10 Classic Comedy Movies With Content That Aged Poorly

Ora Sawyers

There is no doubt that over the decades comedy movies have provided some much-needed laughs, classic characters, and snappy one-liners that leave the audience in stitches. Some classic comedies still stand the test of time making them an instant re-watch years after their release. There are also classic movies with themes that have faced a reevaluation of what is acceptable and what can be described as a bit dated.

Related: 10 Classic Movies With Content That Hasn’t Aged Well

The following movies prove that some themes and content are just too difficult to overlook. It is safe to say that, upon their release, these classic comedies were received better than those viewing them for the first time today. Some movies have aged worse than others, but each of these has its own moments, key scenes, or overall problematic themes that may make modern viewers reach for the nearest remote.

1 ‘American Pie’ (1999)

Eugene Levy and Jason Biggs as Mr and Jim Levenstein having a conversation in American Pie
Image via Universal Pictures

The 90s coming-of-age classic follows four teenage boys as they make a pact to lose their virginity before their high school graduation. The plot is simple enough with the movie showing the boys and their efforts to make good on their pact that began with a cringe speech. In his quest to lose his virginity the main character Jim (Jason Biggs), takes things a bit far as he gets a little too friendly with a pie and his dad catches him.

In perhaps the most problematic scene in the whole film, exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) comes over to study with Jim, and he sets up hidden cameras in his room. Catching her undressing he broadcasts the footage live to his friends only to send it tp the entire school getting Nadia expelled and deported. While the teen comedy is a pop culture phenomenon many aspects of the film are questionable and uncomfortable to watch.

2 ‘Hitch’ (2005)

Will Smith and Eva Mendes as Alex Hitchens and Sara Melas talking in the street
Image via Sony Pictures

Hitch is a romantic comedy that follows Alex “Hitch” Hitchens (Will Smith) as he mentors the bumbling lovesick Albert (Kevin James) who hopes to win the heart of Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta). The story takes a turn when Hitch meets a tabloid reporter, Sara Melas (Eva Mendes), whose digging into Allegra’s personal life. When Sara discovers the connection Hitch has to Albert, now dating Allegra, the two women are understandably upset.

The opening scene is perhaps the cringest of the entire movie as a voice-over, complete with narration and a montage of couples he’s helped we are well aware of why he is called the date doctor. Hitch believes that when a woman says “I just need space” or “I’m really into my career right now” she really wants him to try harder. This, and other problematic advice given by the so-called date doctor makes for some very uncomfortable viewing.

3 ‘Never Been Kissed’ (1999)

Drew Barrymore as Josie Geller in Never Been Kissed in her prom dress
Image via 20th Century Fox

The Drew Barrymore led comedy sees her as Josie Geller, a 25-year-old copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times who has never been in love. When she is assigned to go undercover at her old high school she meets and falls in love with Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan) her English teacher. The movie immediately becomes problematic as the lines are blurred between the undercover teen and her teacher.

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Mr. Coulson, or Sam as he lets his students call him, rides the ferris wheel with Josie where he complains about his girlfriend. Keeping up his inappropriate feelings for his student, he tells Josie that “when you’re my age, guys will be lined up around the block for you.” In the final moments of the movie once all is revealed Sam is upset that his student is actually a grown woman but gets over it and meets her on the baseball field where they share a kiss.

4 ‘Big’ (1988)

When you think about the classic comedy Big, you think about the fun moments like adult Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks) dancing on a giant piano and playing “Heart and Soul”. The movie’s premise is simple, Josh, a teenage boy, wishes to be big and wakes up the next morning as an adult man. Throughout the movie, Josh realizes that being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

One of the most disturbing implications of the movie is the love story between Josh and Susan (Elizabeth Perkins) creating one of the most controversial plot points. The two share an intimate night together, Susan is still unaware of his real age, and the young boy can not help his happy impression. The scene would never fly by today’s standards despite the fact it only alludes to it but never shows anything.

5 ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ (1994)

Jim Carrey and Sean Young as Ace Ventura and Lois Einhorn in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Image via Warner Bros

Jim Carrey’s breakthrough role came in 1994 in the classic comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. There’s no denying the star’s greatness here, though the film did not age well making the movie a relic of its time. When the Miami Dolphins mascot is abducted it is up to Ace, a private investigator of missing animals, to look into the case. While some of the gags do still hold up years later, a few stick out in the worst way.

