The 40 Greatest Action-Comedies of All Time
On its face, it might seem like a weird combination: an action movie mixed with a comedy? Aren’t action films supposed to be intense and epic? What’s funny about people risking their lives to defeat the bad guys? But in the last 40-something years as the action-comedy has become a popular strain of event film, the pairing has made perfect sense. For one thing, both genres require pyrotechnics: Action flicks have big explosions, and comedies have big laughs. Plus, by inserting some wisecracks in the midst of a pedal-to-the-metal car chase, you both heighten the drama and offer an unexpected tonal counterpoint. You and I probably wouldn’t think of telling jokes in the midst of a shootout but, hey, we’re not movie characters. They can multitask like you wouldn’t believe.
If you describe a film as an action-comedy, most people will have an idea of what you’re talking about. Maybe it’s about two cops — their personalities stunningly different — who have to work together to take down some crooks. Maybe it features some ordinary, smartass dudes who stumble into some extraordinarily crazy situation. But to select the 40 best action-comedies, I had to nail down the specifics of the genre, which meant figuring out what counts and, more importantly, what doesn’t.
There’s no hard-and-fast definition of an action-comedy, but here was what I used: It has to be an action movie that’s also meant to be a comedy. That may sound ridiculously obvious, but what I mean is that, for my list-making purposes, it can’t be an action movie that just so happens to be funny as well. Die Hard is full of wry Bruce Willis punchlines, but I think most reasonable people wouldn’t classify that film as a comedy. Likewise, 48 Hrs., often hailed as the birth of the buddy-comedy, is really more of a drama/thriller highlighted by Eddie Murphy’s inspired riffing. It’s not a comedy in the way so many buddy-comedies later would be. Same goes for the original Lethal Weapon, a terrific action-thriller that’s not as funny as you might remember. (For example, the film opens with Mel Gibson’s character seriously pondering suicide.)
I have nothing against any of the three great movies that I just mentioned, but they don’t fit what we now think of as an action-comedy. Likewise, if you’re looking for The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters and Back to the Future in my rankings, they didn’t quite reach the level of qualifying as “an action movie,” and while I was awfully tempted to include Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, it’s noticeably less action-y than its predecessors. To make the cut, I had to believe the film could be accurately classified as an action movie (or, at the very least, a parody of an action movie) and as a comedy. Some films do one of the two genres really well, with the other being more of a peripheral concern — but to make my top 40, they had to celebrate two great tastes that taste great together.
Deadpool 2 (2018)
If you want to build on the success of the first Deadpool, it makes sense to hire director David Leitch, one of the architects of the original John Wick. Not surprisingly, Deadpool 2 contains even more bruising, bloody action sequences, while Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson remains a lovable pain in the ass. This spirited sequel proved that the feisty original wasn’t a fluke: Now we just have to hope that officially joining the MCU in Deadpool 3 doesn’t ruin our favorite foul-mouthed superhero.
Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
Utterly disreputable, the flagrant violence and dark humor of Shoot ‘Em Up was probably destined to turn off most viewers. (Not surprisingly, the film crashed and burned at the box office.) But Clive Owen is having the time of his life as a tough-guy loner named Smith who’s tasked with protecting a helpless baby from the evil Hertz (Paul Giamatti). Every kill is punctuated with a laugh, as writer-director Michael Davis encourages us to wince and groan at each grisly, gleefully over-the-top moment. (Even the sex scene, featuring Monica Bellucci, is played for laughs.) This may be the least-remembered movie on this list — it never even developed a cult following — but it’s nasty fun.
Bad Boys (1995)
Released at a time when Martin Lawrence was a bigger star than Will Smith, Bad Boys was the buddy-cop comedy on cocaine: The film is all bluster and showy sequences, with first-time director Michael Bay high on the possibilities of what he can do on a film set. Bay would rarely be this intentionally funny again — I’m still unsure if he understands that Pain & Gain is a satire — but Lawrence and Smith’s braggadocious chemistry is the movie’s best special effect.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
An action-comedy that was nearly enveloped by tabloid scandal — Brad cheated on Jen with Angelina! — Mr. & Mrs. Smith succeeded because of old-fashioned movie-star chemistry and a clever conceit. Pitt and Jolie played a going-through-the-motions married couple who discover they’re actually both assassins, eventually having to face off. The film’s mostly forgotten now, along with the leads’ tumultuous relationship, but Mr. & Mrs. Smith’s high-concept hook still has plenty of juice. Sometimes, it’s just enjoyable to watch beautiful people kick and punch one another.
