Comedy is extremely generational, which is why a simple meme can have you rolling on the floor laughing, but when you it to your parents, they just stare at the screen with a quizzical look on their faces. This is what makes judging comedies such a challenge. Sure, you can critique the originality of the story and the effort put into the production, but just because you don’t get the brand of humor doesn’t mean that other people won’t find the film downright hilarious.
All of the comedies listed here largely failed to garner positive reviews from critics, earning all of them “Rotten” ratings on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. These poor reviews may also be why many of these films failed to find an audience while in theaters. But because humor is so subjective, they all deserve a second look.
They may not be perfect movies deserving of numerous awards, but it’s obvious that most of they weren’t made for an older generation of critics, but rather a younger audience that would get a kick out of the surreal, absurd, and often cringe-worthy humor that these movies have to offer.
Here are 15 Hilarious Comedies Critics Were Completely Wrong About.
15 Hot Rod
After hitting mainstream success on Saturday Night Live in 2005, the comedy troupe known as The Lonely Island went to work on this offbeat comedy about an amateur stuntman (Andy Samberg) who must raise money for his abusive and ill step-father by executing his most challenging stunt to date.
Hot Rod is by no means a game-changing comedy, but if you enjoyed The Lonely Island’s digital shorts, including I’m On a Boat and Lazy Sunday, then the absurd and often surreal humor in Hot Rod will be sure to make you laugh.
While many critics called the film sloppy and disjointed, the sketch style format actually works for the most part, as we watch Rod Kimble gear up for one disastrous stunt after the next. Not to mention that the supporting cast consists of the always-hilarious Bill Hader and Danny McBride, who feel perfectly cast as two Jackass-type wannabes.
Much like Hot Rod, MacGruber is yet another SNL-lead vehicle that failed to get any love from mainstream critics. While many called the film overlong and a waste of time, even a number of critics who reviewed the film negatively had to concede that MacGruber is a lot better than it ought to be. But we’ll go a step further and say this bizarre comedy is downright hilarious and deserves a second look.
One of the first things about this film that should make you laugh (outside of its title, of course) is that MacGruber — a 90-minute R-rated parody of the 1980s action series MacGyver — even exists in the first place!
Though the film was initially a box office bomb, MacGruber has since become a cult classic thanks to its talented comedic cast, consisting of Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, and Maya Rudolph, and its distinct ability to make the audience laugh and cringe in the same breath.
13 Trailer Park Boys: The Movie
Based on the Canadian TV series of the same name, Trailer Park Boys: The Movie follows the misadventures Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles as they navigate life in the Sunnyvale Trailer Park. The story begins with a botched ATM robbery that earns Ricky and Julian an 18-month stint in jail, which only gives the two convicts free time to plan out “the big dirty” — a final robbery that will allow them to live out the rest of their days in retirement.
Much like British humor, this Canadian comedy is an acquired taste that will play better with fans of the series rather than those who tune in solely for the film. Critics may have dismissed the film's humor as being crass and low-brow, but that's why it's so hilarious.
12 The Cable Guy
Directed by Ben Stiller and starring Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick, The Cable Guy is a truly bizarre dark comedy that was sure to throw audiences for a loop if they walked into it expecting another Carrey film like The Mask or Dumb and Dumber.
The film follows a demented cable guy named Chip who’s obsessed with television and has thus created a distorted reality for himself. Matthew Broderick plays Steven Kovacs, Chip’s newest customer and latest obsession, and there are plenty of awkwardly hilarious scenes where Chip tries to bond with Steven through a pickup basketball game and a trip to Medieval Times — all of which Chip takes far too seriously.
Though many critics blasted Carrey’s over-the-top performance for upstaging the story, the character of Chip is actually fairly grounded in reality in comparison to Carrey’s performances of Ace Ventura and the Riddler, not to mention that the darker change of pace was a welcome shift for Carrey’s career.
11 Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Though the critics on Rotten Tomatoes collectively gave the first Austin Powers an approval rating of 70%, the second installment of the series, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, failed to win them over in the same fashion.
