Did you hear the one about the British comedian who walked into a bar a devout Jew and walked out a bewildered Kazakhstani journalist? If not, then the joke's on you.
In a year when established funnymen Will Ferrell ("Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"), Adam Sandler ("Click"), Vince Vaughn ("The Break-Up") and Jack Black ("Nacho Libre") scored major successes, the best comedy belonged to Sacha Baron Cohen. As Borat Sagdiyev, Baron Cohen chided, cajoled and conned his way to becoming 2006's biggest comedy star. And he's laughing all the way to the bank.
Here are the 10 movies we're most looking forward to laughing at in 2007:
10. "Good Luck Chuck"
Long gone are the days when the biggest stand-up comedians were seen as the funniest men in America. But don't tell Dane Cook that, or he might give you his trademark Super Finger. After a starring turn with one bodacious Jessica (Simpson, in "Employee of the Month"), the energetic comedian is back with another Jessica (Alba) in "Good Luck Chuck." Cook plays a man who breaks up with women only to discover that they marry the very next guy they date.
9. "Reno 911!: Miami"
Officers down (South)! It's a safe bet that the dimwitted cops from the Reno, Nevada, Sheriff's Department aren't smart enough to know that cult television comedies haven't historically done well at the box office (see "Can Tenacious D Follow In Borat's Footsteps, Beat Cult-Comedy Curse?"). But are they smart enough to save Miami after a biological attack at a police convention traps every other cop inside? Well, no — but not for lack of comical effort. Based on the Comedy Central hit, "Reno 911!: Miami" features cameos from Paul Rudd, the Rock, Paul Reubens and the entire cast of MTV's "The State" (see " 'Reno 911!' Flick Reunites Kooky Comedy Troupe The State").
8. "Blades of Glory"
Will Ferrell is a kamikaze comedian, unafraid to go to any length for a laugh. One look at his ridiculous hairdo for "Blades of Glory" proves the point — it's a bold move and the funniest movie hair since, well, since Ferrell's "Anchorman" mustache. Ferrell plays Chazz, a disgraced figure skater who, disqualified from singles skating, realizes his only chance is to pair with his old rival Jimmy ("Napoleon Dynamite" star Jon Heder). Lace up for "Blades" on March 30.
7. "Hot Fuzz"
Screenwriting guru Robert McKee says there are no new film genres. We guess he's never heard of the "zomedy" (that's zombie comedy). Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have — their "Shaun of the Dead" not only solidified the genre but became one of the biggest, funniest surprises of 2004. The two are back with "Hot Fuzz," the story of a London bobby (Pegg) so good at his job he's transferred to a small village where he's partnered with an oafish, if well-meaning, constable (Nick Frost). Joining the fun are some of Britain's best: Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman and Steve Coogan.
6. "Harold & Kumar" sequel
How does a silly stoner comedy with Doogie Howser (Neil Patrick Harris) snorting cocaine off the small of a stripper's back become one of the most memorable films of the last few years? By realizing that comedy's greatest characters all have one thing in common: an overreaching, sometimes absurd obsession for which they will do anything. The sequel focuses on the duo as they race across America, one slider at a time (see " 'Harold & Kumar' Sequel: Doogie Howser Is In, Superman Might Be").
5. "Fred Claus"
Who's the guy behind the guy behind the guy? The big winner this year at the North Pole is Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn), Santa's gruff, disgruntled older brother. He knows when you've been naughty, he knows when you've been nice — well, mostly he just knows when you've been naughty. Paul Giamatti — and his stomach like a bowl full of jelly — joins as Kris Kringle.
4. "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry"
Adam Sandler and Kevin James (the queen of Queens?) star as two straight buddies who get married in order to collect partnership benefits. The film's bound to contain Sandler's trademark aggressive humor, but with a touch of class: "Sideways" scribes Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor co-wrote the script (see "Sandler's Forthcoming Flicks: One Serious, One Absurd").
3. "Be Kind Rewind"
Jack Black wasn't in every movie this year, but he soon will be, thanks to an accident that causes him to erase every tape in a video rental store. Black and his motley crew have to quickly refilm all the store's titles — including "Driving Miss Daisy," "Robocop," "The Lion King," "Back to the Future" and "King Kong" — to fool the store's most loyal, elderly customer in the latest trip-fest from Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"). "Be Kind Rewind" hits theaters next year — and home video soon after (see "What's Jack Black's Role In Michel Gondry's Next Film? Pick One ..." and "Jack Black Playing Muhammad Ali? Hit 'Rewind' And You'll See").
2. "Knocked Up"
What happens after you've been a "40-Year-Old Virgin"? If you do things right, you get "Knocked Up," Judd Apatow's follow-up to his 2005 smash comedy (see "Judd Apatow's Year In Comedy: Raunchy Borat Brought People Together"). Alongside Apatow regulars Seth Rogen (see " '40-Year-Old Virgin' Director Hopes To Make 'That Guy' Seth Rogen A Star") and Jonah Hill, Katherine Heigl stars as Alison Scott, an entertainment reporter whose already-hectic life becomes a nine-month adventure after a one-night stand. Look for a slew of celebrity cameos as Heigl works the red carpet June 1.
On his Web site's blog, filmmaker Michael Moore writes, "If people ask, tell them 'Sicko' is a comedy about 45 million people with no health care in the richest country on Earth." A provocateur and rabble-rouser, Moore probably has more in common with Borat than he does with Errol Morris. He attacks the stupid and the rich and the deserving, and he does it with humor to showcase their weaknesses. In 2007, as it was in 2006, the joke will be on us.
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