Aughts Movie Comedies: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Maybe we didn’t realize it at the time -- we’d just scored our first iPod Shuffle, after all -- but the 2000s were a golden age of movie comedy. We can’t get a dang comedy booked in an actual movie theater in 2022, but in that glorious decade, an endless laugh buffet served up dishes like Step Brothers, The Hangover, Borat, Superbad, The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Role Models, Juno, Wedding Crashers -- and we’re barely past the salad bar.
Since this is one of those all-you-can-eat deals, let’s load up our tray with the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2000s movie comedies.
We’re going to skip the blockbusters here: the Apex Apatow, the endless classics from the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly machine, and all of the different Owen Wilson/Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn/Steve Carell mixes and matches. You know ‘em. You love ‘em. You don’t need us to rehash ‘em. Instead, let’s revisit three aughts classics that are worth searching up on your streaming service. Starting with …
Mike Judge had hit it big before, first on television with Beavis and Butthead, then with monster hit King of the Hill. But his movie stuff, while beloved, seems to slip under our pop culture radar. Office Space rightly found an audience after its theatrical release, an endless treasure trove of quotes, gifs, and memes.
But Idiocracy, arguably Judge’s crowning achievement? This one is just waiting for us to rediscover its hilarity, along with its almost frightening ability to predict our future … er, present.
Idiocracy is an argument against Darwinism, a society in which only the dumbest survive. Is it possible for our culture to grow progressively more stupid? (Blinks.) You tell us.
Best in Show (2000)
We’re partial to most Christopher Guest/Eugene Levy laughers, but this one holds a special place in our hearts. Fred Willard was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination -- robbed, we say! -- for his work as Buck Laughlin, the idiot color commentator at the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.
All of the Guest regulars, including Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, and Michael McKean, are in fine form. Plus, dogs!
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
You could argue that there are funnier Adam Sandler movies from the 2000s, and you might just be right. But there isn’t a better one. Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson recognized actual seething anger bubbling just beneath the surface of Sandler’s comic man-children. And for the first time, he allowed it to boil over.
Throw in some Philip Seymour Hoffman spicy sauce and you’ve got a recipe for uncomfortable comic greatness.
Like all decades, there were plenty of contenders for the bad category. We chose three that are not only steaming piles of excrement in their own right, but also represent a particular kind of terrible aughts comedy.
Meet the Spartans (2008)
This poopfest is emblematic of at least a dozen aughts comedies (see also: Not Another Teen Movie, Disaster Movie, Epic Movie, Scary Movie, You Get the Idea Movie). These paint-by-numbers parodies make fun of movies that were actually good. Well. Movies that were actually successful.
Meet the Spartans is like a Mad TV parody sketch, except that it runs for two hours and spoofs a bunch of IP that stopped being relevant 20 minutes after its release. Ooh, you took on Deal or No Deal? Edgy!
It wasn’t a good decade for Eddie Murphy, who spent the 2000s becoming King of the Razzies. He’s a nine-time nominee and three-time winner, y’all! After winning the ‘Worst Actor Ever’ Razzie, he even stopped acting for a while. His performances in movies like Norbit earned him that honor.
The 2000s also saw Eddie become his own stinker category, with messes like The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Meet Dave, Imagine That, and Daddy Day Care. Fortunately, after taking a break and coming back with movies like Dolemite is My Name, Murphy seems to have found his way again.
The Love Guru (2008)
Which is more than you can say for Mike Myers. His Pentaverate debacle (Netflix staffers want to hold CEO Ted Sarandos accountable for the mess) is a continuation of failed projects that began with his Love Guru.
Myers’ well-meaning comedy took flak for its culturally insensitive characters, but another sin was the lack of laughs. Also rotten in the aughts? Movies from other ex-SNL cast members like Chris Kattan’s Corky Romano (2001) and Rob Schneider’s The Hot Chick (2002). Keep these guys away from Ted Sarandos.
And here we go from bad to worse. These aughts comedies were not only unfunny but egregiously offensive to our sensibilities as well. Hold your noses.
The Hottie and the Nottie (2008)
Yeah, we get it. Paris Hilton made a sex tape. And because that was A Thing in the 2000s, entrepreneurial movie producers decided we wanted to see more of Hilton. Well, less of her, but you get the idea.
At the 29th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards, Paris tied Eddie Murphy’s record by taking home three Razzies in the same year, including Worst Actress and Worst Screen Couple for The Hottie and the Nottie, as well as Worst Supporting Actress for something called Repo! The Genetic Opera.
Our beef is that 1 Night in Paris is funnier.
Little Man (2006)
We’ve told you about the damage that the Wayans brothers did to spoof movies. Little Man is an entirely different kind of crime against comedy.
You know your comedy is in trouble when it’s advertised as “From the guys who brought you White Chicks!” This time, it’s a new type of offensive, with Marlon Wayans portraying … some kind of little person? Marketing materials describe the character as “vertically challenged” and “very short,” but since he’s supposed to be the size of a baby, we’re not talking Tom Cruise without his lifts. The CGI is unconvincing and borderline creepy, essentially Photoshopping an adult head onto a tiny body.
Still want to check it out? Rob Schneider cameos as a dinosaur. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (2006)
First of all, shouldn’t this just be called Larry the Health Inspector? Larry’s going to get stretched a little thin trying to install my cable and inspect the raw sushi.
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector could have easily landed in the Bad category, but the inclusion of a Kid Rock cameo pushed it into the Ugly. At least we learned something new by revisiting this movie -- apparently, Larry has made a series of direct-to-video sequels to already mediocre comedies, including Tooth Fairy 2 (replacing The Rock) and Jingle All the Way 2 (replacing Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger). We’re a little busy this week but you should check ‘em out. Or on second thought, git-r-don’t.
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Top image: 20th Century Fox