- Many comedy films have been released in 2019, and some have been much better than others.
- The top comedies of the year, like “The Farewell,” “Booksmart,” and “Stan & Ollie,” were commended for their talented performers, intelligent scripts, and stylistic choices.
- However, other comedies such as “The Professor,” “A Madea Family Funeral,” and “The Hustle,” received negative reviews across the board.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
2019 has welcomed dozens of new comedy films – and critics feel some of them have been witty masterpieces and others have been unfunny flops.
To see where some of the year’s biggest comedies stack up, Insider looked at critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
Here are 10 of the best and 10 of the worst comedies of the year, so far.
As a note, the scores listed throughout the piece were accurate at the time of publication but are subject to change.
The dramatic comedy “The Farewell” was hailed as heartfelt.
Based on a true story, “The Farewell” follows Billi (Awkwafina) as she travels to China with her family burdened with the news that her grandmother (Shuzhen Zhou) has a terminal illness.
When Billi’s parents make her promise not to reveal anything to her grandmother, Billi struggles with cultural expectations that feel foreign to her.
Critics praised the dramatic comedy for its emotional centre and talented cast, from Awkwafina to Zhou.
“Immigrants, for whom such experiences often overlap in intimate ways, can tell some of the most compelling stories about the human condition and the dislocating shocks of modernity,” wrote Zoë Hu for The New Republic.
The teen comedy “Booksmart” won over critics with its witty cast.
Surprised to learn that their seemingly deadbeat classmates have gotten into the same elite colleges they were accepted by, overachievers Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) attempt to stuff four years of partying into a single night before they graduate.
The comedy “Booksmart” was hailed as a hit with critics, with a lot of praise being given to Dever, Feldstein, and debut director Olivia Wilde in particular.
“A solid debut for Wilde, but really puts Dever and Feldstein on the map,” wrote Hannah Woodhead for Little White Lies.
Critics said “Stan & Ollie” was elevated by its main leads.
The dramatic comedy “Stan & Ollie” portrays the lives of comedy legends Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) toward the end of their careers.
All too aware that their golden era is behind them, Laurel and Hardy use their last tour to reconnect with fans and each other.
Bolstered by positive reviews, “Stan & Ollie” won critics over with Coogan and Reilly’s affectionate portrayal of the comedic duo Laurel and Hardy.
“It’s a modest film, but a very good one, and by the end I was quite moved by its valiant belief in decency and in the duo’s eternal appeal,” said Michael Phillips for the Chicago Tribune.
Critics likened “Sword of Trust” to indie films from the ‘90s.
When the only thing Cynthia (Jillian Bell) receives in her grandfather’s will is a Civil War-era sword, she pawns it off to collector Mel (Marc Maron) and his assistant.
But when the value of the sword is higher than they expected, Cynthia, Mel, and their friends are pulled into the world of black-market sales.
Critics likened writer-director Lynn Shelton’s movie to independent films of the 1990s, applauding “Sword of Trust’s” unique roster of characters and sharp wit.
“A throwback to the kind of rambling, character-driven, micro-budgeted indie flicks that used to be all over theatres in the 1990s,” wrote Roger Ebert critic Matt Zoller Seitz.
Critics adored the humour in “Always Be My Maybe.”
Celebrity chef Sasha (Ali Wong) travels back to her hometown of San Francisco after taking a break from the man she thought she was going to marry.
Soon, Sasha runs into Marcus (Randall Park), an old flame and childhood friend, who she always held onto as a romantic possibility.
The Netflix original comedy “Always Be My Maybe” entertained critics with its likable stars and a seamless sense of humour.
“The film shines in little moments between characters and the occasional excursion that takes time away from the plot to luxuriate in this funny, little world,” wrote Dominic Griffin for Spectrum Culture.
“Wild Nights with Emily” was commended for its subtlety and charm.
Molly Shannon plays Emily Dickinson in “Wild Nights with Emily,” a film that aims to shed light on the lesser-known aspects of the reserved and talented poet’s life.
This comedic drama positions Dickinson as a woman romantically entangled with her close friend and sister-in-law Susan (Susan Ziegler).
Through its talented lead actress and subtle humour, “Wild Nights with Emily” amused and delighted critics.
