This post is updated frequently as movies leave and enter Hulu, which you can sign up for here. *New additions are indicated with an asterisk.
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.
It may be a bit dated, but that’s part of the nostalgic charm of the 1980 hit comedy. It stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton as three women who decide they’ve had enough with their horrible boss, played by Dabney Coleman, and so they make sure he gets what’s coming to him. It also spawned a kick-ass theme song by Parton and was even turned into a hit TV series.
The Art of Self-Defense
Premiering at SXSW in 2019, this is probably the darkest comedy on this list, the story of a shy young man (Jesse Eisenberg) who goes to a martial-arts class to gain a little courage. He discovers a strange community there led by a controlling master, played by Alessandro Nivola. Writer-director Riley Stearns isn’t afraid to go there in a movie that doesn’t always work but takes enough genuine risks to justify its missteps.
The entire trilogy that made Mike Myers incredibly wealthy is now available on Hulu, baby! The best film remains 1997’s original Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, but the follow-ups Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Austin Powers in Goldmember are funnier than you remember. Given how much nostalgia fuels pop culture, it’s kind of amazing this character hasn’t been rebooted yet. Give it time.
Adam Sandler’s 1999 comedy was one of the biggest of his career, coming in the wake of The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy and really making the Sandman into one of the biggest stars in the world. In fact, this story of a slacker who ends up having to take care of an actual child is Sandler’s biggest non-animated hit at the box office, a reminder when his comedies landed in theaters instead of just on Netflix (and when they were much, much funnier too).
Along with The King of Staten Island, this is the second Pete Davidson coming-of-age story released in 2020. Jason Orley makes his writing and directing debut with this Sundance premiere that stars Griffin Gluck as a kid whose best friend happens to be that older dude with no focus in his life that your parents told you to avoid. Davidson is clever and funny in a film that captures how maturity comes at a different age for everyone.
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 — so, 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.
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.
Do you like your comedies weird? Like, John Waters weird? Then this one is for you. A deeply satirical and deeply strange comedy, this is kind of like a comedy from early in the career of Tim Burton with its exaggerated examination of suburban culture. Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe co-star, co-wrote, and co-directed, and this already feels like a film destined for a cult following.
Clea DuVall co-wrote and directed this holiday rom-com with a twist. While these films are almost always hetero tales of romance, the love story here is between Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, who plays a woman who hasn’t told her girlfriend that she’s not out to her family. Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Mary Holland, Victor Garber, and Mary Steenburgen fill out the fun supporting cast for this progressive Hulu original.
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 were 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.
There’s a movie on Hulu that features Aubrey Plaza as a profanity-spewing nun and you haven’t watched it yet? Jeff Baena’s Sundance hit also stars Alison Brie, Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, and Fred Armisen in a ridiculous, raunchy retelling of The Decameron. It’s reminiscent of classic Mel Brooks in the way it skewers classical storytelling structures with modern comic sensibilities.
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.
One of Tim Burton’s most purely enjoyable flicks was based on a series of trading cards in this 1996 sci-fi ensemble comedy about an alien attack. It features one of the director’s most remarkable casts, including Jack Nicholson, Annette Bening, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, and so many more. Most of all, it’s just a goofy, fun movie.
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.
Before Ryan Reynolds was known as Deadpool, he was Van Wilder to a generation of comedy fans. One of his early hits was this 2002 comedy in which the charismatic comedian played the title character, a seventh-year senior who tries to make the undergrads at Coolidge College cooler. It’s a bit dated now but also features fun supporting performances from Kal Penn and Tara Reid.
Shane Black directed Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe to two of the best performances of their career in this old-fashioned buddy-comedy flick. Gosling plays a private eye who gets caught up in the disappearance of a teenager (Margaret Qualley) and partners with a gruff cop (Crowe) to find her. It’s clever and very funny — the kind of movie that one wishes got made more often.
This black comedy really isn’t all that great, but it’s on this list because it’s going to have some extra energy in late 2020. Why? Well, it’s about political division, which is at an all-time high right about now. The great Ike Barinholtz (Blockers) co-stars and directs Tiffany Haddish as his wife. The pair live in a future in which people are asked to sign an oath of loyalty to the U.S. government. They refuse and things get really weird. Even Barinholtz probably couldn’t imagine how possible this satire would feel only two years later.
Writer-director Wes Anderson’s second film is still arguably his best, a brilliant coming-of-age comedy about a teenager named Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) and the love triangle that forms (at least in his mind) between him, a teacher named Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), and a wealthy man named Herman Blume (Bill Murray). Charming, eccentric, and hysterical, Rushmore is a modern classic.
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.
Perhaps Alexander Payne’s best film, his adaptation of the Rex Pickett novel centers on a surly wine lover and his chance at love. Paul Giamatti stars as Miles Raymond, a misanthropic teacher who goes on a trip to wine country with his more outgoing friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church). The movie won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was nominated for four other Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
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.
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.
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.
The Trip Movies
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon appeared in a British miniseries called The Trip in 2010, which was then cut down to a film version that was internationally acclaimed. Why not take more trips? Playing loose versions of themselves, the pair then appeared in The Trip to Italy and The Trip to Spain, both of which are also on Hulu. The Trip to Greece was just released this year on VOD.
Hit comedies are often just about finding the right comic actors at the right time in their career. That’s certainly the case with Wedding Crashers, which made a fortune (almost $300 million worldwide) by creating the perfect vehicle for Owen Wilson’s shaggy-dog charm and Vince Vaughn’s alpha-bro hilarity. The two star as guys who crash weddings and meet girls. The movie helped revive the R-rated comedy and became an instant hit.
Kind of poorly received when it came out, this goofy comedy has become something of a cult classic, a movie that often comes up when people talk about the work of Adam Sandler. The Uncut Gems star plays Zohan Dvir, an Israeli commando turned hairstylist in New York City. He tries to live a normal life but he’s discovered by a Palestinian cab driver (played problematically by Rob Schneider, of course).
Any list of the best comedies of all time that doesn’t include Mel Brooks’s 1974 comedy masterpiece is simply wrong. Gene Wilder stars as a descendant of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein in Brooks’s parody of Universal monster movies that became an international smash hit, even landing an Oscar nod for Best Adapted Screenplay. It was hysterical in 1974 and it still is today.
Nora Ephron reunited with the stars of Sleepless in Seattle for this massive 1998 rom-com hit. A loose adaptation of The Shop Around the Corner, this flick tells the story of two people who meet and fall in love online only to discover that they are business rivals. It’s a flawed script but the charming star power and strong chemistry of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan makes it so very easy to love.
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