Thu
Apr 12 2012 6:10pm
The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

Science fiction has a rough reputation for being written off as escapist entertainment and as such has always struggled with being taken seriously. But what’s so great about being taken seriously, anyway? Science fiction can be wonderful escapist entertainment and is occasionally at its best when not being serious. Comedy can be a close friend to sci-fi, and some films which have combined comedy with science fiction have often gone on to be some of the most beloved and watched movies in cultural memory.

Here are 10 of the greatest comedic science fiction films according to me. Like comedy itself, this list is by no means comprehensive, nor objective.

 

10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

Though derided for its deviation from the Douglas Adams book, this version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy attempted to do the impossible: turn a very funny book with thin-ish characters into a movie which a mainstream audience could get invested in. Though I personally feel the movie falls apart once the plot really becomes different than the novel, the first 45 minutes of this film are delightful. Martin Freeman was and still is the obvious choice for Arthur Dent, Mos Def is charming as Ford Prefect, and Sam Rockwell is out-of-control funny as Zaphod Beeblebrox. You can be a snob about the source material changes all you want, but if you aren’t smiling at some point in this film, you’re just being unhappy on purpose. On a side note: it can’t be an accident that both Alan Rickman and Sam Rockwell are in this movie, and are equally funny in Galaxy Quest.

Best line: “Curiously the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias, as it fell, was, ‘Oh no, not again.’ Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.”

 

9. Batman (1966)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

The 1960s Batman TV show was intentionally written as a comedy. If that offends Batman “purists” then so be it. But in the same way George Lazenby played James Bond and Colin Baker played the Doctor, Adam West is Batman too. Deal with it.

But why does this version of Batman deserve to be on a list of comedic science fiction movies? Well, most of the conflicts in this movie are derived from science fiction tropes. The major Gotham City villains team up in order to use a special ray gun on the all the representatives from the United Nations. The Penguin has an outrageous submarine. Batman uses something called Bat-Shark-Repellent. Most everything in the utility belt is some kind of sci-fi gizmo. So, I’m pretty sure it’s science fiction.

The movie holds up as being super funny if you can accept that it’s intentionally trying to be tongue-in-cheek. This brand of humor is certainly not for everyone, but there’s never really been anything quite like it, and there never will be again.

Best line: “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.”

 

8. Young Frankenstein (1974)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

We’re you expecting Spaceballs? Sorry, but Young Frankenstein is Mel Brooks’ best contribution to comedic science fiction. The original novel Frankenstein was so formative to the existence of science fiction to begin with, that the notion of doing a comedy version of it was begging to happen for ages. Yes, Abbott and Costello met Frankenstein, but Mel Brooks did it better. From Gene Wilder to Madeline Kahn, to Gene Hackman to Teri Garr you can’t ask for a better cast. Marty Feldman’s “Igor” probably did more to solidify the notion of the hunchback character more than any other adaptation. (Recall the character is actually named “Fritz” in the 1931 movie.) All in all, the gags are great, the writing is spot on and you can watch this movie a billion times and laugh at something new upon each viewing.

Best Line: [In reference to Igor’s hump] “Didn’t you use to have that on the other side?”

 

7. Sleeper (1973)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

Woody Allen’s dystopian slapstick is notable for a lot of reasons, but in terms of science fiction milestones it carries an interesting distinction. Prior to Sleeper there hadn’t been a large, mainstream film which actually explored the concept of cloning. In fact, there’s a long sequence in the movie explaining what cloning is in order to set up the conflict which occupies the latter half of the film. But beyond this, Sleeper is an odd mix of a Buck Rogers and 1984. A man from the past wakes up in the future to find a Big Brother-style figure controlling everything. Sleeper isn’t exactly a spoof of either Buck Rogers or 1984, but instead a science fiction environment designed for Woody Allen to tell jokes with a slightly different flavor than he had before.

The slapstick element of Sleeper also helps to elevate it out of the realm of simply mocking other dystopian SF concepts. Visually, Sleeper has a lot in common with the film version of Logan’s Run, which came out three years later. But Sleeper won the Hugo. Logan’s Run didn’t.

Best line: “Look, you gotta be kidding. I wanna go back to sleep! If I don’t get at least 600 years, I’m grouchy all day.”