Film Week critic Christy Lemire wrote, “There is a lot of truth to what we are seeing, but it is presented in a sly, deadpan way that is always amusing.”
Critics praised the chemistry between the leads of “Plus One.”
In the comedy “Plus One,” friends from college Alice (Maya Erskine) and Ben (Jack Quaid) decide to band together during wedding season and attend weddings together as dates, even though they have never expressed interest in seriously dating each other.
Critics appreciated the contemporary themes of “Plus One” and said the chemistry between Quaid and Erskine was the true highlight of the film.
“‘Plus One’ might be a romcom squarely from the dude’s point of view, but Erskine is the real breakout star here,” wrote Kimber Myers for the Los Angeles Times. “She’s raunchy and funny, giving the film a loose, wild feeling in its best moments, though it’s too often predictable in its larger beats.”
“Blinded by the Light” was revered as a great, funny homage to Bruce Springsteen.
“Blinded by the Light” traces the upbringing of Javed (Viveik Kalra) as he discovers newfound love for Bruce Springsteen in a traditional Pakistani household.
Javed uses music as a new way to express himself as he comes of age in 1987.
Critics were charmed by the musical comedy, praising the film’s message of self-expression and heralding Kalra as an endearing star.
“‘Blinded by the Light’ represents such a sweet, easy-to-relate-to story that it deserves to be seen, at the least, by anyone who has shown a little faith that there’s magic in the arts – either in music, or a darkened theatre,” wrote Brian Lowry for CNN.
“Brittany Runs a Marathon” earned praise for its protagonist.
In the comedy “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” 27-year-old Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell) is shocked when she tries to get an Adderall prescription at a doctor’s office and is instead told to lose weight.
At first, Brittany feels overwhelmed by the road before her, but she learns to take things one mile at a time.
Critics praised writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo for centering the film around deeper character development beyond superficial change, and gave Bell recognition for embodying her role so well.
“The highest mountain Brittany has to climb is getting over herself, a struggle Bell makes poignantly, piercingly real in her performance and that takes the film into its darkest yet most relatable moments,” wrote Katie Walsh for the Tribune News Service.
Critics praised “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” as another solid work from Tarantino.
In a bold, comedy-drama retelling of a notorious time period in Hollywood history, Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” follows washed-up actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they find new roles for themselves in Los Angeles in 1969.
Critics rated “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” highly as a solid addition to Tarantino’s filmography, putting emphasis on DiCaprio, Pitt, and Margot Robbie as magnetic performers.
“Bolstered by strong performances and immersive production design, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is an introspective and rewarding film from Tarantino,” wrote Chris Agar for Screen Rant.
On the other hand, critics felt “The Beach Bum” was thematically tedious.
Upon the sudden death of his wealthy wife Minnie (Isla Fisher), retired writer Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) is told that he won’t receive any money from his wife’s estate until he finishes his next book.
Set upon a life of leisure, Moondog looks for loopholes in the task set before him.
Although most critics noted the artistic style of Harmony Korine’s direction, the film received negative reviews for its repetitive nature and lack of development.
“‘The Beach Bum’ would be more entertaining if it weren’t the same scene over and over, with escalation in lieu of evolution,” wrote David Edelstein of New York Magazine. “But that’s Korine’s strategy, for better or worse, possibly both.”
“The Dead Don’t Die” was called mindless by a slew of critics.
Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” centres around a zombie apocalypse in a sleepy town that reluctantly bands people together.
The survivors include slow-thinking police officers, quirky neighbours, and teenagers passing through town during the end of the world.
Although most critics appreciated the appearance of famous faces in “The Dead Don’t Die’s” ensemble cast, many also derided the film’s limp script and low energy.
“‘The Dead Don’t Die’ stomps in like your drunken uncle at a wedding disco and announces that it’s here, and that everything’s fine because it’s going to have a lot of fun at the zombie movie’s expense,” wrote Times critic Kevin Maher.
Critics said “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” was a misfire.
Based on the novel of the same name, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is about a mother (Cate Blanchett) who decides to pursue her dreams after years of sacrificing her time and energy for her family.
Although director Richard Linklater had a great track record, many critics were dumbfounded by the fact that such a lacklustre film could include his direction and Blanchette’s talents.
