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The 25 Best Comedies on Hulu (April 2019)

Comedy Lists What to Watch
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If you still think Hulu is just a place to watch sitcoms the day after the networks broadcast them, it must’ve been a few years since you last logged in. The streaming site has long been a full-service rival to Netflix, and arguably has a deeper and stronger lineup of films. It might not be quite as rich on great comedies at the moment—notice this is a list of 25 movies, whereas our Netflix list goes all the way to 40—but it’s a more diverse set of films, with something for all tastes and ages.

Before we jump in, let me include the standard disclaimer that I always start that Netflix comedy list with. I’m a comedy editor. I’m mostly looking at how much a movie makes me laugh when I’m putting together a list like this. That’s why things like Wayne’s World and Caddyshack come in higher than other movies that have better acting and directing and screenplays. So if you feel the need to go all Margaret Dumont about the sheer impropriety of these rankings, maybe go check out some of our more tasteful overall movie rankings, instead. If you can handle the very first movie on this list, though, the one coming in right here at number 25, you can probably make it through without getting too angry.

25. Dirty Work
Year: 1998
Director: Bob Saget

In 1998 hope was high that Dirty Work would be Norm Macdonald’s Billy Madison, a surprise hit (and surprisingly good) comedy that would propel him to Adam Sandler-level fame and success. Well, that didn’t happen. Dirty Work is still a greatly underrated film, one that fully integrates Macdonald’s distinctive comedic voice into a shaggy mainstream comedy full of clear ‘90s Hollywood signifiers. (Yes, “Semi-Charmed Life” is on the soundtrack. Yes, Christopher “Shooter McGavin” McDonald plays an uptight villain who, in a Hollywood comedy bingo twofer, is also an evil real estate developer who wants to evict Norm’s love interest’s grandmother. Yes, that love interest is played by a ‘90s sitcom actress, in this case Traylor Howard.) The film works because of Norm’s distinctive delivery and his character’s fractious relationships with his best friend and his best friend’s father, respectively played by Artie Lange and Jack Warden (in one of his final roles). Their chemistry, Norm’s charisma, and some sharp joke-writing elevates an otherwise predictable mediocrity.—Garrett Martin


24. Ace Ventura Pet Detective
Year: 1994
Director: Tom Shadyac
The character of Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is the definition of zany. And slightly deranged. And…bird-like. According to an Inside The Actors’ Studio interview, Carrey based Ace Ventura’s voice, clothes, walk, hair and mannerisms on the behavior of birds. To base an entire performance on birds or any animal and to get such hilarious results as Carrey had is a mark of an original actor.—Anita George


23. Jumanji
Year: 1995
Director: Joe Johnson

No, the Rock is nowhere in this version of Jumanji. This is the first adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book about an enchanted board game that magically makes rhinos and Robin Williams appear when you play it, or something like that. Williams was deep into his family friendly phase by this point, far removed from the coke-addled mania of his stand-up days, but he was still a warm and charming presence, and still brought a lot of comic weight to what is otherwise a fairly standard mid ‘90s children’s fantasy film. Jumanji can’t escape that studio blockbuster factory feel, and the special effects have not aged gracefully, but it’s worth watching for a solid Williams performance.—Garrett Martin


22. Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
Year: 1997
Director: David Mirkin

K, it’s not the hardest-hitting comedy in the world, but it is the film that canonized “I invented Post Its” as a rejoinder at my house. Romy and Michele (Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow) are two not-especially-ambitious young women who have been best friends since high school and live together in Los Angeles. When they get a high school reunion invite, they realize they desperately want to descend on their hometown in Arizona and lay waste to the bitchy “A-List” girls who made their high school lives miserable, so they borrow a Jaguar, don pin-striped suits and concoct a pile of lies about their accomplishments as Serious Businesswomen. Of course they get into a huge fight on the way there and have to find their way back to each other as well as themselves, as it becomes clear that they are not the only ones at the reunion trying to deal with their high school unfinished business. Light to the point of near-self-parody and sometimes not quite funny enough to justify itself, the film nonetheless has tons of laughs for anyone in the mood to find something funny, and Kudrow and Sorvino are both hysterically deadpan-though the stealth comedic missile is Jeanane Garofalo as a foulmouthed, chain-smoking misanthrope classmate who has her own revelation at the event. If the Reagan administration was rough on you and you have mixed feelings about pastels, this is a film with some potential feel-good value.—Amy Glynn