 

6. Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie (1996)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

Is this fair to include this one on the list? Is this sort of like when Return of the King won the Oscar for best picture even though everyone knew it was representative of the whole series? Possibly. But I know it would be unfair to list comedic science fiction films without including a mention of MST3K. Yes, most of their comedy in both the show and this film relies on mocking existing genre films, but the style which they did it was groundbreaking and wonderful. The movie they watch in this one, This Island Earth, is chock full of so much iconic SF imagery that it’s almost like a two-for-one deal. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hanging out with Mike (or Joel) Tom Servo, Crow, and Gypsy, this is a great place to start.

Best line: “Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of Babylon 5.”

 

5. Galaxy Quest (1999)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

Star Trek changed everything, not just the way science fiction in TV and film was written, but also the way fan communities were perceived. We can’t conceive of the basic structure of most space adventure shows without thinking of the Star Trek model. But what if real-life aliens saw Star Trek and thought it was totally real? What if those aliens then created a starship and visited us in our said fictional spaceship? This is the wonderful and brilliant premise of Galaxy Quest. More than a Star Trek spoof, Galaxy Quest is an original, hilarious science fiction premise, which leans heavily on the culture of sci-fi fans who love Star Trek. But, the movie is great because it has its own internal fictional universe, which is unique and also inherently funny. Though a mostly irritating and forgettable actor; Tim Allen gives the performance of his life here, and is the perfect homage to a Shatner-esque dumpy action hero. With Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Rockwell along for the ride, you really can’t help but grinning from the first scene of this film.

Best line: “What is this thing? I mean, it serves no useful purpose for there to be a bunch of chompy, crushy things in the middle of a hallway. No, I mean we shouldn’t have to do this, it makes no logical sense, why is it here?”

 

4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

Prior to the release of the J.J. Abrams reboot, this Trek film was the most successful at the box office (when adjusted for inflation.) Yes, the Star Trek movie with the whales and the crew hanging out in 1986 San Francisco made the most money. And that’s because, in some ways, it is the best Star Trek movie. The original series relied heavily on humor, so much so that most episodes actually end with everyone yucking it up on the bridge of the Enterprise.

The dynamic between Kirk and Spock is truly perfect for comedy insofar as you’ve got a straight man and goof ball. But which one is which? It depends because at this point Kirk and Spock are actually fairly complicated characters. And in this story, they’re also fish out of water. Bones and the rest of the cast are great. Outside of “the big three” most of them never had much to do in previous Trek adventures. So, in this one Chekov, Sulu, Scotty, and Uhura get to do what it turns out they do best: be funny. (Though Uhura was arguably the most funny character in Star Trek III with her “get in the closet” bit.)

Best line: “No, I’m from Iowa. I only work in outer space.”

 

3. Back to the Future (1985)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

Though the subsequent sequels are extremely entertaining, nothing can quite match the purity of this movie. The premise of going back in time and preventing your parents from meeting, thus putting your existence in jeopardy is funny enough on its own. But, then you’ve got to consider the snappy dialogue, hilarious performances, and speedy direction. The movie is highly watchable because it’s an adventure, but it’s touching and heartwarming because it’s hilarious. I always like the paradoxical references to existing science fiction inside of this film. The fact that George McFly becomes a science fiction writer, and his belief in the fantastic is what forces him to actually ask Lorraine out to the dance is the ultimate tribute to genre fans. But the jokes throughout are beautifully structured and would be funny in any context.

Best line: “Lorraine. My density has popped me to you.”

 

2. The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

It might be hard to remember now, but the science fiction substance “flubber” was not invented by Robin Williams, instead it was Fred MacMurray’s portrayal Professor Ned Brainard. Don’t bother with the sequels or the colorized version of this one; instead watch the black and white original. It may seem clunky today, but when you get to the sequence where Brainard causes his Model-T to fly, you’ll see the origins of science fiction comedy. Even the sound-effect the flubber emits is funny. This movie deserves more respect and praise than it gets. It’s like a Twilight Zone premise turned into a slapstick film with a touch of romance.

Best line: The sound the flubber makes.

 

1. Ghostbusters (1984)

The 10 Best Comedic Science Fiction Films According to Me

The primary reason why Ghostbusters works as a comedy is mostly because on paper, it shouldn’t. There are multiple premises, a lot of characters, confusing jargon and a bizarre climax which isn’t exactly earned by the set-up. But the originality of the concept, the aesthetic of the film, and the perfect performances from every single member of the cast make it a movie that is not only greater than the sum of it’s parts, but also a movie with parts which are pretty great. Making the Ghostbusters into guys who are slightly insane hacks at the beginning of the movie who lose their dubious grant from Columbia already puts the movie in interesting territory. Do we know anyone like this? Could these people even exist?

