The 12 Best Jack Black Movies, Ranked

Comedian, actor, hard-rockin' musician ... Jack Black is an entertainment triple threat. Over the past 20-something years, this California native has been making audiences across the world fire soda through their nose with his distinctive brand of loose-lipped humor, appearing in some of the most enduring and bankable comedy movies of all time in the process. One-half of the touring mock-rock music duo Tenacious D alongside his guitar-shredding buddy Kyle Gass, Black has carved out his own niche in the world of funny, finding himself just as much at home on a live stage as he is in front of a camera. Through it all, he's not been afraid to mix it up either, mixing out-and-out rib-ticklers with more thoughtful fare like Richard Linklater's "Bernie" in 2011 and Gus Van Sant's 2018 dramedy "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot."

He's been no stranger to a quick cameo either, memorably popping up in everything from 2004's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" to this November's soon-to-be-cult-comedy-classic "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story." That said, today we're looking at his feature films, the projects where Black leads the way or dishes up a meaty supporting role that sticks in the mind for all the right reasons. Without further ado, here are our thoughts on the 12 best Jack Black movies, ranked.

12. Kung Fu Panda (2008)

To be honest, we're kind of surprised it took until 2008 — a whopping eight years after his breakout role in "High Fidelity" — to stick Jack Black in his own animated feature. Sure, he'd lent his voice to CGI animated films like 2002's "Ice Age" and 2004's "Shark Tale," but neither of those movies placed him front and center, instead relegating this already very animated talent to supporting roles as part of a larger story centered around bigger stars. Thankfully, all that changed with 2008's "Kung Fu Panda," Dreamworks' beautifully animated feature film that made Black its signature brand. Ultimately, the move resulted in a movie formula so successful it went on to spawn its own jam-paced afterlife spanning two direct sequels, a Christmas special, three different animated series, four movie-inspired short films, and a fourth currently-in-the-works Black-fronted feature film due for release in 2024.

It follows Po (Black), an accident-prone giant panda who's destined to become a fabled kung fu warrior and save his peaceful valley from a legendary foe, battling alongside the mythic Furious Five. In addition to Black, "Kung Fu Panda" also boasts an overly-impressive supporting cast including the likes of Seth Rogen, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, and Jackie Chan. It's also perhaps the most family-friendly addition to Black's back catalog so far.

11. Goosebumps (2015)

Just as Jack Black's oeuvre is no doubt a cornerstone for young movie fans that spent their formative years inside a multiplex, the literary work of young adult horror writer R.L. Stine was a staple school backpack feature of many a '90s kid just a generation earlier. Specializing in horror-light (think Stephen King for those still dependent on their parents), Stine's hugely-popular "Goosebumps" book series acted as many's first entries into the terrifying delights of spine-chilling storytelling. However, despite having countless books and even a colorful small-screen adaptation to enjoy, it was a while before this eerie world made it to the big screen.

Thankfully, all that changed with 2015's "Goosebumps," a meta live-action take on Stine's extensive array of horror stories that brought them all kicking, screaming, and scaring their way into the real world. Stine is played by Black, who delivers a dual performance doubling as the voice of a creepy ventriloquist dummy named Slappy. Each role provides this versatile star with plenty of fuel for his comedy fire. The grumpy, pent-up Stine finds humor in every last angry harrumph at the local kids that unwittingly set his creations loose while determined to recapture the chaos. Meanwhile, the sly and snickering Slappy laps up all opportunities for dark humor and a little arch-anarchy, reveling in the terrors that threaten Stine's small suburban town. Tackled prior to Black's appearance in the "Jumanji" reboot, "Goosebumps" stands out as being one of his more unusual forays into franchisable movie entertainment.

