#48 (tie) – The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (2009)
DAN: What would you expect out of a documentary made by the same people who brought us “Jackass”? Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine and company bring you the Whites of Boone County, West Virginia, possibly the most interesting, screen-friendly family you never want to meet. In true dollar theater fashion, there are a lot of drugs and a lot of talking about crazy shit that happened.
#48 (tie) – Running Scared (2006)
TOM: Crooked cops, mobsters, pimps, child abusers, serial killers, each villain is more ridiculous and evil than the last! This is one dark and fucked-up fairy tale. Paul Walker puts in his best performance. The final showdown at the hockey rink is pure dollar gold.
#48 (tie) – O Brother, Where Are Thou? (2000)
JOHN: The Coen Brothers had three big wins in a row with Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). This one probably qualifies as a musical. Great performances all around, especially by George Clooney. Pretty weird stuff—Depression-Era Mississippian Odysseus?—but it all works.
#47 – Envy (2004)
TONY: The comedy that few saw and none liked (outside of us), Envy starred Ben Stiller (feeling the titular feeling) and Jack Black as his nouveau-riche moron frenemy. But it’s Christopher Walken who steals the show as “The J-Man,” a bizarre drifter who guides Stiller through his botched revenge plan and then blackmails him. Featuring a fantastic, and hilarious, score by Mark Mothersbaugh!
#46 – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
PAT: This ensemble picture features some of Wes Anderson’s best work cinematographically and in terms of production design was a turning point. Team Zissou is an all-star ensemble packed wall-to-wall with quotable lines (perhaps Murray’s 2nd most quotable film behind Caddyshack?) Willem Dafoe is outstanding. What other movie on this list features claymation? The Life Aquatic’s melancholic (often bleak) humor may play more like that of a European art film rather than a bawdy comedy (though there are plenty of those moments, too including a great sequence featuring Bill Murray attacking pirates to Iggy Pop and The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy”).
#45 – The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)
DAN: Arriving in theaters at the height of the television show’s popularity and quality, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie delivered all of the show’s surreal zaniness on a bigger, louder stage. The ice-cream drunkenness and hangover was comic gold and “Goofy Goober Rock” was probably the best musical number of 21st century film.
#44 – The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
TOM: Embraces but satirizes every trope of the modern horror movie. The plot just gets better and better. And there are some hilarious character deaths. Best horror-comedy since the original Evil Dead trilogy.
#41 (tie) – Super Troopers (2001)
PAT: “License and registration, chicken-fucker.” Super Troopers arrived at the tail end of the Farrelly Bros.-dominated mid-90s to early aughts anarchic comedies before Judd Apatow (arguably) sucked the life out of the genre until Todd Phillips resuscitated it with The Hangover. I digress…a bit of the Stripes syndrome in that the 2nd half isn’t quite as good as the first half (specifically the first 20 minutes) – but endless rewatch value. Looking forward to the sequel.
#41 (tie) – School of Rock (2003)
Jack Black’s Mr. Schniebly understands better than most how to live hardcore. The actual kids playing music are pretty good–definitely better than No Vacancy. This is basically the perfect vehicle for Jack Black; it allows him to rock out with the best PG humor you’re likely to see at the cinema.
#41 (tie) – The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
DAN: We often talk about the importance of the villain in dollar movies. With rare exceptions, the lack of a solid baddie dooms a dollar film to mediocrity. And one of the best villain performances I’ve seen this century was in “King of Kong”, a documentary about Steve Wiebe’s attempt to topple the reigning Donkey Kong champion, Billy Mitchell. Wiebe is a likeable family man (the biggest dollar pop comes with Wiebe’s son screaming “daddy wipe my butt” while Wiebe was playing the game of his life), while Mitchell is a ruthless, mulleted villain. Sometimes the best theater is reality.
Check back next week for more entries on our Top 50 Comedies Since 2000 list!