21. The Oath
Year: 2018
Director: Ike Barinholtz

The Oath is a cutting indictment of all sides, reserving the most resentment for itself—or at least for writer-director Ike Barinholtz, who makes a dark comedy about a news-obsessed upper-middle-class woke white man, an identity which many of us both claim and resent ourselves for claiming. Which is why, even if you don’t fulfill all of the preceding quantifiers, the film can feel so painfully, hilariously relatable: It’s about being angry all the time when you have no real reason to be—about seeing the world so cynically you make the lives of everyone around you, everyone you love, just that much more miserable.—Dom Sinacola


20. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Year: 2010
Director: Eli Craig

Let’s face it, hillbillies and their ilk have been getting the short end of the pitchfork in movies since the strains of banjo music faded in 1972’s Deliverance. And whether due to radiation (The Hills Have Eyes) or just good old determined inbreeding (Wrong Turn and so, so many films you’re better off not knowing about), the yokel-prone in film have really enjoyed slaughtering innocent families on vacation, travelers deficient in basic map usage skills, and, best of all, sexually active college students just looking for a good time. But fear not, members of Hillbillies for Inclusion, Consideration & Kindness in Screenplays (HICKS)—writer/director Eli Craig has your hairy, unloofahed back. His film, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, answers the simple question: What if those hillbillies are just socially awkward fellows sprucing up a vacation home and the young college kids in question are just prone to repeatedly jumping to incorrect, often fatal, conclusions? Think Final Destination meets the Darwin Awards.—Michael Burgin


19. While You Were Sleeping
Year: 1995
Director: Jon Turteltaub

While You Were Sleeping, a throwback romantic comedy in the screwball mode, is impossible not to like, a standout of the genre that holds up more than two decades after its release. More kind-hearted than My Best Friend’s Wedding and more grounded than Return to Me, the film turns a daffy plot into something touching and compulsively watchable. Much of the film’s appeal can be attributed to Sandra Bullock’s performance as Lucy, a lonely CTA employee who moved to Chicago with her ailing father, put her future on hold and never returned to it once he died. (That character description alone is enough to set this film apart from so many “high-powered lawyer” romantic comedies.) Lucy takes tokens from and pines for well-dressed lawyer Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher) before—long story short—he ends up in a coma. His family (comprising a number of delightful character actors) assumes she’s his fiancée, “adopting” her as one of theirs, but of course she falls in love with Peter’s furniture-building, salt-of-the-earth brother Jack (Bill Pullman). Aside from its focus on the El and life as a CTA employee (“I sit in a booth like a veal,” Lucy snaps), the film showcases the frigid-yet-twinkly reality of Chicago at Christmas, from Lucy hauling a tree up to her apartment in Logan Square, to exploring Peter’s swanky pad on Lake Shore Drive, to taking a freezing walk with Jack past the Chicago River, always quick to exploit the slapstick possibilities of Chicago cold.——Maura McAndrew


18. The Baxter
Year: 2005
Director: Michael Showalter

Showalter’s feature debut as a writer-director was poised to announce Showalter as a serious comedic film talent (not to mention re-affirm his penchant for ensembling, bringing on Wet Hot American Summer co-stars Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Zak Orth and Michael Ian Black). Instead, it’s a strange film, its tone a jumble of romantic comedy tropes, typical Showalter-Wain irony and real sad-sack dejection. That uneasy mixture may be why the film grossed a mere $180,000 and change, or in industry jargon, approximately .0129 the gross of Osmosis Jones. Too bad—The Baxter holds up as a unique, sometimes discomfiting experience about how things rarely work out the way they do in the movies.—Corey Beasley


17. Young Adult
Year: 2011
Director: Jason Reitman 

Four years after Juno Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody reteamed for the smarter, funnier, and all around less annoying Young Adult. Charlize Theron clearly savors the chance to play the kind of disastrous midlife crisis typically reserved only for men, as a formerly successful young adult novelist struggling with alcoholism, depression and writer’s block. Patton Oswalt delivers the kind of tragicomic turn he excels at as the the bullied nerd Theron used to look down at in high school. Young Adult explores how paralyzing life can be when you lose sight of a future and regret everything in your past, in a poignant and darkly hilarious fashion.—Garrett Martin


