Every decade brings forth its own unique cinematic styles and the 1980s were no exception. In terms of comedy, the output was nearly slapdash in its silliness and yet not without its pointed themes or three-dimensional characters.
The best titles have duly endured in the pop cultural consciousness, a testament to their relatability and rewatchability alike. Each one also proves that there’s nothing wrong with simply having a good time at the movies. (In the mood for a laugh at home? Here are the best comedy movies available to stream right now).
When one thinks of 1980s comedy, certain titles and certain seminal figures leap to mind. Among the most obvious of the latter is director John Hughes, who helmed some of the decade’s most popular films. That includes such classics as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles,” all of which punctuate sophomoric humor with moments of genuine insight.
In front of the camera, meanwhile, actors like Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, and Goldie Hawn, among others, reigned over the genre with impressive consistency, becoming Hollywood royalty in the process.
Of course, times have changed and norms have changed along with them. As a result, many 1980s comedies might seem offensive at least in part, at least to some viewers. Then again, movies like “The Princess Bride” and “Beetlejuice” — to name just two quick examples — are no less as charming now than they were when they first debuted. (Check out the best romantic comedies of all time).
Putting retroactive critiques aside, it was a robust period for the genre. Leave your judgments behind and you just might enjoy yourself.
To identify the best comedies of the 1980s, 24/7 Tempo created an index composed of each film’s rating on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, as well as its Audience Score and Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. Data on domestic ticket sales came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services, and is adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index and historic movie ticket prices.