10. Bernie (2011)

The crime drama "Bernie" wasn't the first time Jack Black collaborated with Texas filmmaker Richard Linklater ("School of Rock," "Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood"), but it is one of their more undersung partnerships. If its bizarre plot sounds like something ripped straight from the headlines, that's because it is. Loosely based on an article appearing in a 1998 issue of Texas Monthly magazine penned by journalist Skip Hollandsworth, "Bernie" tells a small-town tale of friendship, money, and murder. With Hollandsworth co-writing the film's script alongside Linklater, the duo tells the story of Bernie Tiede (Black), a mortician who strikes up an odd friendship with a considerably older (and unpopular) local widow named Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). Soon this unexpected pairing becomes all but inseparable, but when Marjorie's incessant nagging and demands for Bernie's time become too much to bear, her new friend finally snaps ... murdering Marjorie and stashing her in the freezer.

Relying on fibs to explain her absence in the community, Bernie uses Marjorie's now-ownerless wealth to help local businesses and people in need. When district attorney Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey) comes sniffing around, he soon finds himself in court, defending his actions to a community that — as it turns out — isn't entirely bothered that the wholly-unpleasant Marjorie is no longer around. Things might not end up exactly as we hoped, but viewers are treated to a rare change of pace for Black as he delivers a touching and toned-down comedic performance.

9. Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (2006)

Undoubtedly one of the greatest strings in Jack Black's bow is his involvement with Tenacious D, the self-proclaimed "greatest band in the world" which he fronts alongside guitarist and pal Kyle Gass. Starting life as a comedy bit performing on stages across Los Angeles, the D soon got their own short-lived TV show before releasing arguably their greatest work to date, their eponymously titled 2001 album which contained the stand-out single "Tribute."

The success of the record and its heavy rotation on music channels — combined with the rising star of Black's movie career — helped Tenacious D become a household name. It wasn't long before a long-rumored feature film adventure became a practical possibility. The end result was an origin story directed by their long-time collaborator Liam Lynch that painted a big-screen retelling of the band's fictional formation and how Kage (Gass) and Jables (Black) crossed paths with the fabled Pick of Destiny, a guitar plectrum formed from a shard of Satan's own horns. Foo Fighters rocker Dave Grohl even makes a special guest appearance alongside fellow big-name stars like Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins, and John C. Reilly. Despite Black and Gass throwing everything at the wall to create this madcap musical adventure, "Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny" failed to set the box office alight. Meanwhile, the film served as an oddly uneven experience for fans too, currently holding an audience score of just 52% on Rotten Tomatoes.

8. The Holiday (2006)

It takes a lot to become a tried-and-tested modern Christmas classic. Considering the number of festive movies that are churned out each year, only a very small fraction of them manage to go the whole hog and withstand the test of time. These days, it can feel like all of the best festive viewing was created years ago back in an age before streaming and HD, with current offerings lacking a much-needed nostalgia factor. Perhaps that's why it's so impressive that Nancy Meyers' 2006 Christmas rom-com "The Holiday" has since emerged as one of the more recent staples of the holiday season.

In it, Jack Black stars as part of a small ensemble flanked by Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Cameron Diaz. Together, this quartet plays two lovestruck couples who find unlikely happiness when unlucky-in-love duo Iris (Winslett) and Amanda (Diaz) decide to swap homes during the Christmas period. With Iris swapping her native England for California and Amanda doing the opposite, the pair soon strike up friendships with local guys that ultimately become more than friends. Black plays the loveable Miles Dumont, a Hollywood music composer whom Iris meets during her trip to Los Angeles and the pair quickly fall head over heels. For the typically frenetic comedian, the role offered Black a chance to flex some of his low-key rom-com chops. However, he later admitted that he felt "flattered [and] a little bit nervous" at the challenge of getting to play against-type.

7. Nacho Libre (2006)

How do you follow up the cult hit of 2004's geeky-cool indie feature "Napoleon Dynamite?" By sticking Jack Black into some tight-fitting spandex and plonking him in a makeshift wrestling ring, obviously. That's exactly what director Jared Hess did in his 2006 sophomore feature "Nacho Libre," a goofy, oddball comedy that saw Black play a humble monk who dreams of one day ditching his robes in favor of a garish Luchador mask in order to become a fully-fledged Mexican wrestler. Despite receiving mixed reviews (the film currently holds a 40% audience score and 54% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes), "Nacho Libre" still managed to tap into the rapid reflexes and unrivaled physical humor that is part and parcel of Black's unique comedy package. Stick him in an eye-catching wrestler's suit and plonk him inside a ring and it's not long before you're entertained.