16. Hairspray
Year: 1988
Director: John Waters

There’s a reason John Waters’ subversive throwback to American Bandstand and the fight for racial integration has since spawned a Broadway show, a popular film remake and a live TV musical: The most “accessible” film of the legendary queer director’s wide-ranging career may not be as unsettling as the decade’s other leer at postwar Americana (Blue Velvet), but it nonetheless manages to smuggle a range of radical ideas about race, gender and the importance of teen culture past the censors in Tracy Turnblad’s “flamboyant flip.” Set in Baltimore in 1962, Hairspray follows Tracy (Ricki Lake) as her determination to appear on The Corny Collins Show becomes a quest to de-segregate the city’s most beloved cultural institutions, aided by her best friend, Penny (Leslie Ann Powers); her boyfriend, Seaweed (Clayton Prince); Seaweed’s mother, Motormouth Maybelle (Ruth Brown); heartthrob Link Larkin (Michael St. Gerard); and (ultimately, reluctantly) her overbearing mother, Edna (Divine). But it’s not simply a paean to interracial cooperation, or a piece of bubblegum nostalgia for the heyday of rock ‘n’ roll: Befitting Waters’ bomb-throwing sensibilities, the film’s denouement raises the specter of white supremacist terror, and with it the unseemly truth that it’s often supported by the most “respectable” among us. In this sense, if Hairspray is a throwback, it’s one that refuses to forget the nation’s blemishes—a camp-inflected, brightly colored, broadly funny knife into the heart of the system, sealed with a matinee kiss. —Matt Brennan


15. Kingpin
Year: 1996
Directors: Bobby and Peter Farrelly

Kingpin is probably the best movie ever made about bowling, which is kind of sad, since it’s basically making fun of bowling. Okay, it doesn’t completely disrespect the sport that Dick Weber and Earl Anthony made famous, but we’re clearly supposed to find the milieu of competitive bowling (both professional and underground) inherently hilarious. This isn’t the strongest script for a Farrelly movie (it’s one of two live-action films they directed where they don’t get a writing credit) but it might be funniest thanks to great performances by Bill Murray, Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid. Murray’s as amazing as ever, but it’s Woody’s movie, and one of his best film roles.—Garrett Martin


14. In a World
Year: 2013
Director: Lake Bell

Lake Bell’s directorial debut has heart, soul and a message without getting too preachy. In a World… is an examination of the male-dominated world of the voice-over industry. It opens with a short introduction to the men behind the microphone, including the late Don LaFontaine, who voiced more than 5,000 movie trailers during his career. It’s LaFontaine’s passing that sets the film in motion: Who will become the industry’s next godfather? Veteran voice actor Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed) says he doesn’t want the mantle, so instead grooms golden boy Gustav (Ken Marino) to win the next big gig. When his underachieving daughter Carol (Bell) finds herself also in the running for the quadrilogy, Sotto breaks his promise to groom Gustav and throws his own hat into the ring. It gets ultra-competitive with both hilarious and heart-breaking moments. In a World… provides great insight into the voice-over industry, but Bell does an even better job of bringing fresh characters, interesting relationship dynamics and multiple storylines to the screen through a crisp script that doesn’t pander to the audience.—Christine N. Ziemba


13. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Year: 1994
Director: Mike Newell

The first of several Richard Curtis-penned rom-coms starring Hugh Grant, Four Weddings and a Funeral follows our favorite bumbling Englishman as he repeatedly runs into the love of his life at—you guessed it—four weddings and a funeral. While much of the movie is lighthearted and some of it borders on cheesy (see Andie MacDowell’s infamous “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed” line in its finale), its graver moments, like Fiona (Kristen Scott Thomas) dealing with unrequited love or the titular funeral, remind us that love may be goofy and complicated and wonderful, but finding that one true love is serious business. The Academy agreed, nominating the film for Best Picture in a stacked year that included Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. —Bonnie Stiernberg


12. Cable Guy
Year: 1996
Director: Ben Stiller 

Ben Stiller  and Judd Apatow’s black comedy faltered at the box office, but it quickly became a cult classic due to Jim Carrey’s uncharacteristically dark performance and cameos by a who’s who of mid ‘90s alternative comedy greats. It’s a de facto Ben Stiller Show reunion, with Stiller, Bob Odenkirk, Janeane Garofalo and Andy Dick all putting in memorable appearances. Between Odenkirk, David Cross and Jack Black, it also felt like a bit of Mr. Show on the big screen, at a time when that HBO series was still new and unheralded. Cable Guy isn’t worth watching because of the other shows it’ll make you think of, though. It’s a hilarious movie in its own right, almost as cringeworthy and unsettling as Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, but not quite as violent or malevolent.—Garrett Martin


