Looking Back: Ethan Picks the Top 6 Most Hilarious Comedies of 2013
by Ethan Anderton
December 29, 2013
After The Golden Briefcase's Tim Buel delivered his picks for the Top 8 Horror Films of 2013, it's time to focus on another specific genre with my picks for the Top 6 Most Hilarious Comedies of 2013. The genre doesn't get its due diligence during awards season (even though the Golden Globes try to shine a light with their Best Comedy or Musical category), so it's only right to acknowledge the best films in comedy each year. Comedy is one of the most subjective genres out there, so this is hardly an objective list, but when taking into account filmmaking fundamentals and general hilarity, these films came out on top this year.
#6. We're the Millers
As long as Jennifer Aniston keeps doing R-rated comedies like Wanderlust, Horrible Bosses (with a forthcoming sequel), and this latest drug-fueled effort, she can keep making those romantic comedies that no one really cares about in between. With "Saturday Night Live" star Jason Sudeikis taking another big step forward as a leading man, this comedy from Dodgeball director Rawson Thurber Marshall delivers some huge laughs. And while the performances certainly drive that (including a stellar supporting double dose from Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn), it's the near flawless script by Wedding Crashers writers Bob Fisher & Steve Faber (with help from Sean Anders & John Morris) that really made this work.
#5. The Way Way Back
Making their feature directing debut, comedians and TV stars turned Oscar-winning writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash step up to the plate with this hilarious and charming coming-of-age comedy. Led by a subtle but fantastic breakthrough performance from teenage star Liam James, this comedy was a perfect bit of alternate programming in the blockbuster summer. Complete with Steve Carell taking the surprising role of a douchebag potential step-father, and Sam Rockwell as the young protagonist's laid back guiding light, this film delivers a summer that we all wish we could have lived through during out adolescence.
#4. The Kings of Summer
As a sucker for coming-of-age tales, along with the aforementioned #5 film on this list, I was already anticipating enjoying this film when it premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. With yet another spectacular breakthrough performance from teenage star Nick Robinson (making his feature film debut), the story paints a familiar portrait of a teen desperate for independence in a house that feels like it's always slowly closing in on him. With his friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and the scene-stealing oddball Biaggio (Moises Arias) in tow, they set out to build out a house for themselves, and hilariously discover more about their friendship and life on their own. Nick Offerman again brings more solid comedy work as Robinson's father with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts guiding them all with an impressive feature directing debut (they'll reteam for Sundance 2014's Nick Offerman: American Ham).
#3. This is The End
Take the apocalyptic setting that usually shows up at least once during the summer, and combine the piping hot comedy gang of Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, James Franco, Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson (not to mention a slew of all-star cameos) and you've got the perfect blockbuster comedy. With everyone in the cast playing exaggerated versions of their Hollywood personae, there's plenty of pop culture references and confrontation for anyone who has enjoyed the likes of Superbad, Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin and more. The scene that our own Joey Magidson put in his 20 Best Scenes of 2013 is just one piece of this raucously hilarious piece of work, not to mention a ridiculous ending that will have you cracking up as the credits roll.
#2. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
It's a miracle that this sequel was even made. After Paramount Pictures initially turned down the chance to greenlight a follow-up to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell finally convinced the studio to let them get their news team craziness back on the big screen. After the first film became a revered hit over the last nine years, the sequel had a lot to live up to. While it's not as good as the original film, some biting satire and absolute ridiculous plot points (along with an ending that contains the strangest laughs ever to grace a mainstream comedy), the sequel delivers plenty of hilarity, with a gaggle of cameos that make this a key player in The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. We just hope that McKay's alternate version of the film with completely different jokes sees the light of day sometime down the road for even more fun.
#1. The World's End
Completing his Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, director Edgar Wright sure had his work cut out for him to deliver a film as funny and finely tuned as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. But teaming with his longtime friends and collaborators Simon Pegg (who also co-write the film) and Nick Frost, this tremendous trio comes through with a film that is packed with marvelously shot action sequences, and witty writing that simultaneously rivals and pays tribute to Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Allowing Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan to further stretch their comedic muscles, the film is nothing short of a comedic masterpiece, and is not only the best comedy of 2013, but one of the best films in general of the entire year.
Honorable Mention: Pain & Gain surprised and perplexed audiences who have come to expect enormous action from director Michael Bay, but with this considerably smaller budgeted dark comedy, he shows another side. While it's still driven by superficiality, the film contains some great black comedy, with Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg making for a hell of a team. It's a story that feels like the Coen Brothers and Michael Bay had a misfit child, but it works.
That's it for Ethan's picks for the best comedies of the year. And in case you missed our other retrospective posts earlier this week during all the Christmas craziness, our awards expert Joey Magidson counted down this year's best performances (for both actors and actresses) along with his 20 Favorite Scenes of 2013. In addition, we also tossed up my picks for the 15 Best Official Movie Posters. and Tim Buel's 8 Favorite Horror Films. We've got more lists coming to wrap up 2013, including Ethan's reflection on his 13 Most Anticipated Films of 2013, and our favorite movies in general. What do you think of Ethan's top comedy picks?