M&C takes a look at some of the best comedy ensembles

Hollywood’s ability to make a great comedy has exploded over the past fifteen years and its success lies in the hands of a very few gifted actors and filmmakers. 

The Farrellys broke new ground with their fast-paced, foul mouthed and somewhat delirious comedies that celebrated the ordinary slacker way back in the early 90’s.  

Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber, Shallow Hal and most recently Hall Pass lived and died by the formula of outrage and misunderstanding leading to the conventional “happy” ending.  

But its 2011 and a new army of funny has landed, led by Judd Apatow and Will Ferrell.  They took the comedy genre and twisted it further than anyone before, giving it signature madcap brilliance that set new standards. 

Apatow didn’t do it alone – he picked the right actors to make his vision pop – Farrell, Steve Carrell, Seth Rogen and James Franco whose careers thrived under Apatow’s creative wing.

Among the new comedy regime is Todd Phillips; his landmark comedy The Hangover was whip smart, audacious and also, dare I say it, deep.  Bradley Cooper was an overnight sensation and Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong were thrust onto the comedy hot list. The Hangover leads our list of best comedy ensembles.

The Hangover was raucous, smart, and authentically moving, about a guy on a bachelor’s weekend in Vegas who goes to comedy hell and back and discovers what he really wants from life.

Helms, Jeong, Galifianakis and Mike Tyson give the movie pathos, hilarity and a dash of fear.  Awesome.  Also along – a tiger and chickens.

David Gordon Green directed Franco, Rogen, Jeong, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride in the pot-centric Pineapple Express that poked fun at murder, dope dealing, love and friendship in ways that are hard to forget.  Rolling laughter all the way.

Tropic Thunder in Vietnam as Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Jay Baruchel and Ben Stiller, who also directs, play actors making a war movie who unwittingly enter a real war.  He’s a good sport but will Tom Cruise ever be a heartthrob again after putting heart, soul and ample booty into Less Grossman?   Even Matthew McConaughey was on deck.

Ferrell led a wickedly funny ensemble including Vince Vaughn, Carrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Stiller in Adam McKay’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.  Rogen, Robinson, Danny Trejo and even Apatow make brief appearances. Christina Applegate, that gifted comedienne, punctures their inflated egos.

Carrell was winning as the slow witted anchor but his career was launched in Apatow’s The Forty year Old Virgin. He played a loser in love whose buds Rudd and Rogen and try to hook him up with Catherine Keener, starting with a lethal chest waxing. Jonah Hill makes an appearance.

Hill stars in Apatow’s Knocked up and Superbad with Rogen, three versions of Night at the Museum with Stiller, Evan Almighty with Carrell, and a few franchises.  He’s the ensemble pinch hitter and appeared again with Keener in the quirky comedy drama Cyrus.

David Dobkin’s Wedding Crashers with Vaughan and Owen Wilson was a game changer when it was released in 2005 – a couple guys make the wedding circuit to meet chicks and eat well, and succeed in both, hooking up with Isla Fisher and Rachel McAdams. Christopher Walken and his mummy co-star along with newcomer Bradley Cooper.

Wilson also appears in Meet the Fockers, Little Fockers and Night at the Museum with Stiller and Hall Pass with Applegate for the Farrellys.

Funnyordie is Ferrell’s online comedy site in which nearly every comic actor including most all the above, have appeared in original material.  On this site, the world’s an ensemble.

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