What Are the Funniest Movies? 11 Suggestions to Get You Thinking.

I have a friend who’s going through a very rough patch, and I said to him, “You need to take short breaks from your worries. Why don’t you make an effort to watch funny movies? They’ll give you a little boost, when you’re feeling low. And taking good care of yourself will help you deal with this situation better.”

He agreed, but as we were talking about it, he said, “Maybe it’s because of everything I’m dealing with, but I can’t think of anything I want to see. The only funny movie I can think of is Caddyshack. And I’m not even a huge fan of Caddyshack.

So I want to make him a long list of funny movies, Some thoughtful, some goofy, some old, some new, so he has something for every mood. I’m sure this list could be much longer.

What movies have I overlooked — or never seen myself?


Watching funny movies or TV is a great way to get a quick mood boost. It’s true: laughter is good medicine.

It made me happier just to think about these movies! This list would make a great appendix to my book about happiness, The Happiness Project.

What movie can make you laugh, every time?

  • MadMadam

    Gretchen, I love your choices!

    To your list I would like to add my own:

    Home Alone
    Cold Comfort Farm
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    Wayne’s World
    The Awful Truth
    A Night at the Opera

    • gretchenrubin

      I need to see several of these–

      • Connie

        A couple more: The Gods Must Be Crazy and Groundhog Day.

  • Kate

    My personal additions: Tommy Boy, Meet the Parents, Bridesmaids, Father of the Bride (the Steve Martin/Martin Short version), Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great additions!

  • katybee

    Definitely some favorites there. But also – Bringing Up Baby (my all time favorite for a mood boost), The Producers, The Big Lebowski, The Philadelphia Story, A Fish Called Wanda.

  • Maria Zaboronak Metz

    It’s maybe more musical than funny, but for pure escape, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with James Cagney is a great choice. It’s a total feel good movie that doesn’t have much to do with our real lives today.

  • Kim Turner McCulley

    The Princess Bride. What About Bob?

  • HEHink

    Meet the Robinsons

  • ProvincialDeskJockey

    “The Thin Man”, which sparkles and is sophisticated and funny. See also “Some Like it Hot”.
    “We’re the Millers”
    “Clerks” and “There’s Something About Mary”, which my husband swears are the funniest films ever, but I don’t see personally. Each to their own I suppose.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, there’s a wide range in what people find funny!

  • Sally J

    Napoleon Dynamite, Burn After Reading.

  • Heather

    The Philadelphia Story is my go-to for funny

  • Karen

    Zoolander, Dodgeball

  • Melissa Skinnell

    A Fish Called Wanda, There’s Something About Mary, Road Trip

    • Pawprint Promotions

      I love There’s Something About Mary

  • voncey

    Bridesmaids, Animal House, Trading Places (my favorite), When Harry Met Sally.

  • triciab

    The In-Laws (w/Peter Falk), Rushmore, the Great Muppet Caper is a good family pic, Pirates of Penzance

  • Catseye

    O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a comedy with great bluegrass music. Romancing the Stone – a romantic comedy that both men and women can enjoy. It Happened One Night – a oldie but a goodie that earned Clark Gable an Oscar.

    • Maggie Ha

      Ladykillers. Also by Cohen Brothers. Tom Hanks was great

  • Carol

    The Princess Bride. How could you leave it off the list?

    • gretchenrubin

      I love The Princess Bride! Don’t know how I forgot to include it. Inconceivable.

  • Anita Nessin

    Blazing Saddles, or anything else by Mel Brooks.

  • Christy Cox

    Two Weeks Notice with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. Stuck-in-traffic scene is the funniest!

  • Nicole Anderson

    The Big Lebowski, Mr Deeds, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

  • Maureen

    Bruce Almighty, Father of the Bride Part Two, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming

  • Pat

    Muppet Treasure Island is one of my all-time favorites.

  • ethylmax

    What about Bob?, Princess Bride, Young Frankenstein, When Harry Met Sally, Airplane, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Russians are Coming, The In-Laws, Little Miss Sunshine.

  • Jane Andrews

    Modern Times, with Charlie Chaplin, Weekend at Bernie’s (I & II) Mouse Hunt, Radioland Murders, All the Pink Panthers with Peter Sellers, So I Married an Ax Murderer, A Fish Called Wanda, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home, The Lady Eve, My Man Godfrey…

  • Barbara Schroeder Mentzel

    Arsenic & Old Lace, The Blues Brothers, The Goonies, Foul Play, What’s Up Doc?

  • Carmen Jolley

    Secondhand Lions

  • Carmen Jolley

    Arsenic and Old Lace, basically anything with Don Knotts

    • I love Arsenic & Old Lace! Cary Grant is priceless in that one.

    • Trish D

      YES!!!!!! Also, My Favorite Wife is another one that cracks me up every time (Cary Grant’s comedic timing was excellent)

  • Forty-Year Old Virgin!

  • Tracy

    Great list, but how bout something from this century instead of just oldies? “This is 40” is hilarious if you are in the neighborhood of 40 and are married with kids. I wish Judd Apatow’s daughters were a bigger part, because I could SO relate to that storyline. Also “Mean Girls”.

    • Maggie Ha

      Despicable Me!

  • CI

    “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”;
    Any of the Abbot and Costello movies;
    Any of the Three Stooges movies;
    Any of the Spanky and our gang movies; definitely watch any of the old Carol Burnette shows with Tim Conway and Harvey Corman…..
    And any of I Love Lucy shows!
    “fall on floor laughing” funny.

    • gretchenrubin

      I love seeing all these suggestions. My list is growing and growing.