Though the series undoubtedly dropped in quality after the first film, particularly with Austin Powers in Goldmember (which you can safely skip altogether), the second film in the series remains hilarious in its own right.
The sequel picks up right where the first one left off and finds that Austin’s lover, Vanessa Kensington, has been a fembot the entire time! There's an elaborate and hysterical opening credit sequence that follows Austin around naked while cleverly sparing the viewer from any explicit nudity.
How can we fail to mention that the fan favorite characters of Fat Bastard and Mini Me didn’t make their appearances until this second installment? That's what makes The Spy Who Shagged Me quintessential comedy viewing.
10 Billy Madison
Outside of a few gems like Punch Drunk Love and Funny People, Adam Sandler has always made what some would call “dumb comedies.” Unfortunately, Sandler has been taking this term a little too literally within the past decade, turning out movies that are so unfunny that they actually make you worry about the people who laugh watching them. Therefore, we have to look back to the 1990s to find a Sandler film that is the perfect amount of silly and self-aware.
Aside from Happy Gilmore (which didn’t make it on this list thanks to a 60% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), Billy Madison features Adam Sandler at what he does best. Sure, the jokes are stupid and childish, but they perfectly fit the premise of the film, which follows the spoiled and immature Billy as he repeats grades K-12 in an attempt to impress his father.
Throw in some wacky performances from Norm MacDonald, Chris Farley, and Bradley Whitford, and you’re bound to find yourself laughing in spite of yourself.
9 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is the kind of comedy that you would think critics would actually eat up; it’s artsy, moderately paced, and features an equal mix of highbrow humor and general silliness. Not to mention that it’s directed by Wes Anderson and stars Bill Murray in the title role.
Despite all of this, The Life Aquatic garnered only a 56% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, receiving 89 negative reviews against 111 positive ones.
To be fair, this 2004 dramedy isn’t packed wall-to-wall with laughs, and the comedic stylings of Anderson’s films aren’t for everyone. But if you go along for the ride, there are still a number of hilarious moments throughout The Life Aquatic, like when Murray expresses his true feelings about dolphins, or when he tries to explain that his diving partner Esteban was eaten by the mysterious and elusive Jaguar shark.
8 The Foot Fist Way
Before Danny McBride stole the show in the 2008 stoner-action comedy Pineapple Express, he starred as the main character in the less-known but equally hilarious 2006 film The Foot Fist Way. Here, McBride plays Fred Simmons, a small-town Taw Kwon Do instructor who preaches about integrity and self-discipline, but demonstrates far more dishonesty and self-loathing in his real life.
Unfortunately, The Foot Fist Way proved to be too unrelenting and mean-spirited for most critics, as McBride’s character does spend a good amount of the movie literally beating up children to make himself feel better. The funniest scenes by far are when Fred’s low self-esteem can’t help but shine through, like when he must fight off tears while talking to himself in the bathroom mirror.
7 Observe and Report
If the amorality and cringe-comedy of The Foot Fist Way weren’t already enough for you, writer/director Jody Hill upped the ante for his second feature film, Observe and Report, released just three years later. The film stars Seth Rogen as a bipolar security guard, Ronnie Barnhardt, who aspires to be a police officer to take down a local streaker. When Ronnie can’t pass the psychological exam he decides to take the law into his own hands.
Observe and Report is without a doubt a hard-R comedy, as it features its fair share of bloody violence, off-putting sex scenes, and full frontal male nudity, which understandably turned off a lot of critics. But Rogen, Anna Faris, and especially Michael Pena, play these damaged characters with such sincerity that it’s hard not to laugh. Even when the punchlines involve doing hard drugs or beating up an entire police force with a flashlight.
Though it’s certainly no Big Lebowski, Kingpin is a cult classic in its own right. The movie follows an equally ridiculous cast of characters and also revolves around bowling.
Kingpin was directed by the Farrelly brothers, who are known for their off-beat comedies such as Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. While those two films resonated with critics and audiences alike, Kingpin was a box office bomb, grossing just $25 million against a $27 million budget.