Examining the grisly reality of what it would mean to become a vigilante superhero, Kick-Ass was a necessary correction to the gleeful parade of comic-book films of the time. The characters are all too human and horribly flawed, and the brutal violence has consequences on their very vulnerable bodies. Audiences laughed because we recognized what a fantasy most superhero movies were by comparison, but we also grimaced because of the pain and mental anguish that beset these people, who desperately used disguises to hide from who they were.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, John Carpenter was America’s best genre director. But the man responsible for Halloween, Escape From New York and The Thing got some of his worst reviews when he tried his hand at action-comedy. Now beloved, Big Trouble in Little China starred Carpenter’s frequent collaborator Kurt Russell as an ordinary truck driver who gets mixed up in an ancient battle between Chinese warrior gangs. Carpenter never backed off his belief that Big Trouble was good, and he was right to do so: Although he switched gears tonally, he crafted a joyful kung-fu goof that’s besotted with the escapism and make-believe of the movies. And Russell is a hoot giving a performance that cheekily harks back to the square-jawed silver-screen stars of yesteryear.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
The Avengers’ designated comic relief got his own standalone movie in 2015, which was topped by this superior sequel. Paul Rudd is an endearing, smart-ass Scott Lang, but he’s better working opposite Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne — the Wasp to his Ant-Man — and director Peyton Reed doesn’t skimp on the sort of blockbuster action you’d expect from the MCU. But it’s worth noting that part of the reason Ant-Man and the Wasp succeeds is that the stakes are kept fairly human-scaled: For once, a Marvel movie isn’t about the end of the universe. That relative modesty allows this unassuming crowd-pleaser to be so good — not to mention Michael Peña’s scene-stealing turn as Scott’s trusty buddy.
The Mummy (1999)
Writer-director Stephen Sommers knew what he was doing casting Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell, the cocksure, slightly dopey adventurer who guides brilliant librarian Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) in a search for an ancient Egyptian city. The Mummy is a self-consciously wholesome adventure film full of laughs and romance, but Sommers and his cast never wink at the audience, never act like they’re above the material. This may be an old-fashioned actioner, but it’s done with high style and a lot of charm. Fraser was never funnier or more dashing.
Game Night (2018)
Why did Game Night have to make the list? Because Cliff Martinez’s score ingeniously apes the slinky, high-anxiety sound of thriller soundtracks. And because of Rachel McAdams’ genius line-reading here:
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
In recent years, Dwayne Johnson has wasted his time in bad action vehicles, but Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is the happy exception. The Robin Williams movie from the 1990s is pretty forgettable, but this reboot boasts a terrific premise: A bunch of kids get trapped inside a Jumanji video game Tron-style, transformed into adult characters within the game. As a result, Johnson may look like the Rock, but he’s really an insecure teen nerd. He’s not the only one having a ball: Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan are all very entertaining in this witty, heartfelt action movie that’s part Big, part Indiana Jones.
Pineapple Express (2008)
Understandably, Seth Rogen has distanced himself from James Franco, but there’s no questioning the on-screen chemistry they once possessed. Look no further than Pineapple Express, where they play stoners who run afoul of a drug lord, resulting in the most action-packed Judd Apatow comedy. Apatow served as producer and helped develop the story, but give credit to indie director David Gordon Green, who figured out how to balance the violence and laughs so adeptly.