11. I, Tonya
Year: 2017
Director: Craig Gillespie

The triple axel was Tonya Harding’s greatest trick—and making an audience think that it’s a comedy of some sort is I, Tonya’s. Craig Gillespie’s infuriating and entrancingly brilliant biopic gives its subject control, and with fury, glibness, regret and a smirk, Tonya (Margot Robbie) and the many others in her life spin her story, detailing the ways that trauma (and class marginality) has affected and shaped her. Scenes of abuse—in which Tonya is often pummeled by both her mom (Allison Janney) and her husband, Jeff (Sebastian Stan)—are bracingly uncomfortable but cut with snark, and the film then has the gall to ask why you could possibly be laughing at such a horrible thing. I, Tonya dares to embody a camp aesthetic and immediately rebuke it, making sure that everything about it, from its skating scenes—dizzingly filmed as if her skill should be admired, but without actually detailing the technical aspects of what she’s doing, as if to mimic white queer men and how they talk about character actresses—to its genre packaging (part wannabe gangster film, part confessional documentary), smears the ironic quotation marks of its framework with blood, sweat and tears: a roar and a snarl and a declaration of defiance. —Kyle Turner


10. Moonstruck
Year: 1987
Director: Norman Jewison

“Snap out of it!” A rom-com with a genuinely romantic sensibility (the hopeless kind), Moonstruck is a basically undeniably adorable comedy about chance, family and what it means to “settle.” Pragmatic widow Loretta (Cher) agrees to marry a nice sensible guy (Danny Aiello), but soon finds herself in a sitch with his passionate and mercurial younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage). Cher’s comedic chops are not insignificant, and the chemistry between her and Cage is great. The film has an incredible wealth of wonderful supporting performers (perhaps most notably Olympia Dukakis, who plays Cher’s mother). Norman Jewison’s directorial sensibility here might not qualify as “high art” but it’s a damn fine rom-com, with crackling dialogue, tons of energy and seductively likable characters: Apaean to the joys and inevitable sorrows of dealing with your family, this film has spirit and smarts and soul. And a certain image of Cher in opera garb kicking a beer can up a silent Brooklyn street that one could be forgiven for characterizing as “iconic.” —Amy Glynn


9. Up in Smoke
Year: 1978
Director: Lou Adler

Between Adler’s inexperience, the influence of Robert Altman’s intentionally shambolic aesthetic, and Cheech & Chong’s trademark pot humor, Up in Smoke is a comedy that’s exceptionally loose and shaggy. It’s essentially a series of vignettes based around the duo’s love of drugs and music, largely adapted from their series of hit stand-up albums. Like a lot of first-time movies by popular comedians, it’s less interested in creating a unified film than in capturing the essence of what made Cheech & Chong popular in the first place. That’s made it both an artifact of a very specific time and place, but also a comedy that has transcended its era and remained relevant for decades.—Garrett Martin


8. Colossal
Year: 2016
Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Colossal is simply a much darker, more serious-minded film than one could possibly go in expecting, judging from the marketing materials and rather misleading trailers. It blooms into a story about sacrifice and martyrdom, while simultaneously featuring an array of largely unlikable characters who are not “good people” in any measurable way. I understand that description sounds at odds with itself—this film is often at odds with itself. But in the cognitive dissonance this creates, it somehow finds a streak of feminist individuality and purpose it couldn’t have even attempted to seek as a straight-up comedy. —Jim Vorel


7. Sorry to Bother You
Year: 2018
Director: Boots Riley

Sorry to Bother You has so many ideas busting out of every seam, so much ambition, so much it so urgently wants to say, that it feels almost churlish to point out that the movie ends up careening gloriously out of control. This is rapper and producer Boots Riley’s first movie, and it shows, in every possible way—good, bad, incredible, ridiculous—as if he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to make another one, so he threw every idea he ever had into this. There are moments in Sorry To Bother You that will make you want to jump giddily around the theater. There are also moments that will make you wonder who in the world gave this lunatic a camera. (Some of those moments are pretty giddy too.) The former far outnumbers the latter. Lakeith Stanfield plays Cassius, a good-hearted guy who feels like his life is getting away from him and thus tries his hand at telemarketing, failing at it (in a series of fantastic scenes in which his desk literally drops into the homes of whomever he is dialing) until a colleague (Danny Glover, interesting until the movie drops him entirely) recommends he use his “white voice” on calls. Suddenly, Stanfield sounds exactly like David Cross at his most nasally and has become a superstar at the company, which leads him “upstairs,” where “supercallers” like him go after the Glengarry leads. That is just the launching off point: Throughout, we meet a Tony Robbins-type entrepreneur (Armie Hammer) who might also be a slave trader, Cassius’s radical artist girlfriend (Tessa Thompson), who wears earrings with so many mottos it’s a wonder she can hold up her head, and a revolutionary co-worker (Stephen Yeun) trying to rile the workers into rebelling against their masters. There are lots of other people too, and only some of them are fully human. It’s quite a movie. —Will Leitch