What's more, the film also helped continue the weird and quirky world that Hess has set all of his movies in so far in. Like the atmosphere glimpsed in "Napoleon Dynamite" and the brilliant "Gentlemen Broncos" which came after this release, "Nacho Libre" occupies a space grounded in reality yet just slightly ... off. Black later expressed an interest in returning to the spandex for a sequel that would potentially send Nacho to Japan, but as of now this doesn't seem to be anything that's on the horizon.

6. King Kong (2005)

When your movie is cram-packed with eye-popping spectacle, it says quite a lot if one of your non-visual-effects-based performances manages to shine through. That's the case for Jack Black's appearance in director Peter Jackson's hugely ambitious take on "King Kong," a visual epic that not only reimagined a classic Hollywood tale but served as Jackson's big-screen follow-up to his equally sweeping and universally lauded "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Forget the dinosaurs, mythic beasts, or even its titular giant ape as Jackson selects a comedian to portray the showman responsible for capturing King Kong and ultimately sending this misunderstood creature to his death atop Manhattan's Empire State Building. Black plays Carl Denham, an ambitious filmmaker who stumbles upon a map of the mysterious Skull Island and the otherworldly, prehistoric creatures contained on its land.

Marking a notable change of pace for the star (his previous movie was 2004's "Shark Tale"), Black's foray into Jackson's world provided a familiar entry point for viewers. It also allowed him to utter one of the movie's most iconic quotes — "It was beauty [that] killed the beast." — a line famed from the final moments of Merian C. Cooper's 1933 film. According to reports, Black's eagerness to work with Jackson was what convinced him to jump aboard: "I would've come and interviewed for Turds on Ice if he was directing it," he told MovieWeb. "Luckily it was one of the most amazing parts, and incredible scripts I've ever read."

5. Be Kind Rewind (2008)

There's something about the handmade feel of Michel Gondry movies that makes them stand alone. Back in 2008, Jack Black got the opportunity to play in Gondry's colorful sandbox for "Be Kind Rewind," a movie that celebrated the past both near and far. As far as the latter was concerned, Gondry's story focused largely on celebrating the work and life of Fats Waller, the legendary jazz musician, and point of obsession for small-time video store owner Elroy (Danny Glover). Meanwhile, this city-set story also put old-school VHS tapes back in the spotlight after conspiracy theory-obsessed Jerry (Black) and his pal Mike (Mos Def) accidentally wipe all the content from every tape in Elroy's humble rental store.

At a loss for how to fix a problem they've caused, the duo decides to simply recreate beloved movies shot-for-shot using nothing but household objects, hastily-made costumes, and plenty of ingenuity. It's this element that allows Gondry to amp up the dial on the pop-culture reference meter, as Jerry and Mike recapture classics like "Ghostbusters" and "Rush Hour 2" via a new homemade filmmaking technique that they name "Sweding." The film was a modest indie hit and its marketing campaign even encouraged others to get in on the action by making their own "Sweded" parodies of famous movie scenes or trailers. In fact, you can watch a handful of fan-shot clips inspired by Black and Def's adventures in "Be Kind Rewind" by visiting the film's official YouTube page.

4. Tropic Thunder (2008)

Putting Robert Downey Jr.'s conversation-sparking performance in this movie aside for just a moment, "Tropic Thunder" remains one of the most enjoyable big-budget comedies of recent years. Boasting a starry cast that spans Downey Jr., Ben Stiller, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, Bill Hader and — oh yeah, a scene-stealing performance from a let-loose Tom Cruise — this Stiller-directed action-comedy manages to perfectly skewer the ridiculous nature of movies, celebrity, and ego whilst delivering a raucously enjoyable 122 minutes of comedy escapism.

