The Best Comedies Of 2021

In the aftermath of 2020 being one of the least funny years in recent living memory, the entire world really needs a laugh now more than ever. Luckily, despite the COVID-19 pandemic still tying up film sets across the world, 2021 has already seen some pretty big comedy releases, with more movies coming to streaming services or theaters one way or the other.

While some of the comedies released in 2021 focused on the global health crisis itself, setting their narratives during the very real coronavirus outbreak, others transported viewers to faraway places, from famous cities to pastoral vistas. 2020 was a definitively unfunny year, but luckily, 2021 came out swinging right from the beginning with some pretty strong comedy offerings, and has only continued that trend as the year has gone on. From heist films to slapstick, from romantic comedies to funny movies with a darker edge, here's an ongoing list of the very best comedy films released in 2021.

Locked Down

Making a film during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was no easy feat, but somehow director Doug Liman ("Edge of Tomorrow") made it work with "Locked Down," which debuted on HBO Max early in 2021. Utilizing a limited cast, a London townhouse, and Harrods — London's legendary department store which opened its temporarily shuttered doors to Liman's cast and crew, marking the first time Harrods allowed filming on premises — "Locked Down" tells the story of bored, antsy married couple Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) stuck together in their London home. Though they spend much of the film at odds and on the brink of divorce, when an opportunity arises for the two to steal a super-valuable item from Harrods, they team up and work together to pull it off.

Led by excellent performances from Hathaway and Ejiofor – who are flanked by supporting players Mindy Kaling, Ben Stiller, and Stephen Merchant, among others — "Locked Down" is a COVID-era delight, providing a realistic yet fantastical look at a pandemic familiar to everyone. If you're going crazy in quarantine, definitely turn on "Locked Down."


Set in the fields of Australia, director Jeremy Sims' "Rams" tells the story of two brothers with a difficult relationship who both work in the sheep fields of Western Australia. As the movie opens, Colin (Sam Neill) and Lenton (Michael Caton), who work as rival sheep farmers raising flocks from their family's stock, are constantly battling it out to top one another...until an unexpected consequence affects both of them. As it turns out, one of Les' rams has a rare and contagious illness, which prompts authorities to move to exterminate their sheep; though the brothers take very different approaches to the situation, they eventually have to band together.

With veteran performers Neill and Caton at the helm, "Rams" charmed audiences, performing well at box offices throughout New Zealand and Australia and earning raves from critics. According to the Rotten Tomatoes consensus, "'Rams' draws on the chemistry of its talented veteran stars to explore complicated — and often comedic — sibling ties." Whether you're an only child or love your siblings, you'll find something to connect with in "Rams."

French Exit

Throughout 2020, most people probably wished they could leave their humdrum quarantine lives behind and travel the world — and if you ever had that fantasy, "French Exit" will make you feel like it's potentially possible. Starring acclaimed actress Michelle Pfeiffer and recent breakout Lucas Hedges ("Lady Bird," "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"), "French Exit" – which was directed by Azazel Jacobs and is based on the novel by Patrick DeWitt, who also adapted it — tells the wild story of a wealthy Manhattan heiress and widow, Frances Price (Pfeiffer), who decides to do something crazy with her remaining fortune. With very little money, Frances and her son Malcolm (Hedges) move to Paris with their pet cat, whom Frances believes is the reincarnated form of her late husband.

Though "French Exit" takes a bleak tone at times, critics agreed that Pfeiffer's central performance — which earned the veteran actress a nod for a Golden Globe in early 2021 — grounds the entire project, making it funny and oddly relatable. If you're thinking of dropping everything and moving to Paris, get a glimpse at one way to do it in "French Exit."

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Developed and written by best friend duo Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who earned an Academy Award nomination together for "Bridesmaids," the delightful, over-the-top "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar" is one of the weirdest movies you'll see all year. But it's also definitely one of the funniest. Directed by Josh Greenbaum, the film casts Mumolo and Wiig as Midwestern best friends Barb and Star, respectively, who decide to change their lives by taking the trip of a lifetime to an exotic Florida resort town. While there, Star strikes up a romance with handsome spy Edgar Paget (Jamie Dornan), and the best friends find themselves at the center of a nefarious plot.

