April Fools’ Day is an occasion marked by silliness. Many websites choose to celebrate by tricking their readers with goofy pranks. But for every one of these hoaxes that’s funny, there are ten more that are terrible (plus our budget would not allow us to turn the site into ScreenFlush, the #1 place on the Internet dedicated to movie toilets). So instead, let’s honor some humor professionals: The men and women who’ve made the best comedies of the last 25 years.

To create this piece, the staff and contributors of ScreenCrush first assembled a shortlist of more than 250 contenders from the ranks of comedy films released since 1991. Each writer picked their favorite 25 films from those options. Then a second round of voting broke the ties and determined the final order of the piece you have before you.

Just 25 options meant that plenty of great movies didn’t make the cut. No doubt, you’ll leave us comments and send us emails complaining about their absence (We feel your pain about Waiting For Guffman). Hopefully the films that are on the list will inspire a healthy discussion, and encourage people to seek out some outstanding comedies they might have missed. We can’t think of a better, funnier way to spend April Fools’ Day than watching some of these movies (except maybe launching ScreenFlush, but there’s always next year.) Until then, let’s count down the 25 best comedies of the last 25 years.

The Lego Movie best comedies
Warner Bros.

25. The Lego Movie (2014)
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

The LEGO Movie is so neatly and smartly made that it doesn’t even need to be funny to really click together. But it is funny; so funny that the laughs tend to overlap each other, leaving new jokes to be discovered during additional viewings. Writer/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller know their pop culture references and never resist the chance to make gags that springs from them, offering up a buffet of clever and snappy bits (and a hilarious, game-changing twist) that work together to build the best new world that comedy has seen in years. — Kate Erbland

The 40 Year Old Virgin best comedies

24. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Directed by Judd Apatow

It’s a fairly one-note premise that could’ve been a fairly one-note movie, but as written by Judd Apatow and Steve Carell, The 40-Year-Old Virgin actually turned out to be a surprise smash and the start of the Apatow Empire in comedy. (Impeccably cast, it featured the likes of Seth Rogen, Kevin Hart, Jonah Hill, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, Elizabeth Banks and Mindy Kaling all before they were household names.) You don’t need to look any further than the film’s iconic poster to get an idea of what The 40-Year-Old Virgin was after: a raunchy comedy wrapped in a sweet package. While Apatow’s work has been unfairly stereotyped as bro-comedies about manchildren, Virgin is very much a warm, romantic comedy masquerading as a vulgar sex romp. With several famous improv-heavy riffs — like Carell getting his chest waxed while screaming non-sequiturs like “NOOOO KELLY CLARKSON!” — the film helped usher in a new era of comedy, where directors cast funny people and get out of their way. Virgin may not have the “message” of later Apatow films, and it may be better for it. — Mike Sampson

Jackass: The Movie best comedies

23. Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Directed by Jeff Tremaine

One of the funniest parts of Jackass: The Movie is the opening disclaimer: “Warning: The stunts in this movie were performed by professionals, so for your safety and the protection of those around, do not attempt any of the stunts you’re about to see.” No one should try to snort wasabi or eat a yellow snow cone, but come on: “By professionals”? Exactly how does one become a professional in getting an alligator to eat meat out of your butt crack? Is there a night school degree for that? Professional or not, Johnny Knoxville and the rest of the Jackass team are unappreciated innovators. Others have recklessly attempted extreme stunts, eaten horrific things, and recorded the shocked reactions of innocent bystanders with hidden cameras. Jackass elevates the prank genre to the level of high art with conceptual brilliance and an astonishing degree of fearlessness. Any idiot can wreck a rental car and film the results (hence the disclaimer). It takes a brilliant idiot to enter said rental car in a demolition derby, wreck it beyond recognition — almost die in the process when a tire slams through the windshield — and then attempt to return it while claiming insurance should cover the damage because you were drunk when you signed the contract. If Jackass: The Movie is stupid, then it might be the smartest stupid movie ever made. — Matt Singer

Clueless best comedies

22. Clueless (1995)
Directed by Amy Heckerling

Emma is Jane Austen’s most light-hearted novel — What, Sense and Sensibility? No way, get out of here with that attitude! — which certainly helps make it ripe to be cribbed from and straight-up spun into all sorts of tales. Why not re-imagine the Regency Period as a ’90s American high school? They’re both consumed with gossip, intrigue, questionable fashion choices, and pining away for doltish men. Amy Heckerling’s take on Emma isn’t just a fine adaption of a period novel, it’s also one of the best high-school movies we’ve got. Sure, Cher (Alicia Silverstone), Dionne (Stacey Dash), Tai (Brittany Murphy), and their pals live mostly lavish lifestyles (minus that horrible party in Sun Valley) but they are still just teens, and teens are universally terrible, messy, and hilarious. Arranged around some classic sequences (Cher’s driving test, that nightmarish party, Tai’s fame over almost dying in a mall) and laced with quotable lines, the film is deeply timeless, no matter how awful those plaid skirts look now. — KE

