Comedy

TIFF 2019: The top 10 comedies you won't want to miss

Canadian and international film critics share their most-anticipated comedies at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Canadian and international film critics share their most-anticipated TIFF comedies.

(NETFLIX)
The funniest thing about a film festival is often the idea of a film festival itself. Isn't every day a film festival, if you really want it to be?- Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Today is the day every film-lover looks forward to all year: the first day of TIFF! 

Yes, the 10-day, Toronto International Film Festival has kicked off. Like every year, film-goers have come from around the world to submerge themselves in poutine, Timbits and movies that will set the pace for the upcoming awards chatter. But something's different this year. 

For one of the world's most prestigious and serious film events, there's a lot to laugh about. Film critics say these top comedy picks could not only lighten the mood, but take the show. 

1. Jojo Rabbit 

First still from the set of WW2 satire, JOJO RABIT. (From L-R): Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has dinner with his imaginary friend Adolf (Writer/Director Taika Waititi), and his mother, Rosie (Scarlet Johansson). Photo by Kimberley French. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved (Kimberley French/Twentieth Century Fox)

"Is anything funnier than an emasculated Adolf Hitler?"

- Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

"Taika Waititi brought his vampire comedy, What We Do In The Shadows, to TIFF in 2014, and anyone who knows that movie will be desperate to see JoJo Rabbit. It's about a shy kid in the Hitler Youth movement who fantasizes that the führer is his invisible friend. Finding out that his mom is hiding a Jewish girl in their house complicates life even further. TIFF bills the movie as a 'Dazzling takedown of fascist thinking and the violence it fuels.' Timely, you might say." - Liz Braun, Toronto Sun

"[Taika Waititi] is an amazingly talented guy, and if anybody can make merry as Adolf Hitler while at the same time presenting an anti-hate message, it's him. He previously gave Thor a sense of humour and turned vampires into fratboys, so I have every confidence in his comic vision." - Peter Howell, Movie Critic at The Toronto Star

"There aren't many I would trust with this material, but Taika Waititi, son of a Jewish mother and Indigenous father is already a master at mixing irreverence and intelligence." - Eli Glasner, CBC 

2. The Personal History of David Copperfield

Director: Armando Iannucci Cast: Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie and Ben Whishaw (Courtesy of TIFF)

"Let's see: a reworking of Dickens that stars Tilda Swinton as Aunt Betsy Trotwood? Please take my money."

- Liz Braun, Toronto Sun

"I have two most-anticipated comedies at TIFF: Jojo Rabbit and The Personal History of David Copperfield. But I'm anticipating them for the same reason: they're coming from directors and writers with a proven history of knowing how to deploy satire in service of making political and social points, not just about "issues" but about power and the way it operates. I'm hoping they'll make a great pairing, bleakly comedic and speaking to our times but from the vantage point of history." - Alissa Wilkinson, VOX

"Veep creator, Armando Iannucci has essentially never failed to put his unique and hilarious stamp on anything he's done, so it's very exciting to see what he does with his rather unexpected new project: an adaptation of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield." - Peter Knegt, CBC

3. Dolemite is My Name

Director: Craig Brewer; Cast: Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Titus Burgess, Mike Epps (NETFLIX)

"I'll be curious to see if it's a return to form for Eddie Murphy, and I'm excited for anything that promises wild '70s fashion."

- Abbey Bender, Film Writer The Village Voice, Time Out New York

"My money's on Eddie Murphy's comeback as filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore, a stand-up (like Murphy himself) who created an outrageous persona in a series of blaxploitation films as Dolemite, a colourful pimp. The cast includes a who's who of African-American comedy [...] and it's helmed by Craig Brewer, who made the excellent hip-hop film Hustle & Flow back in 2005. And if it doesn't turn out to be that funny, at least there will be flashy '70s fashions to revel in." - Glenn Sumi, NOW Toronto

"Eddie Murphy hasn't made a movie in years, and a good movie in approximately a decade. But he seems to be in fine comedic form in this biopic about blaxploitation filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore. Plus, he's surrounded by the funniest voices today." - Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

4. Knives Out

Director: Rian Johnson; Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson. (Courtesy of TIFF)

"Like a game of Clue on mescal, Rian Johnson's manic murder mystery set in the South looks to be a riot."

