Sixteen years in, our new millennium looks like a banner age for big-screen comedy, as eclectic as any that came before it. This is when Will Ferrell transformed the multiplex into a deliriously Dadaist screaming match; when Edgar Wright and David Wain perfected the art of the spoof, even as the Epic Movie crowd worked to destroy it; when the mockumentary came of age, with a big push from a Spinal Tap alum; and when comedians like Tina Fey and Melissa McCarthy crashed the boys’ club of mainstream comedy, the latter with an assist from Paul Feig, whose Ghostbusters reboot finally hits theaters this Friday. And that’s to say nothing of the big laughs major filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Roy Andersson, and several others with entirely different names smuggled into art houses over the past decade and a half.
When The A.V. Club decided to count down its favorite comedies since the turn of the century, polling a couple dozen of our staffers and contributors, some ground rules had to be established. For one, eligible films could mix genres, but they had to be predominately laugh-driven, which means that quite a few dramedies (Her, Lost In Translation) and horror-comedies (The Cabin In The Woods) were ruled out immediately. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we wouldn’t be ranking the funniest films since 2000. Comedy is subjective, and what makes one person chuckle may leave another stone-faced. Pure laugh count is an unreliable barometer of whether a comedy—a very flexible genre, as evidenced by the sheer variety of movies listed below—is worth your time. Did we miss anything essential? Make the joke on us and correct our oversights in the comments below.
Update Mar. 26, 2020: We’ve added where you can stream the films that previously were not available to stream on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes, or other services.