living the same day over and over again. Murray was reportedly difficult on set, but his insistence that the movie be more philosophical appeared to help elevate the material. Starring opposite Murray are Andie MacDowell and a groundhog named Scooter, the latter of whom reportedly bit Murray three times during the shoot.

  • #48. Ratatouille (2007)

    IMDb rating: 8.0
    Directed by: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
    Runtime: 111 minutes

    From Pixar Studios came this 2007 animated comedy, which follows a talented rat named Remy as he helps a human kitchen employee climb the ranks in a French restaurant. The film was co-directed by animation wizard Brad Bird, the same man behind films like “The Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles.” Over 270 pieces of food were computer animated for the film—after first being prepared and consumed in real life. Providing the voice for Remy is actor and comedian Patton Oswalt.

  • #47. Deadpool (2016)

    IMDb rating: 8.0
    Directed by: Tim Miller
    Runtime: 108 minutes

    While most comic book adaptations deliver their fair share of laughs, only a precious few qualify as full-blown comedies. If there’s one major exception to the rule, it’s 2016’s “Deadpool” (and its sequel), starring Ryan Reynolds as a deformed mercenary on a quest for revenge. The movie pokes fun at itself as early as the opening credits sequence, in which a copy of People Magazine’s “Sexiest People Alive” flies across the screen featuring Reynolds on the cover. The jokes keep piling in from there.

  • #46. My Man Godfrey (1936)

    IMDb rating: 8.1
    Directed by: Gregory La Cava
    Runtime: 94 minutes

    In this screwball comedy from 1936, a flighty socialite hires a vagrant named Godfrey to be the new family butler. As it turns out, there’s more to the new butler than first meets the eye, and soon enough the socialite starts vying for Godfrey’s affection. It all goes down during the Depression era, giving this comedic film a rather poignant backbone.

  • #45. Sullivan's Travels (1941)

    IMDb rating: 8.1
    Directed by: Preston Sturges
    Runtime: 90 minutes

    The multi-talented Preston Sturges wrote and directed this 1941 comedy, in which a spoiled, but earnest movie director (Joel McCrea) hits the road as a hobo in order to experience poverty first-hand. Along the way, he discovers some harsh truths about being poor in America. Despite the heavy premise, the movie goes big on laughs, and endures as a comedy classic. Screen legend Veronica Lake co-stars.

  • #44. The Circus (1928)

    IMDb rating: 8.1
    Directed by: Charles Chaplin
    Runtime: 72 minutes

    No list of “best comedy movies” is complete without Charlie Chaplin, and he makes his first appearance with 1928’s “The Circus.” In the silent film, Chaplin reprises his role as the Tramp, who finds work, romance, and rivalry after joining the circus. Featuring some of Chaplin’s best work, the movie won him his first Academy Award, for “versatility and genius in writing, acting, directing and producing.” Nevertheless, it’s a film he reportedly preferred to forget, perhaps because he was going through a major divorce while making it.

  • #43. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

    IMDb rating: 8.1
    Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch
    Runtime: 99 minutes

    Decades before Nora Ephron’s “You’ve Got Mail,” there was 1940’s “The Shop Around the Corner” from Ernst Lubitsch, about a quarreling man (James Stewart) and woman (Margaret Sullavan) who don’t realize they’ve been forming a romance as anonymous pen pals. This was one of three movies based on the same play by Miklós László. Meanwhile, it’s no coincidence that the name of Meg Ryan’s bookstore in “You’ve Got Mail” happens to be The Shop Around the Corner.

  • #42. The Thin Man (1934)

    IMDb rating: 8.1
    Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke
    Runtime: 91 minutes

    Combining comedy and mystery to brilliant effect is this classic movie from 1934. It stars William Powell as former detective Nick Charles, and Myrna Loy as his wealthy wife. Together, the eccentric couple investigate a murder case, if only for the fun of it. The killer’s identity is revealed during a dinner party scene—a TV and film trope that has become quite common in the time since.    

  • #41. Paper Moon (1973)

    IMDb rating: 8.1
    Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich
    Runtime: 102 minutes

    Adapted from an acclaimed novel, Peter Bogdanovich’s “Paper Moon” takes place during the Depression era, and chronicles the misadventures of a con-artist and the young girl who may or may not be his daughter. While not necessarily a laugh-out-loud comedy, the film provides no shortage of social commentary, as the con-artist and his assistant dupe unsuspecting marks by way of a bible-selling scheme. Real life father-daughter duo Ryan and Tatum O’Neal star in the lead roles; Tatum won an Oscar for her performance, making her the youngest competitive Academy Award winner in history.