The most notable cringe-worthy moment comes in the form of police lieutenant Lois Einhorn (Sean Young) being revealed as disgraced Miami Dolphin Ray Finkle. Ace, having kissed Einhorn earlier in the movie, is horrified by the revelation and begins to throw up. The movie treats this as a joke, but it is also not the only form of dated casual homophobia that is seen throughout the movie.

6 ‘Shallow Hal’ (2001)

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black as Rosemary Shanahan and Hal Larson in Shallow Hal
Image via 20th Century Fox

Hal (Jack Black) is a shallow, no pun intended, guy whose views on dating and women are changed forever when he is hypnotized by self-help guru Tony Robbins. With his help, Hal can only see the inner beauty of a person instead of just the physical. In comes Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow) a woman unlike any woman Hal has dated before, and he quickly falls in love with her.

In every scene, the movie pokes fun at the fact Hal does not realize how fat Rosemary is and goes out of his way to make that obvious. When Rosemary orders a double pizza burger and chili cheese fries Hal can not help but be shocked that she is not diet obsessed. The movie relies heavily on the fat is funny trope that ran so rampant in the era, but is not seen that way now.

7 ‘The Hangover’ (2009)

Justin Bartha, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Bradley Cooper as Doug Alan Stu Phil driving a car in Las Vegas
Image via Warner Bros.

Two days before his wedding, Doug (Justin Bartha) and his three friends celebrate his pending nuptials in Las Vegas with a memorable bachelor party. Things quickly go awry when the groomsmen wake up the next morning to find their hotel room trashed and no Doug. The men do their best to retrace their steps leading them down a wild path of a night they cannot remember in hopes of getting their friend back in time for his wedding.

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The Hangover is rampant with problematic scenes but perhaps the worst is when Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) jumps out of the trunk of the car when the men mistakenly think it’s Doug and attempt to rescue him. Chow speaks in a stereotypical Asian accent as he yells at Alan (Zach Galifianakis). This is just one of many racist depictions seen throughout the movie along with homophobic slurs, and the sexist opinions Phil (Bradley Cooper) has about women.

8 ‘Revenge Of The Nerds’ (1984)

Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards as Lewis Skolnik and Gilbert Lowe arms around each other in Revenge of the Nerds
Image via 20th Century Fox

When nerds Gilbert (Anthony Edwards) and Lewis (Robert Carradine) have their house burned down by the jocks of the Alpha Beta fraternity they are understandably angry and plot revenge on the bullies. This culminates in a series of events with the audience rooting for the nerds and cringing in their seats. As the movie progresses it becomes hard to root for the nerds and their revenge plans.

Staying faithful to the revenge plot Lewis confronts the head of Pi Delta Pi, a sorority full of shallow blonde antagonists, and has sex with her knowing she is highly intoxicated, and thinks he is her boyfriend. To make matters worse, she compliments him repeatedly during the act and even dumps her boyfriend in favor of the nerd at the end. It is obvious that in a #MeToo world, this scene would likely not even exist today.

9 ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry’ (2007)

Adam Sandler Kevin James as Chuck Levine and Larry Valentine fighting in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Image via Universal Pictures

Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler) and Larry Valentine (Kevin James) are best friends and Brooklyn firefighters. As a widower, Larry wants to name his children his beneficiaries but when he learns he is unable to do so he devises a plan with Chuck to sign as his domestic partner. The lengths the men go through to make sure an agent does not catch on to the ruse and put their children at risk.

The movie has plenty of cringe-worthy moments including RobSchneider in yellowface as an Asian minister by the name of Takeshi. It is made worse by the fact that he is marrying the straight protagonists who spend most of the movie exhibiting rampant homophobia. The representation in this movie comes at the expense of the gay community.

10 ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ (1978)

Cast of Animal House taking a picture in National Lampoon's Animal House
Image via Universal Pictures

When first-year students Larry (Thomas Hulce) and Kent (Stephen Furst) are rejected by one fraternity they pledge the rowdy Delta Tau Chi. This would not be a problem if the dean (John Vernon) did not have it out for the fraternity and had assigned the rival Omega Theta Pi president (James Daughton) to spy on them. The classic has a lot of funny moments courtesy of Jim Belushi, but those can be overshadowed by the cringe ones.

One of the worst offenders comes when Larry debates whether to take advantage of a girl he invited to a party when she passes out. The movie even frames this as a love story until it is revealed that she is only 13, and even introduces the older man to her father. In wake of the #MeToo movement, a lot of the comedy geared toward women can be categorized as sexist, for the male gaze, and of its time.

Next: 10 Movies That Just Get Better With Age

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