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The Best Movies To Watch On April Fools' Day

One way or another, everyone likes to celebrate April Fools Day, whether through classic pranks — like balancing water over open doors — or more elaborate stunts, like the hoax that created a Street Fighter character. While the origin of April Fools is itself under dispute, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, it remains a day set aside for fooling friends and neighbors in almost every country. Perhaps the whole world needs a holiday to celebrate trickery and humor, if only to make it easier to trust one another during the rest of the year.

Under quarantine, though — with much of the world still socially distancing – it can be much harder to pull a good prank right now. If you need to do April Fools a little differently this year, there's always some magnificent prank-filled, anarchic comedies around to help provide those much-needed laughs and comfort. 

These are a few movies that are perfect for getting into the spirit of the holiday, even if you plan to engage in some crank calls and whoopie cushion placements as well.

Animal House, the granddaddy of all prank movies

So debauched that the movie set itself was one big party, 1978 college classic Animal House follows a drunken frat, Delta House, as they throw infamous toga parties and wage war on the severe, disapproving Dean Wormer. Animal House not only featured SNL star John Belushi in his finest hour, as wild man Bluto, but it's also filled to the brim with great slapstick and some incredible pranks. This includes the kidnapping of a horse gone wildly wrong ("Maybe he had a heart attack!"), cafeteria food fights, and the awesomely anarchic climax where the Deltas drive an armored car through the homecoming parade.

Forty years later, a lot of the movie's gender norms have been called into question, and rightly so. Nonetheless, it's also almost impossible to deny Animal House's unbridled mischief and mayhem. At least audiences got a problematic but funny college comedy, instead of the Manson-inspired teen killer film that Animal House almost became while in development. It certainly would have been compelling, but a world without Belushi shooting mashed potatoes from his mouth and screaming "I'm a zit!" is a much, much sadder place.

Animal House is available to stream now with Cinemax Go.

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly at their peaks

There are few movies as suited to the energy of April Fools Day as 2008's Step Brothers. First released to outraged reviews and a thoroughly "meh" reception from the public, the film has been reevaluated lately as a cult comedy classic (via Decider), one that skewers the immaturity of fortysomething protagonists Dale (John C. Reilly) and Brennan (Will Ferrell) with aplomb. Critics who'd condemned Step Brothers for glorifying bad behavior and middle aged men living with parents had missed the point entirely: the movie itself condemned consumer culture for producing men who act like grown children.

Luckily Step Brothers isn't a polemic, and it gleefully indulges in stupid and subversive humor. Fart, poop, and sex jokes abound, genitalia is placed on drum sets repeatedly, and Dale and Brennan fight a group of small children. The two even play a prank war on Brennan's real estate agent brother by wearing Nazi uniforms and staging murder scenes at a pivotal house showing. Featuring hilarious supporting performances from Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott, Step Brothers should not be missed if you're a fan of crude, ridiculous comedies, and is streaming now on Sling TV.

Super Troopers is a goofy, low-key cop comedy

The first movie from sketch troop Broken Lizard, the low-budget comedy Super Troopers features the group as bored, good-natured state troopers in a fictional Vermont small town. Here the "super troopers" of the title don't usually have much to do, so they wile away their days with syrup chugging contests, messing with stoned teenagers, and car radio pranks — at least until a dead body and a marijuana shipment show up where they're not supposed to.

Super Troopers didn't do huge numbers in theaters, but the movie's rambling energy slowly but surely built the film an audience on home video. Roger Ebert was notoriously picky about his comedies but acknowledged the "laid-back charm that is more relaxed and self-confident than the manic laffaminit style of the 'Police Academy' pictures." 

Broken Lizard would make several other movies, including Beerfest and Club Dread, but Super Troopers remains their most beloved collaboration, with the group reprising their roles many years later, for 2018's Super Troopers 2. If you'd like to see "meow" inserted into casual conversation yourself, Super Troopers is available for Hulu and Prime subscribers.