2020 is a year that we should definitely be celebrating ending tonight. (You’re hard-pressed to find an individual who wants it to carry on). However, some of the lone bright spots of such a tragic and horrid year would might come from the entertainment that we got to enjoy throughout it.
As far as comedy films go, 2020 had some real standouts. To some long-awaited (Bill & Ted Face the Music) to some critical praised (The King of Staten Island and Palm Springs) to even one that we didn’t see happening whatsoever (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), there’s not been a lack of some quality comedy to watch while staying isolated at home.
The Wrong Missy
The Wrong Missy is one of those films where you feel like you can figure out directly where the story is going to go before they’re even done setting it up. The film follows David Spade’s character, as he’s just about to leave for Hawaii on business, mistakenly texting the wrong girl an invite to go with him. You can definitely predict some of the hijinks that follows. That being said, we were pleasantly surprised regardless by how enjoyable moments of the film wound up being. And that directly comes from giving comedian Lauren Lapkus (Missy) a role that properly shows off her comedic chops on screen. Her performance, as well as her chemistry with Spade, successfully manages to carry the film.
Bill & Ted Face The Music
For years, fans have been waiting to see Keanu Reeves and Alex Winters reunite for another installment of the Bill & Ted series. And so, after all those years of waiting, this was the year when those prayers finally got answered. The film finds the duo discovering that they never did get to write that perfect song. So with a little help from their daughters (as well as Rufus’s daughter, Kelly), they set out to do just that. There’s definitely enough nostalgia and laughs (not to mention some fun cameos) here to appease the fans who have been waiting since the early 90’s for this one. And the brief George Carlin tribute alone will hit comedy fans right in the sweet spot.
We don’t think we’ve ever had a date go this wrong. The Lovebirds teams up Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae as a couple that can’t seem to go 5 minutes without fighting, and is on the verge of breaking up. However, after their car is hijacked and they are unwitting accomplices to a murder, they must put aside their differences and help clear their names by bringing the true murderer to justice. The chemistry between Rae and Nanjiani is pretty undeniable, with some of the best moments coming out of not so much moving the plot along as it does their simple interactions with each other. We definitely wouldn’t mind seeing them team up again for future projects.
When the plot details of Happiest Season first were unveiled earlier this fall, it seemed like the perfect moment for this to come along. The film follows two women (played by Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis) who are going to visit Davis’s parents and family for the holidays. Her parents, however, don’t know that she’s out of the closet, and Stewart as presented as her straight roommate. The film definitely serves as both a different kind of romantic comedy than we’re used to seeing, but at the same time also features a fresh spin on the cliches of holiday films. We do hope that other films that follow in its footsteps manage to do so with the same sharpness as well as heart that’s displayed here.
On The Rocks
Bill Murray has this uncanny ability of elevating whatever film he’s in. This is based entirely on charisma alone. However, the best Bill Murray vehicles are the ones that are already solid enough story wise that he only helps make it better, as opposed to being the best thing. On The Rocks is one of the latter. Teaming up with Sofia Coppola again, Murray plays a father who is insistent on helping his daughter (Rashida Jones) catch her husband in the act of cheating. The surprising bond that the two characters share, despite the clear signs of Murray’s character’s selfishness, is enough to take this really good film into really great film territory.
The King of Staten Island
Judd Apatow has long proven that he has a talent for taking a comedic presence and giving them a vehicle that best demonstrates their abilities. He has done so with Seth Rogen, Amy Schumer, Steve Carrell, Pete Holmes, and now Pete Davidson. The film, which is based on Davidson’s life and was written by Apatow, Davidson, and Dave Sirus, follows a troubled 20-something who is an aspiring tattoo artist still living at home. After losing his firefighter dad at a young age, he now has to come to grips with his mom (Marisa Tomei) choosing to date another firefighter (Bill Burr). The fact that a lot of the material is autobiographical definitely doesn’t hurt giving Davidson the chance to shine in the cinematic world. And you will find yourself surprised at just how good his acting chops are, too.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
The Eurovision Song Contest is a pretty big deal over in Europe, but the average American hadn’t been too familiar with the spectacle. That all changed this year when Will Ferrell decided to make a movie about it. The film follows two Icelandic platonic friends who, after a series of lucky events, finally get to live out their dream of representing their country in Eurovision. It was another one of those films that definitely exceeded are expectations going into it. And we dare you to find a catchier song than Ja Ja Ding Dong that was featured in a comedy film this year. You won’t.
An American Pickle
Of all the films on this list, this may win for having the strangest plot. An American Pickle, the first screenplay written by the hilarious Simon Rich, follows Seth Rogen as a Russian immigrant who accidentally falls into a vat of pickles in 1919 and is brined for 100 years. When he finally emerges in 2019, he tracks down his only living relative, who is his great grandson also played by Rogen. Yeah, not your typical setup for a comedy. And while having someone play dual roles like this is usually a tricky thing, Rogen manages to pull it off with ease. And the result is something that is off-the-beaten-path, but also something that will keep you laughing throughout.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Usually by the time a sequel comes out (especially after more than 10 years), there’s the inevitable buildup. Such was the case with Bill & Ted Face The Music. However, given the nature of how the film is made, Borat was managed to be kept more or less under wraps until they were completely through with production. And while most times, sequels tend to lose something over time, that was not the case here. Borat managed to adapt to the times in a way that felt fresh. And a stellar performance from semi-newcomer Maria Bakalova as his daughter who joins him on his quest to restore Kazakhstan’s name in America only upped the ante further, and made this sequel one that cannot be missed.
There’s a reason Palm Springs broke records at Sundance this year when Hulu spent more money on acquiring it ($17,500,000.69) than any other film in the festival’s history. That’s a lot of hype to live up to. And it’s a task the film is up for, and then some. It can best be described as an anti-Groundhog Day, as we find Andy Samberg in a time warp, but being perfectly content with that way of life. He is joined by Cristin Milioti, who accidentally follows him into a cave and winds up in the time warp along with him. Also, JK Simmons spends much of the film trying to kill Samberg for once inviting him into this bizarre world. It definitely is a unique perspective that we haven’t seen before. And it manages to bring us Samberg’s signature brand of humor while also presenting a maturity we hadn’t yet seen from him as a performer.