What to Watch at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival: Comedies to Crack You Up

By Aliese Muhonen

Need a good laugh? Well, here you go: The cinema gods have blessed our 2024 slate with multiple comedy gems. 

This year, expect low-speed mobility scooter chases (Thelma), in-synagogue shofar horn golf (Between the Temples), an ironically self-guided mushroom trip (My Old Ass), an endlessly quotable classic resurrected (Napoleon Dynamite), and an amiable assassin (Hit Man) among the delightful offerings.

Whatever your flavor — satirical, absurdist, spy thriller, rom-com, and even documentary (looking at you, Will & Harper!)  — the 2024 Sundance Film Festival’s comedies have it covered with no shortage of surprises. Be it in theater seats or your couch, you’re sure to get some grins with these films.

Ready to watch? Grab tickets here!

The American Society of Magical Negroes (Premieres) — A must-watch, this standout satire is both a deserved skewering and clever reappropriation of the Black stock character cliché. Black artist Aren is recruited into a secret organization with one mission: to assist white people by functioning as a “magical negro” — a Black supporting character. But Aren begins to question whether or not to play the part. 

Kobi Libii’s directorial debut has it all: a nice balance of crucial questions (on Black identity and race relations in particular) and a powerful message housed in a hilarious (and dare we say) magical rom-com. Available in person.

Between the Temples (U.S. Dramatic Competition) — To say Ben Gottlieb’s in a rough patch is a colossal understatement. A synagogue cantor who suddenly can’t sing, he’s also grappling with a recent loss and questioning his beliefs. Leave it to his newest bat mitzvah student — also his elementary school music teacher — to shake things up in the best way. Bolstered by a powerhouse comedic cast and a heartfelt screenplay from writer-director Nathan Silver and co-writer C. Mason Wells, this quirky charmer deserves every mazel tov it gets. Available in person and online.

Hit Man (Spotlight) — Get ready for a delightful genre-bender, an action-thriller-comedy noir that’s inspired by a true story. By all appearances, mild-mannered professor Gary Johnson lives a mundane, comfortable existence. But of course, his looks are deceiving. A fake hit man who aids in police stings, Johnson’s double life gets complicated when he breaks a fake-hit-person cardinal rule and starts falling for a client. Wittily written by director Richard Linklater and lead actor Glen Powell, Hit Man’s deceptive and layered storytelling will keep you guessing and grinning. Available in person.

My Old Ass (Premieres) — When you’re done snickering about the cheeky title, you’re in for a treat. A fun spin on the teen rom-com genre with a time travel twist, the film tackles a question we’ve all pondered at some point: What if our future selves could forewarn us about the path to adulthood? 

On the cusp of heading to college, sassy teenager Elliott gets that opportunity when she meets an unlikely ally during a mushroom trip: her older self. With strong performances from Maisy Stella and the always hilarious Aubrey Plaza, director Megan Park’s sophomore feature is a coming-of-age both sweet and surprising. Available in person.

Napoleon Dynamite (40th Edition Celebration Screenings) — Where would we be without the offbeat, underdog hero Napoleon Dynamite and his motley crew of misfits? An instant cult classic since its premiere 20 years ago at the 2004 Festival, director Jared Hess’ Napoleon Dynamite has remained one of the most quotable and beloved comedies of the 21st century. 

With a 4K restoration debuting at this year’s Festival, Napoleon Dynamite is sure to have audiences chuckling and quipping “Gosh!” all over again. Available in person.

Thelma (Premieres) — When writer-director Josh Margolin’s grandma got swindled by phone scammers, he did what he does best: He made a movie about it. The result is this fun crowd-pleaser and Margolin’s feature debut, in which plucky nonagenarian Thelma Post embarks on an epic adventure across Los Angeles to get her money back. 

Both a heartwarming commentary on aging and humorous satire of action films, Thelma, like its heroine, is not to be underestimated. You’ll want to call your grandma after watching. Available in person and online.

Will & Harper (Premieres) — Of course this one’s going to be funny. With two comedians and Saturday Night Live alums literally behind the wheel — actor-writer Will Ferrell and writer Harper Steele — how could it not be? A road trip and buddy comedy of a different sort, this documentary reframes their 30-year friendship through a sincere study of an oft-misunderstood topic. 

Close friends since their SNL days, Will and Harper team up for a cross-country drive after Harper comes out as a trans woman. As they reconnect and candidly examine their relationship, they navigate a range of reactions throughout the U.S. — from painfully rude to heartwarmingly kind. Earnest in its vulnerability, Will & Harper warmly reaffirms what friends are for. Available online.

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