Why an abandoned firehouse? Why a hearse? Why a giant fictional marshmallow man? The answer in every single case seems to be: because it’s funny. Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray obviously keep the heart of this film going, but without everyone else, the universe of the movie would cease to be real, and oddly not as funny. Ghostbusters is one of the strangest movies ever because the stakes feel pretty real, and the audience if always concerned as to what is happening. And yet, some of the tension of the movie is built by an unending, relentless supply of jokes. As the movie gets funnier, the audience gets closer to the edge of their seat. Find me a person who doesn’t like Ghostbusters and I’ll show you an emotionless robot.

Best line: “Back off, man. I’m a scientist.”

 

The reasons Spaceballs was left off the list:

What, no Spaceballs you ask? Yeah, no Spaceballs. I like Mel Brooks, but I have to say Spaceballs just doesn’t do it for me because the humor in it is too referential. It relies on the zeitgeist of the time (Star Wars fever), and it doesn’t do anything more than lampoon. I’m not saying Spaceballs isn’t very funny in some areas, I just don’t find it to be overall clever or original. Galaxy Quest is a spoof too, but because it’s meta-fiction and uses a science fiction premise to justify its jokes, it’s light years smarter than Spaceballs. But wait, didn’t I include Young Frankenstein which is ALSO a spoof of a famous SF thing? Yes, but Young Frankenstein is funnier in every single way. I find Spaceballs to be a little pandering, coat-tailing on a trend. It’s like a live-action Mad Magazine send-up. Young Frankenstein feels more classic, Spaceballs feels like a “me too.”  Spaceballs is funny, but not good. Lightsaber penis jokes? The word “balls” in the title? Really?

 

Now dear readers, I know I left off Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, and a bevy of other funny favorites. So go ahead, tell me which ones you like, and which ones you’ dont and which ones would be on your list!

 


Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com. He is an instructor at The Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City, where he occasionally teaches a course on Humor Writing.

80 comments
Zayne Forehand
1. ShiningArmor
I was going to say that Galaxy Quest would be my #1 but then I saw Ghostbusters at the top of your list and knocked GQ down to #2. Great List. I wholeheartedly agree with you about Spaceballs. It just never did it for me.
treebee72 _
2. treebee72
Galaxy Quest will always be #1 for me - a perfect example of 'laughing with' instead of 'laughing at'. It's really dissapointing that there is no commentary track for this movie.
Adam Shaeffer
3. ashaef
Bill and Ted happens to be one of my all-time favorites, but I think a little shout out in the final paragraphy is probably sufficient :-)

And I have to agree about Galaxy Quest and Ghostbusters. Classics.
StrongDreams
4. StrongDreams
You got the best line from GQ wrong (or maybe you truncated it too soon).
"Whoever wrote this episode should be shot!"

...and every scene with Tony Shalhoub.
StrongDreams
5. sgtPinback
No love for Dark Star, eh?

That low-budget classic has to be near the top of any list of best science fiction films. Really "smart" bombs, beachball aliens, what more could you ask for?
StrongDreams
6. rstanek
Galaxy Quest is also my #1, but my favorite line from it will always be, "And then it exploooooded." Mostly due to the delivery.
StrongDreams
7. Improbable Joe
I'd put Back to the Future at #1, since it is not only the best comedic science fiction movie ever but also probably one of the top five best comedies period, and probably a fair choice in a top twenty of films, period. You could tweak the premise a dozen different ways, and huge chunks of the individual scenes would still work without more than minor tweaks. The whole thing just hangs together so neatly that it isn't just an achievement in SF or comedy but a real triumph of filmmaking, period.

And thanks for putting The Absent-Minded Professor on the list. That was a childhood favorite that I rarely think of, but when I do I remember it very fondly.
StrongDreams
8. Backyardbob42
@rstanek - Completely agree with you, that is my favorite line from an eminently quotable film!

And I agree with the assesment of Spaceballs. I like the movie, but I've always felt like it winks at the camera too much, especially with lines like "We'll all meet again in the sequel, Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money"

The rest of the list was spot on, and I'm glad you nodded to Bill & Ted and Buckaroo
Keith DeCandido
9. krad
Actually, Spaceballs was very much not part of a zeigeist of its time. It was released in 1987, ten years after the first film's release, six years after Return of the Jedi, four years before Heir to the Empire hit bookstores, ten years before the special editions were released in theatres, twelve years before The Phantom Menace. It was released at the absolute low point of general interest of Star Wars as a phenomenon.

