20 Underrated Comedy Movies You Need To Watch

Laughter may be the best medicine, but sometimes it's hard to find something worth chuckling at. These days, that feels especially true. But movies are one of our best ways to escape, and mirth, much like science fiction or fantasy, can be a way to flee from reality for a while. Putting ourselves in someone else's shoes and finding empathy through their own terrible but hilarious issues is a timeless way to bring a little light back into our hearts.

However, sometimes it feels like we've already seen all of the greatest comedies. As legendary as Mel Brooks is, you've gotta take a break before rewatching "Young Frankenstein" yet again. Maybe "Airplane!" isn't doing it for you tonight — that might seem unimaginable, but it's possible! That's when it's time to look for something new, something weird, or something completely unknown. 

As such, we've found 20 underrated comedies to laugh at. Some you may have heard of. Some you might think are a little out of date. Not every recommendation will click with every viewer. But I'm hoping at least a few of these will give you a chuckle when you really need it.

Death Becomes Her

There was a hot minute in the '90s where "women are petty and angry and it's funny as hell" was an actual movie subgenre, and, necessary unpacking of the problematic aspects aside, we deserve to have it back. While flicks like "The First Wives Club" took the spotlight with all-star casts and nasty fantasies about taking your jerk husband for all he's worth, the real gem of the era was 1992's love-triangle-gone-rancid flick "Death Becomes Her."

The film is a messy, delightfully petty, and totally hateful paean to why you should never change yourself to get a man. But then it mixes in a little bit of "Herbert West: Re-Animator," with director Robert Zemeckis once again pushing the limits of visual effects. While it was lost on critics at the time, the LGBTQ+ community has since picked up on what the movie was putting down, transforming it into an anthem about being yourself to the max. Sometimes, it's just too stylish to be bad.

Big Trouble in Little China

John Carpenter's early movies have a comforting similarity to them. The music is cheesy synth perfection, the special effects are cheap but excellent, and Kurt Russell is probably there. But lots of Carpenter's films hide some smart satire inside their workhorse plots, and "Big Trouble in Little China" is actually a joke on the level of "RoboCop." You might think that the movie is a silly martial arts fantasy featuring Kurt Russell at his manliest. You'd be wrong. Partially.

The movie never stoops to chop suey stereotypes, and the real main character is Wang Chi, played by the criminally underrated Dennis Dun. Kurt, as Jack Burton, is merely a sidekick. He's a white dude severely out of his depth, goggle-eyed at the amount of Chinese stuff going on that he doesn't have the tools to understand. The jokes often center on his confusion, never its Chinese-inspired (if almost totally fictional) roots. Kurt's manliness is consistently deflated, but he keeps on trucking. It's just a perfect, light, funny movie.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Noir films tilt easily into comedy by virtue of their oh-so-serious old timey attitudes. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," the overlooked crime caper that helped Robert Downey Jr. get back into the action, relies on that fact. It's based on one of those old crime novels our grandparents read, but the tone is modern slapstick.

Although the movie is best known as the hour when Downey Jr. triumphantly came home to Hollywood, Val Kilmer utterly steals the film. Kilmer's talent for sneaky, sarcastic humor was ignored by an industry that insisted he try to be a leading man, but this flick lets him shine as brightly as he did back in the early '80s, which we'll come back to in a bit. The movie is comfortable with savaging sacred crime fiction tropes and social mores, and happily sets fire to the fourth wall by the end. It's a flick that both shouldn't work, and that should feel as out of date as black socks and loafers. And yet, it's one of the best of its kind.

Mouse Hunt

Everyone thinks of "Napoleon Dynamite" as the litmus test for a heretofore unknown and almost undefinable type of comedy, but it's "Mouse Hunt" that really tests a chuckler's mettle. It's another purposefully out-of-date movie, a hoary Abbot and Costello skit blended with the trap-based antics of "Home Alone" and given a hearty stir of "Wait, Christopher Walken is in this?" Yes, he is. And it's great.

"Mouse Hunt" will possibly turn you off with its hammy visual comedy and schmaltzy attitude, but if you're the right sort of weird for this movie, it's a charmer. The smartest way to approach it is by recognizing that it's a live-action cartoon. Physics, logic, and animal behavior studies go out the window. What's left is a pair of dorks trying to kill a mouse that's, in proper Tom and Jerry fashion, vastly smarter than either of them. Of course, this movie is better than it has any right to be. It is, after all, the directorial debut of Gore Verbinski, who you probably know better for turning an incoherent theme park ride into a blockbuster franchise.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Steve Martin has a bounty of terrific films to watch, and an even larger basket of films that go overlooked. "The Jerk" and "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" are certainly required viewing, yet there's almost no point at which a Steve Martin movie is a complete waste of your time. "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," which also features a slimy yet funny Michael Caine, gets lost amidst a dozen finer highlights. It's not as iconic. Everyone in it is a terrible person. But that turns the stakes into an afterthought for the members of the audience, who can settle in and happily watch everyone destroy each other.

