Nov 16, 2022
Non-Holiday Comedy Recommendations to Keep You Laughing During the Break
The holidays doth approacheth, my friends, and while to some they signal a reason for the season and hold an attachment to gratitude and religion, to others—the children of the world … (i.e., me)—they signal time off from work and/or school and sometimes adulting. They also signal movies. Lots and lots of movies. New and old, which is awesome, but sometimes favorite holiday movies are played deep into the ground on TV, or there's such an influx of holiday content playing continuously that it starts getting monotonous. And for many of us out there, this time of year brings on Seasonal Affective Disorder, and to those of you, I extend my heart in compassion and genuine effort to entertain you, even if it is just temporarily.
Whatever your case, being the giant movie nerd I am, I thought I’d share some of my favorite non-holiday comedies with you (in no particular order) in hopes maybe you haven’t seen one and get the chance to appreciate it. Even if you’ve seen them all, give ‘em another viewing and giggle yourself silly. Release those feel-good chemicals!
As Good As It Gets (1997) – This one is in my top three favorites of all time. I relate so much to Jack Nicholson’s character, and the story as it unfolds is just sweet and beautiful to see. Nicholson plays Jack Udall, a very successful, rich romance novelist. He’s also a misanthrope (one who dislikes humankind and avoids society) and asshole with a pretty severe level of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Udall says what he thinks when he thinks it, and he’s quick to say what he feels, even if it’s offensive. He doesn't care. And 95% of the time, everything out of his mouth is offensive ... and hysterical. This story is about the unlikely friendship that forms between him, a single mother and waitress (Helen Hunt), and a gay artist (Greg Kinnear). Also stars Skeet Ulrich, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Harold Ramis.
Groundhog Day (1993) – Who doesn’t love Bill Murray? He emotes the exact way I feel about things a lot of the time, and that makes me giggle. In this flick, he plays a hilarious narcissistic, self-centered weatherman who finds himself trapped in a time loop on Groundhog Day, and he has to live the day and it’s events over and over and over until he sees a way to work it to his advantage and the experience ends up changing who he is. When you’re feeling salty and sarcastic, pop this movie in and sit back with some popcorn. And a blanket because it’ll make you feel cold even if you’re warm. Also stars Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliot, Stephen Tobolowski, and Harold Ramis.
What About Bob? (1991) – I couldn’t talk about Bill Murray without mentioning this little gem of his, which I adore. Murray plays Bob Wiley, an annoyingly loveable obsessive-compulsive neurotic. He’s also a hypochondriac who drives his psychotherapist completely batshit after tracking him and his family down on vacation. This one is nothing short of hysterical. It’s a must-see. Also stars Richard Dreyfuss, Julie Hagerty, and Kathryn Erbe.
Bad Words (2013) – Ah, a Jason Bateman film starring Jason Bateman. This movie is absolutely HILARIOUS for anybody watching, but definitely if you have kids (and don’t get offended easily), you have to watch this movie. Bateman plays a 40-year-old misanthropic a-hole who finds a loophole and enters a regional spelling bee. He cracks me up with his dry sense of humor, and here he’s hurling insults at every turn, mostly to the kids. Kathryn Hahn appears as a journalist covering the story, and she and Bateman’s character form a friendship with hilarious benefits. Bateman’s character also proves he has a heart as he befriends a young speller feeling pressure from his parents to win. No lie, I watch this probably once a month. Maybe two.
The Change-Up (2011) – I also can’t mention Jason Bateman without doing the same for a few of his flicks. This one is so funny that it’ll have your face hurting from laughing so much. Let me go ahead and say if you’re wound a little too tightly or are easily offended, go ahead and pass on watching this movie. Bateman and Ryan Reynolds are best friends who find themselves in a Freaky Friday-type situation after they take a leak in a fountain boasting a Roman statue in the park. Bateman’s character is a hot shot lawyer who is married with three kids—two of them being two-year-old twins and the other in elementary school. Reynolds’s character is a weed-smoking, part-time actor in the prime of his sexual life. What ensues is absolutely hilarious and you’ll be wiping the tears from your eyes and having to catch your breath. A definite MUST SEE. Also stars Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, and Alan Arkin.
Horrible Bosses (2011) – Can you tell I’m a Jason Bateman fan? This gut-busting flick also stars Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Julie Bowen, Megan Duchess of Sussex, and (sigh) Kevin Spacey, who plays the perfect horrible boss. Bateman, Day, and Sudeikis are best friends who love their job but hate their bosses and would love nothing more than the grind ‘em into the ground. So, they hatch a hysterical plan with the help of Jamie Foxx. This one is in my top three favorite comedies. I guarantee you will love it. Who hasn’t had a horrible boss they hated before?
