The Best Comedies Based on True Stories

Source: Courtesy of USA Films

20. Topsy-Turvy (1999)
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (12,928 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 79% (5,635 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 89% (85 reviews)
> Directed by: Mike Leigh
> Starring: Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Dexter Fletcher

Set in the 1880s, “Topsy-Turvy” is the story of operetta writers W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, whose partnership nearly dissolved during a creative dry spell. Then they wrote the zany and flamboyant “The Mikado,” which changed their career trajectory.

The two-time Oscar-winning film was directed by Mike Leigh, a British director known more for his depictions of contemporary working life than period pieces. Leigh wanted to show the economic and social environment of the time as well as the sometimes tortuous creative process.

Source: Courtesy of The Samuel Goldwyn Company

19. The Madness of King George (1994)
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10 (17,146 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 80% (8,380 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (44 reviews)
> Directed by: Nicholas Hytner
> Starring: Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Rupert Graves

Based on the Alan Bennett play “The Madness of George III,” this Academy Award-winning film tells the story of the 18th-century British monarch’s declining mental health and his deteriorating relationship with his eldest son, the Prince of Wales – and how his ministers considered running the country without his involvement until an unconventional doctor (Ian Holm) seems to cure him..

A research project based at St George’s, University of London, concluded that George III did in fact suffer from mental illness.

Source: Courtesy of IFC Films

18. The Death of Stalin (2017)
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10 (104,843 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 78% (6,655 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (249 reviews)
> Directed by: Armando Iannucci
> Starring: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor

This is a black comedy about the scramble for power among Joseph Stalin’s subordinates after the Soviet dictator died at his dacha in 1953. Stalin’s inner circle – Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambom), Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale), and Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) – were at his dacha to watch a movie with Stalin before he died, and the film’s depiction of the hours after Stalin’s death, including the chaotic efforts at planning his funeral, are considered accurate.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

17. Stan & Ollie (2018)
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10 (38,061 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 83% (2,087 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (221 reviews)
> Directed by: Jon S. Baird
> Starring: Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly become one of film’s greatest and more endearing comedy duos in “Stan & Ollie.” The film finds the aging comedians trying to restart their film careers in what becomes their final act – a grueling theater tour of post-war Britain that at times pulled the two apart.

Laurel and Hardy did tour Great Britain in the 1950s to try to restart their career, but they each had health issues and their career was never fully resurrected, though their tours of the country lifted the spirits of a British people still recovering from World War II.

Source: Courtesy of A24

16. The Disaster Artist (2017)
> IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (155,851 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (15,351 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (350 reviews)
> Directed by: James Franco
> Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor

In “The Disaster Artist,” wannabe actor Greg Sestero encounters out-there Tommy Wiseau in an acting class. They become friends and go to Hollywood hoping they can realize their dreams. The Franco brothers play the two aspiring actors.

The film tells the mostly true story behind Wiseau’s infamous movie “The Room,” often called the worst movie ever made – though since its release in 2003, it has gained a cult following.

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