Since the millennium, comedy in film has gone in several different directions.
Some might say it's more aimed at the gutter than it's ever been, while others might find that the humour is becoming harder and harder to find. It's probably a little of both, but the advent of comedic talents like Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell and Seth Rogen have meant that comedy has taken a more realistic tone.
Here's our ten best comedies since 2000...
10. ELF (2003)
It really says a lot about Elf's enduring appeal that, for a film that's thirteen years old, it's now become a part of Christmas like Charlie And The Chocolate Factory or Die Hard. Will Ferrell's joyous, unashamed performance as Buddy The Elf really just lights up the screen and Jon Favreau's keen sense of comedic timing is on fire throughout. Everyone has a favourite line. Ours? It has to be this.
9. FOUR LIONS (2010)
There probably isn't a comedy on this list that's as on the nose as Four Lions. A film about suicide bombers in a post-9/11 world is always going to be controversial, yet Four Lions is surprisingly smart and blackly funny throughout. A group of English Muslims, after bungling a trip to Pakistan to train as terrorists, return home and begin planning a bomb. Mixing elements of realism, surrealism and crows strapped with bombs, Four Lions is easily one of the best British comedy of the past thirty years.
8. ZOOLANDER (2001)
Written, directed and starring Ben Stiller, Zoolander takes the world of fashion and then focuses it through a prism of cartoonish reality. Stiller, in a career-best performance as Derek Zoolander, imbues his performance with a naivety that's affecting - and probably explains why Zoolander 2 didn't work so well. Will Ferrell's Mugatu, however, was a villain for the ages and his willingness to commit to the stupidity of it all made it even more funny.
7. KNOCKED UP (2007)
Judd Apatow's mined a lot of his own experiences in support of his work. Freaks And Geeks, for example, was based on his own teenage years whilst Knocked Up had a certain basis in reality for him. A star-making role for Seth Rogen, his instant affability with audiences meant that he could get away some of the more ludicrous moments on screen. However, what Knocked Up had in spades was a genuine warmth to it all. While there were moments of sarcasm throughout, the comedy was good-natured and relatable; you could believe some of the scenarios, however implausible, because they had a basis in reality.
6. MEET THE PARENTS (2000)
Up until Meet The Parents, Robert DeNiro had only made a few forays into comedy with somewhat reasonable results. His earliest work was the brilliant King Of Comedy, with Martin Scorsese, whilst Analyze This with Harold Ramis was a so-so effort. Meet The Parents, however, leveraged his ability to command a scene with a stare and Ben Stiller's ability to use anything and everything at his disposal to get a laugh. DeNiro and Stiller work incredibly well together, to the point that you almost fully believe that DeNiro is getting progressively annoyed by his antics.
5. SUPER TROOPERS (2001)
A hugely underrated comedy, Super Troopers was unfairly lumped in with the gross-out comedies of the late '90s and early '00s. If anything, it's more closer to the early works of John Landis and borrows heavily from the likes of Animal House and Trading Places. A group of cops in rural America manage to stumble across an interstate drug trafficking ring, but have to work against their own impulses to be screw-ups and save the day. Featuring an unusual cast that includes Brian Cox (really), Lynda Carter and Jim Gaffigan in a key scene, Super Troopers is unashamedly funny.
4. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Spaced gathered a cult following during its short run on television, but it was clear that Edgar Wright was destined for bigger things. With Shaun of the Dead, he crafted a unique blend of surrealist comedy, zombie horror and romantic sensibilities into one film - and it all worked together incredibly well. His subsequent efforts - Hot Fuzz and The World's End - have all worked off a similar blueprint, but neither have managed to capture the same spark as the original. Here, Wright was in full command and Pegg, Frost and the supporting cast were fully in behind him.
3. ANCHORMAN (2004)
When Will Ferrell eventually passes away, his lasting role will be Ron Burgundy and Anchorman. It's become such an intrinsic part of popular culture that you only need to show a scene or two and people will be able to pinpoint the film. Its catchphrases, the scenes, it's all gathered a life outside of the film. Looking back, it's clear that Anchorman was drawing on the works of Barry Zucker and the OTTness of '70s filmmaking, but director Adam McKay was clever enough to put these elements into the background and put the interplay between Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell and David Koechner to the forefront. Twelve years later, we still love lamp.
2. BORAT (2006)
When you look at Sacha Baron Cohen's more recent work, it's clear just how far the man has fallen in terms of quality. Grimsby was a dim, schlocky and crude "comedy" with almost no fun to be had. The Dictator was far too serious and unappealing to be taken seriously. Even his supporting roles in the likes of Alice Through The Looking Glass were all sub-par. Outside of Ali G, Borat was Cohen's greatest achievement. The sheer lack of awareness the character has, the pointed jabs at American sensibilities, it all worked incredibly well and made for some of the cringiest moments ever caught on camera.
1. TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE (2004)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have, both with South Park and Team America: World Police, defined comedy in the new millennium. It's equal parts ridiculously offensive, outrageous and deeply insightful. On the surface, Team America looks like a marionette-driven slapstick blockbuster. On another level, it examines the American relationship with foreign policy, with its own media and even how it views itself. To get all that and forever more branding Matt Damon as MATT DAMON is a huge achievement. Team America: World Police is easily the best comedy of the twenty-first century.
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