Larry Crowne (2011) – This little romantic comedy kind of flew under the radar in the wake of summer releases, but it stars Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, Wilmer Valderrama, Rami Malek, Rita Wilson, Taraji P. Henderson, and Gugu Mbatha Raw. Tom Hanks is Larry Crowne, a middle-aged divorced man, who finds himself on the unemployment line after a wave of corporate downsizing. Drowning in debt and unable to find work, he enrolls in community college, where he becomes part of a community of misfits who are trying to carve out a better future. A definite heartwarming comedy.
The Big Lebowski (1998) – I LOVE THIS MOVIE. One of my all-time favorites, and Jeff Bridges’ character is actually based off a real-life character by the name of Jeff Dowd (aka The Dude). Here, Jeff Bridges is The Dude, a loveable, easy-going, weed-smoking bum who loves bowling. Weed and bowling. And his rug. And his car. That’s his life—until he’s mistaken for The Big Lebowski, millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski, and he finds himself getting roughed up while watching his precious rug get peed on. In search of recompense, The Dude tracks down The Big Lebowski, who offers him the job of being the bagman and delivering the ransom for his kidnapped wife. He’s aided and hindered by his pals Walter Sobchack (John Goodman), a Vietnam vet who owns an ammo shop, and Donny, master of stupidity. Also stars John Turturro, Julianne Moore, Sam Elliot, the late, great, and very missed Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Tara Reid. As was the case with most Coen brothers’ movies, the dialogue is what drives the story. And this one’s full of some pretty excellent dialogue you’ll be quoting for the rest of your life.
Dumb & Dumber (1994) - Again, call me a giant child; I don’t care. I agree. I happen to love Jim Carrey (and his Ace Ventura movies) and think he brings a hefty level of comedy to everything he does just by being himself, and that is awesome. Here he and Jeff Daniels (also very funny) are best friends who are complete idiots. They set out on a cross-country road trip to Aspen, CO, to return a briefcase full of money to its rightful owner, Mary Swanson (played by Lauren Holly). What ensues builds mishap upon hilarious mishap throughout their entire journey.
Liar, Liar (1997) – This is my absolute favorite Jim Carrey movie, along with the Ace Ventura movies. Carrey is Fletcher Reed, a divorced, smooth-talkin’ pathological liar, who is also a conniving ace attorney. When his kid makes a birthday wish that for just one day his dad couldn’t tell a lie and it comes true, Fletcher’s world is turned upside down and inside out on one of the most important days in a huge case that, if he wins, could earn him the title of partner. Five stars all the way. Also stars Maura Tierney, Cary Elwes, Swoosie Kurtz, Cheri Oteri, and Jennifer Tilly.
Uncle Buck (1989) – A John Hughes (director) treasure. All of his movies are, really, but this one in particular is because of the late great John Candy. When his brother and sister-in-law have to leave town suddenly to care for her ailing father, and after trying everyone on their list of people to look after their kids and having no luck, they’re left with no choice but to call in the lazy, unreliable, carefree Uncle Buck (Candy). His youngest niece (Gaby Hoffman) and nephew (Macaulay Culkin) take to him instantly, but his oldest niece does not; she’s a straight-up bitch to him … an angst-filled teen who gives him hell. Seeing these two bat her angst back and forth makes me giggle. And it’s relatable. I mean, don’t lie: who out there hasn’t been a complete and total bitch to someone at some point in your life? Also stars Laurie Metcalf and Anna Chlumsky.
Bridesmaids (2011) – The more I watch this movie, the funnier it gets. This one is so relatable because we’ve all either worried about or at some point felt like we were losing a best friend to marriage, until we learned differently. Here, a hilarious competition between between the bride’s (Maya Rudolph) best friend & maid of honor (Kristen Wiig) and a bridesmaid & close friend (Rose Byrne) over who is the bride’s best friend ensues and threatens to upend the maid of honor’s life and relationship with the bride. This one’s a total treat and also stars Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jillian Bell, Chris O’Dowd, and Ben Falcone.