Harnessing the finest "Three Amigos" story vibes, the film — co-written by Stiller, his "Zoolander 2" writer Justin Theroux and "King of the Hill" scribe Etan Coen — follows three actors who think they're filming a bullet-spewing Vietnam war epic in a remote jungle. However, little do they know they're actually shooting in an active war zone, and when their local guide is revealed to be a phony, stars Tugg Speedman (Stiller), Kirk Lazarus (Downey Jr.), Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), and Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) must literally fight to survive. Amid all the chaos, Black manages to cut through as Portnoy, a star that's battling severe substance withdrawals during his time in a real battle. Constantly hungry for powders, pills, and drugs, Black's over-the-top take on habit-dependent stars is responsible for some of the movie's funniest lines, including one that goes into unnecessarily explicit detail regarding the lengths he'll go to in order to scratch his addiction itch.

3. High Fidelity (2000)

A film all about lists appearing on a list of Jack Black's best work? Seems apt. Going back to the start, it was Black's performance as music-loving slacker Barry Judd in director Stephen Frears' now-iconic adaptation of author Nick Hornby's novel "High Fidelity" that helped him break through into the big-time. The film follows John Cusack's Rob Gordon, a record store owner and frequent list-maker that finds himself in a bit of a rut after his most recent girlfriend bins him off. The experience sends Rob on a voyage of self-discovery as he tries his best to pinpoint the reason behind his constant relationship failures, each soundtracked to an ever-changing array of different lists showcasing his favorite records, artists, or songs.

From the moment Black air-guitars his way into Rob's tightly-packed record store — and the movie itself — his comedic star power is immediately apparent for all to see. While he may only deliver a supporting role, it was enough to make him one of the most memorable aspects of "High Fidelity," something that was noticed straight away by the film's much-lauded director. "He was immediately brilliant and very hard working," Frears told Total Film magazine during the film's 20th birthday. "I didn't know Jack's work and it was only when we started filming that I realized how brilliant he was. We'd show the rushes at lunchtime and people would come from all over the studio to see him. He was wonderful."

2. Orange County (2002)

Two years after his celebrated performance in "High Fidelity," Jack Black still hadn't quite managed to find a role that perfectly harnessed his musically-comedic chops and combined them with leading man status. As it turns out, he pumped his red-hot emerging star status into a small college-set comedy that, to this day, remains criminally overlooked. Written by the future creator of "The White Lotus" Mike White and directed by future "Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle" director Jake Kasdan, 2002's "Orange County" follows Shaun (Colin Hanks), a young adult desperate to escape the day-to-day chaos of his unruly family and start his academic career at his favorite university. However, when his application is unexpectedly rejected his life and future are thrown into disarray, sending him on a quest to try and secure an acceptance offer by any means possible.

All of this isn't relevant to Black's character though. As Shaun's stoner sibling Lance, Black delivers one of the finest — and most quotable — performances of his early career as a perpetual thorn in Shaun's side, thwarting any small chance he might have at securing his dream college. Catching Black on the cusp of worldwide stardom gives "Orange County" an "I knew him before he was famous" edge that helps set the movie apart as one of most notable — and under-appreciated — indie comedies of the early noughties.

1. School of Rock (2003)

Look back at Jack Black's movies and it's hard to find a film that perfectly harnesses his powers better than 2003's instant-classic "School of Rock." Directed by the great Richard Linklater and written by (and co-starring) "Orange County" scribe Mike White, the film provided everything necessary to showcase what makes Black a powerful comedic force, with the ever-capable Linklater on hand to control the mayhem and package the whole thing into an easily digestible, multiplex-ready hit.

For his breakout role, Black stars as a wannabe rock star and forever slacker Dewey Finn. Ditched by his band and threatened with eviction from the crash pad he's created at his pal Ned Schneebly's (White) place, Dewey lands an unexpected job offer after he answers Ned's phone and pretends to be him. This little white lie sees him become a substitute teacher at a well-respected school, and with little to offer the kids academically, Dewey's discovery of their hidden musical talents inspires him to transform them into a pint-sized music group and enter them into a local Battle of the Bands. The end result is one of the finest offerings of Black's career so far, a film that brings the funny without outstaying its welcome while also serving up some genuinely impressive musical moments. You only have to look on TikTok to see just how ingrained "School of Rock" has become in the minds of viewers that grew up with Dewey Finn and, subsequently, Black's entire career.