20 Best Comedy Movies of 2022: As time progresses, the vitality of comedy as an artistic genre has only grown in stature for me. The pandemic did make us understand the importance of comfortable and light-hearted humor in our lives. However, with the increase in the discourse on mental health and despair, humorous stories told on celluloid have doubled as therapy in their own right. The need for a good laugh has exponentially increased the number of intelligent and complex life-affirming comedy films on screen.
However, equally brilliant work is being done by filmmakers who eye the world’s darker recesses. Their work is fuelled by pointedly bleak and distressing humor, which makes us laugh meanwhile also making us think about the grave nature of certain issues plaguing society. The comedy films which you will find in the list, hence, are not just comfortable and feel-good dramas but also haunting and actual social parables.
Before getting on with the recommendations, I would especially like to mention a few films that couldn’t make it to the top 20. These include Pixar’s sturdy and charming coming-of-age teenage drama Turning Red, which made typical Asian family values a little more funny and accessible. Also worthy of being mentioned is the vibrant modern dating satire Fresh, which progresses into weird body horror and consists of sharp performances by Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones. Back in Bollywood, we had veteran cinephile, Vasan Bala, revisiting his favorite old-school campy murder mysteries with black comedic conviction in Monica O My Darling.
Just when you think you’ve got what kind of film Brandon Dermer wants to make with I’m Totally Fine, it deceives you big time. The first half is so overcooked and glittery that it resembles a slapstick sitcom with nearly no intent other than being a pulpy guilty pleasure. Also, the eccentric supporting character forming the nucleus of the film doesn’t have enough of an arc.
However, amid all its strangeness, Dermer spins such a wise and funny science fiction yarn through the film that it is hard not to fall for it. The sheer amount of silliness with which the film deals with its protagonist and her grief dials up with such high emotional momentum that it is hard not to be moved by it all. The reason why it mostly succeeds in pulling off its job is the fantastic couple of performances delivered by Jillian Bell and Natalie Morales.
Robert Zemeckis had crafted a sweet-enough character study with Forrest Gump, a sincere and often funny coming-of-age story tailored for its titular character. However, the film lost its charm heavily to the unapologetic and irresponsible pro-American propaganda that grew more noticeable and problematic with time. Thankfully, this Indian adaptation fixes the issues with the original.
Not only does Laal Singh Chaddha proudly wear its inspired humor on its sleeves, but it also retains much more heart than the original. It is an intelligent remake that knows that such an innocent and guileless ‘hero’ is at his best when left apolitical, even as the country that forms his backdrop and originates him is going through broad and dynamic political changes. It is rather basic, but it does the bare minimum with ample care and conviction. In fact, it often becomes better than the Oscar-winning classic that it effectively takes notes from.
On its glistening surface, Thallumaala is only an old wine served in a new bottle. How many times have we seen a rogue somehow romancing a pretty girl who is much higher in terms of status than him? Many. Only Khalid Rahman’s film is about the coming-of-age of that worn-out narrative. In fact, the leading couple’s post-separation banter becomes one of the best musical numbers of the year.
A film that uproots an old-school story from its masala-movie origins and makes it a love story to pop culture’s quirky action entertainment, Thallumaala is uproarious fun to be had. It is overlong and needs a punch of sparkling moments time and again, but it is so intelligent and ultimately self-aware that resistance becomes difficult. If the basic premise alone made the description less than convincing for you, watch it for Tovino Thomas’s brilliant performance.
A good romantic comedy has been missing from Indian cinema lately. Some of them do find a degree of critical and commercial acclaim, but with time, they turn out to be disappointing and forgettable. However, Mithran Jawahar’s Thiruchitrambalam has such a tender classical quality to it that it feels like a breath of fresh air, exactly when we are choking ourselves with inert familiarity.
Starring a brilliant Dhanush and an even more enigmatic Nithya Menon in leading roles, the film uses a very old-school and lengthy setup to conclude with the lovers ending up together. Also, it has two awful love interests written for our irresponsible male protagonist. But the film is also filled with delicate and mature ideas about masculinity and companionship, which work when coupled with its grounded, earthbound storytelling.
