The 11 Most Intriguing Film Comedies of 2024
Picking a list of the most interesting-looking comedies of the new year is tricky because you’re always battling between choosing the familiar and the unknown. A sequel to a big hit seems like a safe bet, but what if familiarity breeds contempt? Conversely, going out on a limb on an unknown quantity is fun if you end up being right, but it’s a lot riskier of a gamble. So as I went through the release calendar, I tried my best to balance those competing instincts.
What did I learn in the process? Well, the sad truth is, there’s a lot of not-very-promising sequels heading our way in 2024 — Despicable Me 4, Bad Boys 4 — alongside reboots and remakes that I’m not particularly thrilled to see. (The Garfield Movie, prove me wrong.) But there are a few Part Twoes (even a Part Three) that has me legitimately intrigued. Alongside those are some original ideas, clever redos and let’s-cross-our-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best potential blockbusters that, at least on paper, seem worthy of our time and hard-earned dollars.
I organized this list by scheduled release date, putting movies that don’t yet have a fixed spot on the 2024 calendar at the end. Of the 11 movies I’m spotlighting, I’ve only seen one already and can vouch that it’s very good. As for the others? All I can go off is a trailer, a plot description and a gut feeling that the finished product won’t be terrible.
Lisa Frankenstein (February 9)
What’s the Story? A teenager (Kathryn Newton) reanimates a corpse (Cole Sprouse), and the two fall in love.
Why Should You Care? This horror-comedy is the feature directorial debut of Zelda Williams, the daughter of Robin Williams, and it’s written by Diablo Cody, who appears to be working in the same thematic and tonal vein as she did with her script for Jennifer’s Body. There aren’t many feminist goth rom-coms, so Lisa Frankenstein (which is coming out around Valentine’s Day) could become a cult favorite — funny enough, much like Jennifer’s Body, which originally tanked at the box office.
Drive-Away Dolls (February 23)
What’s the Story? Here’s the official synopsis: “(T)his comedy caper follows Jamie, an uninhibited free spirit bemoaning yet another breakup with a girlfriend, and her demure friend Marian who desperately needs to loosen up. In search of a fresh start, the two embark on an impromptu road trip to Tallahassee, but things quickly go awry when they cross paths with a group of inept criminals along the way.”
Why Should You Care? If that plot sounds slightly like a Coen Brothers’ comedy, you’re on the right track: Drive-Away Dolls is directed and co-written by Ethan Coen, making his first narrative feature on his own. The film stars Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan as the friends, with the cast also featuring Beanie Feldstein, Colman Domingo, Pedro Pascal and Matt Damon. Ethan’s brother Joel went in a somber direction for his solo outing, The Tragedy of Macbeth, but Drive-Away Dolls very much feels like the sort of madcap crime-comedy the brothers used to do regularly.
The Fall Guy (May 3)
What’s the Story? Ryan Gosling plays an over-the-hill stuntman who tries to hunt down the missing star (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) of an upcoming action blockbuster directed by his ex (Emily Blunt), whom he’s desperate to win back.
Why Should You Care? This promises to be a more comedic spin on the 1980s action series, with high-octane director David Leitch (Bullet Train) behind the camera. Gosling has a real chance of winning Best Supporting Actor for his hilarious turn in Barbie, and The Fall Guy seems to be a perfect role for a star who, in movies like The Nice Guys, has demonstrated an ability to juggle laughs and stunts. Plus, he and Blunt have dynamite chemistry in the trailer.
IF (May 17)
What’s the Story? A precocious young girl (Cailey Fleming) discovers she can see other people’s imaginary friends, deciding to reunite them with the humans who abandoned them when they became grownups. Ryan Reynolds plays an adult who helps her, possessing the same power as she does.
Why Should You Care? There are approximately 10,000 stars in IF: Beyond Reynolds, you also have Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., Jon Stewart, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Maya Rudolph, Sam Rockwell, Sebastian Maniscalco, Awkwafina and Steve Carell, all of them providing voices for the different imaginary friends. This feel-good comedy is written and directed by John Krasinski, who’s clearly going in a very different tonal direction after serving up scares in A Quiet Place. Will IF be delightful or a saccharine-heavy cringe-fest? We’ll find out this summer.
Inside Out 2 (June 14)
What’s the Story? Now that Riley is a teenager, Joy (Amy Poehler) and the other emotions have to make room for a new presence: Anxiety (Maya Hawke), who threatens to upend the delicate balance Joy’s team have worked so hard to create inside Riley’s head.