Brooks would've been better off releasing it many years earlier or a decade later....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
StrongDreams
10. Karlsen
Great list I've seen all bar one of them and can't really fault any of the inclusions. Possible contenders I would add are Dark Star and As Time Goes By but very few people have ever seen that an independent Australian film from 1988
StrongDreams
11. larrydart
No list of funny science fiction films would be complete without the inclusion of Mike Judge's criminally underseen Idiocracy.
Randy Kursinsky
12. greenghost
How about Groundhog Day? Easily better than the Absent Minded Professor.
StrongDreams
13. Alan Heuer
I'd put Dr. Strangelove #1.
StrongDreams
14. Patchwick
I loved the list...up until I saw that The Fifth Element was not on it...
Ron Hogan
15. RonHogan
"No love for Dark Star, eh?"

Or Silent Running?

Actually, the biggest omission to my mind is Time Bandits, but I suppose we could have a reasonable debate as to whether that's a fantasy film, as opposed to a science fiction film.

UPDATE: OK, so I ran this list by my wife, and, after immediately agreeing that Young Frankenstein needs to be higher on this list than it is, she asked, "Wait, he didn't include Bedazzled?"

Which, fine, I'll give you the same "well, that's a fantasy" technicality that's keeping Time Bandits off the list, but at this point, what this means is obvious: Ryan, either you need to do a followup post for fantasy, or I have a project for this weekend.
StrongDreams
16. AlBrown
Excellent list.
Glad to see Hitchhiker's Guide on it, as I am very much a fan of the series in all of its various forms, and thought the movie was a lot of fun, not appreciated as much as it should have been (and what a great cast).
And The Absent Minded Professor was a great movie, Fred McMurray was always a favorite actor of mine when I was young, and this movie was one of his best. I betray my age when I say this, but I remember seeing it in the theater, and enjoying it thoroughly. Went down into the basement and started trying to make my own flying machine. Closest I got was a couple of hand-wound electromagnets that repelled each other...
StrongDreams
17. Xavier Onassiss
Alan Heuer @13: Absolutely!

Patchwick@14: Unintentional comedy doesn't count.
Christian Decomain
18. Khryss
How come nobody mentioned Mars Attacks yet? That would have been my #1. I also second the mention of Dark Star.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
19. Lisamarie
I love Galaxy Quest so very very much... :)

Miners, not minors!
Phil Frederick
20. flosofl
@Xavier Onassiss

You thought the 5th Element was going for serious as its vibe? Really?

Police: Are you classified as human?
Korben Dallas: Negative, I am a meat popsicle.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
21. Lisamarie
Oh, and every single time my husband pass the Kleenex aisle in the grocery store, we STILL say 'tiss-ue paper'. We're kind of lame, haha.

Mad props to Enrico Colontani as well (although my very favorite role of his is Keith Mars in Veronica Mars).
Rob Munnelly
22. RobMRobM
Brazil???? Of course, the comedy is really, really dark.

How about A Boy and His Dog? An excellent version of the Harlan Ellison novella starring Don Johnson (of all people). Not quite a comedy but it ends on a big "shaggy dog story" one liner that is very funny.

If you're going to 60s/70s Disney films, you could do The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes - but I guess Groundhog Day is better, so go with that.

Rob
StrongDreams
23. Xavier Onassiss
flosofl @20: Fifth Element's attempts at humor were abysmal; its attempts at everything else were laughable.
Jim
24. JimmyMac80
You got the wrong quote for Ghostbusters, it should be "If someone asks if you are a god, you say, "yes!"
john mullen
25. johntheirishmongol
Young Frankenstein is a top 5 comedy of all time, scifi or not, so it has to rank at the time of the list. I would drop Ghostbusters to #2 or #3 behind Back to the Future.

There are a couple of films I would drop off the list just for not being worth watching. Those would be Hitchhiker and MST3K. Not that funny and I have friends who snark at bad movies better.
StrongDreams
26. Big Ed
No Fifth Element?

This list is invalid.
StrongDreams
27. McPants
Some of my favorites are on this list, but c'mon, where's The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension? Too much?
Mike Conley
28. NomadUK
RonHogan@15: Or Silent Running?

If you think Silent Running is a comedy, I think you need to go talk to someone.

Another vote here for Dark Star, Dr Strangelove, Buckaroo Banzai, Bill & Ted (the first one only).