The film stars Woody Harrelson as a washed-up one-handed bowler, along with Randy Quaid as his Amish-born protege. As always, it’s Bill Murray who steals the show as the sleazy pro bowler Ernie McCracken, who gives the film’s heroes a run for their money.
Kingpin has no interest in being taken seriously, and many of the jokes may feel tacked on and immature — but none of that really matters much when you spend the entire two hours of Kingpin cracking up.
5 Me, Myself & Irene
Released in 2000, this dark comedy stars Jim Carrey as a pushover cop, Charlie Baileygates, who develops a split personality that allows him to release his years of bottled-up rage and hatred upon the world. Meanwhile, Charlie is tasked with escorting the convicted Irene (Renee Zellweger) from Rhode Island to New York, but when the two must leave in a hurry, Charlie accidentally leaves his medication behind, allowing his second personality to tag along for the trip.
After a string of PG-13 comedies, including The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, and Liar Liar, the R-rated Me, Myself & Irene really allowed Carrey to cut loose in a way that audiences hadn’t seen him before.
Though many critics called the film aberrant, filthy and childish — and it is — that doesn’t stop Me, Myself & Irene from also being downright hilarious, especially when Charlie’s split personality beings hurling unfiltered insults at anyone in his path.
Despite being a creation of comedic genius Mel Brooks and containing some of the funniest actors of the 1980s — including John Candy and Rick Moranis — Spaceballs failed to win over critics at the time of its release, as they felt the film had come out nearly a decade too late. However, to anyone born in the 1990s and beyond, the release date of Spaceballs holds little importance as long as the film manages to make the viewer laugh.
The film parodies the original Star Wars trilogy, along with some Star Trek and Planet of the Apes thrown in for good measure. Though Spaceballs may be one of Brooks’ most popular movies amongst audiences, the film may have failed to resonate with critics less than the director's other parody films, such as Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, simply because science fictions wasn’t as highly regarded as other genres at the time.
3 Weird Science
Yet another sci-fi comedy that failed to earn critical endorsement, Weird Science may not be John Hughes’s most polished film, but it certainly supplied more laughs than most teenage comedies of the 1980s.
The film follows the ridiculous premise of two geeky teens who bring the ideal woman to life with nothing but a computer and a freak lightning storm. Ilan Mitchell-Smith and Hughes favorite Anthony Michael Hall play the two boys in question, while Kelly LeBrock plays Lisa - the computer-made beauty who sends the teenage boys’ hormones into overdrive.
The performances are entertaining all around, and as unbelievable as the story may be, the film succeeds in capturing the days of awkwardly trying to navigate the opposite sex while throwing in a heavy side of humor to offset the embarrassment.
2 Super Troopers
The critic-to-audience gap for this 2001 comedy could not be more pronounced, with only a 35% approval rating on the Tomatometer despite 90% of the audience enjoying the film.
Though critics may not get the humor of Super Troopers, the film has developed a strong cult following that has helped raise funds for the long-awaited sequel, which is due out next year. In fact, the production for Super Troopers 2 was able to raise over $2 million through crowd funding in just 26 hours!
The film follows a group small own state troopers working on the Vermont-Canada border, who pass the time by harassing unsafe drivers and chugging bottles of maple syrup. Though the critic consensus reads that Super Troopers is “A more-miss-than-hit-affair,” we think most would agree that this is the kind of comedy that only becomes funnier with repeat viewings, preferably while watching in a large group of friends.
1 Step Brothers
With films like Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Blades of Glory, Will Ferrell has no shortage of quotable movies — and in that regard, Step Brothers may be his most quoted movie of all time. Even though the critics tend to favor most of Ferrell’s movies, for whatever reason they couldn’t seem to get on board with this 2008 comedy, which finds Ferrell and John C. Reilly playing step-brothers who struggle to get along despite already being grown men.
After sitting through the film a few times, it’s hard not to chime in for your favorite lines, which are almost all too filthy to repeat here. The indecency of Step Brothers is what separates it from most other Will Ferrell comedies, which no doubt offended a lot of pretentious film critics, but couldn’t help but leave mainstream audiences dying from laughter.
Do you think the critics should have gone easier on these comedies? Let us know in the comments!