Why Should You Care? Over the last 10 years, Pixar’s output hasn’t been as strong as during its heyday, but 2015’s Inside Out was a clear highlight of the period. Still, there are the inevitable worries with a sequel, which has to recreate the original’s magic. Plus, Inside Out 2 will feature new voices for Fear and Disgust: Tony Hale and Liza Lapira are taking over for, respectively, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling, who understandably decided not to be part of the sequel because of a salary dispute. So, yes, there are reasons to be concerned, but in the spirit of a new year, let’s be optimistic about Inside Out 2. That emotion I’m feeling is hope.
Deadpool 3 (July 26)
Why Should You Care? For fans of the Deadpool films — and comic-book movies in general — just the idea of Wolverine and Deadpool starring in a buddy-comedy together is ample enticement. Everyone assumed Jackman would never play his iconic X-Men character again after 2017’s Logan, but will this superhero two-fer be enough to stem the tide of comic-book fatigue that doomed so many 2023 films like The Flash and The Marvels? I’m betting it will, although I’m not enthused that Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy will be behind the camera. (Clearly, he and Reynolds hit it off after Free Guy and The Adam Project, two movies I don’t think are very good.)
Beetlejuice 2 (September 6)
What’s the Story? Beetlejuice: He’s back! And he’s played again by Michael Keaton! (That’s all we know about the plot.)
Why Should You Care? It has been 36 years since Beetlejuice, and while there have been attempts to make a sequel in the ensuing decades, it’s finally happening, with Keaton reprising his role as the irreverent ghoul, and Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara along for the ride as well. Beetlejuice remains beloved — the film was turned into a 2019 Broadway musical that was nominated for multiple Tonys — and it’s hard to resist seeing Keaton back in the makeup after all this time. He’s reuniting with director Tim Burton, who smartly cast his Wednesday star Jenna Ortega to play the daughter of Ryder’s now-all-grown-up goth.
Death of a Unicorn (tbd)
What’s the Story? Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega play a father and daughter who accidentally hit a unicorn with their car. Rudd’s evil boss (Richard E. Grant) discovers the dead creature has magical properties he plans to exploit.
Why Should You Care? This much-buzzed-about dark comedy from writer-director Alex Scharfman will be coming out at some point this year through A24, a company that specializes in hip arthouse offerings. The impressive supporting cast includes Will Poulter, Anthony Carrigan and Sunita Mani, and the film promises to be a mixture of oddball humor and bizarro fantasy. Put it this way: When it comes to Rudd’s 2024 films, I’m looking forward to Death of a Unicorn way more than Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.
Hit Man (TBD)
What’s the Story? As per the description from the Venice Film Festival, where Hit Man premiered: “Gary Johnson is the most sought-after professional killer in New Orleans. To his clients, he is like something out of a movie: the mysterious gun for hire. But if you pay him to rub out a cheating spouse or an abusive boss, you’d better watch your back — he works for the cops.”
Why Should You Care? Based on a Texas Monthly piece, Richard Linklater’s latest is a dark comedy that, like Bernie, tells an incredible true story, that of a mild-mannered cop (Glen Powell) who found a new lease on life posing as a hitman in order to bust criminals. Powell, who previously appeared in Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! (and was just in Anyone but You), co-wrote the screenplay with Linklater, and the film is a very funny, very sexy tale of a nobody who reinvents himself as a badass, with unexpected consequences. Here’s hoping Netflix (which picked up Hit Man in the fall) actually gives the film a proper theatrical release — it’s an unexpected crowd-pleaser.
Kinds of Kindness (TBD)
What’s the Story? I’ll let director Yorgos Lanthimos handle that: “It’s a contemporary film, set in the U.S. — three different stories, with four or five actors who play one part in each story, so they all play three different parts. It was almost like making three films, really.”
Why Should You Care? Lanthimos is back with Emma Stone, the star of The Favourite and Poor Things, for this new film, which (if it’s anything like his previous work) will have strong dark-comedy elements to it. And although we don’t know much about Kinds of Kindness, it has the kind of cast that immediately makes it a must-see: Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Mamoudou Athie and Hunter Schafer are all onboard.
What’s the Story? Two potheads (Pete Davidson, Franz Rogowski) stumble upon some stolen loot.
Why Should You Care? How do you feel about stoner comedies? How do you feel about Pete Davidson? The one-sentence description of Wizards! makes it hard to know how wacky or twisted the film will be, but it’s directed and co-written by David Michôd, who was behind the excellent 2010 thriller Animal Kingdom. And Davidson, for all his overexposure, has the potential to be a good actor. I really liked him in The King of Staten Island, and I love that he’s paired with Rogowski, who has the same off-kilter vibe as his costar. (Rogowsk deservedly won the New York Film Critics Circle prize for Best Actor in 2023 for his go-for-broke performance in the toxic romantic drama Passages.) Who knows how this movie will play out, but I don’t think it’s going to be boring — and it’s exciting to see that Davidson is willing to take some big swings.