“As troublesome and overstuffed as Blanchett’s performance might be, it’s also one of the few interesting things going on in this troublesome and overstuffed misfire of a book adaptation,”Oliver Jones wrote for the Observer.
Reviews for “Hampstead” referenced a weak screenplay.
In the London neighbourhood of Hampstead, Emily (Diane Keaton) and Donald (Brendan Gleeson) make a surprising team when they come together to take up a fight against real-estate developers who threaten to take Donald’s home.
Critics praised Keaton and Gleeson but largely found the screenplay lacking in character development and structure.
“Robert Festinger’s screenplay never really establishes any expectations or promises for what the story and characters will be,” wrote reviewer Mark Dujsik.
Critics felt trapped in a car with the stars of “Stuber.”
Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) gets more than he asked for when a hot-headed cop (Dave Bautista) requests a ride in his car.
As the cop closes in on the convict he’s after, Stu finds himself in the middle of a murder case.
Although reviewers generally had only good things to say about Nanjiani and Bautista’s compatibility in “Stuber,” most had heaps of criticism for nearly every other facet of the film.
“Talk about running on fumes,” wrote Peter Travers for Rolling Stone. “This buddy comedy traps two talented dudes – Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista – in a car that’s going nowhere so fast that Thelma and Louise would hop right on.”
“Poms” was received by critics as a clichéd comedy.
After moving into a retirement community, Martha (Diane Keaton) attempts to liven up her fellow residents’ lives by creating a cheerleading team with other older women.
The light-hearted comedy was rife with talented actresses, including Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, and Rhea Perlman, but critics largely felt that their involvement in the film was put to waste.
“Even by the elastic standards of mass-market escapist trifles the creators of ‘Poms’ might consider the challenges of growing old and confronting death without infantilizing both characters and audience,” wrote Ella Taylor for NPR.
Critics said “Being Frank” lacked a proper sense of direction.
In the dramatic comedy “Being Frank,” Jim Gaffigan stars as a father who forbids his son from travelling state lines.
When his son betrays his trust and sneaks away, he realises that his father wanted to keep him close to home to prevent him from learning a dark truth about their family.
Most critics lent praise to Gaffigan for his appeal as a dramatic actor, but found little else to like in a comedy that was too muddled for its own good.
“It adopts a tonally dissonant and thematically confused approach to what is, in essence, little more than a Lifetime movie writ large,” wrote Zaki Hasan for San Francisco Chronicle.
Critics felt Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson were wasted in “The Hustle.”
High-profile con artist Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathway) takes new hustler Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) under her wing in the comedy “The Hustle.”
Together, they pull their street smarts and refined charm to con their next target: a tech billionaire.
Many critics were not impressed with the film’s dragging pace and low-brow humour, which they say only hindered Hathaway and Wilson as leads.
“Why waste an important female led vehicle as a relatively mediocre rehash of a twice remade comedy?” asked critic Kimberly Pierce of Geek Girl Authority.
Tyler Perry’s “A Madea Family Funeral” was largely received as a messy affair.
In the conclusion of Tyler Perry’s “Madea” franchise, intrusive matriarch Madea (Tyler Perry) attends a funeral with her relatives and digs up the skeletons that have long been sitting in the family’s closet.
A lot of critics dragged the movie as a cheesy comedic mess that served as an anticlimactic conclusion to a long-running franchise.
“‘A Madea Family Funeral’ gives its title character an unceremonious send-off, as amateurish and schlocky as any of the mean-but-good-hearted old lady’s previous forays into the big screen,” wrote AV Club critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.
Critics felt “The Professor” muddled its own message.
A college professor (Johnny Depp) was once a teacher who always followed the rules, but a cancer diagnosis sends him into a spiral.
With the end of his life staring him in the face, his personality drastically changes as he brings a more rebellious attitude into his classroom.
Many critics wrote off “The Professor” as a forgettable film that suffered from an unlikeable lead character and a screenplay that often lost sight of its message.
“Depp, sporting a distractingly foppish, unfurling-flag hairdo, commits to his character’s tricky balancing act but over-relies on his signature rakishness to fully convince,” wrote Gary Goldstein for the Los Angeles Times.
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