Wiig and Mumolo's easy chemistry is an absolute pleasure, and the committed performances from everyone — including Dornan and Wiig herself in a dual role — are a sight to behold. Ultimately, critics found themselves completely charmed by this oddball, truly strange comedy. If a film that had to "cut back" on the number of talking animals sounds like a good time, "Barb and Star" is definitely for you.

Days of the Bagnold Summer

Based on a 2012 graphic novel of the same name by Joff Winterheart, "Days of the Bagnold Summer" offers Stateside viewers a sweet, endearing look at what it's like to come of age in the United Kingdom. Director Simon Bird and his wife, Lisa Owens, who adapted Winterheart's novel, tell the charming story of Sue Bagnold (Monica Dolan), a librarian and single mother to shy teenager Daniel (Earl Cave), who gets through high school with the help of his outgoing best friend Ky (Elliot Speller-Gillott). Though Sue and Daniel are supposed to spend the summer apart while Daniel visits his father, the trip is unexpectedly canceled, forcing the mother and son to bond.

This touching movie about a mother struggling to impress her teenage son over the course of a summer is sure to warm your heart. If you're looking for an uplifting watch, you'll definitely want to check out "Days of the Bagnold Summer."

Coming 2 America

Fans of Eddie Murphy's 1988 classic "Coming to America" had to wait over two decades for a sequel to their favorite movie, but luckily, 2021's "Coming 2 America" was well worth the wait. Directed by Craig Brewer and written by "black-ish" creator Kenya Barris, "Coming 2 America" revisits Murphy's Prince Akeem just before his 30th wedding anniversary to Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley, reprising her role from the first film), when he gets shocking news. On his deathbed, Akeem's father, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones), reveals that Akeem has an illegitimate child living in Queens, and Akeem must go and find him to prevent a revolt from their people.

Sometimes, lightning does strike twice, and Murphy's second turn as Prince Akeem — thanks to the performer's still-sharp comedic chops and a healthy dose of nostalgia — won over audiences and critics alike. Thanks to Murphy's performance and new supporting players like "Saturday Night Live" alum Leslie Jones, you'll definitely want to revisit Queens with Prince Akeem in "Coming 2 America."

Bad Trip

In "Bad Trip," best friends Chris (Eric André) and Bud (Lil Rel Howery) embark on a thousand-mile road trip from Florida to New York City in the hopes of reuniting Chris with his high school crush, Maria (Michaela Conlin). Since neither owns a car, they "borrow" an impounded pink sedan that belongs to Bud's sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish), whose bizarre and violent behavior has landed her behind bars. Enraged, Trina breaks out of prison and pursues Chris and Bud up the East Coast in search of her beloved ride and some bloody revenge. The chase repeatedly gets Chris and Bud into trouble, but they have no difficulty creating their own hazardous and humiliating messes in between encounters with Trina.

All this would add up to a pretty solid road trip comedy, but there's a twist: This is a hidden camera movie, and most of the people in each scene have no idea that they're in it. "Bad Trip" is essentially a series of pranks strung together by a loose plot, as bystanders bear witness to off-the-wall gags like Trina hijacking a police car or Chris catching his hand in a blender. This style of comedy is not for everyone and some of the gags are really gnarly and uncomfortable, but if you're not averse to second-hand embarrassment and enjoy the likes of "Jackass" or "The Eric André Show," "Bad Trip" can be a fun and surprisingly sweet ride.

Shiva Baby

"Shiva Baby" follows Danielle (Rachel Sennott), a college student whose already-stressful family wake becomes a nightmare when Max (Danny Deferrari), the older man she's been sleeping with, shows up with his wife (Dianna Agron) and child. Danielle struggles to keep her cool as she is bombarded by questions from relatives, family friends, and her over-achieving ex-girlfriend (Molly Gordon) about her studies, her underwhelming career prospects, and her personal life. The tension keeps ratcheting up and something's got to give — the question isn't if disaster will strike, but when.

"Shiva Baby" is the feature debut for writer-director Emma Seligman, who adapted the story from her own film school thesis. "Shiva Baby" holds a score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, an impressive feat for any filmmaker but an absolute coup for a first-time director. The film has been praised for its claustrophobic camerawork, its witty screenplay, and the way it incorporates the cinematic language of horror to create maximum suspense within a comedic context. "It's like a feature-length anxiety attack," says NPR's Angie Han. It's also a potential star-making vehicle for actor/comedian Rachel Sennott, on whom the story hangs for the entirety of its 77-minute runtime.

