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7 best British comedy movies ever, ranked

Two guys drinking beer look at each other In Bruges.
Universal Pictures

If you’ve ever watched any sort of British comedy, you know that the Brits have a form of humor that is entirely distinct from that of their American counterparts. The Brits are both drier and more openly absurd, and the best comedies they’ve ever made reflect that shift in tone.

The Brits are capable of making us laugh just as well as just about anyone, and their best comedies rank up there with some of the best comedies ever made. These are the seven best British comedies ever made.

7. The Full Monty (1997)

The Full Monty | #TBT Trailer | 20th Century FOX

A hilarious and widely acclaimed comedy that has been somewhat forgotten in the years since it was released, The Full Monty tells the story of a group of friends who start their own striptease act in large part because they’re desperate for cash.

Although the movie is honest about the precarious economic situation of working-class Brits, The Full Monty has a light touch and a cast filled with charming performers who are convinced they can make their act work if they’re willing to go the full monty. It’s a wonderful, timeless film that has aged like fine wine.

6. In Bruges (2008)

In Bruges Trailer (2008) | Colin Farrell | Focus Features | Throwback Trailer

A brilliant dark comedy about a pair of hit men having an existential crisis while in Bruges, In Bruges has only gotten better as more time has past. The movie stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as the two hit men in question, but the movie’s funniest performance comes from Ralph Fiennes, who plays their boss, a man who becomes increasingly frustrated by their inability to perform the job that’s been assigned to them.

In Bruges may not be the lightest movie on this list, but it’s one of the funniest, in part because it seems to understand just how twisted the men at its center really are.

5. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Shaun of the Dead Official Trailer #1 - Simon Pegg Movie (2004) HD

Edgar Wright could earn several spots on this list, but Shaun of the Dead feels like the most important comedy he’s released to date. Telling the story of two regular friends who are living fairly dead-end lives when the zombie apocalypse strikes, Shaun of the Dead features both incredible filmmaking and some top-notch jokes.

The action is plenty thrilling, and the way this movie uses structure and careful foreshadowing to lay out every beat of its plotting in advance is something that should be taught in film schools for decades to come.

4. Notting Hill (1999)

Notting Hill Official Trailer #1 - (1999) HD

Writer Richard Curtis could similarly occupy several spots on this list, but Notting Hill may be the platonic ideal of what he was chasing with every movie he made. Telling the story of a London bookstore owner (Wonka‘s Hugh Grant) who has a whirlwind romance with an A-list movie star (played by Julia Roberts), it’s a movie filled with iconic lines, as well as plenty of glossy looks at London life.

Grantt is at the peak of his powers here, as is Roberts, and when the chemistry between them is combined, there are few couples more intriguing in the whole history of cinema.

3. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) | Official Trailer | MGM Studios

A convoluted caper that is made excellent thanks to its combination of excellent performances and great writing, A Fish Called Wanda is one of the few straight-up comedies to ever be taken seriously by the Oscars. The film tells the story of the aftermath of a heist as the members of the crew that was assembled to pull off the job scheme against one another

While the various plot elements weave around one another, the real highlight of the film comes from Kevin Kline, who plays a member of the crew who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. As one person tells him at one point, “The central message of Buddhism is not every man for himself.”

2. In the Loop (2009)

In The Loop | Comedy Trailer | Starring James Gandolfini and Peter Capaldi

A political satire that still feels painfully relevant all these years later, In the Loop tells the story of a British cabinet minister whose offhand comment in a press briefing inadvertently leads to serious contemplations of international war.

The film comes from Veep creator Armando Iannucci, and is one of the better send-ups of international politics that’s ever been made. What In the Loop gets at is that life and death stakes are often decided by trivial things, which is a genuinely horrific thing to contemplate.

1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' 40th Anniversary Official Trailer

A comedy that deserves every single plaudit that’s been thrown its way, Monty Python and the Holy Grail tells the story of King Arthur and his merry men as they search for the Holy Grail. In reality, though, it’s just an excuse for the comedy stylings of Monty Python to graft themselves onto one of the most well-known stories ever told.

There are so many great sketches and moments contained in this single film that calling out any single one seems foolhardy, but the coconuts that are used in place of the sounds of horses’ hooves has always been a particular favorite, in part because it also reflects the film’s low budget.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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