I tried watching A Boy and His Dog again the other day, and, to tell the truth, I had to stop, because the astonishing level of misogyny just upset me. I know, it's crucial to the plot, but somehow it seemed more than that. Even Soylent Green didn't bother me the way this one did.

There were some nice comedic touches to Time After Time, but it's clearly not a comedy.
StrongDreams
29. DarrenJL
I don't see Groundhog's Day anywhere on this list. Therefore, it's wrong.
StrongDreams
30. wiredog
I liked Fifth Element. But Hudson Hawk is one of my guilty pleasures, too. Come to think of it, that one has a kinda-sorta SFnal idea behind it.
StrongDreams
31. Andrewson Mark
Aggread with Big Ed.
Peter Czyzewski
32. sebastianelgar
It's been years since I saw it, but I recall Ice Pirates being rather humorous, of course I was a young teen then so that might have some influence on how funny I found it .
Neil Sood
33. RanchoUnicorno
The trouble with 5Th Element is that it is a comedy in the same way that Die Hard is a comedy - there are several quips and moments that are included for comedic effect, but it just isn't a comedy.

And yes, I know DH was clearly an action film and 5th Element is something bizzare - action? adventure? sci fi romance? Luc Besson on too many different drugs? - but I think the comparison makes sense.
Ryan Britt
34. ryancbritt
@Everyone who is mad about Groundhog Day. You're right! You got me. There. I said it.

@Keith. Good call on Spaceballs. I suppose I remember it differently.

@All you Ice Pirates. Yeah. Ice Pirates is good.

@Ron Hogan. You just made my day with that Bedazzled thing. Also, would I be stoned if I said I considered all sword and sorcery fantasy to be a form of comedy? JUST KIDDING. I don't really think that. Just sometimes on bad days. :-)
StrongDreams
35. Mr. Zappy
People think Ghostbusters is still funny?

I have to say, I had fond memories of the movie, but I watched it again a few months ago, and all the fond memories are now gone.

There are a few funny lines, but I found it mostly tedious. And I say this as a huge Bill Murray fan. Stripes, Caddyshack, and even Meatballs, have aged better.

I agree with many of the other movies on the list. There are some painfully cheesy moments in Star Trek IV (and there always were), but a few of the scenes remain hilarious.

GILLIAN: You guys like Italian?

KIRK: Yes.

SPOCK: No.

KIRK: Yes.

SPOCK: No.

KIRK: I love Italian. And so do you.

SPOCK: Yes.
Boquaz
36. boquaz
I agree with #25 on HHGTTG and MST3K. I'd also throw Batman on there. I watched it as a kid, and it was fun, but I think recent versions of the comedy super hero genre are better (you, know, actually good). Let's start with Men in Black.
StrongDreams
37. Desmond
Not to pick nits, but I'm pretty sure ECTO-1 was an old-fashioned ambulance, not a hearse. Before ambulances were vans, they were often station-wagons.
StrongDreams
38. GuruJ
I'll put in a vote for the original Jerry Lewis Nutty Professor, one of the most watchable Lewis comedies and with a decent SF premise.

I avoided Galaxy Quest for years because I couldn't see how it could possible be any good. But yes, it's a great film.

Fifth Element is great as long as you accept its inherent ridiculousness (really it's a excuse just to design futuristic fashion as much as anything else). But I'm mad at it anyway, because as a result I watched lots of other movies directed by Luc Besson afterwards and was consistently disappointed.

Groundhog Day deserves a spot; Strangelove remains awesome; Brazil is worthy but not everyone's cup of tea; Mars Attacks I found freaky more than funny; and thank god you left off Spaceballs!
Sky Thibedeau
39. SkylarkThibedeau
The best thing about Spaceballs is yogurt's comment about "Spaceballs II:The Search for More Money". Now whenever an unecessary sequel is done you just say it's "Blah Blah II:The search for More Money".

I'd add "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" to the list though it was technically the Theatrical release of an NBC pilot 'in Search of more money' in the same vein as "Battlestar Galactica in Sensurround" was.
StrongDreams
40. mike-ptda
Great List Ryan [though I never saw Sleeper, and am not a fan of Mystery Science Theater]. Perfect picture of Kirk for this blog .

One the funniest moments is in Galaxy Quest when they all get beamed up for the first time... Guy's and Freds reactions - hilarious.

Cheers and Thanks

Mike
StrongDreams
41. Hampus Eckerman
Hey, where's Galaxina? Obviously one of the top 3.
Ron Hogan
42. RonHogan
"If you think Silent Running is a comedy, I think you need to go talk to someone."