Romancing the Stone (1984)
Steven Spielberg was a mentor to Robert Zemeckis, so it’s understandable that Zemeckis would make a Spielberg-ian action-comedy that borrowed heavily from the template of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Romancing the Stone starred Kathleen Turner as a popular, sheltered romance novelist who gets sucked into a harrowing real-world adventure for which she’s not prepared — luckily, she meets a cocky, dashing smuggler (Michael Douglas), who helps keep her alive while they travel across Colombia looking for her missing sister. Romantic sparks fly, the one-liners abound and the chemistry is plenty palpable.
Tropic Thunder (2008)
The debate continues to rage about whether Kirk Lazarus’ use of blackface (and that voice) is offensive or a biting satire of self-important actors, but Tropic Thunder remains a sharp, silly look at Hollywood blockbuster culture. The scary thing is you can easily imagine some awards-hungry studio turning Tropic Thunder’s made-up war memoir into a movie. Even scarier, Tom Cruise continues to be obsessed with the idea of making a Les Grossman spinoff vehicle.
True Lies (1994)
Based on a French comedy, True Lies now resides in this weird halfway point in James Cameron’s career: It was after Terminator 2: Judgment Day and before Titanic, essentially marking the end of his action-movie heyday and his transition to hugely sprawling Oscar-winning epics. He’s not known for being the funniest guy, but despite some aspects of the film that haven’t aged well — including its depiction of its Middle Eastern villains — this is a deeply amusing blockbuster in which Arnold Schwarzenegger got to use what he learned on Twins and Kindergarten Cop within a Cameron action spectacular. Smartly, the filmmaker surrounded his star with great actors, and Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold and Bill Paxton are all on this movie’s tongue-in-cheek wavelength.
The Other Guys (2010)
What’s overlooked about The Other Guys, a very silly riff on cop thrillers, is that it’s actually a pretty good simulation of a cop thriller. Director Adam McKay gave the action scenes a sleek, gritty authenticity while Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg clowned around, both of them trying to be good police officers despite their many, many failings. Of all the Ferrell/McKay collaborations, this may contain the most underrated running joke, which is that Ferrell is endlessly embarrassed by how underwhelming his beautiful, wonderful wife Eva Mendes is. Or maybe it’s all that business concerning Gator the Pimp.
The Nice Guys (2016)
In this scruffy, unapologetically snide L.A. action-comedy, Russell Crowe plays an enforcer and Ryan Gosling stars as a struggling private eye, these lone wolves forced to team up to figure out why a porn star has been murdered. Much like director Shane Black’s previous film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys got good reviews but stiffed at the box office. Too bad: This 1970s-set mystery should have opened the door for a series of Crowe/Gosling whodunits, the two actors just as skillful with a zinger as with an action set piece.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Shane Black revolutionized the action genre in the 1980s with his script for Lethal Weapon, but in the early 2000s, he wanted to try his hand at a romantic comedy. It didn’t work out as planned, and instead we got Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which starred Robert Downey Jr. as a criminal who ends up going to Hollywood as an actor, getting paired with a detective (Val Kilmer) who’s meant to tutor him in how to play a cop. Bolstered by a romantic subplot featuring Michelle Monaghan, Black’s directorial debut is an homage to classic L.A. noirs, containing the sort of rat-a-tat-tat dialogue we’d come to expect from the writer of Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The sequels are good as well, but in terms of pure action-comedy, the first Guardians of the Galaxy gets the nod since the follow-ups delve a little more deeply into darker, more emotional terrain. Here’s where writer-director James Gunn first demonstrated how right he was to tell the story of a group of misfits, led by Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, who bond together to save the universe. This series, and the MCU in general, got bigger and often unwieldy in subsequent years, but GotG was still when these films could balance action, humor and heart.
It’s easy to forget how risky Deadpool was at the time. First of all, who even remembered the character, that random guy who had hung out with Wolverine in that one movie nobody liked? Plus, Ryan Reynolds? The Van Wilder guy? The dude in that awful Green Lantern? Hadn’t his movie career flamed out a couple times already? And R-rated superhero movies were hardly a sure thing. And yet, Deadpool was a smash, with director Tim Miller capitalizing on the ability to show extra gore to concoct some bone-crunching action sequences that went hand-in-hand with the profane dialogue and Reynolds’ snarky humor. For better or worse, this movie is the reason why Reynolds is today an action-comedy star, an inescapable presence in mediocre would-be blockbusters like Red Notice. But at least in Deadpool he turned his glibness into a winning formula.