- Eli Glasner, CBC

"Rian Johnson is a filmmaker I've followed since his debut feature, Brick. His storytelling is wonderfully pixilated and there's always something unexpected going on at the edges of the narrative. And he has a very dark, very attractive sense of humour.

The cast of Knives Out—which is an Agatha Christie-like family murder mystery—is already worth the price of admission. To see Chris Evans and Daniel Craig out from under all that superhero Bond-age packaging will be great. [It's] hard not to have great expectations for this film."- Liz Braun, Toronto Sun

"After directing The Last Jedi, I have a feeling Johnson is looking to loosen up, the film seems like a great gulp of Southern Comfort." - Eli Glasner, CBC

5. Uncut Gems

Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie; Cast: Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Eric Bogosian, Judd Hirsch (Courtesy of TIFF)

"Adam Sandler, Oscar nominee? It could happen."

- Eli Glasner, CBC

"Adam Sandler has been so busy lately making horrible comedies that he must've signed onto the latest movie from Josh and Benny Safdie thinking it was another easy-paycheque gig. All signs point to Uncut Gems actually being worthwhile, though, given that the Safdies are experts at mining comedy from New York grime, and Sandler himself can still impress audiences when he seems to give half a damn." - Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

"I'm not sure Uncut Gems starring Adam Sandler as a hustling New York City jeweler is exactly a comedy, but I'll be waiting to see if he can reach the same levels of rage-inspired pathos that made Punch-Drunk Love such a brilliant surprise. There's something special that happens on screen when comedians get serious. Think of Jerry Lewis or Ray Romano. A little extra bit of gravitas slips in when they're not striving for the punchline. The early reviews of Uncut Gems out of Telluride are nothing next to ecstatic, so prepare yourself. Adam Sandler, Oscar nominee? It could happen." - Eli Glasner, CBC

6. The Twentieth Century

Director: Matthew Rankin; Cast: Daniel Beirne, Louis Negin (Courtesy of TIFF)

"Looks like a Heritage Minute on acid and I'm here for it." 

- Eli Glasner, CBC

"They grow directors a little differently in Winnipeg. Just ask Guy Madden. So I'm not surprised this demented biography on Canadian prime minister Wiliam Lyon Mackenzie King comes from Winnipeger Matthew Rankin. Looks like a Heritage Minute on acid and I'm here for it." - Eli Glasner, CBC

7. Arab Blues

Director: Manele Labidi; Cast: Golshifteh Farahani, Majd Mastoura (Courtesy of TIFF)

"I am excited to see the [Tunisian] culture and people represented in a positive way" 

- Hanna Flint, Freelance Film Critic 

"It's about a psychoanalyst who returns home to Tunis after 10 years to set up a practice and meets a host colourful clients. As I am part Tunisian, I don't often see myself on screen, so I am excited to see the culture and people represented in a positive way, especially in a comedy, when most Arab characters fall into stereotypical supporting or background roles." - Hanna Flint, Film Critic - Guardian, Time Out

8. First Love

Director: Takashi Miike; Cast: Shota Sometani, Masataka KubotaSakurako Konishi (Courtesy of TIFF)

"Prolific Japanese auteur Takashi Miike is more known for spilling guts (Audition, Ichi the Killer) than having audiences bust theirs, but his films are laced with an acidic humour all his own. In First Love, it appears that Miike is leaning more toward straight-ahead humour, no decapitations required." - Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

9. Guns Akimbo

Director: Jason Lei Howden; Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Ned Dennehy, Samara Weaving (Courtesy of TIFF)

"I love a great sci-fi film and the video game premise of this movie makes it extremely relevant right now. I'm greatly anticipating another weird wonderful film with Daniel Radcliffe at the helm." - Cate Young, Freelance film writer 

10. Mrs. Fletcher 

Director: Nicole Holofcener, Liesl Tommy; Starring: Kathryn Hahn (Courtesy of TIFF)

"Kathryn Hahn is perfectly cast" 

- Johanna Schneller, The Globe and Mail

"Television is arguably exceeding film when it comes to quality these days, particularly when it comes to comedy. And it's hard to bet against the team behind new HBO series Mrs. Fletcher, which is screening its first few episodes at TIFF [...] Get ready to add yet another series to your list of 'shows you should be watching but how do I find time there's so many shows.'" - Peter Knegt, CBC