There are so many funny movies from the 1980s, and opinions on what constitutes the funniest movies can vary, but here are our top ten classic comedies from the 1980s:
1. The Blues Brothers (1980) – “The Blues Brothers” is a classic comedy from 1980 directed by John Landis and starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. The film follows the story of Jake and Elwood Blues, two blues musicians who embark on a “mission from God” to save the Catholic orphanage where they grew up by raising enough money to pay off its debts.
2. Airplane! (1980) – “Airplane!” is directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker. The film is a spoof of disaster movies and features an ensemble cast, including Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to name a few.
The plot follows a traumatized former military pilot, Ted Striker (Hays), who boards a commercial airplane to win back his ex-girlfriend, a flight attendant named Elaine (Hagerty). However, the flight crew and passengers fall ill due to food poisoning, and it is up to Striker, who has a fear of flying, to land the plane safely with the help of a flight captain (Nielsen) who takes everything literally.
3. Caddyshack (1980) – “Caddyshack” is a classic comedy from 1980 directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray. The film is set at Bushwood Country Club, a prestigious golf course in the fictional town of Bushwood, Connecticut. The story follows Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe), a young caddie who dreams of winning the club’s caddie scholarship. However, his chances of winning are slim, as he is up against the more experienced caddies, including Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), the club pro, and Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield), a wealthy businessman who is new to the club.
The film also follows the exploits of the club’s groundskeeper, Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), who is waging a one-man war against a gopher that has been terrorizing the course.
Caddyshack was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $39 million at the box office.
4. Ghostbusters (1984) – “Ghostbusters” is a 1984 supernatural comedy directed and produced by Ivan Reitman, and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler, three eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in New York City. It also stars Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, and Ernie Hudson in supporting roles.
Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984, to critical acclaim and became a cultural phenomenon. It was well received for its blend of comedy, action, and horror, and Murray’s performance was often singled out for praise. It earned $282.2 million during its initial theatrical run, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 1984 in the United States and Canada, and the then-highest-grossing comedy ever. It was the number-one film in theaters for seven consecutive weeks and one of only four films to gross more than $100 million that year.
The film follows three parapsychologists who are fired from their university jobs after their research into the paranormal is deemed to be unscientific. They decide to start their own ghost-catching business in New York City, and soon find themselves in high demand as the city is overrun by ghosts.
5. Fletch (1985) – “Fletch” is a 1985 film directed by Michael Ritchie and written by Andrew Bergman. Based on Gregory Mcdonald’s popular Fletch novels, the film stars Chevy Chase as the eponymous character. It co-stars Tim Matheson, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Geena Davis and Joe Don Baker.
The film revolves around Los Angeles Times reporter Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher, who is offered a large sum of money by a millionaire to kill him, claiming he has a terminal cancer prognosis and suicide would invalidate his life insurance policy. Fletch becomes suspicious when he discovers the man is not ill; when he continues to investigate, his life is threatened.
Fletch was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $70 million at the box office. The film has since become a cult classic, and is considered one of the best comedies of all time.
6. A Christmas Story (1983) – “A Christmas Story” is a 1983 comedy directed by Bob Clark and written by Jean Shepherd and Leigh Brown. It stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, a young boy growing up in Hammond, Indiana, in 1940. The film is based on Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical stories and recollections of his childhood, which were broadcast on his radio show, Jean Shepherd’s Christmas Story.
The film follows Ralphie as he tries to convince his parents to buy him a Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle for Christmas. Ralphie’s desire for the gun is met with resistance from his mother, who is concerned that he will shoot his eye out, and his father, who thinks the gun is too dangerous. Ralphie also faces opposition from his older brother, Randy, who doesn’t think he deserves the gun.
Despite the obstacles, Ralphie never gives up on his dream of getting the Red Ryder BB gun. He writes letters to Santa Claus, begs his parents, and even tries to win the gun by shooting at a store Santa’s target. In the end, Ralphie’s perseverance pays off and he gets the gun he so desired.
7. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) – “Beverly Hills Cop” is an action-comedy from 1984 directed by Martin Brest and starring Eddie Murphy as Detroit police detective Axel Foley. The movie follows Foley as he travels to Beverly Hills to investigate the murder of his friend and uncovers a larger criminal conspiracy.
The plot is driven by Foley’s encounters with the Beverly Hills police department, who are initially skeptical of his presence and methods, and his investigation of a wealthy art dealer who may be involved in his friend’s murder. Along the way, Foley uses his street smarts and quick wit to outsmart the villains and win over his skeptical colleagues.
8. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) – “National Lampoon’s Vacation” is a 1983 comedy directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, John Candy, and Christie Brinkley. The screenplay was written by John Hughes, based on his short story “Vacation ’58”, which appeared in National Lampoon magazine. The film follows the Griswold family as they take a cross-country road trip from their home in Chicago to the California theme park Walley World.
The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $60 million at the box office. The film follows the Griswold family as they embark on a cross-country road trip to Walley World, a fictional amusement park in California. The family consists of patriarch Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and their two children, Rusty (Dana Barron) and Audrey (Elaine Miles).
The Griswolds’ trip is plagued by a series of mishaps, including a flat tire, a broken-down car, and a run-in with a group of hillbillies. However, they eventually make it to Walley World, only to find it closed…
9. Raising Arizona (1987) – “Raising Arizona” is a 1987 movie written and directed by the Coen brothers and starring Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, Frances McDormand, and William Forsythe. The film follows a small-time crook (Cage) and his cop wife (Hunter) who, unable to have children, kidnap one of a quintuplets born to a wealthy businessman (Forsythe).
The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $29 million at the box office. The film has since become a cult classic, and is considered one of the best comedies of the 1980s.
The film is set in Arizona and follows the story of H.I. McDunnough (Cage), a small-time crook who is in love with Edwina “Ed” McDunnough (Hunter), a police officer. H.I. and Ed are unable to have children, so they decide to kidnap one of a set of quintuplets born to Nathan Arizona (Forsythe), a wealthy furniture magnate.
The film follows the McDunnoughs as they try to raise the baby, whom they name Nathan Junior.
10. Coming to America (1988) – “Coming to America” is a 1988 movie directed by John Landis and starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and James Earl Jones. The movie follows the story of Prince Akeem of the fictional African kingdom of Zamunda, who travels to Queens, New York City to find a bride who will love him for who he is, rather than his wealth and title.
The film is known for its humor, which combines Murphy’s trademark wit and physical comedy with clever social commentary. Murphy and Hall play multiple roles, including barbers, preachers, and club owners, with hilarious results. The movie also features a strong supporting cast, including John Amos, Shari Headley, and Samuel L. Jackson.
The barbershop scenes are the absolute best, and here’s a look at all of them in one video!