22 Jump Street (2014)
Making a 21 Jump Street movie was enough of a gamble — what were the odds a follow-up wouldn’t stink? But, lo and behold, 22 Jump Street was just as fun, this time adding sequels to its list of sizable comedic targets. The action set pieces are even bigger and, sometimes, even dopier. (That’s a compliment, by the way: More blockbusters need car chases in motorized carts that look like football helmets.) And give it up to the film’s secret MVP, Jillian Bell, who berates Jonah Hill in myriad hilarious ways.
Black Dynamite (2009)
Michael Jai White, who had worked with director Scott Sanders on the 1999 thriller Thick as Thieves, was showing the filmmaker a picture of himself wearing an afro wig and wielding nunchucks. Inspiration struck for Sanders: “Let’s make a blaxploitation movie, set in the 1970s, now.” And so we got Black Dynamite, a loving send-up of a bygone era of Black cinema, the low-budget production consciously referencing the limited means those earlier directors had when making their action flicks. Black Dynamite failed at the box office, but it’s deservedly gained a cult audience over the years — not to mention sparked a short-lived animated series.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Sometimes when franchises are losing steam, they decide, “Hey, what if we try to make this new one a comedy?” If you’re not careful, the results can be Superman III. But if you’re lucky, you get the third installment of the Indiana Jones series. Sure, Raiders and Temple of Doom had jokes, too, but Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade went for an odd-couple dynamic, pitting Harrison Ford’s plucky archaeologist against his cranky, disapproving father Henry (Sean Connery) as they try to stop those darn Nazis. The two characters’ squabbling amidst fight scenes and chase sequences made this the most lighthearted installment in the franchise, and depending on your temperament, it might also be your favorite if you like your Indy mixed with laughs. Regardless, we can all agree it was very clever of Steven Spielberg to bring his swashbuckling hero together with James Bond.
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
After having an international hit with the zany sports comedy Shaolin Soccer, filmmaker Stephen Chow wanted to do a martial-arts movie. What he came up with was closer to a live-action cartoon. Kung Fu Hustle combines action, comedy and musical, starring himself as a common thief who gets involved in a high-stakes turf war between rival criminal factions. This isn’t a spoof — Chow has clear affection for kung fu — but its over-the-top slapstick spirit is uproarious.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Director Edgar Wright was at his best working with Simon Pegg, the two friends writing the screenplays for Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End. In between, they scripted Hot Fuzz, their amped-up tribute to buddy-cop films, which took the high-octane world of Michael Bay and transported it to a sleepy English small town, where ambitious constable Angel (Pegg) is chagrined to discover he’s been reassigned. Don’t worry, Angel: Soon, you and new partner Butterman (Nick Frost) will learn there’s a lot of nefarious stuff going on in this seemingly tranquil community. Bad Boys II is terrible, but thank god it provided lots of comedic inspiration for this winner.
Team America: World Police (2004)
Everything is funnier if it’s done by puppets: fight sequences, Broadway numbers, sex scenes. Props to director Trey Parker (who cowrote the script with Matt Stone and Pam Brady) not just for conceiving of this send-up of jingoistic action movies but coming up with “America, Fuck Yeah” — and for staging the funniest vomit sequence of all time.
Hot Shots! (1991)
Director Jim Abrahams split from his ZAZ cohorts to make this parody of Top Gun and, frankly, anything else he could think of. (The Fabulous Baker Boys! 9 1/2 Weeks! Dances With Wolves!) Apologies to Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, but Charlie Sheen will always be Topper Harley, the brilliant, troubled fighter pilot who falls in love with his therapist, Ramada (an inspired Valeria Golino). After Hot Shots! was a hit, Abrahams would up the action quotient with Hot Shots! Part Deux, which took aim at Rambo. That movie’s pretty funny, too, but not as great as the first.
