The 10 Funniest Movies of 2022
As theaters start to slowly return to normal, one area of the movie business is still pretty dormant: comedies. Outside of a Minions: The Rise of Gru or The Lost City, the big screen wasn’t all that hospitable to lighthearted fare, instead catering largely to Marvel blockbusters, action flicks and Elvis. Can comedies still thrive when audiences just want overblown spectacle?
Let’s hope so because filmmakers delivered plenty of really funny movies in 2022. Here are the 10 best…
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
First, the bad news: This occasionally brilliant not-really-a-biopic of “Weird Al” Yankovic eventually runs out of gas, turning into a fairly ho-hum sendup of bad 1980s action movies. But before then, Daniel Radcliffe and director/co-writer Eric Appel have a blast telling Yankovic’s “story,” gleefully making up plenty of details while spoofing rock-music biographies along the way. Not since Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story has a movie so happily set a blowtorch to the conventions of Hollywood’s silliest genre, treating the familiar rise-then-fall dramatic narrative as a clothesline for corny jokes, goofy cameos and, of course, the man’s inexhaustible parody songs. Radcliffe’s decision to do whatever the hell he wants since putting down Harry Potter’s magic wand remains fascinating: He doesn’t look much like “Weird Al,” but his deadpan performance gives Weird its enchanting WTF energy.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Most went to this giddy meta-comedy for its premise: Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage, the superstar gonzo actor who’s recruited by the CIA to stop a dangerous criminal. But as fun as it was to watch Cage do a heightened, ridiculous version of his oft-ridiculous self, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent wouldn’t have been nearly as delightful without his costar. So raise a glass to Pedro Pascal, who plays the overly enthusiastic billionaire Javi (the man the CIA thinks is a bad guy), who invites his hero Cage to a private party. This was the bromance of the year, with the two guys bonding and impetuously deciding to make a (really terrible-sounding) film together. There are plenty of shout-outs to Cage’s over-the-top career sprinkled throughout Massive Talent, but what really makes the movie sing is the Oscar-winner’s complete commitment to the silliness — and Javi’s genuine fandom for the actor. In Cage’s worst films, the laughs are unintentional, but here every single one of them happens on purpose.
Among the best running jokes in movies from 2022 appeared in Turning Red, whose young characters are obsessed with the boy band 4*Town, which actually has five members in it — a discrepancy no one can explain. Pixar’s latest was one of its silliest and sunniest in recent years, telling the story of Mei (Rosalie Chiang), an adorkable Toronto teen who discovers something astounding: When she loses control of her emotions, she turns into a big red panda. A metaphor for puberty and the awkwardness of feeling like an outsider, Mei’s freaky shapeshifting tendency is also an opportunity for lots of humor as she and her best pals geek out in preparation for an upcoming 4*Town concert. Few of us fondly remember the pain of adolescence, but Turning Red transforms that universal anguish into something heartwarming and hilarious.
This contemporary riff on Pride and Prejudice focuses on a group of close gay friends making their yearly pilgrimage to Fire Island, looking for no-strings hookups and one last great time before the house they’ve always rented gets sold. If you know the Jane Austen novel, you’ll know how Fire Island plays out, kind of, because director Andrew Ahn and writer-star Joel Kim Booster have brought a lot of modern-day freshness to the 200-year-old tale. As such, we get myriad great jokes about OnlyFans and LGBTQ+ culture, the film riffing on everything from Amy Schumer to the ways in which Asian men are treated in gay dating circles. Costar Bowen Yang (who plays Booster’s best bud) has long been a highlight of Saturday Night Live, but he’s just as amusing (and even touching) as an insecure nerd, with Conrad Ricamora perfect as the guy Booster will fall for, against his better judgment. Love’s funny that way.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.
Based on her own short, writer-director Adamma Ebo’s debut is part mockumentary, part commentary, part excellent showcase for Regina Hall. There’s a very good chance some people only know Hall as one of the hosts of this year’s disastrous Academy Awards, but she’s been doing terrific work for years in everything from the Best Man films to Girls Trip to Support the Girls. In Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul., she plays Trinitie, the super-positive wife of Lee-Curtis (Sterling K. Brown), a passionate pastor who lost his huge following after being embroiled in a sex scandal involving young men. The movie purports to document the couple’s road to redemption, which allows Hall to show off the sharp comic instincts that have always served her well: She’s always so real, projecting an everyday normalcy that belies the anxiety and rage lingering just below the surface. Along with Brown’s smiling scammer, she turns a film about the hypocrisy of organized religion into something both cutting and weirdly moving.
