A good comedy movie requires more than simply jokes and physical gags; it must have characters that the audience can root for and relate to, actors skilled enough to portray them, and an engaging story enhanced by excellent comedic timing.
Many describe comedy as an art rather than a science, and in this vein, opinions differ on what makes for a truly hilarious film. But the following Relativity Media films combine comedic concepts, acting performances, and directorial decisions that are likely to elicit laughs from any comedy fan.
Recently released in theaters on September 30, 2016, Masterminds features an impressive ensemble of comedic actors in a riotous retelling of a robbery gone hilariously wrong. The film relays the true events of October 4, 1997, when an employee at the Loomis Fargo vault in Charlotte, North Carolina, set in motion one of the largest heists in American history.
Zach Galifianakis—known for comedies including The Hangover (2009) and the Emmy-winning interview series Between Two Ferns (2008)—stars as the heist’s inside man David Ghantt, who manages to steal $17 million in cash at the urging of his coworker and love interest Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig), as well as her low-level criminal associate Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson). Although they initially make off with the money, the film’s hapless protagonists manage to bungle their success at every turn, handling the crime’s aftermath with an outrageous amount of incompetence.
While screenwriters Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, and Emily Spivey took a few creative liberties while adapting this true crime story for the big screen, for the most part, the outlandish criminal missteps featured in Masterminds echo real-life events. Perhaps the most entertaining true-to-life comedic moments occur as the thieves give into the temptation of their newfound fortune, attracting the attention of the authorities during a rather conspicuous rise from rags to riches.
Masterminds also co-stars Saturday Night Live alumni Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Jason Sudeikis. It benefits from the direction of Jared Hess, who has garnered critical acclaim for off-beat comedic cult classics such as Napoleon Dynamite (2004) and Nacho Libre (2006).
Straight-laced college student Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) is primarily concerned with his grades, his career prospects, and the approval of his stern and slightly domineering father. Luckily, his high school best friends Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) are in town to guarantee that he lets loose on a night when it really matters: his 21st birthday. Despite having a medical school interview scheduled for 8 a.m. the next morning, Jeff agrees to go out for one beer—which, of course, turns into several. Before long, Jeff’s birthday libations have rendered him too intoxicated to find his way back to his apartment, and it falls to his friends to ensure that he makes it home before his interview the next morning—while still having an unbelievable 21st birthday.
21 and Over is the work of writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the screenwriting duo behind the iconic buddy comedy The Hangover (2009). Screenwriting partners for more than 10 years, Lucas and Moore are also well known for comedies including Four Christmases (2008) and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009), which, combined with The Hangover, grossed over $500 million in under a year. The duo has noted that their writing process includes a surprisingly minimal focus on jokes, with the characters forming, in Moore’s words, the “spine of the movie.” This is certainly true of their first effort as both screenwriters and directors, which granted them more freedom to truly bring their characters to life. The protagonists of 21 and Over encounter all manner of obstacles during their drunken quest, but Lucas and Moore derive a great deal of comedy from the interactions between the three characters as they embark on one extremely crazy night.
Like 21 and Over, Take Me Home Tonight (2011) revolves around a group of friends who set out to have the party of a lifetime. But instead of a modern day 21st-birthday celebration, Take Me Home Tonight takes place over Labor Day Weekend in the year 1988, drawing on all the decade’s music, pop culture, and unmistakable style to deliver an energetic and visually engaging period comedy.
Produced by Rogue Pictures and Imagine Entertainment in association with Relativity Media, Take Me Home Tonight stars Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, and Teresa Palmer. Topher Grace, known for playing the role of Eric Forman on the popular period sitcom That ‘70s Show (1998), also served as executive producer on the project. While former That ‘70s Show writers Jackie and Jeff Filgo wrote the film’s screenplay, Grace and longtime friend Gordon Kaywin received story credits for a concept inspired by their own teenage antics.
Topher Grace stars as Matt Franklin, a young genius who finds himself with little motivation or direction after graduating from MIT. Matt resigns himself to a job at a video store in his home town, but it only takes a chance encounter with his unrequited high school crush to kick-start his ambitions. Joined by his twin sister Wendy and their best friend Barry, Matt attends a Labor Day for the ages, seeking to have one last youthful hurrah and win over the girl of his dreams in the process. Spanning a single 24-hour period, Take Me Home Tonight blends the relatable challenges of early adulthood with hilarious drug-fueled debauchery for a truly entertaining comedy film.