EJ Moreno looks back at overlooked 2000s comedies…
It often feels like 2000s movies are some of the most forgotten films. Sandwiched between the blockbuster rise of the 90s and the billion-dollar era of the 2010s, most of the projects 00s are just overshadowed by their peers, especially when it comes to comedies, a genre that’s slowly lost steam since the 80s.
Looking back at the 2000s, there were undoubtedly some massive comedy hits: Old School, Mean Girls, Superbad, and The Hangover stand out as a few unforgettable favorites. Sadly, far too many good and bad movies were entirely forgotten by the masses.
For this list, we are looking at a collection of the best and worst 2000s comedy movies you probably forgot existed. Let us know which of these was a 00s hidden gem for you….
A Guy Thing
When making a movie in the early 00s, you can’t go wrong with the trio of Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, and Selma Blair. These three never let down fans during this era, especially in comedies. Sadly, A Guy Thing couldn’t live up to the beautiful work you’d usually expect from this trio. All the jokes fall flat, the romance is barely there, and you can’t help but feel everyone’s talents could’ve been used elsewhere.
The forgotten nature comes from its overall underwhelming qualities, settling for just another bland rom-com rather than something more exciting. This was the era when Lee, Stiles, and Blair all starred in far better films in this genre, and it’s painfully apparent how phoned in this felt. When Lee’s Paul believes he slept with Becky (Stiles), it leads to the usual shenanigans, with Blair offering up a lot of the heavy lifting with the humor.
While this won’t come up too often for the list, A Guy Thing mostly suffers from the early 00s cringe. The whole “guy thing” motif feels incredibly dated and makes A Guy Thing lost for a reason.
If you were around in the 1990s, you’d know all about the power of Martin Lawrence. The man dominated television with his hit series Martin and made some hilarious comedy films, including Big Momma’s House and Bad Boys. He felt unstoppable, but then came 2001 when this often-forgotten dud halted his momentum. From here, it took Lawrence a while to regroup.
Jamal (Lawrence) is a theme park employee sucked into medieval England. The usual cliched jokes are made, and you can call every plot point from a mile away. What hurts is there could be a fun idea here, and the period was trendy, as we saw with A Knight’s Tale become a cult classic this year. It’s a shame that a good story and a funny actor were just entirely wasted by this lackluster film.
Black Knight derailed Martin Lawrence’s popularity and killed Gil Junger’s chance at a solid comedy career. No one walked away from this safe, and it’s fair to say everyone wants you to forget about this.
In that awkward period between Netflix still mailing DVDs and the early days of online content, Charlie Bartlett dropped and was soon slipped into the film abyss. That’s a damn shame, as this was one of the most earnest 00s comedies. This type of movie was equally needed in the time of Juno and (500) Days of Summer. It’s heartfelt and felt so unique at the time, giving a new spin to drug comedies and teen drama.
Another fun little fact about the film is that this helped Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback in Hollywood. Released right before Iron Man, this played as one of RDJ’s indie comebacks to work himself back up to superstar status. He helps elevate this humble comedy to something of a must-see cult classic. It’s another entry filled with solid actors, including Kat Dennings and the late Anton Yelchin.
Charlie Bartlett deserved far more praise than it received; it’s timeless, effortless, and so damn charming. In a cynical time for comedies, a little dose of dark charm like this perfectly worked.
Carried to fame by Adam Sandler, there was a brief moment in pop culture when we all had a Rob Schneider phase. The actor made some fun films with memorable laughs and standout characters. Honestly, The Hot Chick is vastly underrated. But not all of his early 2000s projects work; look at 2001’s The Animal for a perfect example of his weaker work.
Schneider goes all in with his comedy, which is an admirable quality. It helps his cameos in Sandler films and even his solo work like Deuce Bigalow. Sadly, no amount of acting could save The Animal. For decades, humans pretending to be animals could conjure up a few laughs, but by the new millennium, it was tiresome. You couldn’t name a single joke, even if you’ve seen this more than once.
The Animal might not be as forgotten as others, though. As Rob Schneider falls further into oblivion, at least he can look forward to making The Animal 2, which turns out to be an exclusive Tubi movie.
By now, action comedies are the most played-out genre of film. From Marvel movies to Fast movies, it’s the template for 80% of the blockbusters. But in the early 00s, we were still riding the wave of the 90s action comedy comeback. Smokin Aces came at the odd transitional period for the sub-genre and staked its claim as a must-see entry. It’s nihilistic, hilarious, and so wildly outlandish in its filmmaking.
Some bashed it for being a knock-off of Quentin Tarantino’s style, but that feels like a lazy critique for a film that does try to do something different. Yes, it does use a non-linear narrative style, but it weaves together some of the most memorable and fresh characters. Also, what a stellar cast that includes heavyweights like Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds, Chris Pine, Jeremy Piven, and Taraji P. Henson.
Since its release, Smokin Aces has seen a bit of a critical reappraisal. Even filmmakers like Terrence Malick have sung the praise of this forgotten film. Do yourself a favor and give it another chance.
For a moment, Broken Lizard was the trendy comedy group of the 2000s. The troupe was fresh off their 2001 comedy masterpiece Super Troopers when they came out with the horror comedy Club Dread. The 2004 slasher film really tried its best, but it just had massive expectations to follow. Club Dread wasn’t horrible by any means, but it felt like a step down from what the group had cooked up a few years prior.
While their take on drug-filled comedies worked well with Super Troopers, they were walking into the well-worn territory by tackling horror movies. They didn’t hit anything Scream or Scary Movie didn’t do, and none of the meta humor here came near those. The actors are committed to their performances, and I can’t deny the film feels like a fun 2004 time capsule.
You can appreciate what Broken Lizard attempts here, and they came back even harder with their other overlooked comedy, Beerfest. Let’s all ignore the release of Super Troopers 2, though.
Elvis vs. a mummy should not be a plot that works. Just typing makes me question why I even like this film, and then I remember the power of Bruce Campbell. Bubba Ho-Tep is one of the most absurd comedies of the 2000s, and sadly, more people don’t know about it. You have it all in this film: Campbell as Elvis, a black man who claims to be John F. Kennedy, and a cowboy mummy.
Besides Campbell, the glue that holds the project together is the wonderful direction of Don Coscarelli. Best known for The Beastmaster and the Phantasm franchise; it’s a shame we didn’t get more of him in the 2000s. He would go on to craft the overlooked 2010s classic John Dies at the End, but that’s a story for another time. You need to see his exercise in what Ebert called “delightful wackiness.”
Bubba Ho-Tep comes with the highest recommendation out of all the films listed. It’s a true horror comedy cult classic starring a B-Movie legend from one of the most underrated genre filmmakers.
What are your favorite forgotten 2000s comedy movies? Let us know on our social channels @FlickeringMyth…