Let’s be honest. As we cope with the aftermath of an extremely hard year and a troubling political climate, we could all use a good laugh. Thankfully, we still have access to a plethora of classic film comedies from some of the funniest performers to grace the storied SNL stage during the 70s and 80s. Ranging from biting satire to wild raucous comedy, these films are almost guaranteed to brighten up even the darkest day.
1. Animal House
The grandfather of all college movies stands the test of time, still inspiring belly laughs almost 40 years after it premiered. Set in the 60s, the film tells the story of the wild misfits in the Delta House fraternity, led by the hard-partying Bluto (John Belushi), as they do battle with their school’s strict dean. Playing out almost as a series of connected sketches, the film boasts classic comedic set pieces from campus food fight, to the Delta’s toga party, and the parade melee. Even if you were the kind of college student who wouldn’t get within 50 feet of fraternity row, it’s hard to deny the charms of the Deltas in their simple pursuit of a good time.
2. Trading Places
It’s a testament to the talents of Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd that they can make a comedy whose climax revolves around stock trading into something enjoyable to those of us who skipped Econ 101. The film features the two SNL alums at the height of their talents starring as a stock trader (Aykroyd’s Louis Winthrop III) and a street-hustler (Murphy’s Billy Ray Valentine) who are manipulated by two wealthy old men into literally swapping lives. The film offers a deft balance of social commentary and choice comedic moments for not just its leads but also a talented ensemble including Jamie Lee Curtis.
3. Tommy Boy
There may never be a physical comedian like Chris Farley again and Tommy Boy is perhaps his crowning achievement. The road trip film co-starring David Spade sees him on a quest to save his deceased father’s auto parts manufacturing company from going under. While Farley’s Tommy may not seem like much more than a goofy, immature oaf on paper, it’s to the performers’ credit that he is able to transform into an utterly ridiculous and lovable figure, paired well with Spade’s trademark snark. While not boasting the critical acclaim of some of the other films on the list, this film offers belly laughs from premises as simple as putting Farley in a little coat.
4. Wayne's World
Originating from the beloved SNL sketch, this beloved classic looks at Mike Myers and Dana Carvey’s rock obsessed public access TV hosts Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar as they attempt to break into the big time. The cult classic film captures the irreverent sensibilities of its two leads while spawning some of the most iconic lines from “Schwing” to “We’re not worthy.” Perhaps more so than any other film on this list, the film conquers the deceptive challenge of portraying Wayne and Garth’s idiocy while still making them endearing and lovable leads.
5. Groundhog Day
Harold Ramis’ masterpiece takes what could be simply a silly premise—“what if a cynical weatherman (played by Bill Murray) was forced to repeat the same day over and over again”—and turns into something both funny and moving. As Murray’s Phil Connors keeps living out the same day, Ramis is able to capture his gradual transformation as he embraces his world with kindness. Murray is more than up to this challenge, giving him a chance to take his trademark cad personality and let him grow before the audience's eyes. The film’s mixture of biting humor and subtle Zen Buddhist notion of living in the present may seem like an odd pairing, but boy does it satisfy.