Best Comedy Movies of the '90s

Comedies from the 1990s that still keep us laughing

The 1990s featured revolutions in almost every area of entertainment, and one of the most profound was in comedy movies. Big-budget studio comedies still packed theaters, but new voices in comedy were creating smaller, low-budget films that appealed to millions of people’s funny bones. Some of them started as just cult movies, but over time they have been recognized as some of the most hilarious movies ever made.

As in any decade, there are just too many classic 1990s comedies to list here – honorable mentions include Rushmore, Beavis & Butt-Head Do America, Wayne's World, Friday, Army of Darkness, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, There's Something About Mary, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights – but these ten comedies had lasting influence on pop culture and, in some cases, launched movie careers that are still going strong today.

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My Cousin Vinny (1992)

My Cousin Vinny
20th Century Fox

Joe Pesci proved he could be "funny" in Goodfellas, but his best comedic turn came in My Cousin Vinny, in which he plays a rookie New York lawyer whose first case is trying to get his younger cousin acquitted of murder charges in rural Alabama. The clash between Pesci's Vincent LaGuardia Gambini and his fiancée Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei in an Oscar-winning role) and small-town Alabama is where most of the laughs come from, but watching Vinny grow into his role as an attorney shows that My Cousin Vinny is about more than poking fun at country life.

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Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day
Columbia Pictures

Bill Murray might have become a comedic icon in the 1980s, but many consider his best film to be Groundhog Day, a comedy directed by his fellow Ghostbuster Harold Ramis about a narcissistic weatherman named Phil Connors who wakes up every morning on the same day – February 2 – in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the world-famous weather-predicting groundhog. He soon learns to become a better person, but not before countless humorous events that teach Connors some hard life lessons.

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Dumb & Dumber (1994)

Dumb & Dumber
New Line Cinema

The Farrelly brothers dominated the gross-out comedy in the 1990s, and one of the main reasons they did was because they weren't always trying to gross out the audience. Many people remember the bodily fluid gags in Dumb and Dumber, but they also remember it as a laugh-filled buddy comedy about two dimwitted friends in search of a better life in a little place called Aspen. It stars Jim Carrey at arguably the top of his game and revealed to many the comedic chops that dramatic actor Jeff Daniels had. A belated 2014 sequel couldn't recapture the magic, but the original still is an all-time comedy classic.

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Ed Wood (1994)

Ed Wood
Touchstone Pictures

Director Tim Burton isn't known today for making comedic films, but his first two films were the well-received comedies Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) and Beetlejuice (1988). He reached his comedic peak with 1994's Ed Wood, a comedy about the real-life Edward D. Wood Jr., considered one of the worst filmmakers to ever work behind the camera. Johnny Depp plays the naive and good-natured Wood, who launches his career – or lack thereof – after a chance meeting with elderly Dracula star Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau in an Oscar-winning role). The true-to-life tale lampoons Wood's lack of talent, but not his desire – making it even funnier than Wood's poorly-made original films.

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Clerks (1994)


Filmmaker Kevin Smith launched his career with a few maxed-out credit cards to make this vulgar, hysterical black-and-white comedy about the day in the life of a tightly-wound convenience store clerk and his best friend, a laid-back video store clerk. Millions can relate to the trials and tribulations of working behind a counter confronted by stupid customers and personal problems. Hundreds of aspiring filmmakers have been inspired by Smith's "do it yourself" style of making Clerks, but few have done so well with their first film as he did.

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As Good as It Gets (1997)

As Good As It Gets
TriStar Pictures

While the romantic comedy dominated the comedy genre throughout the 1990s in the wake of 1989's When Harry Met Sally and 1990's Pretty Woman, few of them can be considered all-time classics. However, James L. Brooks' As Good as It Gets emphasized comedy as much as it did romance with Jack Nicholson starring as a troubled novelist who falls for a waitress (Helen Hunt) and the circumstances that bring them together. Nicholson won his third Oscar for his performance, with Hunt also winning an Oscar too. Though plenty of romantic comedies hit theaters every year, few work as well as the aptly-named As Good as It Gets.

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Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
Polygram Filmed Entertainment

English filmmaker Guy Ritchie practically invented the gangster comedy with this cool, hilarious comedy that introduced the world to Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones (at least as an actor) through interconnecting stories about botched crimes. The movie launched the career of all three men, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was followed by dozens of imitations. But only Ritchie really knew how to follow up this film, which he did with another great crime comedy, 2000's Snatch.

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The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Big Lebowski
Polygram Filmed Entertainment

Though almost all of the movies made by the Coen brothers have some level of humor – even their masterpiece, the 1996 crime drama Fargo – their funniest is The Big Lebowski, the 1998 crime comedy starring Jeff Bridges as "The Dude," a lazy man who just wants to find out who is going to pay for his carpet that was mistakenly peed on. The Coens introduce some memorable characters in the film -- including John Goodman's Walter Sobchak, a bowling-obsessed Vietnam vet with anger and attachment issues, and John Turturro's creepy Jesus Quintana. Mixed together, the Coens created a hilarious, cult-favorite comedy that still has fans calling Bridges "The Dude."

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Office Space (1999)

Office Space
20th Century Fox

Perhaps the most "before its time" comedy ever made, Office Space – written and directed by Beavis and Butt-Head creator Mike Judge – was a flop in theaters, mostly because of a poor promotional campaign that didn't do an effective job of selling the movie. However, it became a huge hit on DVD and through frequent airings on television when audiences discovered how cleverly it ripped on the frustrations of working in a white-collar office. Office workers of today still find humor in the movie's amusing critical jokes.

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South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)

South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut
Paramount Pictures

The animated series South Park was instantly popular after its 1997 debut, but it really became a pop culture juggernaut with the feature-length film 1999's South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut. The four boys from Colorado were even more vulgar and offensive on the big screen in a story that depicted a war between the United States and Canada over a vulgar cartoon. Surprisingly, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut is actually a musical – and one of the movie's songs, "Blame Canada," was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. The film proved that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were here to stay, and South Park has remained part of pop culture ever since.