Austin Powers best comedies
New Line

21. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Directed by Jay Roach

It had been many years since I had seen an Austin Powers movie and, watching it again for this list, I wondered how it would hold up. Not well, I assumed. The “Yeah baby!” and “Oh, behave!” schtick had become so omnipresent in pop culture, even your grandma was saying it. (Not to mention, the recent James Bond films had actually restored the British spy genre to its former glory.) To my surprise, Austin Powers still works in spite of all the oft-recited bits you know by heart. The beauty isn’t in those phrases but in the more inspired silliness from writer/star Mike Myers, like Dr. Evil’s musings on his childhood (“My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery.”) or Austin’s repeated denials of penis pump ownership (“This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby!” / “Swedish-Made Penis Enlarger Pumps and Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag Baby, by Austin Powers.”). It may not feel as fresh as it did back in 1997, but it’s still just as funny. — MiS

Office Space best comedies
20th Century Fox

20. Office Space (1999)
Directed by Mike Judge

Funny or Die recently got the real Michael Bolton to play “Michael Bolton,” David Berman’s hapless corporate drone from Mike Judge’s Office Space. It was a really entertaining clip, but with or without the maestro of “When a Man Loves a Woman,” the film is still one of smartest comedies of the last 25 years. After breaking through to the mainstream as the man behind Beavis & Butt-head, Judge crossed over from animation to live-action by adapting one of his very first cartoons, a short about a frustrated office worker named Milton. In the feature, Milton (Stephen Root) became a supporting player in the story of Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a miserable computer programmer who breathes new life into his moribund career when he stops giving a damn about his job. Audiences were similarly indifferent to Office Space when it premiered in theaters in 1999, but it quickly accrued a cult following thanks to its brutally sharp depiction of corporate bureaucracy and the endless indignities suffered by the human cogs in our capitalistic machine. All it took was a little time, love, and tenderness. — MaS

Bad Santa best comedies

19. Bad Santa (2003)
Directed by Terry Zwigoff

Other Christmas comedies may be repeated more frequently on television (Elf) or really repeated more frequently on television (A Christmas Story), but none can match the madness of Bad Santa. Though its screenplay is credited to Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the film was heavily rewritten by Joel and Ethan Coen, and their dark sense of humor is felt throughout the film. Who else would end a Christmas comedy with the main character getting shot multiple times on a little kid’s front lawn? Bad Santa was a troubled production — the Coens fought with the Weinsteins over casting, director Terry Zwigoff was replaced for reshoots — and yet somehow it all worked. In many other filthy comedies, the vulgarities can seem forced. When you don’t have a joke, just say the F-word. But Billy Bob Thornton’s Willie feels as lived-in as his urine-soaked Santa costume, and every foul thing that comes out of his mouth rings true — and will always make you laugh. — MiS

There's Something About Mary best comedies
20th Century Fox

18. There’s Something About Mary (1998)
Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly

Memory: It is the summer of 1998. I am 14. We live in Las Vegas, so everything is hot and boring and horrible in the summer, except for the cool breezes that waft through the local multiplex. Movies are therefore a no-brainer, and the raunchy There’s Something About Mary is the only new release in the middle of July, making it even more of an obvious choice. I laughed until I nearly peed my pants, and until the woman next to me (Hi, Mom!) laughed so hard she actually sobbed. I’d never laughed like that in a theater before and I haven’t laughed like that since, a full-body hysteria that marked me as a Farrelly brothers fan for life. To this day, I cannot resist balls being trapped in zippers and hair being styled by bodily fluids, horrible and revolting as it all may sound. — KE

Rushmore best comedies

17. Rushmore (1998)
Directed by Wes Anderson

All of Wes Anderson’s films are funny, but Rushmore, the story of unreasonably ambitious private-school student Max Fischer, is the funniest. Jason Schwartzman plays Max as an egotistical little brat, convinced that his appreciation of the arts far surpasses the banal goals of his peers. Max is a tragically uncool nerd with looks to match, but instead of spending his life on the sidelines, he immerses himself in school clubs, defying his classmates by firmly establishing himself as an authority. Anderson’s Rushmore is a perfect companion piece to Alexander Payne’s Election; both feature obsessively ambitious teens who torment the lives of understanding adults with increasingly baffling behavior. But unlike Reese Witherspoon’s villainous Tracy Flick, Schwartzman’s Max is hilarious for his refusal to accept the obstacles in his path or to acknowledge his faults. He’s funny because he’s willfully blind to social cues and positions himself as a wunderkind. Schwartzman has excellent chemistry with Bill Murray’s lonely Herman Blume; while Rushmore was Schwartzman’s breakout role, Murray steals every scene as a chain-smoking, disillusioned father prone to sudden bouts of giving a damn. — Britt Hayes

Observe and Report best comedies
Warner Bros.