Caine is the classic noir ideal of the con man, a David Niven-style genteel seemingly imported from the "Pink Panther" universe, and he wears the identity like a glove. Martin is an American sleazebag named Freddy, a small-timer with a gift for the hustle. They make a gentlemen's bet to out-con each other for a woman's affection, and anyone with a mind for tropes can probably guess where this is gonna go. But the ride's the thing, and it's a pleasantly funny one.


"Booksmart" is still the best comedy that nobody watched. Released in 2019 to a vague flumphing noise, this box office flop about two friends who stop to party on their way to college deserves your attention, damn it. It doesn't help that it's a critical darling, which might make someone who just wants to hear a good fart joke feel like they're going to be watching some overly cerebral Wes Anderson rip-off. But "Booksmart" is not that movie. It's funny, it's warm, it's gross, and it's real. It also has Billie Lourd living it up and stealing it all as Gigi in a way that her mother, Carrie Fisher, would have approved of.

There's a drug-induced hallucination scene with Barbie dolls that puts "Team America: World Police" to shame for its earthy, genital-obsessed humor. That should have put more butts in seats, right there. In addition, the late emotional beats are so earnest that you can't help but feel the spirit of John Candy in the room. From me to you, please watch this movie.

Four Lions

People will say things like "You can't make a movie like 'Blazing Saddles' anymore" with a straight face, like it's a fact. That "Four Lions" exists proves this to be a lie. It's about a handful of likable but very stupid young Muslims who decide they should do a terrorism. There is almost no way, you'd think, to take a concept like this in a post-9/11 world and get so much as a chuckle out of it. But with Riz Ahmed at the forefront and a then-unknown Kayan Novak as his daft cousin, it somehow comes together perfectly.

The plot goes out of its way to highlight the sheer amount of hypocrisy it takes to wake up one day and decide to kill the infidels. None of these would-be lions of God are particularly faithful. Some of them barely go to the mosque. Novak's Waj is probably not even aware of what planet he's on half the time. They like video games, and love too many of our other corruptive Western influences to seem genuine about actually doing something awful. But they do try, and it goes about as well as you'd expect. "Four Lions" is pitch black comedy at its finest.

What We Do in the Shadows

To call this mockumentary vampire flick underrated may seem like a stretch in the face of Taika Waititi's skyrocketing career, but its theatrical release shows a slim but profitable gross of under 10 million bucks. Although it did well on DVD and streaming, discussing it also proves it's not as well known or understood as we think it is. It's not a Taika Waititi film, as many assume. It's a collaboration with Jemaine Clement, who was at that time better known than Waititi for creating "Flight of the Concords."

The difference between the two directorial styles — Waititi leans more towards humane slapstick, while Clemaine favors Sahara-dry wit — is shown throughout the film, a kind of tonal tango between the pair. The spinoff show of the same name is happy to adapt to its cruder, more diverse cast of weirdos — you can't let Matt Berry show up with a clean mouth — but the original film is slimmer, punchier, and utterly quotable. If you haven't seen it yet, it's time.

Osmosis Jones

Somewhere, someone just read the title "Osmosis Jones" and got smacked hard in the face with some deeply buried nostalgia. Somewhere, a fan of the anime "Cells at Work!" is about to realize they need to add another movie to their watch list.

"Osmosis Jones" is a weird film. It's a Farrelly brothers joint that's mostly kid friendly, despite the fact that it's as full of gross-out moments as any of their other comedies. The gag here is that the gross-outs are a crucial part of the context. This is a buddy cop flick like none other. Osmosis, or Ozzy, is the hot-blooded cop on the case. Drix is the cool new guy on the beat. Together, they're gonna fight ... uh ... a personified virus that wants to be a supervillain pathogen. Yeah, it's pretty weird. Look, we've all already rewatched "Contagion." Now watch "Osmosis Jones" and find some new respect for what we've been putting our bodies through.


"Heathers" is another film comedy fans have probably heard of, but 30 years after its release, it's begun to slide back into the public subconscious. A box office flop turned cult classic, it's often imitated but never replicated. Serious attempts to update this comedy classic are ruined by unfunny realities, with a 2018 reboot quietly pulled after the Parkland massacre.

