I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 15 years.
After years of directing countless episodes of television (including The Office, Freaks and Geeks, and Arrested Development), along with some forgettable films in the aughties (Unaccompanied Minors, anyone?), writer/director Paul Feig mined box-office and critical gold with 2011’s Bridesmaids (garnering frequent collaborator Melissa McCarthy her first Oscar nomination).
Though mainly staying in comedy, Feig has veered out of his lane every once in a while to varied success (the solid A Simple Favor, the lifeless and treacly I Am David).
Feig’s newest film The School for Good and Evil debuted on Netflix in October 2022. After you see School, revisit Paul Feig’s top 5 movies.
1) Bridesmaids (2011)
A female-driven, R-rated comedy that busted the zeitgeist as well as the box-office. With unparalleled chemistry between its leads (Kirsten Wiig and her SNL costar Maya Rudolph) along with a scene-stealing Melissa McCarthy (Oscar nominated as previously mentioned), I can’t think of a comedy released in the 20-teens with as many jokes per minute onscreen and Maids.
Compared (unfairly) to The Hangover, Bridesmaids towered over the limp Hangover sequel released that same year. One of the most quotable comedies of the 2000s, Bridesmaids holds up remarkably well on a rewatch and you even notice things missed on previous screenings.
Extra points for bringing back 90s earworm,”Hold On”. You thank the movie gods and goddesses Feig and Co were never desperate enough to make a sequel.
2) The Heat (2013)
Star Sandra Bullock playing the straight woman to Melissa McCarthy’s bull-in-the-China-shop cop in Heat provided some of the best comedy moments of 2013. Bullock’s underplaying of almost every scene allowed McCarthy to steal scenes without losing the delicately weighted balance between the two leads.
The Heat features a crime story that works better than you remember. Yes, some of the scenes feel sitcom-y at times, but those are few and far between. Manages to hold a solid ‘R’ rating while earing both high and lowbrow laughs. A movie you wish there was a sequel to because Bullock and McCarthy work so well together.
3) A Simple Favor (2018)
Adopted from the novel by Darcey Bell, Paul Feig’s departure into a mystery/crime/thriller with comedy elements is breezy and enjoyable with just enough surprises to keep any viewer on their toes. It’s good to see Feig dip his toes into something a little darker than we’re used to from him.
Leads Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are well matched because they seem so unlike each other. Some of the twists veer into the ludicrous but you still can’t help but enjoy the ride. As of this writing a sequel is in the works. Simply can’t wait.
4) Spy (2015)
The third McCarthy/Feig vehicle is an action comedy in which Melissa McCarthy allows scenes to get stolen from her by Jason Statham and Jude Law. Especially in the films she headlines, McCarthy is usually the center of gravity for all the jokes.
In her Feig films this mostly works. When she doesn’t work with Feig (Tammy, The Boss), there’s a lot of silence in theaters because more of the jokes flatline. The male leads play wonderfully off of McCarthy and make for a more comedically balanced film. Well executed action sequences also make the stakes feel more real.
A more than serviceable movie from a director who had never really done action before. Even 50 Cent gets chance to shine. Who knew he had it in him?
5) Ghostbusters (2016)
The one that triggered so many insecure fanboys. Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, McCarthy, and her Bridesmaids costar Wiig take over in the much maligned female reboot.
The movie works more than it doesn’t but feels hampered by its PG-13 rating. You wonder what Feig could have done if allowed to push the edges a lot more instead of kowtowing to those who wanted to market toys.
An expensive reboot whose box-office failure allowed Ghostbusters Afterlife to be made. You take the good with the bad. I still can’t believe so many hate this when Ghostbusters II exists.
Oh yeah, Chris Hemsworth stretches his comic timing as a himbo secretary who might be dumber than you initially think.
Before you and the younger people in your life check out The School for Good and Evil, be sure to rewatch Paul Feig’s best films. Vote for your favorite Feig film below!
© 2022 Noel Penaflor