If that sounds short, consider it a blessing — the human body is not built to endure 90 minutes of "Shiva Baby." Happily, Seligman also knows when to let her foot off the gas and provide the audience precious moments of relief and release, offering big laughs when you need them most.

Fried Barry

Sometimes a movie is just so weird that the only logical human response is laughter. "Fried Barry," the debut feature from South African director Ryan Kruger, is a dark and bizarre horror comedy with a unique premise: Aliens hijack the body of a heroin addict (Gary Green) and use it to embark on a hedonistic voyage through the nightlife in Cape Town. Our strange visitor takes in all the drugs, sex, and violence he can, a supernatural tourist for whom nothing is forbidden because there are no real consequences. Alien-Barry's misadventures don't have much of an overarching story or message to speak of, but the individual episodes are each a smorgasbord of weird and wild images that shouldn't be described in polite company.

"Fried Barry" is not for the faint of heart, and even opens with a variety of adult content warnings in the (probably vain) hope of waving off younger viewers who stumble across it. Even those who are well-adjusted to the gorier side of cinema might be taken aback — Nicolás Delgadillo of the metal and horror site Knotfest called it "[maybe] the most insane movie of the year." It's a viscerally intense experience designed as much to shock you as to entertain. It's a film tailor-made for midnight movie veterans who think they've seen it all but are eager to be proven wrong.

Together Together

Matt (Ed Helms) is a lonely middle-aged man who's ready to be a parent, even if he has to go it alone. Anna (Patti Harrison) is a waitress in her early twenties who wants to pursue higher education but can't afford it. Out of mutual desperation, Matt hires Anna to be the surrogate mother for his child, addressing both of their problems but plunging the pair into a complicated relationship. Matt and Anna are not a couple, maybe not even friends, just two adults with a very intimate and confusing bond. Over the course of nine months, Anna and Matt navigate the melodrama of pregnancy and try to make plans for the rest of their lives — plans that may or may not involve the other.

The second feature from writer-director Nikole Beckwith, "Together Together" is not a laugh-out-loud type of comedy. It's more of a character study, a light dramedy driven by an unusual premise and the deliberate subversion of genre expectations. The dynamic between Anna and Matt defies the easy labels offered by most Hollywood films, which means neither they nor the audience know the rules. They have to lay out their own boundaries, maneuvering through the murky waters of gender roles and generational dissonance. This friction is mined for comedy, but also discussion and catharsis.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines

"The Mitchells vs. The Machines" centers around Katie Mitchell (voice of Abbi Jacobson), a teenager who's accepted into the film school of her dreams that happens to be a continent away from her out-of-touch father Rick (Danny McBride). Afraid he might lose his daughter forever, Rick arranges a cross-country road trip with the whole family in the hopes of repairing their relationship. If those stakes don't sound high enough for you, the timing of their trip happens to coincide with the robot apocalypse. Suddenly humanity's last hope, the fractured family of four must resolve their differences and come together to halt the plans of a genocidal artificial intelligence.

Comic sci-fi action-adventure ensues at a frantic pace, with a joke every second and a near-constant stream of eye-popping visuals. Where 2018's "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" spiced up its animation with comic book imagery, "The Mitchells vs. The Machines" employs the visual language of online memes to create a cinematic experience unlike anything that's come before. It's a fabulously designed film with best-in-class action staging, the kind of movie that could only have been made as a computer-animated feature. The film's sense of humor is extremely contemporary (to the extent that one wonders how well it'll hold up a decade from now), but its emotional core as a coming-of-age tale and a father-daughter story is timeless.

Plan B

Every generation deserves its own "teen road trip sex comedy." During the 2000s — the heyday of the MTV Film — high school and college kids had no shortage of movies to choose from in which a group of misbehaving young adults take to the open road, driven by sex and fueled by drugs, and do some growing up along the way. For those wondering when Zoomers would get their own "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," "Plan B" is the movie you've been waiting for, a contemporary, joke-dense gross-out comedy that also reflects the more progressive, socially-conscious sensibilities of people born in this century. 

