The world is an increasingly strange place and appears to only get more stressful by the day. Why not release the tension with a laugh? While TV series are still the bread and butter of streaming service Hulu, they also have a large library of movies that a lot of people don’t even know about — and a lot of them are funny! Here are 30 of the best from that increasingly necessary department.
Will Reiser adapted his own story of battling cancer in a tender, genuine film that ended up being a sizable box-office hit. People were attracted to the truth in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as a young man diagnosed with cancer. The film explores how that diagnosis impacted his relationships, particularly one with a good friend, played by Seth Rogen.
Before he became America’s most likable actor, Tom Hanks made a few films that appealed more to the adults in the audience, including this 1984 broad comedy that’s pretty self-explanatory in its title. In the glut of “raunchy comedies” of the ’80s, Bachelor Party stands out a bit, largely because of how much Hanks could bring to the comedy.
The Beach Bum
Harmony Korine released his long-anticipated follow-up to Spring Breakers early in 2019, and most people barely noticed. Matthew McConaughey leans into his bongo-playing stoner persona as the wonderful Moondog, a Floridian who is kind of just chilling his way through life. There’s almost no plot, but this is an unforgettable slice of debauchery complete with memorable supporting turns by Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Martin Lawrence, and, of course, Snoop Dogg.
Big Time Adolescence
Pete Davidson’s moment in the sun in Judd Apatow’s new movie, The King of Staten Island, has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but his first real major film role actually came in this Sundance 2019 flick that was delayed for almost a year before getting an early drop on Hulu. The real star is Griffin Gluck, one of the talented kids from American Vandal who plays a kid with an older friend who some might call a bad influence, played memorably by Davidson. It’s imperfect but sweet, and Davidson is legitimately good.
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is one of the smartest and straight-up funniest comedies in years. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever star as lifelong friends who learn on the last day of school that their priorities may have been a bit out of whack. Determined to make up for lost time, they have a wild and crazy night. Often described as “Superbad with girls,” this is destined to be a cult classic.
The Brady Bunch Movie
Some of the movies on this list could be considered borderline “comedies.” Not this one. Sometimes you want something more akin to a dramedy or a character study — sometimes you want something defiantly goofy, and this big-screen adaptation of the beloved family sitcom fits that bill perfectly.
Indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg’s best film and biggest hit remains this 2013 comedy starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston. Wilde and Johnson play friends who work at a brewery in Chicago. While they seem to have a ton in common and flirt regularly, they’re both with other partners. It’s no spoiler to say things get complicated.
Fighting With My Family
Florence Pugh had one of the best years for a young actress in movie history in 2019, anchored mostly by her Oscar-nominated work in Little Women and critical acclaim for Midsommar. However, this was actually the prologue, a fun little comedy based on the true story of an amateur wrestler’s rise to fame. Pugh is charming and believable, and watching this now just reveals her already remarkable range.
Hearts Beat Loud
This is one of the most crowd-pleasing films that you could watch on any streaming service, and the best film vehicle yet for Nick Offerman. The Parks and Recreation star plays Frank Fisher, a single father whose daughter is about to leave the nest. Before she does, they record a song together that just happens to get some buzz. The wonderful cast also includes Toni Collette, Blythe Danner, Kiersey Clemons, Sasha Lane, and Ted Danson.
Ignore the think pieces about how Heathers plays today and watch this 1989 dark comedy, a satire that caught Christian Slater and Winona Ryder at just the right time in their careers. She plays the outcast in high school and he plays the mysterious new kid who teaches her the art of vengeance. Is some of it dated? Sure, but it’s still sharp in the way it weaponizes the clique culture that has arguably become even more prominent in the three decades since.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Before he made Hemsworth your favorite Chris in Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi wrote and directed this adaptation of Barry Crump’s Wild Pork and Watercress. Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) has a new foster family, including a sweet foster mother. Sadly, he’s stuck with the surly husband when his new mom passes away, leading Ricky and Hec (Sam Neill) on an unforgettable adventure. Funny and truly heartwarming, this is a comedy that’s almost impossible to dislike.
Not many people would have bet that a black comedy telling of the story of Tonya Harding would end up being an Oscar winner, but the ’10s have been nothing if not surprising at the Academy Awards. Allison Janney took home the gold for her role as Harding’s cruel mother in this version of one of the most famous sports scandals of all time.
Ingrid Goes West
Aubrey Plaza stars in this pitch-black comedy about a young woman who becomes obsessed with a social-media influencer played by Elizabeth Olsen, and then basically worms her way into her life à la Single White Female. As much of a thriller as a comedy, there’s still some darkly humorous insight into the world of social media and what it produces, as well as a breakthrough performance from O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Remember when this movie almost started a war? Simpler times. The movie that led to the Sony leak by North Korea almost became a footnote to the actual event that garnered so many headlines and led to lost jobs. It’s actually pretty funny. James Franco is excellent as a vain reporter who lands the interview of a lifetime with the North Korean leader. What’s funny is how relatively tame and silly the whole thing is — it’s hard to believe it started an international crisis.
