If filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have a bad movie in them, we have yet to see it.
Their sequel 22 Jump Street, starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, has grossed nearly $200 million worldwide since its opening on June 13, ensuring that more R-rated comedies will be coming soon to a theater near you.
Hot off Jump Street’s impressive performance – it scored the second-biggest opening ever for an R-rated comedy – let’s look back at the 10 best comedies of the past decade for the 17-and-up crowd.
10. ‘The Wedding Crashers’
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson tried to replicate the success of this 2005 hit with The Internship, and came up short. Thankfully, that misfire didn’t taint Crashers’ brand of comedy, which still holds up nearly 10 years later.
Seth MacFarlane takes a seemingly one-joke premise – the misadventures of a foul-mouthed teddy bear and his best friend, played by Mark Wahlberg – and surprisingly gets a lot of comedic mileage out of it. Less a reliance on Family Guy-style cutaway gags and more a sharp, occasionally heartfelt, buddy comedy with real stakes, Ted earns more laughs than not on its way to becoming a movie worth repeat viewings.
8. ‘The Hangover’
Unlike most of the films on this list, the 2009 comedy hit hasn’t aged as well. While a lot of the humor is seemingly derived from characters shouting variations of “What the hell?!” after something ridiculous happens, the lead trio — Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms – yields laugh-out-loud results. Their chemistry and comedic timing are still major factors to the film’s success.
7. ‘Tropic Thunder’
Ben Stiller directs and co-stars in this inspired 2008 satire about a group of actors making a Vietnam movie who suddenly find themselves engaged in real-life combat. Standouts include scene-stealer Tom Cruise as an F word-fueled movie exec and Robert Downey Jr.’s Kirk Lazarus, a five-time Oscar-winning Method actor who hilariously teaches us the dangers of going “Full retard.”
6. ’21 Jump Street’/’This Is the End’ (Tied)
Picking between these two film is a Sophie’s Choice. Don’t make us do it.
A summer 2013 sleeper hit, This is the End is an Apatow School of Comedy reunion, as vets Seth Rogen and James Franco headline an ensemble that finds everyone from Jonah Hill to Danny McBride as our last hope to save the world from the apocalypse. 21 Jump Street, meanwhile, establishes the superpower directors Lord and Miller possess: Take a seemingly not-good idea – a movie based on a cheesy TV show about undercover cops posing as teens – and turn it into something that’s swing-for-the-fences great.
Jonah Hill’s potential gets elevated to leading-man status in this 2007 high-school comedy written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. A perfectly understated Michael Sera co-stars in the film, which hits a perfect balance between low-brow sight gags (a notebook full of increasingly funny penis doodles) and inspired, Apatow-y quips. Also: McLovin’.
4. ‘Team America: World Police’
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, how do you live? Seriously, you’re some type of wrong person. South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone hilariously skewer Bruckheimer-sized action epics, Hollywood and politics with the help of instantly quotable, foul-mouthed puppets. Watch the unrated cut. At least eleventy times.
3. ‘Knocked Up’
Judd Apatow’s 2007 follow-up to The 40-Year-Old Virgin furthers the writer-director’s signature blend of unflinching comedy and genuine drama, as Seth Rogen stars as a 30-something slacker forced to grow up when one-night stand Katherine tells him she’s pregnant. Very smart, very hilarious comedy ensues; one of Apatow’s best. (Bonus points for introducing us to Jonah Hill.)
2. ‘Shaun of the Dead’
As funny as it is scary, Edgar Wright’s feature film debut effortlessly straddles the fine line between horror and comedy – delivering one of the past decade’s most accomplished films. As the undead swarm London, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost struggle to keep a small group safe inside a local pub as zombie hordes threaten to turn them into dinner. Endlessly inventive action scenes, in concernt with a few truly gripping emotional beats, make Shaun one of the best entries in the genre.
1. ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’
Writer-director Judd Apatow’s feature debut is “Patient Zero” for the current crop of films infecting us with laughter. It launched big-screen careers for Steve Carrell and Seth Rogen, as well as a successful brand of R-rated humor in one of the best comedies – “R” or otherwise – ever made.
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