I have a distinctive sense of humor, it's true.
StrongDreams
43. caoil
Agreed on the great cast for Hitchhiker's (and I do like it, even though it's not quite the movie I wanted), but for me the best part will always be Stephen Fry as the Book. But then I am an unabashed Fry fangirl.
StrongDreams
44. Jeff R.
The Ice Pirates has not aged well; anyone who remembers it fondly should not even briefly consider re-watching it.

Also on the "should be on the list but isn't" list: Airplane II. If only for the "Over Macho Grande" bit.
StrongDreams
45. wiredog
Ice Pirates was the first movie for which I both a) paid my own money and b) walked out of halfway through. Worst Movie Ever. EVAR!
StrongDreams
46. jdonliturgy
Love that you included Woody Allen's Sleeper. Another vote here for including The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension - John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Goldblum and the others are at their comic best -- and the good aliens all look like Bob Marley - what's not to love?
StrongDreams
47. All_Day_SCI-fi
He thinks Hitch Hiker's guide is better than Spaceballs? Incredible! At least I could watch Spaceballs. And Star Wars mania has not gone away. Volkswagen is making commercials based on Star Wars for Valen's sake. Star Wars is pseudo-science fiction that won't die.
Sky Thibedeau
48. SkylarkThibedeau
Oh that reminds me jdon, Sayles "The Brother from Another Planet" was pretty funny too. Eureka's Joe Morton played the escaped Alien Slave hiding out on Earth.
William Fettes
49. Wolfmage
I think I have rather different taste to the OP. Too much nostalagia for my taste; IMO many of these films don't hold up very well without the gloss of childhood memories. Never been a fan of anything Star Trek so everything related to that wouldn't make it on any list of mine. Love Spaceballs, so yeah disagree strongly with the deliberate diss / omission.

Didn't find Hitchhiker's Guide funny. But then I think the book itself is only mildly entertaining on the Red Dwarf and Terry Pratchet scale and it was much worse than the book.

Would definitely include Dr Strangelove, Groundhog Day and Bill and Ted's. Also, if we can stretch genre definitions a bit: Tremors, Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. Also, Futurama movies, just because it's Futurama. Quite enjoyed the animation Despicable Me as well.
StrongDreams
50. mirana
I have to agree with others: While I have fond memories of Ghostbusters, on re-watch I've found it's not really that great. It's a fun film to quote and remember with friends, but as someone else said...actually "tedious" to watch. And I say this as someone who yells "What did you do? WHAT DID YOU DO, RAY" with my husband on at least a monthly (if not weekly) basis...

However, "Back to the Future" is still amazing and I STILL never get tired of watching it.

I DEFINITELY agree about SpaceBalls. Never liked it, never found it that funny. Just juvenille and not clever. Some good lines, but that's it.

I ADORE the Fifth Element. I think it is a fantastic, (intentionally) funny film. It is one of my top three fav scifi films (behind Star Wars and Back to the Future of course).
Ashley W
51. a_neonta
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavara NEEDS to be on this list. But I forgive you for not having seen it. It's like watching MST3k, except the commentary is built right into the movie.
Lucas Silacci
52. gumbinator
Am I the only person who thinks that Demolition Man deserves a shout-out here?
"Taco Bell was the only restaurant to survive the Franchise Wars. Now all restaurants are Taco Bell."
Rich Bennett
53. Neuralnet
how about Men in Black? I always thought that was a pretty good sci-fi comedy. I think Spaceballs should be on the list... I would take batman off because it is superhero not really Sci-fi.