In "Plan B," studious South Dakota high schooler Sunny (Kuhoo Verna) cuts loose for a change, has sex at a party and is immediately punished by the universe with a prophylactic malfunction. When her local pharmacist refuses to sell her a morning-after pill (which can really happen in several US states), Sunny "borrows" her mother's minivan and races off to the Rapid City Planned Parenthood with her best friend, the freewheeling Lupe (Victoria Moroles). Their quest to get Sunny the pill before its effective window closes gets ever more twisted and complicated as they pursue their crushes, dodge creepy strangers, and test the limits of their friendship. Like any buddy movie, that's ultimately what the story is about — the incredible bond that forms between two people during the most vulnerable and formative part of their lives.

Bo Burnham: Inside

"Bo Burnham: Inside" is nominally a comedy special, but this description barely covers it. The 87-minute film written, directed, shot, and edited by comedian and songwriter Bo Burnham could just as easily be described as a one-man movie musical, or a metafictional art film. "Inside" follows Burnham, whose mental health struggles have prevented him from performing his material live for five years, attempting to produce his next special entirely by himself, isolated in his home during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the process, Burnham reflects — through song, of course — on the simultaneous threats of climate change, social injustice, and income inequality, and on the ways technology has changed how people relate to each other.

More than a series of loosely-connected music videos and comedy sketches, "Inside" has a compelling narrative throughline as the audience bears witness to the decline of Burnham's emotional well-being over the months it takes to complete the film. But the brilliance of "Inside" is that it is ultimately not about him, it's about you — the Internet-native generation of viewers that consumes a nonstop stream of "content" designed to either document real-life suffering or distract you from it. "Inside" has its share of big laughs, but also moments of crushing despair in which a viewer (particularly one who has also just lived through the emotional rigors of quarantine) is likely to see themselves, and not in a very flattering light.

"Bo Burnham: Inside" boasts a near-perfect score of 98 on Metacritic.


Over the past two decades, Pixar has cultivated a reputation as the animation studio whose films are guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. All storytelling is manipulative, but films like "Up," "Toy Story 3," and "Coco" are master classes in controlling an audience's feelings. Against this standard, Enrico Casarosa's "Luca" has a relatively light touch. "Luca" is a joyous, youthful adventure that might still make you cry, but is generally more concerned with making you laugh.

Luca's titular character (voice of Jacob Tremblay) is a pre-teen sea monster living with his family off the coast of an idyllic Italian fishing village that he's forbidden from ever visiting. His quiet life is interrupted when he meets the independent and courageous Alberto (voice of Jack Dylan Grazer) who chooses to live on land where he, like all dried-out sea monsters, appears human. Luca's friendship with Alberto gets him in big trouble at home, so the pair decide to run off together in search of a new and exciting life among the Italian villagers, from whom they must conceal their true nature.

"Luca" is a family-friendly animated comedy that, like so many Pixar features, is clever enough to amuse adult viewers as well as children. It's a heartwarming coming-of-age story about love, friendship, and the search for belonging that closes on a positive and poignant message of inclusivity and acceptance. But it is, first and foremost, a "fish out of water" comedy, and a good one at that.

2021 has plenty of amazing comedies on the horizon

The first few months of 2021 have already gifted audiences with some pretty amazing comedies, but the slate of upcoming funny movies is equally as impressive. In July, the "Space Jam" sports-and-animation franchise returns with "Space Jam: A New Legacy," which will also arrive on HBO Max as well as in theaters on July 16, 2021. 

Ryan Reynolds returns to the big screen with "Free Guy," which hits theaters on August 13, 2021 and features Reynolds as a random non-player character in a video game who strikes out on his own by trying to become the hero before the game shuts down.

As we head into fall, "Jackass 4" will bring the series' latest array of insane stunts into theaters on October 22, 2021, while looking further down the line, "Kingsman" sequel "The King's Man" will open on December 22, 2021 after extensive delays. 

Sandwiched right in between those, "Ghostbusters" fans will get a new chapter in the ongoing saga with "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" on November 11, 2021, which features original "Ghostbusters" cast members alongside Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, and more. Clearly, 2021 has no shortage of great comedies ahead.