The 2010s were a weird decade for the comedy genre. The mid-2000s were marked by the introduction of “the Judd Apatow influence”—a type of comedy that was heavily improvised, incredibly dirty, but also surprisingly sweet and heartfelt. Audiences ate it up, turning films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Superbad into huge hits. This influence carried over to the beginning of the 2010s, but which is when a shift in the kinds of films studios were making started to occur. The arrival of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gave every major studio in town an excuse to look for their next huge franchise, and as a result of those films being incredibly expensive, the number of studio-backed comedies began to decline. At the same time, the box office prospects of the few studio comedies that were begin produced also became far more hit and miss.
No longer was the next Judd Apatow-produced, star-driven comedy a lock. Even fan-demanded sequels like Anchorman: The Legend Continues and Zoolander 2 were met with cool receptions, which gave studios an even bigger excuse to put their money towards movies where things blow up instead of films in which two dudes talk about genitalia for five minutes.
That’s not to say the 2010s were a bad decade for comedy, and the lack of consistently great traditional comedies gave way to more artful, interesting comedies from “serious” filmmakers. People like Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and Greta Gerwig not only made some of the funniest movies of the decade, they were also some of the best. And then you had filmmakers like Taika Waititi and Phil Lord and Chris Miller who were able to work within the confines of massive studio blockbusters and still deliver hilarious, whip smart comedies.
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