16. Observe and Report (2009)
Directed by Jody Hill 

Observe and Report is Taxi Driver filtered through the eyes of Jody Hill, who is uniquely skilled at capturing the lives of socially inept and delusional wackos. (See also: The Foot Fist Way, Eastbound and Down.) You probably know a guy like Seth Rogen’s Ronnie Barnhardt, a determined mall security guard who transforms his insecurities into unjustified arrogance. What makes Observe and Report so funny is that neither Hill nor Rogen shy away from the darker side of Ronnie’s personality; Hill picks at aspects of Ronnie’s character that are horrifying and cringe-inducing. Ronnie wants the job. He wants the girl. He wants the recognition he believes he deserves from years spent with his pill-addled mother (a massively funny Celia Weston). Ronnie’s obsessive nature drives him to violent zealotry in the pursuit of a serial flasher, and a series of escalating awful choices that culminate in the worst act of misguided heroism in film history, eliciting that perfect response of uncomfortable laughter derived from the disbelief that someone could be this monumentally stupid. — BH

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang best comedies
Warner Bros.

15. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Directed by Shane Black 

Before he became the biggest superhero on the planet, Robert Downey Jr. set the stage for his grand comeback with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. As a street-smart thief unprepared for the den of vipers known as Hollywood, Downey is the witty heart and surprising moral center of Shane Black’s violent and darkly hilarious journey into the cynical showbiz abyss. He finds his “buddy cop” in Val Kilmer's Perry, a gay private eye who wields his sexuality as a weapon and uses insults to cut deep into friend and foe alike. Together, they make one of the best action comedy duos in film history, trading barbs and bantering through a dozen different plot twists. Black pulls no punches with his hand-mutilating, dream-destroying storyline, but whenever things threaten to get too intense, Downey’s narration breaks the fourth wall to remind us that it’s okay to laugh through the pain. — Jacob Hall

Being John Malkovich best comedies

14. Being John Malkovich (1999)
Directed by Spike Jonze

It’s already insane to write a movie about a puppeteer who discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich, but it’s genuinely psychotic that director Spike Jonze actually shot the thing. Even crazier: Being John Malkovich is a great movie, a rich and hilarious experiment in absurdity that finds John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and yes, Malkovich himself, doing their career-best work. This may be a weird thing to say about a movie that features characters charging $200 for random strangers to crawl through a mysterious tunnel to live as John Malkovich for 15 minutes, but the film’s greatest asset is how straight it plays every surreal moment. It would have been easy for the cast to wink at the camera, but the commitment from everyone involved is absolute, even in the film’s silliest moments (like when Malkovich travels through the portal into his own mind). You may find Being John Malkovich’s existence baffling, but the film itself does not. And that is its greatest strength.  — JH

South Park best comedies

13. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
Directed by Trey Parker

I’m old enough to remember when South Park first premiered on Comedy Central, back when the show was widely dismissed as lowest-common denominator junk about foul-mouthed construction paper cut-outs. Today, South Park is a beloved cultural institution, a transformation that really began with the South Park movie in 1999, where Trey Parker and Matt Stone definitively proved they were much more than one-trick (and four-letter word) ponies. Though Bigger, Longer & Uncut’s R-rating did allow Parker and Stone to unleash more little kid profanity than they ever could on basic cable, it also gave them a platform to express their more eclectic comedic tastes; mixing cutting-edge satire with old-fashioned musical numbers sending up Broadway classics and Disney cartoons. Satan, for example, stole the the show with “Up There,” a Little Mermaid-esque ballad about the loneliness of hell. Just like the Dark Lord, Parker and Stone had aspirations for greater things. Bigger, Longer & Uncut helped get them where they wanted to go. — MaS

Election best comedies

12. Election (1999)
Directed by Alexander Payne

Alexander Payne’s brilliant Election is a scathing look at the motivations and desires of the sort of brown-nosing overachievers we all knew in high school. Tracy Flick is one of cinema’s greatest villains and one of Reese Witherspoon’s best roles; her all-American, milk-fed looks and her big, hopeful blue eyes make Tracy all the more sinister. How could this aspiring role model and dedicated student be so damn evil? The way she torments Matthew Broderick’s nebbish teacher is hilariously horrible, but watching Jim McAllister crumple and devolve into something far more pitiful holds a certain schadenfreude-ish delight. While watching the inherently likable Broderick play off Witherspoon’s golly-gee-mister manipulations is exceptionally entertaining, the film’s supporting cast is equally as great. Chris Klein is perfectly cast as an empty-headed and naive jock, while Jessica Campbell makes an impeccable angsty teen resentful of her more prosperous peers. Through her pursuit of winning the school election to become student body president, Tracy brings out the worst in Mr. McAllister, but she doesn’t destroy his life; he destroys his own. — BH

Hot Fuzz best comedies

11. Hot Fuzz (2007)
Directed by Edgar Wright

When it comes to Edgar Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy,” everyone has a favorite. The World’s End is one of the best science-fiction movies of all time. Shaun of the Dead is a shockingly sweet horror movie. But Hot Fuzz is easily the funniest of the bunch. Wright and frequent collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do the impossible: They crafted a buddy-cop parody that captures the cinematic language of their target so well that it eventually stops being a spoof and becomes the apotheosis of the very genre it’s supposedly deconstructing. And through all the gun battles and jokes, there is still the touching and wholly believable Pegg/Frost bromance. Hot Fuzz has what most parodies reject on principle: heart. And it’s all the richer for it. — JH

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