Top 15 Comedic Crime Caper Movies
If you’re planning a cinematic crime spree but don’t want to compromise on laughs, here are some funny heist movies to add to your Netflix queue. They range from classics to cult favorites, but all provide laughs along with the adrenaline rush.
‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ (1988)
Director Frank Oz brought us one of the best comedy crime capers of the 1980s with “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Steve Martin and Michael Caine star as con artists duping witless widows on the French Riviera. There are jokes galore in this sleek romp, including infinitely quotable one-liners delivered impeccably by Martin and Caine.
‘A Fish Called Wanda’ (1988)
A diamond heist opens the story, and then comes the dessert: Four partners in crime maneuver to cheat each other out of their shares. A strong ensemble cast is headed by Kevin Kline in his Oscar-winning role and features Michael Palin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and John Cleese, who also wrote the screenplay. The Monte Python veteran penned plenty of laughs, including good doses of hilarious tastelessness.
‘The Sting’ (1973)
Perhaps the quintessential comedy crime caper, “The Sting” is a Hollywood classic starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as professional grifters who attempt to pull a heist on a mob boss. The story is unblemished by time, and the lead actors’ chemistry makes the action jump from the screen.
File this one under “dark humor.” This Coen brothers film became an instant classic, in large part due to an extraordinary performance by actress Frances McDormand, who plays a pregnant cop investigating a series of murders in her hometown of Fargo, North Dakota. William H. Macy plays a befuddled would-be criminal who has hired thugs to kidnap his wife to extort money from his father-in-law. The starkness of the subject matter contrasts with the hilarity of the characters as they navigate their ever-escalating predicaments.
‘Catch Me If You Can’ (2002)
Steven Spielberg directed this identity-swapping comedy starring lovable criminal Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays a con man relieving people of their wealth using his street smarts and smarmy good looks. Tom Hanks plays the FBI agent charged with finding and capturing the young crook, and his hilarious straight-man act is pitch-perfect.
‘Raising Arizona’ (1987)
A career criminal played by Nicolas Cage falls in love with the policewoman, played by Holly Hunter, who takes his mugshot. The unlikely couple then finds out they cannot have children either through conception or adoption, thanks to his criminal past, so they do what any character in a Coen brothers movie would do: They steal one. A cast of bizarre characters and dark, very physical comedy combine to make this an instant cult classic.
‘We’re the Millers’ (2013)
Thirty-something weed dealer Jason Sudeikis finds himself in a bind, so he pays his stripper neighbor and a couple of juvenile delinquents to pose as his family so he can make a massive drug run to Mexico. There’s funny stuff here, but lots of gross-out humor as well, so be warned.
‘Ocean’s 11’ (2001)
Danny Ocean, played perfectly by George Clooney, and his accomplices create a complicated plan to rip off three Las Vegas casinos at the same time. With a cast that includes Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, and Brad Pitt, how can you go wrong?
‘The Pink Panther’ (1964)
A notorious gem thief played by David Niven charms his way to snatch the world’s most spectacular diamond. On the trail is the deliciously bumbling Inspector Clouseau, played by Peter Sellers, in his first screen case. Writer-director Blake Edwards folds sophistication and cartoonish silliness into sparkling entertainment. The movie also features Robert Wagner as young ne’er-do-well George Lytton and Capucine as Mrs. Clouseau.
‘The Big Lebowski’ (1998)
Another excellent Coen brothers film, “The Big Lebowski” has amassed an enormous cult following that has only gained in popularity since its 1998 release. The plot centers on mistaken identity as Jeff Bridges’ iconic character “The Dude” falls into a dizzying plot involving stolen rugs, pornography, kidnapping, and, above all, bowling. The Dude’s friends Walter—a freaked-out Vietnam Vet played by John Goodman—and Donny, played by Steve Buscemi, round out a cast of crazy, now-infamous characters.
‘To Catch a Thief’ (1955)
Alfred Hitchcock’s sunny concoction unfolds on the French Riviera where, to clear his name, a retired cat burglar played by Cary Grant must foil an impersonator’s heist. The suspenseful tale becomes a teasingly elegant romantic pleasure when fireworks arrive via Grace Kelly.
‘Sugar & Spice’ (2001)
When a beautiful, popular high school cheerleader finds herself pregnant with the star quarterback’s baby, what’s a girl to do but recruit her fellow cheerleaders into a life of crime? This classic storyline gets a big humor boost from the cheerleaders, played with quirky perfection by Marley Shelton, Marla Sokoloff, and Mena Suvari.
‘Bottle Rocket’ (1996)
Nuthouse parolees played by brothers Owen and Luke Wilson embark on a planned 75-year crime agenda, beginning with a bold robbery at Mom’s house and working up to major scores with a crime boss/lawn care guru, played by James Caan. Wes Anderson directed these slacker screw-ups from the funny, quirky script he wrote with Owen Wilson.
Written and directed by Guy Ritchie, this classic caper involves boxing promoters, bookies, amateur crooks, and a Russian gangster, all on the hunt for a priceless stolen diamond. But which one of these hunky actors—Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt, or Jason Statham—will get there first?
‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ (1998)
Another Guy Ritchie film, this one centers on four thugs who go on a raucous caper through London in search of pot, cash, and antique shotguns. The movie helped propel Jason Statham into the public eye, and it also features Sting in a minor role.