An independent filmmaker and the feel-good auteur of Thai cinema, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit gets back to work with a very satisfying, yet also oddly strange, crowd-pleaser. Fast & Feel Love married sports, action, romance, and comedy in a tribute both to the fast-paced American action spectacles and over-the-top sitcoms. It also finds a hilarious way of saying that its director loved Bong Joon-Ho’s mighty thriller Parasite.
None of these descriptions of uproarious comedy, however, will prepare you for the fact that it is a rather well-realized coming-of-age drama. It observes a break-up not only with the utmost sense of reality but also compassion and maturity. The cup-stacking champion protagonist Kao becomes a stand-in for an Asian man who only seems to know how to depend on and needs to learn basic adulting.
The relentless conflict between computerized humans and humanized computers gets an intelligent dark comedic touch by Riley Stearns in his latest feature film Dual. Starring Karen Gillan in what is easily ‘two’ of her finest performances, it taps into the life of a young and distressed woman named Sarah. She is dying, and so she recruits a robot who is supposed to be her exact copy and a better replacement after her demise. Only, she is unexpectedly healing and not dying anymore.
Following this weird yet self-aware dark comedic narrative to its chilling ends, the film is really focused and also casually subversive. The writing invests deeply into the traits of both the Sarahs and, while dealing with other, more stylistic flourishes, tries to flesh them out as humans with their contradictions and complexities. It can also be taken as a blunt and funny satire on the brutal mechanism of capitalism under the veil of democratic functioning.
In what is his first film as a director, BJ Novak doesn’t truly reinvent anything. Set for the most part in Texas, the film’s cocktail of a murder mystery and dark comedy has been served by films far better and worse, so it can’t be lauded for certain originality either. However, it still fascinates because of its immediate political consciousness. It is a substantial and impressive take on one’s national identity and how their individuality becomes an idea worthy of exploitation.
These are such dense and complex themes, but Novak’s writing and direction help in giving the elements an essential human spirit. It also stays true to the genre roots, and as a standalone thriller with a light-hearted comedic element, it never disappoints. It has its own fresh ideas, and the exciting writing choices work well within its lustrous mainstream packaging.
Much of Ayushmann Khurrana’s career is based on comedies that raise important yet taboo topics. While the deliverance of an uncomfortable message in a fun manner is a refreshing approach, he has exploited it lately with tired jokes, characters that border on caricatures, and climaxes, which are long monologues and nearly nothing else. And yes, insert a tedious and seen-it-all romance in the picture.
Anubhuti Kashyap paints a hopeful picture for this sub-genre with Doctor G. Deconstructing the woke liberal masculinity and its constant disregard for women’s needs and aspirations through the story of the sole male student in a gynecology department; it is a film the simple storytelling of which reminds one of the lightweight, inoffensive Hrishikesh Mukherjee classics. Yet, it deals with its subject matter with utmost gravitas and maturity and does not tend to sanitize its nuances of it. Watch out for Sheeba Chaddha’s hilarious takedown of the middle-class Indian mother!
In his sophomore film as a feature director, Sundance alumni Carey Williams adapts his own four-year-old short film. A back-to-basics stoner comedy, Emergency is a thrilling drama that doesn’t need serpentine layers or sophistication in order to commit to its pitch-black tone. It is the kind of film that is primarily reliant on its sharp and whip-smart writing.
Initially, these characters and their banter might seem irritable and pulpy. However, it reveals its narrative to be a broad outgrowth of the larger state of racism in the supposedly inclusive region that is America. A truly brilliant, funny, and unsettling peek into the state of Black and Latino life in the country, Emergency is a must-watch.
There is some form of unbelievability to the fact that Jesse Eisenberg has completed nearly two decades as an actor on-screen. The Social Network star brings a certain crooked charm to his performances. The same love he pours into his immersive first film as a director. When You Finish Saving the World might look like a sweet and sunny indie on the surface, but it packs a lot more beneath.