Writer-director Paul Feig assumed his Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy would be too busy when he hatched an idea about a CIA office drone who finally gets her wish to go into the field. But luckily for him, and us, McCarthy signed on, making Spy one of the most enjoyable goofs ever on James Bond. It helps that she’s got such a great supporting cast. Jude Law is wonderful as the self-absorbed super-spy. Jason Statham is amazing as an absolute idiot super-spy. And Rose Byrne’s insults remain top-notch, but maybe that’s the Bulgarian clown in us.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Hal Needham was one of the most iconic of all stuntmen, spending years serving as Burt Reynolds’ stunt double. Then, one day, he heard a story about how you couldn’t buy Coors east of the Mississippi. “That gave me the idea for Smokey and the Bandit,” he said. “I thought, ‘What a good idea; bootleg a little Coors, get in a truck, lots of fast cars and a lot of cops chasin’ em.” His old pal Reynolds starred in the film, which was Needham’s directorial debut and the second-highest-grossing movie of 1977. (The top film that year was Star Wars.) It remains a landmark of car-chase comedy.
Rush Hour (1998)
Chris Tucker was the rising star. Jackie Chan was the old pro. Up-and-coming director Brett Ratner put them together, resulting in one of 1998’s most surprising hits. Tucker’s motor-mouthed Carter played well off Chan’s endlessly patient Lee, and even though Rush Hour didn’t feature the sort of mind-blowing fight scenes that had made Chan’s reputation from earlier in his career, it demonstrated that, even in his 40s, the man had incredible moves.
The Incredibles (2004)
Lots of Pixar movies are funny. Lots of Pixar movies have good set pieces. But none is an out-and-out action film the way The Incredibles is, following the amusing exploits of a family of former superheroes trying to be regular folks in a regular suburb. Writer-director Brad Bird concocted a comic-book epic right before Marvel and The Dark Knight popularized the notion, and the eye-popping action sequences remain among Pixar’s most vibrant set pieces. It’s ironic to think that, now in retrospect, The Incredibles is accidentally satirizing the superhero-obsessed world that was soon to come.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
The Thor movies had always had a sense of humor about themselves, but when Marvel brought on Taika Waititi (who’d co-directed the mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows) for Thor: Ragnarok, it was clear the studio wanted to go in a more pronounced comedic direction. Waititi delivered: Chris Hemsworth had never been so charming as the mighty god, paired with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie as they go about their wacky hijinks. (Naturally, Jeff Goldblum also shows up.) In terms of pure laughs, Ragnarok may be the MCU’s high point.
21 Jump Street (2012)
Jonah Hill was interested in doing a big-screen version of 21 Jump Street. So he teamed up with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, making their live-action debut after Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, to craft the definitive example of how to turn a cheesy old 1980s series into something that’s actually good. Bringing hip, irreverent humor to the proceedings, Lord and Miller satirized the original show’s conceit — no way Hill and Channing Tatum look young enough to pass as high-schoolers — while also mocking buddy comedies and action flicks. Incredibly, 21 Jump Street never descends into shtick or smugness: It’s a giddy, goofy, wonderfully dumb time from start to finish.
The Suicide Squad (2021)
James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films were geared to the whole family, but when the writer-director signed on for The Suicide Squad, he made the most of an R rating to produce a hyperviolent, shockingly funny comic-book movie. Sadly, his take on the DC antiheroes was a commercial disappointment, but this is superior to 2016’s Suicide Squad, bringing back Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn but otherwise mostly introducing new characters, including Idris Elba as Bloodsport and John Cena as the bloodthirsty Peacemaker. Even more than Deadpool, The Suicide Squad relished in being rude and vulgar, catering to adults who didn’t want their superhero movies cuddly or squeaky-clean. And the action sequences remain among the most visionary of the era.