"Heathers" isn't actually about teenage suicide, a fact that goes often ignored in discussions about the film. It's about peer pressure and murder, a satirical pantomime about the changing social landscape that Gen X kids struggled through. It simply can't be repeated. It's too much a product of its time. Not a few critics think it needs to stay there, in the bleak new era of too-common school shootings. Yet, new viewers should still find moments to relate to, from parents who still cling to masculine stereotypes to the allure of feeling like you belong. "Heathers" is harder for audiences to handle now, but it's worth trying, because when it lands, it's a razor blade of a film.

The Birdcage

Another semi-forgotten Gen X classic that still deserves a comedy fan's time is "The Birdcage." Saucy fans might prefer the French original, "La Cage aux Folles," but for our aging elders, this was one of a handful of films that introduced young Americans to the once-controversial idea that LGBTQ+ families were just normal families. The family in question is no longer having a normal week, as Robin Williams' onscreen son comes home with the news that he's about to marry a senator's daughter, but otherwise, they're a loving, complicated, often emotional family.

Once upon a time, this was groundbreaking. The humor rarely punches down, and while we can rightly critique Hank Azaria's casting as Agador now, at the time this all-star cast helped change the conversation during a tough time to be gay. Most of the humor is small and warm, and Gene Hackman embodies an Old White Politician without falling into truly disgusting behavior. It's worth noting that Hackman is an underrated comedian; his cameo in "Young Frankenstein" is not a one-off.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" is completely approachable if you don't know anything about biopics and only a little about the era of music involved, but the more you do know, the funnier it gets. The biopics released shortly before this film began production, "Walk the Line" and "Ray," fuel the parody, but the movie still works if you skip them. That's due, in no small part, to the affable charm of John C. Reilly.

Reilly is often overshadowed by frequent partner Will Ferrell. Well, no shade to Will, but Reilly long ago stole the honor of being today's Leslie Nielsen. Reilly is funny in ways both humble and sharp, but the dude can also act. He also sings, personally busting out the bulk of the film's Grammy-nominated soundtrack. Dewey himself is a turd for most of his career, but he's also remarkably human. His later life could be weighed down by pure schmaltz, but Reilly, as Dewey, approaches his scenes with such earnest humanity that we buy it. It's a sometimes clever film, built on a sturdy platform of solid jokes.

Black Sheep

Weta Workshop was riding high in the mid-2000s. Known worldwide for its astonishing work on "The Lord of the Rings," interest in its future projects was at an all-time high. Flash forward to New Zealand in 2006. Newcomer director Jonathan King, through one of those weird glitches in reality, manages to land the world's hottest special effects workshop for a gross-out monster comedy that features something I had never seen before: weresheep.

"Black Sheep" is gory, gross, crude, and an idiotic delight to watch. This is not high cinema. But it is art, of a particularly funny kind. The jokes go everywhere from dry as a dog bone to slapstick. It's a knowing throwback to Peter Jackson's bizarre pre-"Lord of the Rings" work, where the blood bags come in Big Gulp sizes. It's imaginative stuff, a potent reminder that New Zealand as a film center has been underrated for years. Best for fans who dig over-the-top flicks like "Dead Snow" and "Overlord."

Top Secret!

Mention the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams and you'll find enthusiastic comedy fans blurting out their favorite gags from "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun." That's fair. They're classics for good reason. But the filmmaking trio have a few lesser-known treats hidden in between their headlining joke-a-thons, and one of the best is "Top Secret!" It's also the film that introduced us to Val Kilmer, who should have been allowed to do more comedy.

"Top Secret!" is joyously, knowingly stupid. What decade is all this taking place? Is it World War II? Why is '60s surf rock on the rise? What's the obsession with cows? Why is the French Resistance in East Germany? It doesn't matter. Buckle in with some snacks and enjoy the absurdity. Nothing makes sense, and the visual jokes are slap happy silliness — there's a gag about "little Germans" that makes me laugh every time — and yes, that's Val Kilmer singing. Need another reason to give "Top Secret!" a chance? It's Weird Al Yankovic's favorite movie.

Brewster's Millions

Director Walter Hill had already made a name for himself by making gritty buddy-cop movies, and star Richard Pryor was slowly approaching the end of his film career when they made "Brewster's Millions" together. It's a film that didn't work at the time, but today the wistful fantasy of an unknown rich relative leaving you big bucks is more poignant than ever. There may be some strings attached, but by God, we'd do our best to get that inheritance.

It's a movie with some surprisingly clever beats, and a relatable lead. Brewster is a small-time baseball player. His best friend is his coach, played by John Candy. He's taken aback by the news that a distant relative has died, and the terms of the will are strict. Either take a million bucks and go away, or take $30 million for one month and spend it all. Restrictions apply. Succeed, and $300 million (or 20 minutes of Jeff Bezos' time) is yours for the keeping. It's a savvy lesson about the financial risks faced by the newly rich, and Brewster, whose desires are humble, is staggered by the task.