The mother-son narrative at the heart of the film actually doubles up as a tale of the strain in the bond between two narcissists. However, through the chaotic laughs and instantly funny dialogue, the film slowly builds up into a deeply intimate and moving tale about communication and miscommunication between a couple of individuals. It only is a big plus that Finn Wolfhard and Julianne Moore are fantastic in their leading roles.
Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne really establish themselves as a filmmaking power couple through their latest. In what seems like a slow and sure-footed build-up for a budding romance at first, Am I OK? actually plunges deep into the heart of the best friendship and constructs a refreshing contemporary fable about a working woman who is finally starting to figure out her sexual identity three decades in.
Sonoya Mizuno really uplifts the film with her amiable charm, and her character makes for the kind of free-wheeling bestie we all want in our lives. However, its position as a comedy is ultimately elevated due to the impressive comic timing of Dakota Johnson. She makes the chaos and banter work with her instantly relatable performance.
It just sounds so wrong to have a riotous comedy about two men who are so suicidal that they plan to kill each other one fine morning by escaping the confinements of society and succumbing to their dampened mental health. However, in the hands of the terrific comedy writer Jerrod Carmichael, it somehow feels entirely palpable.
As an oddly entertaining investigation, it is into the mental health issues some of us face on a day-to-day basis. The film is just as dark and tragic. What makes it further challenging to process is the fact that much of it is relatable, as if giving the men watching the film a personal space of sorts. This reflection only doubles with each frame, and the brilliant indie star Christopher Abbott enjoys great chemistry with Carmichael (also the co-lead here). A funny and insightful deliverance of dignity to our imbalances.
A spiritual sequel to the middle-aged pregnancy drama Badhaai Ho (2018), Badhaai Do is possibly the funniest and finest film about homosexuality. In the mainstream medium, it is also the most responsible and sensitive. In the times when queer representation in our country is mostly mediocre and overt, it is masterful in more ways than one.
Taking the touchy subject of lavender marriages with utmost conviction, it is a film with its own fluidity and one which normalizes things rather than lecturing us to do so. Director Harshvardhan Kulkarni does not compromise on the sensuality of the separate couples, and his leads, Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar, perfectly live up to the task.
It won’t be a stretch to say that there is nothing quite like Aavasavyuham (the film’s Malayalam title) in Indian cinema because there really isn’t. A razor-sharp and hilarious mockumentary, it is also a blunt critique of man’s supposed symbiosis with nature, which is somewhat toxic in today’s world, especially in regions located near water sources.
In fact, so audacious and confident is the film’s experiment that it becomes hard to imagine it being as powerful, poker-faced, and funny as regular fiction. Basically, a wise and politically informed subversion of the ‘man in unison with nature,’ that it is not a big-budget fantasy spectacle, is not its concern. Because either way, it is addictive and wants nothing other than the submission from its audience.
This year’s champion of Palme D’or, Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness, is accessible but by no means perfect. Its broad comedy and lengthy running time take us out of the narrative at instances. However, it is still one of the best films of the year. The Swedish auteur’s English-language picture blends the American tradition of celebrating the rich through spectacles of luxury with the satirical European one that takes them down.
Filthy and delicious at the same time, it establishes Ruben as one of the very few mainstream filmmakers of the world who truly understand the power of cinematic intent. Triangle of Sadness is a brilliant comedy that pierces through the foolish and elderly consumers of a luxury yacht, meanwhile telling us that youthful beauty confers power.
Daniels really are two of the wildest and the most imaginative artists living in the world currently. Their sophomore feature film serves them right with worldwide critical and commercial acclaim, as Everything Everywhere All at Once figures out just the right tone and temperament for the weird and poignant ideas of its makers to indeed land.
Following a middle-aged Chinese woman who is so bad at everything that she is capable of anything, the film charts a chaotic and fascinating multiverse journey spanning extensive avatars and finding oddball and goofy purposes for its heroine. Extraordinary visual set-pieces propel the best parts of this epic. However, even at its most basic, it remains a complex take on dysfunctional families and a nuanced fable on the crucial nature of kindness.