The Hangover Part II (2011) – You didn’t think I was going to talk about Bridesmaids without mentioning The Hangover, did you? While the original Hangover is hilarious in its own right, I find the sequel funnier. We had the chance to meet the guys and let the first experience with Alan sink in; now that we know the characters, everything they get into is that much funnier. If you haven’t seen the movies, they focus on three best friends who allow the oddball brother of the bride in the first flick to tag along on the bachelor party, who then drugs the other guys for a fun night in Vegas. Now part of their “wolf pack,” the sequel finds Alan (Zack Galifinakis) and the guys (Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper) in Bangkok, Thailand, minus the groom from the first movie, played by Justin Bartha). This time they’re celebrating Helms’s character’s impending nuptials with his bride’s brother. Again, Alan drugs everybody and they have a wild night of partyingin Bangkok, followed by no recollection of it the morning after. In both movies, they lose someone: the groom in the first and the bride’s brother in the second. Watch the second one and you’ll see why it’s a favorite. Also stars a very funny coked-out Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson, Jamie Chung, and Jeffrey Tambor.
Blazing Saddles (1974) – If you’re gonna scream at me about your sensitivity, I can’t hear you. I don’t care what PC society says, this movie is damn hilarious. IT’S SATIRE, people, and that means it’s poking fun, specifically in this movie, at American culture, racism, religion, and politicians. Lighten up a bit on all fronts and enjoy some of the most quotable dialogue ever. Stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, Slim Pickens, and a whole slew of other funny actors.
Dinner for Schmucks (2010) – This one kind of flew under the radar. It wasn’t a big hit, but that doesn’t mean it’s not big fun. Paul Rudd is a rising executive who works for a boss who hosts a monthly event in which the guests find and bring the biggest idiot, and whoever wins gets a career boost. After declining the invitation to attend, he changes his mind after meeting Barry (Steve Carrell), who builds dioramas using stuffed mice. The boss’s scheme backfires when Barry’s blundering good intentions send Tim's life into a downward style, threatening a major business deal and possibly destroying his relationship. Absolutely hysterical. You’ll definitely be wiping some laughter tears away with this one.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010) – Again, I love horror comedies … Dead & Breakfast, Shaun of the Dead, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. This one is Shaun of the Dead meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre and is a gory comedy about two affable rednecks, Dale (Alan Tudyk) and Tucker (Tyler Labine), who are also best friends trying to enjoy a quiet vacation at their new cabin in the woods. Things take a bloody turn when some ignorant college kids mistake them for a pair of murderous hillbilly psychos. I’d watch Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine eat breakfast. I’ll watch anything they’re in. If you’re a fan of these actors or of horror comedies, this one’s a must-see gem you'll keep in your collection.
O' Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) – Another Coen Brothers gem. They truly outdid themselves with this one, which is a wonderful little saga of three escaped convicts in the 1930s Deep South who are seeking a buried treasure. Their hunt is based on Homer’s The Odyssey and stars heavy-hitting comedic geniuses George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson, John Turturro, John Goodman, and Holly Hunter.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – I love horror comedies. This British film by director Edgar Wright follows the hilariously bloody adventures of underachiever Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his best mate Ed (Nick Frost) as a zombie apocalypse breaks out. HYS. TER. IC. AL.
The Money Pit (1986) – Tom Hanks is one funny man. He’s a fantastic actor who portrays such relatable characters, they can’t help but imprint upon your soul. This is one of my favorites of his. Walter (Hanks) and Anna (Shelley Long) struggle to keep their relationship together as their newly purchased-for-a-steal mansion starts falling to pieces around them. The two have no choice but to watch in hilarious horror as everything disappears into The Money Pit. Hanks and Long have a fabulous chemistry together and their arguing and reactions to what is happening are nothing short of gut-busting.
Funny Farm (1988) – I’ve always been a Chevy Chase fan … as far back as I can remember. Here he is former sportswriter and wanna-be novelist Andy Farmer, who moves to a small farm in Vermont with his wife Elizabeth (Madolyn Smith), who secretly aspires to be an author, to work on his novel. They quickly realize the locals are not as welcoming as they’d like, and the farm is more distracting than they thought. You’ll be laughing your butt off while feeling a bit of holiday spirit well up inside.
Orange County - Absolutely a movie that gets funnier every time you watch it. Colin Hanks is a smart high-school student with a dream of being a writer and his heart set on going to Stanford, until his guidance counselor (Lily Tomlin) accidentally sends the wrong transcripts with his college application. Hanks is horrified and he spends the rest of the film trying to prove he's actually a good student with a terrific grade-point average worthy of going to Stanford. Some of the funniest actors on the planet star, including Catherine O'Hara (Schitt's Creek, Beetlejuice), Jack Black (School of Rock, Tenacious D), Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, John Lithgow, Mike White, Nat Faxon (The Conners), and Leslie Mann (40-Year-Old Virgin).
Questions or comments? Email Keeley at email@example.com.