A comedy of perpetual discomfort, writer-director Owen Kline’s debut presents us with a group of the prickliest, most unkempt people imaginable and then leaves them to their own devices, watching as they quickly make each other miserable. Daniel Zolghadri plays Robert, a teenager who longs to be a provocative cartoonist in the style of Robert Crumb, dropping out of school and leaving home to make his name. But Funny Pages is no heartwarming coming-of-age tale: Our antihero is kind of a jerk, and his would-be new mentor, a bitter former colorist named Wallace (Matthew Maher), isn’t just surly but also perhaps disturbed. None of this should be funny, but Kline and his cast mine the humor from their maladjusted characters, observing how the world of underground comic books is far less flashy and slick than those Marvel superhero flicks that now rule the planet. The people in Funny Pages don’t cozy up to you, but that’s what makes them so appealing: No film in 2022 had more acidic, cringe-inducing laughs than this one.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
This sequel to the 2019 hit might actually be funnier than the original. For one thing, there’s a twist early on in Glass Onion, in which a wealthy entrepreneur (Edward Norton) invites his friends over to his swanky place for a murder-mystery party, that’s so clever that I’m not going to spoil it. But beyond simply throwing shade at the wealthy, writer-director Rian Johnson also takes aim at envy, frenemies, COVID and the ways that money changes people. Norton is inspired as a self-satisfied tech douchebag, while Kate Hudson has a ball playing an airhead. And, of course, there’s Daniel Craig reprising his role as Benoit Blanc, still an amusing creation but also, intriguingly, somewhat taking a little bit of a backseat to the colorful menagerie of potential murderers around him. Both the laughs and the surprises are plentiful in this very satisfying Part Two.
Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe
It’s been 26 years since Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, so perhaps there wasn’t much reason to be optimistic about a big-screen sequel. Thankfully, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe was a worthy follow-up, which is to say I found it so incredibly, wonderfully stupid. These lovably immature teens go to NASA (don’t ask), get transported to our time (don’t ask) and eventually get contacted by a parallel-universe version of themselves (really, don’t ask), all along the way snickering at every dumb, horny thought they have. Who knew anybody could make a great joke about cell phones in 2022? Or that you could still laugh this hard at boys whose sole objective is to get laid? (Heh heh… hard.) At this rate, we won’t get the next installment until 2048. I can’t wait.
Released in September, this romantic comedy about a cynical New York podcaster (producer and co-writer Billy Eichner) who starts dating a sweet, optimistic normie (Luke Macfarlane) crashed and burned at the box office. Was it homophobia? Was it that the film was too aggressively advertised as a groundbreaking gay rom-com, as opposed to just a really funny movie? Maybe, but regardless Bros was that rare film about relationships that was as hilarious as it was genuinely romantic. Dialing back his persona a bit from his Billy on the Street days, Eichner still has plenty of great one-liners, but there’s also a vulnerability that he’s seldom shown before. Satirizing the anxiety of falling in love while also spoofing the conventions of the rom-com, Bros didn’t catch on during its initial release. But here’s hoping audiences discover it down the road.
If this truly is the final installment of the franchise — as was rumored at the time of its release, although Johnny Knoxville has insisted it’s not — then they went out in fine fashion. Jackass Forever has all the stunning stunts and inspired immaturity you’d expect from these guys — but with the addition of new cast members and a growing acknowledgment from Knoxville and his buds that they aren’t getting any younger, this latest sequel also has a warmer, more familial vibe than any previous installment. As a result, this is the first Jackass film that’s actually… sorta poignant? But mostly, it’s funny. Really funny. So many different animals attack them. So many times are their private parts imperiled. So many times you wonder if they’re gonna end up in the hospital. (In one instance, that actually does happen, poor Johnny.) And all the while, their laughter at each other’s misery is contagious, prompting you to laugh right along with them. What a bunch of idiots. What a hilarious movie.