3 Best Movies to Watch From All Things Comedy

Staff & contributors

If Pete Holmes's new stand-up special comes off more like the comedian just trying out a bunch of random material instead of communicating coherent, overarching ideas, his writing is so strong that it hardly matters. You can tell Holmes is an incredibly confident performer in the way he deploys a wide range of techniques to get his jokes across: exaggerated voices, feeding off of the audience, even messing up his own jokes and rolling with the punches. But his turns of phrase are really the stars of the show here, as he gives even the most ridiculous anecdote a sense of imagination and unique visual texture. This is classic (if somewhat unsurprising) stand-up, with every idea leading into the next with ease.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Pete Holmes

Director: Oren Brimer

Straight to the point and without any overly elaborate set-ups or personal anecdotes, Shane Gillis' Beautiful Dogs is a sort of back-to-basics approach to stand-up comedy that proves surprisingly effective. Over the course of about 50 minutes, Gillis' jokes move smoothly and freely—loose in structure but still clearly centering around very American notions of authority and masculinity (revolving around the military and U.S. history), which the comedian is quick to poke holes in. Gillis' humor is definitely of the lowbrow variety though, and while this in itself isn't a bad thing, a number of his jokes begin to repeat their point to no additional effect, usually relying on low-hanging fruit. Gillis skirts and occasionally dips into offensive territory, which he fully acknowledges. And while some of the stuff in this special is a little tasteless, at least Gillis is sheepishly honest about it.

Genre: Comedy, Documentary

Actor: Shane Gillis

Director: John McKeever

For almost the entirety of its runtime, Old Dads feels like it has something it's desperately trying to prove. But while the millennial generation and a newfound popular interest in political correctness are ripe for satire, this film chooses the lowest hanging fruit possible to make jokes about—inventing one senseless situation after another in order to laugh at people's "sensitivity" with little energy or wit. The main cast has tried and tested talent, but the material they're working with feels more artificial and whiny than truly perceptive of today's generational clashes. The movie tries to manufacture some sort of dramatic realization by the end, but it hardly changes the protagonists anyway. A film need not be PC to be good, of course, but it should at least stand for something instead of simply standing against so much.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Abbie Cobb, Angela Gulner, Bill Burr, Bobby Cannavale, Bokeem Woodbine, Bruce Dern, C. Thomas Howell, Cameron Kelly, Carl Tart, Chelsea Marie Davis, Cody Renee Cameron, Dash McCloud, Erin Wu, Jackie Tohn, Josh Brener, Justene Alpert, Justin Miles, Katie Aselton, Katrina Bowden, Leland Heflin, Miles Robbins, Natasha Leggero, Paul Walter Hauser, Rachael Harris, Reign Edwards, Rick Glassman, Rory Scovel, Steph Tolev, Tom Allen

Director: Bill Burr

Rating: R