I think we should all look at Cooper Raiff and his low-key cinema with immense gratefulness. His portraits of men are precisely how I want to see masculine representation on celluloid. The protagonist at the heart of this second feature film by him, just like his debut Shithouse, is sensitive and heartwarming. He is calm and compassionate, doing away from gloomy toxicity.
Cha Cha Real Smooth is a gentle coming-of-age story that has a sense of texture and leaves an everlasting taste. Like some gift that keeps on giving, it solitarily studies the protagonist Andrew and his niceness that persists even in the face of a messy and complicated life in the twenties. Starring Dakota Johnson and Vanessa Burghardt in one of the most authentic and potent depictions of autism, it is a film that is ‘bigger’ than his freshman in the truest sense. Starring bigger names and carrying a bigger heart.
I dig Martin McDonagh’s style, but only to a certain extent. After a point, the filmmaker’s dramatic flourishes feel obstructive and compromised at the service of constant world-building and entertainment. However, The Banshees of Inisherin, in its own compulsively mainstream manner, is his best work to date. Oddly comfortable in its skin of a tragic and bloody buddy-comedy, it is both stunningly patient and sure-footed.
Starring Colin Farrell in the most touching performance of his career, this civil war-ridden and extensively Irish drama speaks a universal language when talking about the death of friendships. A set of beautiful performances anchors this outstanding take on male loneliness, anguish, and despair. Don’t worry; the light-hearted laughs are pretty much still there.
In what is only his first film, budding Iranian filmmaker Panah Panahi ingeniously proves himself. Hit the Road is a tranquil, mysterious but overall therapeutic and feel-good road movie about a family of two parents and two children traveling to the barren and hilly tracts of the northwest to do something meaningful. The understated allure is never at odds with the overblown and fourth-wall-breaking charm that the film maintains right till the very end. Also, Rayan Sarlak is really good as one cute little twerp of a boy!
Nevertheless, it also is a delicate and masterly familial portrait that grows on you whenever you think of it. The film’s core hides something utterly bleak and political, but such is its brightness that it never breaks your heart with such concerns. But don’t mistake it as a crowd-pleaser because the depiction of family dynamics really shows Panahi’s complex stance on humanity, something that he possibly takes from his father, the great Jafar Panahi.
Easily the funniest and the most charming feel-good drama of the year, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On ultimately realizes the short-format internet sensation that the lively one-inch shell became. For a stop-motion story, it avoids the kind of corny sentimentality or dramatic conflict that storytellers plague their art with in order to make it engaging. It is both without being too expensive or detached.
A mockumentary in format and character study at heart, perhaps the finest thing about the writing here is that it really understands both the mediums and commits to them on an emotional level. This ultimately makes the little shell and his life relatable to us and makes us want to understand him before expressing our most profound admiration for him. It is easily the most singular and adorable movie-watching experience I had all year.
Living a Hrishikesh Mukherjee life, dreaming a Wes Anderson world.
1990s 2000s 2010s 2011 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020s 2021 2022 2023 Action Adam Driver Adventure Animation Anurag Kashyap Apple TV+ Bengali Biography Black Comedy Canada Cannes Certificate: PG-13 Certificate: R Certificate: TV-14 Certificate: TV-MA China Christian Bale Christopher Nolan Color Comedy Coming of Age Crime Dark Comedy Disney+ Hotstar Documentary Drama English Ethan Hawke Family Fantasia Fantasy France French German Germany Greta Gerwig HBO Max Hindi History Horror Hulu India Italian Italy Japan Japanese Korean Leonardo DiCaprio Malayalam MAMI Marathi Martin Scorsese MUBI Music Musical Mystery Netflix Netflix Original NYAFF Oscars OTT Paul Dano Poland Prime Video Romance Rooney Mara Satire Sci-Fi Short Film South Korea Spanish Streaming Sundance Sundance Film Festival Tamil Thriller TIFF Trailer TV Mini Series TV Series UK USA War Western