Real Genius

It's weird how this is the third Val Kilmer movie on the list. It's a coincidence, I assure you. But it goes to the fact that the industry railroaded Val into being a leading man when he could have simply been the funniest good-looking guy on Earth. "Real Genius" is Kilmer's second film, his last hour of irreverence before "Top Gun" made him into its hot dude heavy, Iceman. "Real Genius" is about nerds doing nerd things, and it's curiously accurate to the prank-heavy culture of CalTech at the time.

"Real Genius" has classic character actor William Atherton as its bad guy. He's not a supervillain. He's a showboating scientist who's willing to sell out not only himself but his students' work for extra spending cash. Little too real, there. But the plot, while central, doesn't dwell on its down notes. It's quick and chipper, with characters who feel real, not like dork stereotypes. It's one of my favorite flicks, an easy way for me to feel a little better on gloomy days.

My Cousin Vinny

"My Cousin Vinny" was the surprise hit of 1992, netting an Academy Award for Marisa Tomei. To call it underrated as a comedy draws the disbelieving glance. That's fair. While it was a financial and critical success at the time, the 30-year-old movie has unfortunately begun to fade into the background. Rudy Giuliani's stray reference to the film in a bizarre 2020 press conference smacked viewers into a brief fit of nostalgia.

In any case, the real underrated aspect of this film is Joe Pesci's smart performance. The movie is a legal eagle favorite for a reason, offering a look at what, beyond booksmarts, one needs to be a successful lawyer. In the '90s, Pesci was in a rut. While no one can fault Pesci, the "Lethal Weapon" franchise spent the decade taking Pesci's gift for affable sleaziness and drove the joke into the ground. "My Cousin Vinny" let Pesci do something else with his mix of Brooklyn wiseguy and fish-out-of-water charm. Tomei rightly won an Oscar, but Pesci is a crucial part of the mix that often goes overlooked.

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

Almost anything with Alan Tudyk in it is going to be worth your time. We're going to rely on that fact, because the best way to approach the 2010 cult comedy horror flick "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil" is to treat it like "The Cabin in the Woods." If you can watch the movie without having anything at all spoiled for you, do it. Stop at this paragraph and go load it up.

If you need a little more to be sold, well, "Tucker & Dale" is a movie that's built on some of the creakiest old horror stereotypes. The broken-down cabin. The suspicious hillbillies. An old, horrific murder that's since become an urban legend used to scare teens. The pack of kids of varying levels of intelligence and horniness. Chainsaws. Woodchippers. Improbably gory death scenes. But "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil" makes it all fresh and fun again, if impeccably warped. It's a movie that rises or falls on its timing. An indie cheapie, it offers good performances, and not just from Tudyk. But he helps the knowing laughs land, imbuing his easily misinterpreted hillbilly persona with daft charm and honesty.

Best in Show

Christopher Guest has been a ninja of comedy since he helped write and star in "This Is Spinal Tap." He's a master of the slow build, with films that start off normal, if a little odd, but bring us to a bizarre alternate universe by the end of the flick. "Best in Show" is hidden in his filmography, released well after "Spinal Tap" but before the better known "A Mighty Wind." Centered on the already odd subculture of professional dog trainers, it's a showcase for some of the best character performers working today.

Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy are still riding high on the success of "Schitt's Creek," but the pair have performed together for decades. It shows in the way the two easily riff off each other here. But they're just two of the highlights, as everyone in "Best in Show" slowly becomes more deranged on the road to victory. Then Fred Willard, as one of the dog show's MCs, starts stealing the whole movie.


Like "Walk Hard," Weird Al's sole movie, "UHF," works even better the more movies you've seen. But, like Al's music, that background isn't necessary to enjoy the absurdist show we're being offered. Being a fan of the classic satire "Network" makes Stanley Spadowski's breakdown a little funnier, sure, and a fan of '80s action movies gets more to love once the Conan the Librarian skit runs. But Weird Al has a gift for pop culture osmosis, and unerringly knew we'd still get his "Rambo" jokes years later, even if we've never watched a single entry in that franchise.

"UHF" shows its age in a lot of places. Not to be all "oh, Zoomers!" because that sucks, but the era of foil bunny ears on the TV and the '80s wasteland of public access television is harder to relate to now. Some of the jokes are products of their time, and some, like the kung fu skits, would be rightfully replaced in a modern reboot. So, bear that in mind and know that, of all the comedians in the world, Weird Al is the least likely to draw humor from being mean. The happy weirdness that "UHF" exudes is pure delight, a throwback to a time when a community really believed it could change the world. We still can, of course. But these cheesy little reminders help.