Science fiction and comedy are two genres that work well together. The best sci-fi uses futuristic technology and alien creatures to comment on our current societies, and comedy uses outlandish situations to poke fun at everyday ridiculousness. As a result, some of the sharpest sci-fi movies are also the funniest: Idiocracy is a satire of our current political insanity, They Live is an amazing study of conspiratorial thinking, and Back to the Future wonderfully plays on our desire to go back and change the past.
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The best sci-fi comedies range from slapstick action to witty space operas and everything in between. They're united by creativity, irreverence, and a warped outlook. Redditors have discussed the best films in the subgenre repeatedly, and these are some of the titles that come up again and again.
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10 'Mars Attacks!' (1996)
Mars Attacks! is Tim Burton's send-up of the classic 1950s alien invasion movies. The movie features an all-star cast including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, and many others. The plot revolves around a group of Martians who arrive on Earth with the intention of taking over the planet. However, thanks to a few stubborn humans, the invasion quickly turns into a chaotic and hilarious disaster.
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The film's unique blend of dark humor, quirky special effects, and retro-style visuals make it a cult classic among fans of science fiction and comedy. Mars Attacks! is a perfect example of Burton's eccentric style and showcases his ability to create visually stunning and offbeat films that defy convention.
9 'Starship Troopers' (1997)
Starship Troopers is an unhinged sci-fi from cult director Paul Verhoeven, based on the novel of the same name by Robert A. Heinlein. The movie is set in a futuristic world where humanity is at war with a race of giant alien bugs. The story follows a group of young recruits who join the military to fight against the insects and become embroiled in a war that is much more complex than they initially thought.
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It was misunderstood on release and critically panned. However, the film's satirical tone and commentary on the fascist elements of society make it a thought-provoking watch. With its impressive special effects, thrilling action sequences, extreme violence, and engaging characters, Starship Troopers has become a cult classic.
8 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' (2005)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is Garth Jennings's adaptation of the beloved book series by Douglas Adam. The movie follows the misadventures of an ordinary man named Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), who is whisked away on a bizarre journey through space after the Earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic highway. Along the way, he meets a range of strange characters, including a depressed robot named Marvin and a two-headed alien president.
The film's oddball humor and visual effects capture the absurdity and imagination of Adams' book, even if doesn't quite reach the book's madcap intensity. Despite its fantastical setting, the movie also explores themes of identity, purpose, and the meaning of life (spoiler: it's 42). The movie's impressive cast, including Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Sam Rockwell, and Alan Rickman, bring the characters to life and make the film a must-watch for fans of science fiction and comedy alike.
7 'Dark Star' (1974)
Dark Star is the ultra-low-budget feature debut from horror legend John Carpenter, who co-wrote the film with Dan O'Bannon. The movie follows the crew of the eponymous spacecraft, who are on a mission to destroy unstable planets that pose a threat to future colonization. As the crew faces a series of bizarre and increasingly dangerous events, they must confront their own sanity and the implications of their mission.
It boasts ridiculous aliens and deliberately bad effects but also explores genuinely intriguing themes, like isolation, existentialism, and the futility of human endeavors. The movie developed a cult following and paved the way for other sci-fi films that subverted genre conventions and explored the absurdity of space travel. Its fans include Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, who consider it a '70s movie masterpiece.
6 'Sleeper' (1973)
Sleeper is set in a future where a man is cryogenically frozen and wakes up 200 years later in a world he does not recognize. It mixes comedy with sci-fi tropes to satirize the culture of the 1970s. The movie's themes of identity, conformity, and the dangers of unchecked technological advancement remain relevant today.
The lead performances are memorable, and the cast's comedic timing is spot-on. Sure, the special effects are goofy, and the plot is ridiculous, but that's part of its charm. Reddit user rondonjon says "it's also got a great jazz/big brass soundtrack."
5 'Being John Malkovich' (1999)
Spike Jonze's most emotional film is Her starring Joaquin Phoenix, about a man falling in love with an AI, but Being John Malkovich is his most blackly comedic. The movie tells the story of a struggling puppeteer who discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich, leading to a surreal and absurd exploration of identity and human desire. It was written by surrealist par excellence Charlie Kaufman, and stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, and, of course, Malkovich.
The film's unique premise, blending elements of science fiction, satire, and psychological drama, makes it a landmark in American independent cinema. It tackles complex themes, such as the nature of consciousness, while also providing a biting commentary on the entertainment industry. The film's impressive cast delivers unforgettable performances, particularly Malkovich himself.
4 'Innerspace' (1987)
Innerspace, directed by Joe Dante and starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, and Meg Ryan, is an '80s sci-fi highlight. It follows a test pilot who is miniaturized and injected into the body of a hypochondriac, leading to a wild adventure as they try to escape from the dangers of the human body. The special effects showing the miniature world inside the human body were groundbreaking at that time.
The main appeal is seeing these '80s stars in their prime, particularly Short, who brings his trademark humor and energy to the role of the hypochondriac. Overall, Innerspace is a fun and imaginative film that has rightfully become a cult classic.
3 'Brazil' (1985)
Brazil is Terry Gilliam's finest achievement, a towering dystopian sci-fi unlike any other. It takes place in a surreal and nightmarish world where a low-level bureaucrat named Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) becomes entangled in a mission to escape the oppressive society he lives in. It stands out thanks to its dark humor and imaginative visual style, alongside terrific performances from Pryce, Robert De Niro, and Katherine Helmond.
The film stands alongside 1984 and Brave New World as a sci-fi critique of authoritarianism. In particular, it explores themes of freedom, individuality, and the dangers of unchecked government power. Not to mention, the movie boasts impressive production design and visual effects, creating a haunting atmosphere that lingers long after the credits have rolled.
2 'Galaxy Quest'(1999)
Galaxy Quest is the ultimate parody of sci-fi shows like Star Trek. It tells the story of a group of washed-up actors who are recruited by aliens who believe their television show is real and that they are the only hope to save their race. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman lead the cast. The filmmakers' love for science fiction is very much on display, making it both a satire and a tribute.
Overall, Galaxy Quest is a delightful and heartwarming film that celebrates the joy and wonder of science fiction while also poking fun at its tropes and conventions. It's a must-watch for fans of the genre and anyone who loves a good laugh. Redditor Iowa_Dave called it "a love letter to sci-fi fans".
1 'Time Bandits' (1981)
Brazil might be Terry Gilliam's most thoughtful movie, but Time Bandits is probably his most entertaining. It stars John Cleese, Sean Connery, and Craig Warnock, and follows a young boy named Kevin (Warnock) who joins a group of time-traveling dwarves as they journey through history, encountering famous figures and battling an evil entity known as the Supreme Being. Redditor sarcasmosis included it among their all-time favorites.
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The film fires on all cylinders, delivering jokes aplenty and a breakneck adventure plot. The production design and special effects, while a bit dated now, succeed in creating a vivid and immersive world. Time Bandits remains a delightful tale that celebrates the joy of adventure and the power of imagination.