High art is wonderful. Classy cinema engages your mind, as well as your heart and soul. It’s what the Academy Awards were built (until this new debacle) to celebrate. On the flip-side, low art has a special place too. Laughing at bodily fluids, dirty jokes, and all around filth can bring a much-needed smile to our faces. Raunchy comedies serve as important a purpose as Oscar bait. Plus, they’re just plain fun. In honor of “The Happytime Murders” hitting theaters this week, we pay tribute to the raunchiest the medium has to offer.
Down below, we take a look at some of the best raunchy comedies of all time. Coming up with just ten is almost impossible, especially when you consider how raunchy comedy has evolved over the generations. As such, honorable mentions go to the likes of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Klown,” “Knocked Up,” “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” and more. The list could go on too. Hell, a whole list of just titles from the resumes of Judd Apatow, Mel Brooks, and Kevin Smith could easily be compiled. In the name of fairness, we tried to not go too deep on those auteurs. Additionally, isn’t variety the spice of life? Exactly. We thought so too.
Without further ado, check out the list with commentary down below:
For his directorial debut, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt opted to make a romantic comedy about a porn addict. Casting himself in the lead, it slowly reveals itself to be about the lies couples tell themselves. Gordon-Levitt’s character uses pornography as his unrealistic basis for sex. Scarlett Johansson‘s character uses romantic movies as her unrealistic basis for love. The two find their views of the world to be incompatible. Sure, it’s very dirty (and was even dirtier when I saw it at the Sundance Film Festival under the title “Don Jon’s Addiction“), but that’s not all it is. It’s a legitimately great character study, especially once Julianne Moore shows up in the third act.
Speaking of porn, this update of “Risky Business” (more on that film later) is one of the more underrated raunchy comedies of the past 20 years. With an incredible soundtrack, a phenomenal cast (Paul Dano, Emile Hirsch, and Olivia Wilde, before they were household names), and genuine emotion. Some couldn’t get past the raunchiest moments to see the feelings inside it, and that’s a shame. “The Girl Next Door” should have been the next great teen sex comedy, just with better music than usual. Alas.
A box office smash, this romantic comedy notoriously has Cameron Diaz use semen as hair gel. If that’s not among the raunchiest things you can depict in a Hollywood rom-com, well…stay tuned. Still, the appeal here is the way you root for Ben Stiller to win in the end. Whether he’s getting his most sensitive area stuck in a zipper, or suffering any number of other embarrassments, you laugh at him, but you’re also pulling for him. The Farrelly Brothers found the right mix of filth and heart here.
No one is filthier than horny virginal guys in high school. That will be a recurring theme in this article. However, only one film really captured the voice of the hopeless virgin-like “Superbad.” These guys are all talk, yet rather innocent when you get past all the F-bombs and unsubstantiated claims of sexual prowess. Michael Cera and Jonah Hill play characters you either knew, knew you were, or currently are. The adventures they go on may be the raunchy stuff of cinema, but the conversations they have are straight out of reality.
To a whole generation, Jason Biggs penetrating a pie is the epitome of hilarious raunch. Sure, this sex comedy is about the quest by a group of friends to lose their virginity, but it’s also a surprisingly touching look at a father/son relationship. Sure, the nudity and sex make it filthy, but Eugene Levy as the most understanding dad in cinematic history is comedic gold. He grounds even the raunchiest moments with a deep humanity. After all, Jim’s Dad knows that everyone was a young man or a woman with urges at some point. In his words, even the most embarrassing situations are “perfectly natural.”
Deeply underrated, this romantic comedy is at its raunchiest without ever having any graphic nudity. For example, a hallmark sequence has Alison Brie taking a lesson in masturbation from Jason Sudeikis. They’re completely clothed, but as a glass jar substitutes for her pleasure zones, sparks fly. It’s dirty, it’s sexy, and it’s even romantic. Criminally underseen, this dramedy has filthy moments, but is way more about how sex is way more than just a form of therapy. It can even lead to love between friends. Throw in some of the wittiest dialogue you’ll hear in a rom-com, and this is a gem that deserves a larger audience.
Everyone thinks of Tom Cruise sliding across that floor when they think of this film. They forget that his character hires a prostitute and essentially becomes a pimp in the third act. There’s some pretty raunchy stuff there. Of course, it’s not all the film is, which is why Cruise blew up into a star after it hit theaters. It has a dated feel, though not as dated as some of the honorable mentions above. For the mix of character work, comedy, and effective raunch, it deserves this high placement.
The movie that launched the Apatow train. Steve Carell broke out playing a middle-aged man who’d never been to the promised land. The key here? We laugh with him, but never at him. That’s what separates a lot of these titles from the lesser offerings that didn’t make the cut. You need to like, or even love, these characters. Andy is the most lovable character that Apatow has ever crafted. The movie gave Seth Rogen a platform to become a star, while also allowing the romantic relationship to be between characters of a certain age. Carell and Catherine Keener are an iconic couple, though Hollywood would have you believe that they would never work in a romantic comedy. “The 40 Year Old Virgin” proves that wrong.
The NC-17 rating is usually reserved for overt sexuality on screen. Here, Smith’s cult classic debut film was slapped with that rating for its language. Of course, Smith would appeal and get an R, but that should show how this is one of the raunchiest on the list. It’s also one of the most verbose, capturing the feeling of working a dead end job with absolute precision. Jason Mewes may provide the overt filth, but the casual dialogue between Jeff Anderson and Brian O’Halloran is absolute gold. Sure, this movie features offscreen necrophilia, but it’s also as smart as they come. This is the movie that showed that anyone could make a movie. However, few have done this type of film as perfectly as Smith did. He’s made better overall work with “Chasing Amy,” as well as dirtier work with “Clerks II” or “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” but this matches the two sides in a singular way.
Not just one of the raunchiest films of its era, this Brooks classic is also arguably the funniest movie ever made. Tackling the Old West, racism, antisemitism, and myriad other taboos as only he could, Brooks made an enduring masterpiece. The fart scene has long been looked at as one that would never fly in a different age. In truth though, none of this would have gotten the green light. By being a product of its time, it has become an all-timer. Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, and the whole cast combine to make a once-in-a-lifetime romp of brilliance. The combination of this and “Young Frankenstein” cemented Brooks as one of the greats, but for this piece, “Blazing Saddles” takes the gold.