Looking Back: Ethan Picks the Six Most Hilarious Comedies of 2012
by Ethan Anderton
December 26, 2012
Along with the horror movies of the world, most comedies seem to go overlooked when awards seasons comes around. Even though Judd Apatow tries to make his comedies nearly the same length as some Oscar contenders, even his more heartfelt and grounded comedies end up getting ignored. Therefore, we'd like to take this time honor some of the best comedies with my picks for the six most hilarious comedies of 2012. In case it hasn't become clear over these year-end proceedings, these are my personal picks. Since comedy is one of the most subjective art forms, there's likely to be opposition. But that's all part of the fun.
Without any further delay, let's get right into naming my favorite six comedies from 2012, starting with…
#6. The Watch
With a dismal 17% on Rotten Tomatoes, I'm sure to be in the minority on this one, but this sci-fi comedy just worked for me. Directed by Hot Rod helmer Akiva Shaffer (complete with a quick cameo from the other Lonely Island crew members Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone), this was a simple idea that was executed with a lot of laughs. Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller and Richard Ayoade take on a neighborhood watch group and encounter a deadly alien threat. The chemistry between Vaughn and Hill by itself is enough hilarity for anyone, but I laughed consistently throughout this whole movie, and I'm not sure why it got such a bad wrap earlier this year.
Jack Black is already getting some awards attention for his performance in this film (sadly that will probably be the only awards love for Bernie), and for damn good reason. The new film from Richard Linklater is easily the best thing Black has done in a few years, and the dark comedy flare makes it that much better. Black essentially disappears into this role of a kindhearted, well-loved local mortician who strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine). But when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she's alive while enjoying her fortune. What makes this film truly unique is the use of amusing talking heads to tell parts of the story by the real people who witnessed this shockingly true story. Oh, and this should be the Matthew McConaughey performance everyone is talking about instead of Magic Mike. It's now available on Netflix Instant.
#4. Pitch Perfect
Despite the presence of Anna Kendrick, this just felt like a film that was capitalizing on the popularity of "Glee." Using acapella groups to allow for the presence of music throughout the film, it just seemed like weak sauce. Surprisingly enough, Pitch Perfect delivered some of the biggest laughs of the year thanks to Rebel Wilson (a scene stealer along the lines of Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids), a truly witty script by "30 Rock" producer and writer Kay Cannon and a fine feature film directing debut by TV helmer Jason Moore. Thankfully, the soundtrack doesn't just exploit chart-topping hits from today, and despite having a familiar romance, the film feels fresh and hilarious.
Though people have resorted to rolling their eyes at Seth MacFarlane (I'm still a "Family Guy" fan and can't wait to see him host the Oscars next year), the animation and voice master's debut as a feature film star and director really made a splash this summer. With Mark Wahlberg proving his impressive comedic chops even more, this film about a man and his living childhood teddy bear isn't just a raunchy comedy, but it has the heart of a truly touching family film. In addition, there's only a few "Family Guy" style jokes (not unexpected) that allow MacFarlane to tell a story that lasts longer than 22-minutes. Plus, you'd be hard pressed to find a funnier scene than Giovanni Ribisi creepily dancing in front of his TV.
#2. Sleepwalk with Me
Comedian Mike Birbiglia is the third person on this list to make their feature directorial debut. Even more surprising is Sleepwalk with Me takes the traditional comedian route by utilizing a story that pulls from Birbiglia's stand-up act and real-life personal problems with sleepwalking. Most of the time, that happens on TV with a relative amount of success, but it's much harder in the feature film world. That's why this flick went the indie route with producer Ira Glass ("This American Life") in tow and ended up wowing audiences at Sundance. With flares of Wayne's World, "Seinfeld" and Woody Allen, Mike Birbiglia delivers a film that is not only charming, but absolutely hilarious. It's now available on Netflix Instant.
#1. 21 Jump Street
After making my list of the six surprisingly great films of 2012 last week, it shouldn't be surprising that this is my favorite comedy of the year (it will likely be on my Best Films of 2012 list coming later this week as well). Speaking as someone who couldn't stand Channing Tatum before this film, his teaming with Jonah Hill made for one of my favorite duos of the year and an unlikely comedy home run. Throw in a supporting cast that includes Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Dave Franco, Brie Larson, Nick Offerman and one of the best cameos of the year (we won't spoil it), and 21 Jump Street was more than a surprise on the big screen. Frankly, we can't wait for the developing sequel.
So there you have it. Those are my picks the big laughs from 2012. Stay tuned for the end of our year-end look back at 2012 with lists for the best movies of the year from myself, Jeremy Kirk and Ben Pearson tomorrow and Friday. As we said earlier, comedy is easily one of the most subjective art forms, so if you disagree with any of the choices above, feel free to sound off below and tell us what some of your favorite comedies of the year were. Meanwhile, we'll just hope the abysmal Parental Guidance with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler didn't make the cut at the last minute. That would be the opposite of a Christmas miracle.