The Lego Movie (2014)
How do you follow up your movie adaptation of 21 Jump Street? By tackling Legos. Writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller took what could have been a very cynical, lazy feature-length ad for toys and I.P. and, instead, crafted a dazzling, exciting, really funny, surprisingly touching animated action movie that commented on conformity while providing the humble Emmet (Chris Pratt) with a classic hero’s journey. Tons of Warner Bros. properties get references and teased, but what made The Lego Movie fresh was its wised-up spirit: These filmmakers knew that you knew that they knew what a blatant corporate tie-in the whole enterprise was — but that didn’t mean they couldn’t still show you a rousing good time.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
People sometimes think of 48 Hrs. as an action-comedy, but it’s actually a lot darker and more dramatic than the genre we now think of. Sure, it’s funny, but more as an offshoot from what Eddie Murphy is doing alongside Nick Nolte. But then came Beverly Hills Cop, which might not be the best action-comedy but is probably the most significant action-comedy of the 1980s. Here’s where Murphy, playing the irrepressible Axel Foley, really showed off his unstoppable comedic charisma as his tough Detroit cop heads to Southern California, many hilarious culture clashes ensuing. After this movie was a phenomenon, the idea of plugging comedians into action films never seemed crazy again.
Police Story (1985)
“No matter how many people try and rip off Jackie Chan movies, there’s something which they can’t rip off,” director Edgar Wright once said, “which is Jackie Chan himself.” Directed, co-written by and starring Chan, this 1985 film birthed a franchise, following his dogged cop as he chases after a drug kingpin. The action set pieces are incredible — the fact that Chan didn’t die is a miracle — and the actor’s balletic gift for slapstick would have made him a powerhouse in the silent era as well. Police Story is the movie where the West started discovering what a wonder this artist was.
Men in Black (1997)
This is the Will Smith you’ll want to remember — not the guy who slapped Chris Rock and, consequently, set his career on fire. In Men in Black, the former rap artist and sitcom actor cemented his ascension to A-list movie star, proving that Independence Day wasn’t an aberration. Tommy Lee Jones was the taciturn straight man, allowing Smith’s Agent K to riff and peacock, exuding endless charm and crack comic timing. Owing a debt to Ghostbusters, Men in Black hit upon the same formula of sci-fi scares and wisecracking humor while amping up the blockbuster spectacle.
The General (1926)
People rightly flip out seeing someone like Jackie Chan or Michelle Yeoh put their safety at risk in action movies, but that kind of death-defying stunt work was part of Hollywood from the start. Buster Keaton’s greatest film isn’t just a milestone in silent cinema: It’s an incredibly funny, utterly astounding action movie in which our hero plays a Confederate engineer who must rescue his beloved train during the Civil War after the Union steals it. No CGI, no stunt doubles, just jaw-dropping sequences mixed with impeccable comic timing and Keaton’s balletic grace.
The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
Also known as Drunken Master II, this sequel to the 1978 original stars Jackie Chan as a martial-arts maestro who’s basically unstoppable when he drinks, becoming even more of an ass-kicking machine. The Legend of Drunken Master took years to arrive in U.S. theaters — the success of Rush Hour no doubt helped — but this is probably Chan’s pinnacle as an action-comedy star, demonstrating the visual wit and acrobatic elan that would eventually earn him an Honorary Oscar from the Academy. For Americans who only knew Chan as an older actor palling around with Chris Tucker or Owen Wilson on screen, here’s where you can see a legend at the height of his powers.
Midnight Run (1988)
There was a time when Robert De Niro wasn’t known for comedies. But before Meet the Parents, before Analyze This, there was Midnight Run, in which he plays Jack, a bounty hunter assigned to bring in Charles Grodin’s embezzler — a seemingly straightforward job that turns out to be way more complicated once the mob is on their trail. Beverly Hills Cop director Martin Brest perfectly balances the laughs and action, and he couldn’t have found a better duo as his leads. Watching Grodin, in his best film role, annoy De Niro endlessly is a delight, but the comedy is grounded in realistic characters and terrific back-and-forth dialogue courtesy of screenwriter George Gallo. Midnight Run is the platonic ideal of the action-comedy: funny, exciting, cleverly constructed, warm without being sappy, endlessly rewatchable. And De Niro is hilarious while hardly doing a thing — the slow-burn rage he wielded so masterfully in dramas like Taxi Driver is, here, converted into comic gold.