Blockbuster season is upon us. For the next four months, there will be plenty of men in capes, a surplus of monsters and lots and lots of car chases, and if the gods of cinema are merciful, there will also be one or two brilliant comedies.
There's nothing better than sitting in your local air-conditioned multiplex with a bucket of popcorn and experiencing a truly funny movie — and hearing that noisy wave of appreciation that sometimes wipes out the next couple of comic lines.
The memorable thing with really good summer comedies is that distinctive audience reaction; male laughter in particular starts to pitch up very high and hysterical, usually in disbelief at politically incorrect, gross or gallows humour.
(Remember the shouts of laughter at There's Something About Mary? It was such groundbreaking silliness.) Summertime, and the laughing is easy.
Here are 10 of the best recent summer comedies, 10 classic summer comedies you absolutely must see if you haven't already, and 10 spectacular comedies that weren't released in the summer months, so please don't write and ask why they weren't included on any list of summer comedies. Okay?
10 OF THE BEST SUMMER COMEDIES
• THE HANGOVER (2009)
During a drunken bachelor party in Vegas, a group of friends lose the groom, some teeth, and their car, but gain a tiger. And a baby. And a police cruiser. Todd Phillips directed Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong and Heather Graham in the first instalment of this laugher. The credits sequence at the end is better than anything we’ve seen in a Marvel film.
• WEDDING CRASHERS (2005)
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn amuse themselves crashing posh weddings and finding new sexual conquests but the joke's on them when true love appears, courtesy Rachel McAdams and Isla Fisher. With Bradley Cooper as the heavy and Christopher Walken as dad. Too bad last summer’s Wilson and Vaughn reunion on The Internship wasn’t a fraction as good.
• THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998)
A beautiful young woman (Cameron Diaz) brings out the worst in Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, Chris Elliott and just about anyone else you can think of. Everyone's in love with Mary. Matt Dillon makes a dog fly. And what is that in Mary’s hair? The always-hilarious Farrelly brothers (Dumb and Dumber) direct.
• SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT (1999)
Blame Canada. It's high time the U.S. waged war on those disgusting Canadians, and with singing. Madness from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, aided and abetted by Pam Brady and Marc Shaiman, with special appearances by Satan and Saddam Hussein. Spoiler alert: Kenny goes to heaven.
• THIS IS THE END (2013)
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg direct an ensemble cast that includes Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Emma Watson and Danny McBride. It's the end of the world, and not everybody is going to ascend into heaven. Uh, oh.
• DODGEBALL (2004)
Fantastic stupid fun with Vince Vaughan as the underdog and Ben Stiller as the vain and successful gym owner going head-to-head in a violent game of dodgeball. What's at stake? An independent gym and a lot of friendships versus a huge chain of corporate nonsense. Also with Christine Taylor, Justin Long and Rip Torn.
• THE TRIP (2010)
This film began life as a spectacular BBC TV series from director Michael Winterbottom, and he directed the likewise spectacular feature film version too. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play fictionalized versions of themselves on a restaurant tour of northern England. Cruel, brilliant, weird, and fall-down laughing funny.
• HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE (2004)
John Cho and Kal Penn star as stoners who hope to eat sliders at White Castle but are mostly too baked to find the place. Hmmnn … General insanity with Neil Patrick Harris, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Reynolds, Malin Akerman and Anthony Anderson.
• AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY (1997)
A spy from the swinging '60s is taken out of a cryonic freeze and unleashed on the 1990s, terrible British teeth and all. Mike Myers stars as the human James Bond spoof, and that's him as Dr. Evil, too. With Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers and of course, Fabiana Udenio as Alotta Fagina. Simply irresistible.
• WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER (2001)
Hey Camp Firewood kids, let's put on a show! Here's a bizarre chance to see Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni and Elizabeth Banks before they got well-known. This moronic comedy has a rabid cult following, and you'll see why.
CLASSIC SUMMER COMEDIES
• MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975)
• CADDYSHACK (1980)
• ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)
• GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
• WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S (1989)
• AIRPLANE! (1980)
• NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION (1983)
• A FISH CALLED WANDA (1988)
• MEATBALLS (1979)
• THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955)
NOT INCLUDED BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T SUMMER MOVIES:
No matter how much you love these comedies, they weren't released in the summer and they aren't summer movies so they can't make the list. Sorry.
• THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)
• DUMB & DUMBER (1994)
• ZOOLANDER (2001)
• SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
• SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
• THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984)
• DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993)
• WAITING (2005)
• BEVERLY HILLS COP (1984)
• HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (2010)