A trash talking teddy bear, a brother who surreptitiously videotapes his sibling in compromising situations and then posts those videos on the internet, and Quentin Tarantino's outrageously entertaining Western made the cut for our Best Comedy Movies of 2012 list. And while the laughs were sparse this year, there did eventually wind up being 10 films worth recognizing in the comedy genre.
These are my favorite funny movies of 2012 listed in alphabetical order because when it came down to it, I couldn't make up my mind which film deserved the top position. Please feel free to disagree with my choices.
A Look Ahead: 2013 Comedies
A Look Back: All of 2012's Comedy Movies
Ron Perlman in drag, Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam doing comedy, and Chris Noth playing a has-been actor who's more than slightly crazy. Toss in Bridesmaids scene-stealer Chris O'Dowd as a wannabe director who believes that shooting his brother in compromising situations is the same thing as directing an actual movie and Lizzy Caplan as a candy underwear-wearing love interest who wants to sleep with an attractive man who can't get it up and you've got one of the most original, laugh out loud comedies of the year, Frankie Go Boom.
The Plot: 3,2,1...Frankie Go Boom is a raucous comedy about a boy (Hunnam), a girl (Caplan), their sex tape (embarrassing), the boy’s brother who has put it online (O’Dowd), the transgender hacker who may be able to pull it down (Perlman, who looks fantastic in a dress), the psychotic (and armed) movie star father of the girl (Noth), and his pet pig (who we don’t know the name of).
The setting's the same and it, of course, shares the same title as the '80s TV series, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. 21 Jump Street, which features the best non-explosion action scenes on film, straight-on addresses the whole remake/recycled material issue by skewering Hollywood's lack of originality while admitting they're guilty of the same. Thankfully, there's more original material in this comedy based on a TV series than in 90% of what's put out there by Hollywood.
The Plot: Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school. As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier – and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind.
Had Bernie been released later in the year rather than on April 27th, it likely would have wound up getting much more awards attention. Directed by Richard Linklater, this indie comedy marks the third film Matthew McConaughey and director Linklater have worked on together, and as with the first two - Dazed and Confused and The Newton Boys - Bernie will probably have to wait a few years after its release to truly find its audience. The entire cast is terrific, and the story is based on true events which makes this tale even more entertaining.
The Plot: In the tiny, rural town of Carthage, TX, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede (Black) was one of the town’s most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent (MacLaine), an affluent widow who was as well known for her sour attitude as her fortune. Bernie frequently traveled with Marjorie and even managed her banking affairs. Marjorie quickly became fully dependent on Bernie and his generosity and Bernie struggled to meet her increasing demands. Bernie continued to handle her affairs, and the townspeople went months without seeing Marjorie. The people of Carthage were shocked when it was reported that Marjorie Nugent had been dead for some time, and Bernie Tiede was being charged with the murder.
Why has it taken so long to do a comedy movie about butter carving? Oh yeah, that's right, because sitting through a film about competitive butter carving sounds as appealing as sitting through a movie starring the Kardashians in dramatic roles. But Butter is surprisingly appealing, if you can get over the fact you're watching a film about butter. It's actually a smartly written political satire with more of a bite to it than you'd expect from simply looking at the synopsis.
The Plot: In small-town Iowa, an adopted girl discovers her talent for butter carving and finds herself pitted against an ambitious local woman in their town's annual contest.
Slavery, bounty hunters, and blood, guts & gore all served up Tarantino style. Okay, so it's probably not the film you want to take your entire family to see despite its Christmas Day release, but it is Quentin out Tarantino-ing himself.
Inglorious Basterds introduced audiences to Christoph Waltz and Django Unchained confirms that the critical success obtained by pairing actor Waltz and director Tarantino wasn't a one-time fluke.
The Plot: Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.
Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.
Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival…
You didn't see this in theaters, did you? No, I didn't think so. In and out of multiplexes before anyone could catch on to it, Hit and Run features the best performance of Tom Arnold's career (I'm being completely serious) and Bradley Cooper as you've never, ever seen him before. Off-screen couple Shepard and Bell wound up having better onscreen chemistry than most celebrity couples, with Shepard pulling triple duty as star, co-director, and writer.
The Plot: Hit and Run is the story of Charlie Bronson (Shepard), a former getaway driver who busts out of the Witness Protection Program to drive his girlfriend (Bell) to Los Angeles so she can land her dream job. Their road trip grows awkwardly complicated, when they are chased by the feds (Arnold), and increasingly dangerous, when Charlie’s former gang of criminals (Cooper) enter the fray.
So here's the deal...normally I don't like to sit through screenings in which the audience interacts with the movie. You know what I mean? They yell, talk back, sing along, whatever, and manage to make it so that if you just want to watch the movie, it's impossible. However, Pitch Perfect is actually better when the audience sings along. Not that it sucks without the interaction; it's just so much more entertaining when everyone gets involved - kind of like Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Also, if anyone tries to tell you that you have to be into Glee to check out Pitch Perfect, just turn and walk away. This is an unGlee-ified take on college glee clubs with a solid cast of surprisingly good singers.
The Plot: Beca (Kendrick) is that girl who'd rather listen to what's coming out of her headphones than what's coming out of anyone's mouth. Arriving at Barden University, she finds herself not right for any clique but somehow is muscled into one that she would never have picked on her own: alongside mean girls, sweet girls and weird girls whose only thing in common is how good they sound when they sing together.
When Beca takes this acoustic singing group out of their world of traditional arrangements and perfect harmonies into all-new mash-ups, they fight to climb their way to the top of the cutthroat world of college music competitions. This could wind up either the coolest thing they'll ever do or the most insane, and it will probably be a little of both.
Seven Psychopaths is one of the best examples of why the Academy should add a Best Ensemble category to the Oscars. Every single member of the cast brought their best to the production, and writer/director Martin McDonaugh is a master at matching roles with actors. Once again, McDonaugh gets the best out of Colin Farrell (his In Bruges star) and the comedy team of Rockwell and Walken - while an unusual match-up - should get a prequel focusing on their relationship.
The Plot: A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved dog.
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have the best on screen chemistry of 2012. There, I've said it. They're terrific together and deserve to reunite for a buddy comedy or maybe even a sequel to this film five or 10 years down the line. Director David O. Russell allowed his actors to take liberties with their characters, and the result is some classic comedy moments in the midst of heartbreak and drama. Silver Linings Playbook is genuine and touching, and every lighter moment pays off big.
The Plot: Life doesn’t always go according to plan…Pat Solatano (Cooper) has lost everything -- his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Weaver) and father (De Niro) after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet - and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team.
When Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he'll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.
Who would have ever thought a walking, trash-talking teddy bear could be one of 2012's big breakout comedy stars? Directed by Seth MacFarlane (he also voices the bear), Ted turned out to be one of 2012's biggest comedy hits. MacFarlane made his feature film directorial debut with the project and as with Family Guy, he didn't pull any punches when it came to insult comedy. And the scene of Wahlberg fighting a stuffed bear could go down in history as one of the most bizarre fight sequences ever on film.
The Plot: In the live action/CG-animated comedy, he tells the story of John Bennett (Wahlberg), a grown man who must deal with the cherished teddy bear who came to life as the result of a childhood wish…and has refused to leave his side ever since.
The Top Comedies at the Box Office in 2012The best performing live-action comedies at the box office (according to BoxOfficeMojo) for 2012 were:
1) Ted, 2) MIB 3, 3) 21 Jump Street, 4) Magic Mike, 5) Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, 6) Think Like a Man, 7) The Campaign, 8) Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection, 9) Pitch Perfect, and 10) Hope Springs