The 3-D version of this film literally made people sick in theaters when it was released in 2010. It’s still got the power to make you nauseous at home on Hulu, too. It’s crazy to think that’s been a decade since Johnny Knoxville and the boys made one of these joyously hysterical movies, but they’re coming back in 2021 for Jackass 4. Catch up where we left off the last time these grown men nearly killed themselves.
One of Robert Altman’s most popular and influential films launched not just a massive hit TV series but the careers of everyone involved and all the directors who would try to mimic Altman’s inimitable style. Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt, and Elliott Gould star as medical personnel at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. It’s funny, quirky, and helped usher in an entire era of dry comedy in the ’70s.
We don’t give Laika enough credit. They don’t make nearly as much money with films like Paranorman and Kubo and the Two Strings as companies like DreamWorks and Pixar. Their latest is already on Hulu, dropping less than a year after its theatrical release. It may not be their best, but it’s gorgeous to look at, revealing that Laika is arguably the most visually fascinating animated studio around.
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Julia Roberts might never have been more charming than she is in this 1997 comedy about a young woman who made a pact in college to marry her best friend, played by Dermot Mulroney. Not until her buddy gets engaged to someone else (the wonderful Cameron Diaz) does she realize she really loves him. A great blend of physical humor and memorable characters makes this one of the best rom-coms of the ’90s. They really don’t make them like this anymore.
Long before he would shake TV with Atlanta and music with Childish Gambino, Donald Glover was part of a comedy group known as Derrick Comedy. With DC Pierson and Dominic Dierkes, Glover stars in this goofy but charming comedy about three young guys who have always been obsessed with solving mysteries. It also includes early performances from Aubrey Plaza, Ellie Kemper, and Bobby Moynihan. It was barely released in theaters but has developed a following over the years, which should be helped by now being on Hulu.
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Time for a marathon! All four movies about the Griswold family are right there on Hulu — Vacation, European Vacation, Christmas Vacation, and Vegas Vacation. Despite what fans of the holiday classic may think, the original is still the best, a wonderfully constructed piece of ’80s comedy with arguably Chevy Chase’s best onscreen performance. It’s still just a damn funny movie.
Any parent will tell you that it’s often your kid’s friend’s parents who end up being your new friends, whether you like it or not. That’s the building block for this clever comedy about two couples — Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche — who end up getting drunk together after their kids fall asleep at an overnight play date. And, well, things get weird.
The great Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this romantic dramedy that became iconic largely because of that one scene with the boom box and Peter Gabriel. But there’s more to it than just that one moment. It’s a great movie about people from different backgrounds finding each other, and those moments in which you learn the world, including your parents, aren’t exactly as simple as you think they are when you’re a kid. And it’s still one of John Cusack’s best performances.
The Skeleton Twins
Craig Johnson directed this dramedy about fraternal twins played wonderfully by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig that won the Screenwriting Award at Sundance in 2014. Hader plays Milo, a suicidal young man — yes, it’s mostly a comedy — who goes to live with his sister after an attempt. Wiig and Hader have wonderful chemistry as siblings, making their dynamic completely believable. It’s also got one of the best lip-sync scenes ever.
Sorry to Bother You
Boots Riley writes and directs one of the most daring debuts of 2018 in this satire of modern race relations and corporate dynamics. Lakeith Stanfield stars as a man who climbs the ladder of a telemarketing company only to find true horrors on the top floors. It’s smart, strange, and unforgettable.
Support the Girls
Andrew Bujalski’s charming comedy about a Hooters-esque restaurant stars the delightful Regina Hall on a particularly bad day on the job. This ensemble piece doesn’t seek to make any great statement or offer deep insights, but somehow ends up doing both just by presenting truthful, genuine characters. It’s a funny movie with a poignant streak about how hard people have to swim just to keep their heads above water.
Every few years, a comedy comes completely out of nowhere and taps something in the Zeitgeist that makes everyone involved a star. No one knew who Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn were the day before Swingers came out, but it launched them into the celebrity sphere, where they still reside. This movie is still money, baby, as it captures the posturing of young men trying to get work and get laid in Hollywood in the mid-’90s.
Throw Momma From the Train
Danny DeVito directed this beloved riff on Strangers on a Train, and also stars as a schlub who has a problem in his awful mother, played unforgettably by Anne Ramsey. Billy Crystal plays the guy who agrees to perform the titular act of DeVito’s character will help similarly with his ex-wife.
Up in the Air
Jason Reitman’s best film stars George Clooney as a man who spends more time on the road than he does at home. The writer-director won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and the film feels just as timely a decade later, as people continue to be increasingly divided by work and technology. Clooney has arguably never been better, and Oscar nominees Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are pretty fantastic too.
Wayne’s World 2
Seen as something of a bomb when it was released because it made a fraction of the original, this 1993 sequel has grown a loyal cult following over the years. It’s a wonderfully silly movie, as Mike Myers and Dana Carvey lean into the more ridiculous aspects of their characters even more than the first movie. It’s just really hard not to love Wayne and Garth.
When Harry Met Sally …
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal star in this classic 1989 rom-com about whether or not men and women can truly be friends without romance entering into the picture. Ryan and Crystal have arguably never been as charming as they are here, but it’s really Nora Ephron’s razor-sharp script that made this an instant classic.