Jack Black is on top of his game. He’s dominated the animated world as the lovable Po in the Kung Fu Panda movies and conquered family films as Professor Shelly Oberon in the Jumani franchise. The actor shreds in School of Rock and kicks butt in Nacho Libre, proving he has the comedic chops to be a leading man. He’s hilarious and lovable.
While Black’s hit his stride, starring in a slew of Blockbuster films, his career spans decades. There’s never been a better time to look back at his most underrated performances as fans flock to see him play Bowser in the popular TheSuper Mario Bros. Movie.
10 ‘Bio-Dome’ (1996)
While Bio-Dome isn’t winning awards for being the best movie (Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin are the leads after all) Black makes a notable appearance as half of the comedy-metal duo Tenacious D. The band, which also features Kyle Gass, makes their debut on-screen appearance with the song “5 Needs”.
It’s worth wading through the absurd plot (mayhem unfolds when two idiotic friends are locked in a bio-dome for a year with environmentalists) to watch them croon about the environment in a way that only they can. It’s like witnessing the birth of Tenacious D in real time. Hardcore fans will love watching Black and Gass take a walk down memory lane.
9 ‘Envy’ (2004)
Black takes a stab at dark comedy with Ben Stiller in Envy. The premise is about two neighbors, Nick, and Tim, whose lives are changed when Nick’s invention takes off in a big way. The Vapoorizer is a spray that evaporates dog poo on contact.
The movie is as silly as it sounds, but Black delivers an unrelenting performance of a dim-witted fool. His total dedication to the role carries the film. While Stiller and Black have undeniable chemistry, Rachel Weisz and Amy Poehler round out the cast, making Envy a must-watch for viewers looking to laugh.
8 ‘Shark Tale’ (2004)
Before Black voiced Po in Kung Fu Panda, he appeared as another animated character in Shark Tale. Who could forget Lenny, the great white shark with a heart of gold? Imagine a kid’s movie about an underwater mob family.
When Frankie (Michael Imperioli) is accidentally killed, Oscar (a slacker fish played by Will Smith) creates a cover story to take credit with the peace-loving brother of the deceased, Lenny. Black’s portrayal of a sweet vegetarian shark is spot-on in this underrated animated feature. Shark Tale gets extra points for being a film the whole family can enjoy.
7 ‘Be Kind Rewind’ (2008)
Be Kind Rewind is a buddy comedy directed by Micheal Gondry (the genius behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). When a video store worker, Jerry, (Black) is electrocuted while sabotaging a local power plant, he becomes magnetized and erases all the movies in the store.
He teams up with a co-worker, Mike (Mos Def) to recreate the movies with a hand-held video camera. From a horrible rendition of Ghostbusters to a laughable version of Boyz n the Hood, the remakes become more and more ridiculous. Black is unleashed in this role, shining in the film, one goofy scene at a time.
6 ‘The Holiday’ (2006)
Black may not seem synonymous with Nancy Myers (the director of gems like It’s Complicated and Something’s Gotta Give) but the two create magic in The Holiday. Two lonely women (played by Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) swap houses in each other’s countries to escape heartache.
Of course, they each meet a love interest (portrayed by Black and Jude Law). The comedian tones down his over-the-top physical comedy, proving he can flirt and smolder with the best of them. Who knew he could be the ultimate Rom-Com love interest? He’s warm, funny, and actually looks kind of cute in a suit jacket. Be prepared to swoon, ladies.
5 ‘The Polka King’ (2017)
Netflix’s film, The Polka King, shows Black’s range as a dramatic actor (but it’s not without laughs). It tells the real-life story of the 90s legendary Polka player, Jan Lewan, who swindled senior citizens in a Ponzi scheme. Black never turns down a chance to sing and dance in a movie, which is a good move on his part.
While critics don’t love this film, the actor’s earnest delivery of a well-meaning criminal should win viewers over. Not to mention a hilarious performance from Jenny Slate as his fame-hungry wife. Fans of quirky true-crime movies will want to check this one out. As always, Black puts everything he’s got into the character.
4 ‘Year One’ (2009)
Set thousands of years in the past, Year One is about two lazy cavemen who traverse through a biblical time period after being kicked out of their tribe for eating the golden fruit in the Garden of Eden. From meeting Cain and Able to being enslaved in the city of Sodom, Zed (Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) must face the trials of this new world to rescue the people they love.
Jack Black shines in this role by bringing out his goofy wit, coupled with Michael Cera’s dry humor the pair do a fantastic job in this whacky comedy. Directed by the great Harold Ramis who starred in Ghostbusters, there’s no question that this movie hits the funny bone. While the movie didn’t do well critically, it still has an amazing supporting cast including: June Diane Raphael, Juno Temple,David Cross and Olivia Wilde. Year One is a must-watch for fans of Jack Black’s goofball comedic style.
3 ‘Shallow Hal’ (2001)
Shallow Hal proves that beauty is more than skin deep when a playboy (played by Black) is hypnotized by a self-help guru to see the inner beauty of unattractive women. He falls for a 300-pound woman named Rosemary (portrayed by Gwenyth Paltrow in a fat suit) and hilarity ensues.
While the premise may sound fatphobic, Black tackles the role with sincerity and manages to make a Farrelly Brothers film (thinkDumb and Dumber) seem oddly sweet. While some may say the movie hasn’t aged well, his performance as a transformed man is worth a watch. It’s no wonder The Farrelly Brothers are the kings of 90s comedy.
2 ‘Orange County’ (2002)
Orange County is a 2000s indie-comedy movie that deserves more recognition than it’s received. Starring Colin Hanks (son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson) as Shaun, it tells the story of a surfer turned brainiac who aspires to get into Sanford.
When the guidance counselor sends the wrong transcript, Shaun goes on a misadventure with his stoner brother Lance (played by Black) to right the wrong. Black is in his element as a pyromaniac druggie, playing the part with high voltage. He cartwheels, spins, and flips throughout the entire film. In other words, he’s Black at his best.
1 ‘Saving Silverman’ (2001)
Saving Silverman, directed by Dennis Dugan (the man responsible for Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy), is a movie about friends (Steve Zahn and Black) who scheme to save their buddy (played by Jason Biggs) from marrying a controlling woman (portrayed by the shrewd Amanda Peet).
Black shows off his musical talent as part of a trio in a Neil Diamond cover band, proving no one can rock a red sequined shirt like him. The actor is a force of comedy, stealing the show in every scene he appears in. This is a must-see for anyone who enjoys Black’s on-screen antics.
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