Film's Greatest Comedy Cliques, From the Rat Pack to Team Apatow

By Jason Bailey

10 of the most prolific comedy collectives in movie history

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It was just a couple of weeks ago that we were singing the praises of Kissing Jessica Stein, one of the rare modern romantic comedies that isn't terrible, and as if on cue, there's a new film from Stein writer/star (and now director) Jennifer Westfeldt in theaters tomorrow. There are several reasons to see Friends with Kids—it's funny, smart, warm, and more than a little dirty—but if it does well, it may very well be because Westfeldt had the good luck of casting about half the key players from Bridesmaids in major roles.

With Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, and Chris O'Dowd reuniting for Friends with Kids, we may be witnessing the formation of a new (and thankfully estrogen-infused) cinematic comedy "clique." These groups have always been a part of the film comedy landscape, though there seem to be an awful lot of them these days—primarily because the DIY nature of the current comedy scene lends itself to working with friends and regular collaborators. (There's also a fair amount of cross-pollination between these groups, which makes classifying them a bit challenging. Crafty, these comedians.)

To be clear: We're not talking so much about actual declared comedy teams, like the Marx Brothers, the Bowery Boys, or Monty Python. We're more interested in loose collectives that come together in varying combinations yet still craft a distinctive and recognizable comic style. We'll take a look at a few of the biggest after the jump.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

Image credit: Sony Picture Classics

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/03/films-greatest-comedy-cliques-from-the-rat-pack-to-team-apatow/254251/