I love Sleeper... if anyone out there hasnt seen it... you have a new weekend project. It is worth tracking down.
StrongDreams
54. Your Mom
Well, Ryan you certainly but a bee in some people's bonnet. That means it was a successful article. I have to agree that Back to the Future is timeless. No pun intended. I was surprised that no one mentioned Barbarella. Maybe that is more fantasy than SF. Probably most of your readers are too young or their parents wouldn't let them watch the movie. Great job.
StrongDreams
55. SeeingI
I agree with you about why Spaceballs shouldn't be on the list (it just isn't very funny) but it certainly was not cashing in on contemporary "Star Wars fever." It came out in 1987 by which time Star Wars was really going off the boil, and I remember all my geek friends saying "Why now instead of, oh, say, 3 or 4 years ago?"
StrongDreams
56. Theophylact
The Man in the White Suit! Not only Alec Guinness in a classic role, but the best sound effects ever.
StrongDreams
57. Cordwainer Fish.
I have been reading Science fiction in huge amounts since the mid 1960's.
I saw Star Wars before it opened as a sneak preview in manhattan. I thought and think it is and was meant to be a comedy. I base this on the obviously deliberate visual similarities to the Wizard of Oz and it's unabashed rip off of just about every Science fiction stereotype there is. I laughed almost continuously throughout the film.
I always hated Batman and still do. I dislike "Hitchhikers" for the same reason I don't enjoy Dr Who, Both are simply too tongue in cheek not to mention the whole Science Fiction stereotype thing again. And as far as MST3K goes, I snark better than them.
I agree with the previous hails for "Buckaroo", "MIB" and Groundhog Day. I do not feel Time Bandit's should be disqualified since Religion is the most basic and successful Science Fiction of them all. If you think that Dogma, Time bandits & Religion are fantasy you are forgetting Clark's Third Law.
I would like to add Dogma and Blast From the Past to the list for consideration.
I thought Idiocracy was not completely bad unless of course you compare it with "The Marching Morons".
Cordwainer Fish.
matt
58. graftonio
Groundhog Day

Bill and Ted should get on the list simply because George Carlin was in it. Actually Dogma could be added for the same reason.

Time Bandits and Ice Pirates I remember from when I was really young but they didn't age well.


How about Phantom Menace that whole film was a joke.
StrongDreams
59. ibjmackp
I love Dr. Strangelove! I haven't seen it in awhile, so can some one please tell me how it falls under the SF genre? It's a cold war comedy, nothing SF about it. Am I wrong?
StrongDreams
60. DarrenJL
I still think this is a good list, though. And absolutely, MST3K deserves to be up there.
StrongDreams
61. iucounu
Er, sorry, but Hitchhikers? I cannot let that pass.

Cannot. Let. That. Pass.

It's a diabolical film. Just awful. As if it were made by people who didn't realise it was supposed to be funny, or how a joke works, or... anything. The bits that were original were not good and the bits that were good were, hang on, I can't think of any. Just a lot of unforgivable botching of funny lines and situations.

Compare it to the shonky BBC TV series, even, which is approximately 342,455,199 times funnier.

If you strapped poor Douglas Adams into an iron coffin, wrapped it in a coil of copper wire, and played that movie on a loop, the subsequent spinning-in-his-grave could power the Eastern Seaboard.

I can't think of many worse movies for any of the cast members - Freeman, Rockwell, Nighy, Malkovich, Rickman, and John Malkovich was in Eragon. It's probably the worst movie Mos Def has been in, and much as I like Mighty Mos's music, that's saying something. (You may remember his turn as a whiny wannabe baker in 16 Blocks.)

In conclusion, Hitchhiker's Guide, 2005: No. No no no no no.
Sky Thibedeau
62. SkylarkThibedeau
Phantom Menace would have been on the list for sure but it;s comedy is unintentional.
Ryan Britt
63. ryancbritt
@62 I intend to do an unintentional list at some point.

@Everyone who is mad about Hitchhikers. I'm sorry! I know it would cause an uproar to say it. But I loved it! Still do! There.
StrongDreams
64. Topy
I thought Alex Cox's RepoMan was pretty funny.
William S. Higgins
65. higgins
I am pleased to see The Absent-Minded Professor get some love.

I will always be a member of the Dark Star cult and the Buckaroo Banzai cult.

Martha Coolidge's comedy about intelligent people, Real Genius, is a huge favorite. Upon reflection, though, I must admit that its science-fictional elements are inadequate to push it into the category of SF film; like a technothriller, it is firmly set in the here-and-now of 1985 with a few plausible gadgets. Tends to be a film loved by SF fans, however.
StrongDreams
66. Cultfan
What about Barbarella!!!!
StrongDreams
67. Karen J
Yes! Barbarella is a must in any list of funny sci-fi movies! I can't believe you didn't even mention it..
Emma Rosloff
68. emmarosloff
Second the addition of MST3k!! If you're looking for a few more hilarously bad (yet well quipped) sci-fi episodes, try Time Chasers, Space Mutiny and Teenagers from Outer Space. The official 'movie' isn't their funniest in my opinion, although it definitely keys into a lot of sci-fi stereotypes and is hilarious because it clearly doesn't realize how heavy-handed it's being. I agree that there are an alarming amount of MST3k episodes that I simply can't stomach, but I have to hand it to Joel, Mike and the crew for an excellent show premise and for being so prolific (the show was on for what, 12 years?).

