2022 was an interesting year for the global film industry, especially when it came to box office collections. In the U.S. and Canada, movies raked in 35% less revenue than 2019, confounding hopes of a recovery to pre-pandemic levels. In India, a string of high-profile blockbusters faltered at the box office, while dubbed South Indian films stormed the rest of the nation. And in the midst of all this industry drama, we actually managed to get a number of pretty funny films to watch too.
With the end of the year just around the horizon, here’s a list of nine Hindi and English comedy films to binge during your long holidays (or watch sneakily at work for the more unfortunate quiet-quitters).
1. Badhaai Do
A Bollywood film that actually got the LGBTQ+ experience right. Director Harshavardhan Kulkarni’s Badhaai Do explores what it’s like to be queer in India with great sincerity. The Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar starrer also makes a concerted effort to accurately represent and support the LGBTQ+ community. Adding comedy to this dynamic is a dicey ask, but in this instance, it works beautifully and never feels like the people involved are being made fun of; rather, it’s just their current predicament that is the butt of the joke.
Debutant director Jasmeet K. Reen has crafted a film that oozes boldness and masterful story-telling in dark comedy Darlings. Starring—and co-produced by—Alia Bhatt, Darlings is a film that tackles the tough subject of domestic abuse with sensitivity, grace and good-natured humour. The protagonists may be stuck in a dark situation, but some light still finds its way into their lives. This constant balancing act between comedy and drama is what makes Darlings such an audacious and effective film.
3. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2
This one had to be on the list, right? The movie that was the talk of the town because it had some beloved characters returning as well as new ones that we fell in love with. You only need to glance at the box office numbers to know that director Anees Bazmee’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 was the blockbuster hit of 2022. The first movie—today regarded as the comedy-horror gold-standard—was one of the first funny-scary films of its time and even now, stands out for its rare blend of genres. This sequel builds on those roots, winning over a new generation of ardent admirers. Oh, and it has Tabu in a double role. Instant classic.
4. Monica, O My Darling
If you were to merely read the plot summary for Monica, O My Darling, it would be hard to guess that the film is also a comedy. Filled with crime, plot twists and a thick coating of neo-noir, the Vasan Bala directed film is a joy to watch, thoroughly engaging from beginning to end. The story is fairly straightforward—if a little tongue-in-cheek—noir fare, and the humour largely emerges from the way the characters (played expertly by a cast including Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi and Radhika Apte) react to the film’s many plot twists. That and a lot of funny though occasionally too on-the-nose dialogue.
5. Jackass Forever
Jackass Forever is the latest and possibly last installment of the
venerable infamous television series and film franchise. Like its predecessors, the film is filled to the brim with incredibly risky shenanigans and exploits carried out by a group of frat-bro buddies. Since its debut as an MTV show in the 1990s, Jackass has delivered a very specific type of experience—that whiplash between being concerned for the well-being of these daredevil idiots, and laughing at their ridiculously elaborate masochism. Jackass Forever keeps that winning streak going, but as the guys age, the toll it takes on them is more and more of a worry, enough that Johnny Knoxville has said this will be his last appearance in the franchise. So enjoy this bunch of guys abusing themselves for your entertainment, while you still can.
6. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
The premise of the film could have easily been thought up by a group of stoned college kids who loved Nicolas Cage. Reddit’s One True God plays a fictionalised version of himself in Tom Gormican’s action-comedy, a version that gets drafted into a CIA plot to bring down a billionaire with a cultish devotion to… Nic Cage films. Despite the bizarro concept, The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent turned out to be a rollicking gonzo adventure, winning critical acclaim and box office accolades in equal measure. Guess meta is in these days.
7. Minions: The Rise of Gru
Ah, the movie franchise version of the meme that will not die. The Despicable Me spin-off’s second installment is the perfect film to watch with the young’uns, a light and breezy animated romp with some of the most likable wannabe henchmen in film history. The film’s retro chic style keeps things fresh as the minions (voiced by Pierre Coffin) and would-be reformed supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) chart their rise to infamy. Cerebral fare it is not. But if it’s a charmingly funny children’s movie you want, you can’t go wrong with this one.
8. Bullet Train
Based on a Japanese novel, this Brad Pitt starring action-comedy follows an assassin on a bullet train that becomes an accidental assassin convention, as hired killers with myriad motivations battle it out on rail. You can see the signature touch of Deadpool director David Leitch all over the film, with its comedy-of-ill-luck plotline and spectacular action set-pieces.
9. Clerks III
Another 90s cult classic makes a comeback! Kevin Smith, one-time indie film genius and the creator of the iconic View Askewniverse, brought the gang back together for one final visit to the world he started fleshing out with the first Clerks film in 1994. The director had been trying to get this project on the road since 2013, but a near-fatal heart attack in 2019 inspired a script rewrite that eventually became Clerks III.
With Randall also having a heart attack that spurs him to make a movie about the Quick Stop store he worked at and now co-owned, the film’s plot is obviously a last goodbye to these characters who defined the sillier, absurdist side of 90s slackerdom. It may not be the most high-profile or innovative film on this list, but for fans of characters like the inimitable Jay and Silent Bob (played by Smith himself), it’s the most loving, comforting piece of fan-service to grace the screens this year.