A good comedy has more to offer than just laughs. And in 2018, we’ve already seen a number of films that have transcended the genre. Whether it’s a teen comedy about responsible sex, a children’s movie that might be funnier for adults, or a Wes Anderson animated feature—there are a number of options in 2018 that might make it all the way to the next award season.
Once you reach a certain age, game nights can give boring suburban adults a sense of thrill and accomplishment that they might not be getting out of their middle-aged lives. In Game Night, a super competitive couple (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams) see their weekly game night go absolutely batshit crazy when a murder mystery party turns into an actual kidnapping. Sure, there are real guns and real danger involved, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun than winning at Pictionary.
After the massively depressing apocalypse that killed the most beloved heroes in film at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel needed to do something a little more lighthearted. It was the perfect time for Ant-Man and the Wasp, a movie that follows very few of the conventional comic book tropes and is up there with Thor: Ragnarok as one of the funniest Marvel films. It’s about a dude who shrinks! It had better not take itself seriously. And thankfully, it’s full of giant drumming ants and very few intergalactic mass murders.
The teen coming-of-age story has become tried and true comedy fodder. Whether it be dealing with popularity, or parents, or angst, there’s a lot of weird emotions that can be ripe for comedy. But the feelings in Thoroughbreds are hardly that innocent. The movie follows Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) as they bond over their hatred of Lily’s stepfather Mark, which evolves into an elaborate murder plot. In one of his final roles, Anton Yelchin plays a drug dealer named Tim, whom Lily and Amanda rope into their scheme.
Fresh off his time on Veep, writer-director Armando Iannucci brings his lightning fast sense of humor to Moscow in 1953. As the late Stalin’s comrades bicker over who will become his successor, Iannucci manages to draw some startling real parallels between the current political state in America. And it’s every bit as ridiculous and unbelievable as the dark comedy we’re living here in the real world.
In many ways, the stop-motion format is the perfect medium for Wes Anderson. There, his dollhouse style can reach its ultimate potential. In his second attempt at an animated feature, Anderson uses his own script, which details a young hero trying to find his exiled dog on a trash island outside of Megasaki City. Far more than dog jokes, it’s an adventure that asks the essential question: “Who are we, and who do we want to be?” And it hits on a number of important topics of 2018, including deportation, government corruption, and the power of free press. But also, extremely Wes Anderson dogs are funny as hell.
The Deadpool franchise is hardly a superhero. If anything, it’s an excellent spoof of superhero movies, with its titular character talking shit about everyone from Wolverine to Batman to Thanos—pretty much mocking the whole spectrum of the genre. Deadpool 2 is a movie about dick jokes with occasional action sequences thrown in. This is a movie whose distant connection to the greater Marvel and X-Men universe only functions as a way to make fun of it. At its high points, Deadpool 2 is the greatest modern satire of a highly lucrative and bloated film genre. And even at its lowest, it’s one of the best comedies of the year.
Being a teenager sucks. It’s full of all those awkward, insecure moments that we as adults spend the rest of our lives trying to forget. And writer-director Bo Burnham makes it feel like all this happened just yesterday, offering a coming-of-age story in the time of vlogging and social media, with actress Elsie Fisher delivering a heartbreakingly real performance. We were all kids once, and Eighth Grade is here to remind us of that.
First time director Boots Riley rolls together ideas of race, identity, and capitalism into one absolutely wild dystopian alternate reality in which people in poverty voluntarily submit themselves into indentured servitude. The world building is deep and effortless, as the film follows Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) and his rise in a telemarketing company. The key to his success is employing a “white voice.” What you think will be a hilarious satire, however, quickly morphs into a dark parallel universe that’s not actually too far from our own.
If there’s a single movie that everyone needs to see in 2018, it’s Paddington 2. Here is a little bear that can find the good in everyone—a character that transcends bigotry, greed, and the feeling that the world we live in is a dark and terrible place. Now living in Windsor Gardens with the Brown family, Paddington tries to find a birthday gift for his Aunt Lucy when he gets framed for a burglary by a washed up actor played hilariously by Hugh Grant. The animation and direction is mesmerizing, while the dialogue strikes the challenging balance of being both sharp and simple for adults and children alike. It’s a true joy to watch Paddington turn his prison stint (yes, Paddington actually goes to prison!) into an adorable Great British Bake Off—and to watch the delightful Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins) try to unravel the whodunnit. Seriously, this movie fucking rules.
The trailers for Blockers did not do the film justice. From a brief two-minute clip, it looks like another raunchy teen comedy about a bunch of parents who try to stop their kids from losing their virginity on prom night. Surprisingly, though, this film takes a nuanced and responsible approach to both parenting and sexuality. Sure, there are scenes of John Cena butt-chugging and trying to sneak around a house while avoiding two parents involved in a kinky blindfold sex romp, but it also starts necessary conversations about autonomy, consent, and the path to sexual maturity. Director Kay Cannon takes immense care with complex issues, while still allowing the material to remain light and, most importantly, absolutely hilarious.