Special Report

The Best Comedies Based on True Stories

Films that are based on true events are usually dramas, so when a comedy makes that claim, it gives us a new way to look at the human condition and all its frailties.

To determine the best comedies based on true events, 24/7 Tempo developed an index of films using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of January 2023, weighting all ratings equally. Only movies labeled as comedies and tagged “based on true story” on IMDb with at least 10,000 user votes on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes were considered. Directorial and acting credits are from IMDb.

Our list contains all varieties of comedy – black, melancholy (yes, it’s a thing), inspiring, historical, thought-provoking, and curious. It does not include any of the films considered to be the worst movies based on true events.

An example of black comedy is Arnando Iannucci’s hilarious “The Death of Stalin,” with a star-filled cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, and Jeffrey Tambor. (These are considered the 25 best political comedies of all time.)

“Philomena,” about an elderly Irishwoman’s search for her adopted son, and “Stan & Ollie,” a biopic on the famed comedy duo, both starring Steve Coogan, are both considered melancholy comedies. Their endings won’t leave you laughing.

Click here to see the best comedies based on true stories

“Eddie the Eagle,” about a persevering British ski jumper, and “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” the story of a determined woman who makes dramatic changes in her lifestyle, are both funny and inspiring.

Comedies on our list that take on larger historical themes include “The Big Short,” about the housing market meltdown earlier in the 21st century, and “The Madness of King George,” about the British monarch whose nearly 60-year reign ended with a steep decline in his mental acuity.

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