Sure, they're undeniably dorks (and stoners, oh man), and some of their humor is so cheesy it makes you want to vomit, BUT I have to admit that when they're on their game I've literally never laughed harder. If you're all so insistent that you can snark better than them, then by all means, steal their premise and create your own show. I'll be your biggest fan. Nothing but love for them on my end, flaws and all!
StrongDreams
69. J Weber
Spaced Invaders! Little Green men invade a small farm community because they think an Orson Wells "War of the Worlds" halloween broadcast is real. All the characters are funny and loveable at the same time. Funniest line is the whole Mars, Mars Is My Home song done to the tune of Home, Home On the Range.
J Dalziel
70. BunnyM
Gotta agree with iucounu @#61 there. I absolutely *loathe* the HH movie, not for being bad Hitchiker's, but for being an awful, awful movie. I blame it mostly on the director, myself, as he had a talented cast, but just didn't seem to know how to/wasn't willing to actually get the best out of them.

Mos Def needed to really turn up his performance, he was barely in the movie, and someone really needed to sit on Sam Rockwell and calm him the hell down. Of course, he didn't have a lot to work with, as the script has Zaphod as an utter moron. (Which is where it *is* bad HH, 'cause Zaphod is a lot of things, but dumb isn't one of them.)

And the whole pointless and stupid sub-plotline they threw in, apparently just so that John Malkovich could have a bit-part as The Bad Guy.

And let's not even start on the overly long and boring opening sequence musical number created enterly from one throw-away line in the 4th book!

The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Which is not to say there weren't moments of good in the movie. Arthur was (very nearly) suitably out of his element, Bill Nighy was wonderful as Slartibartfast, Zooey Deschanel did the best with a very limited role, and all of the voice acting was wonderful, of course.

As for the rest of the list, Star Trek IV, Back To The Future, Galaxy Quest, Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie, all deserving of being on this list. Sleeper? I supect that comes down to whether or you are a fan of Woody Allen's style of film-making/comedy.

Good to see the mentions for Bill&Ted's and Buckaroo Banzai, even if I would have placed them higher on my personal list.

Thanks for the article, Ryan!
StrongDreams
71. Salabra
#3 - Mars Attacks!

#2 - Galaxy Quest

#1 - Dr Strangelove
StrongDreams
72. Marla J.
I think my favorite quote from "Galaxy Quest" is the one where Alan Rickman looks around the appliance store and says, "By Grabthar's Hammer...what a savings." Perfect delivery. Just perfect.
StrongDreams
73. Donna Cunningham
I haven't seen some of these, and the ones I saw I haven't seen since they first came out(or shortly after, in the case of Sleeper.) I liked Sleeper, Ghostbusters, and The Absent Minded Professor. I like ST IV, but while it's the most humorous of the films, I don't think of it as a comedy. My list would include Buckaroo Banzai and Repo Man(glad to see some one else mention that one.) I don't think any of these would come to mind if I was asked to list my favorite movie comedies without SF being specified, though.
Ryan Britt
74. ryancbritt
@Mars Attacks people

I ALMOST put it on the list. Love that movie.
StrongDreams
76. jhillman
If you're going to drag stuff out of dark corners, how about "Earth Girls Are Easy?"
Debbie Solomon
77. dsolo
I agree with most of the list. Can't remember much about "Spaceballs", as it was a disappointment, but I remember "Young Frankenstein" very well and loved it. I do think Buckaroo needs to be on there. My husband and I are constantly telling each other - "Laugh while you can, monkey boy."
At least the list brings back a lot of fond memories. Hitchhiker wasn't a terrible movie, but I don't think it was in the top ten.
Christopher Mangus
79. chritopher_morrison_mangus
On an unrelated note...I found this 16mm work print of a ridiculously paranoid atomic-age sci-fi film at an estate sale, and the canisters were labeled "Fear of a Red Planet" (fortunately my friend has a 16mm projector so I could watch it, and MAN is it hilarious!). Has anyone heard of this film? Because it is not listed on imdb and when I researched it further, I could not find ANYTHING about its distribution/release or year of production.
Sandy Brewer
80. ShaggyBella
Ahem... What about Austin Powers?
Time travel? Check.
High tech secret lair? Check.
FEMBOTS ... Yep.
It always makes me laugh. And many, many quotable lines.

"Corn? I dona' remember eating any corn!

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