      • Dan

        Harold and Maude- funny about death

  • CI

    …oops, how couldcould I forget..
    “Young Frankenstein” (General Wilder and Mel Brooks….(geniusly funny)!
    “Buckaroo Bonzai”

  • Susanne

    Also, replays of “Friends” episodes.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes! I love that show.

  • DonMarie

    “City Slickers” It’s funny & my favorite feel good movie!

  • LizY

    Hopscotch (Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson) — Saw this in the movie theater decades ago and almost broke my ribs laughing.

  • Diana Fransen Herbst


    • Melinda Peden Simpson

      Every moment is perfect in this movie!

  • Hands down, the FUNNIEST movie ever made is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – nonstop laughs guaranteed! My son and I both have chronic illnesses and when we are going through a bad patch, we put that movie in. Even though we almost know it by heart, it still brings belly laughs!

    Other funny faves at our house include The Birdcage (Robin Williams as a flamboyant gay man), Mrs. Doubtfire (another Williams’ classic), and My Cousin Vinny.

    • I agree with you on Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It’s hilarious and also gets you thinking about acts of kindness. I like to watch it every Christmas.

    • Maggie Ha

      I second this list. All great.

  • Chris

    The Women, Mean Girls, Dumb and Dumber, Superbad, Ghostbusters, The Producers, Dr. Strangelove

  • The Castle, The Dish, Grosse Pointe Blank, Love Actually, Toy Story 1 and 2. Any episode of New Girl. I actually cried with laughter watching most of these 🙂

  • Shannon Winakur


  • Betsy Fitzpatrick

    If you enjoy This Is Spinal Tap, also check out Best in Show and A Mighty Wind….great “mockumentaries,” all!

    • gretchenrubin

      My second favorite is Waiting for Guffman, but they’re all funny!

  • MaggieRose59

    “It Happened One Night” with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and directed by Frank Capra is the greatest romantic comedy ever made! It’s in my top 5 all time favorites along with “You Can’t Take It With You” also directed by Capra. “Hobson’s Choice” a rather obscure old film but also a favorite.

  • Joana Rosa

    Pure Luck!

  • Tam

    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels !!

  • Kate Cerrone

    “Meet the Parents” is my go-to movie to laugh if I’m feeling down or if I’m sick. “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and “Elf” are the movies I try to watch every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I find that they help me get in some laughs during a time of the year that tends to be rushed and busy.

  • “A New Leaf” (Walter Matthau and Elaine May); “Arthur” (Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli) and “A Night at the Opera” (Marx Brothers and Kitty Carlisle)

    You’re welcome.

  • Christine

    Lots of great suggestions. Beyond what you and others have said, There’s Something About Mary, Old School, Anchorman, Dodgeball, (I obviously love Ben Stiller), When Harry Met Sally, Flight of the Conchords Season 1.

  • Elena Levenson

    Movies not yet listed:
    My Cousin Vinnie
    Coming to America

    I heartily agree re: A Fish Called Wanda and Blazing Saddles.
    Not always laugh-out-loud funny but endearing: Legally Blonde.

  • Deirdre

    The Princess Bride; Talladega Nights; Midnight Express

  • Mary

    Happy Gilmore
    TV shows: Chef, Death Becomes Her and Black Adder

  • Julina S

    Family go-to’s include Danny Kaye (& Angela Lansbury, Glynnis Johns & Basil Rathbone) in The Court Jester (“…the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle…”). It’s not a prerequisite for friendship, but if I see it on someone’s shelf, I KNOW we’re going to get along. It can be hard to find on DVD, but digitally it’s easy.
    The other one is “What’s Up Doc” (with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal, among others)
    In addition, personal favorites include “Singin’ in the Rain” (can’t beat Donald O’Connor!!) and anything classic Muppets.

    • Melinda Peden Simpson

      I LOVE Danny Kaye, so “The Court Jester” is priceless! The Gypsy Song is one of my favorite scenes.

  • marie

    “Flirting with Disaster” with Ben Stiller trying to find his “real” parents.

  • Karen Medri

    Just thought of one more, Master of Disguise, with Dana Carvey

  • Tabitha W. Bishop

    Kung Fu Panda

  • Froukje

    My personal favourites: Notting Hill, Love actually, Four weddings and a funeral, Men in Black and Ocean eleven/twelve/thirteen.

    • Melinda Peden Simpson

      The first three are definitely hilarious – I adore British humor! The other two are very funny, but on a different plane.

  • Pawprint Promotions

    Meet the Parents

  • Pawprint Promotions

    Also Dazed & Confused

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  • Ginger Horton

    Rat Race is a guilty pleasure, but it makes me laugh so so so so hard. Every time.

  • Linda W

    Funniest movies:
    Some Like It Hot
    A Christmas Story

  • Monkey Business with Cary Grant & Ginger Rogers + a very young Marilyn Monroe!

  • Shane Pulliam

    Anything with Leslie Nielsen…police academy, old school, dumb n dumber,

    • Trish D

      Dracula Dead and Loving It makes my husband laugh so hard that we have to pause the movie so he can catch his breath

  • Kim Turner McCulley

    What About Bob?

  • Katherine Thomson

    Robin Hood Men In Tights, The Three Musketeers (the 1993 version), True Lies, Shanghai Noon.

  • Alison Beere

    Mrs Doubtfire!

  • Laura Wheeler

    My Best Friends Wedding!

  • Tessa Jacobsen-Grocott

    It depends so much on the individual what we each find funny/mood boosting so while I adore anything Disney that certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I suggest googling lists of funny movies and reading through the descriptions till he finds one that sparks interest, that’s what I do when I’m stuck for something to watch.

  • Lorraine K

    The In-laws with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. Hilarious!