6. Wayne’s World
Year: 1992
Director: Penelope Spheeris

Don’t blame Wayne’s World for everything that came after it. Yeah, Blues Brothers came first, but the smash success of Wayne’s World spawned a torrent of malformed movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches that ran throughout the 1990s. Wayne’s World was the first and the best by such a large margin that it’s basically impossible to even quantify. Under the guidance of Penelope Spheeris, Wayne’s World was a smart pop culture parody that nicely dovetailed into the anti-corporate sentiments of post-Nirvana alternative culture. It’s also hilarious, the best work of Mike Myers’ career.—Garrett Martin


5. The Royal Tenenbaums
Year: 2001
Director: Wes Anderson 

Wes Anderson’s first two films took place in the Texas of his youth. The Royal Tenenbaums moves his storytelling to his adopted city of New York. And the story is one that bridges childhood and adulthood and the tremendous effects one has upon the other. The “Royal” in the title refers to Gene Hackman’s character. Royal Tenenbaum is the patriarch of a family of childhood prodigies: Chas (Ben Stiller), a math genius with a head for business; Richie (Luke Wilson), a tennis star; and adoptive daughter Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), a playwright. The movie begins with Royal announcing his separation from his wife, Etheline (Anjelica Huston) before picking up years later with the children having gone on to great success and failure. As Etheline prepares to re-marry to her longtime accountant (Danny Glover), Royal announces that he has stomach cancer and attempts to reconcile with the family he abandoned. The family disfunction and struggle for redemption would become hallmarks of Anderson’s oeuvre, but here, with a talented cast that also included frequent collaborators Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Kumar Pallana, the auteur’s gift for wringing humor out of hopelessness is unmatched. As every piece of set dressing, every item of clothing seems and every symmetrical camera frame seems painstakingly managed, the characters are spiraling out of control; their despair is deeply felt, and their redemption serves as a euphoric release. It’s a beautiful movie both visually and emotionally and remains Anderson’s crowning achievement after all these years. —Josh Jackson


4. Heathers
Year: 1988
Director: Michael Lehmann

Heathers might look like another teen comedy, but it’s probably the darkest and most brutal movie on this list. It’s a cynical deconstruction of the typical high school comedy, turning peer pressure fatal and elevating the stakes from social lives to actual lives. It smartly subverts one of the stalest genres of comedy, and still remains edgy 30 years later.—Garrett Martin


3. Four Lions
Year: 2010
Director: Chris Morris

Four Lions proves once again that great comedy can be extracted from the dodgiest and most painful subjects, mixing slapstick with dry British humor to tell the story of four would-be radical Islamic terrorists hell-bent on bringing down the evil capitalist heathen of the West. Only one problem (well, a couple of them): They have no real connections, skills, or ability to plan anything, suffering from varying degrees of resolve when it comes to blowing themselves up for their cause. In other words, they are terrible at their dream jobs. As unrelenting as Four Lions can be in the way that it pokes fun of its central four characters, they film never adopts a farcical tone, instead never shying from the dangerous ramifications of their actions, no matter how incompetently they go about them. Deftly executed by co-writer/director Christopher Morris, who should be known States-side as the neurotic boss during the first season of The IT Crowd, and a pre-mopey, pre-The Night Of Riz Ahmed in a hilarious leading turn, Four Lions demonstrates a careful, masterful directorial hand. Plus it contains the best line about suicide bombing in any movie: “His soul will reach heaven before his head hits the ceiling.” —Oktay Ege Kozak


2. Office Space
Year: 1999
Director: Mike Judge

Great comedy almost always has a dark heart. (The flipside is also true of great horror: It almost always teeters on the edge of farce). But this makes sense: Laughter is our response to absurd and unexpected contradictions; comedy needs its darkness to fully flourish. Mike Judge, the writer/director of Office Space, knows this well. His humor concerns the lowest, saddest schmucks on the corporate ladder (thus 99% of us can relate) who mostly feel dead inside, turning to Kung Fu films and cheap beer to escape. It’s a subject as old as capitalism itself: Most of us are unhappy, not doing what we want, feeling our dreams escaping us more and more with each passing day. For protagonist Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), his goal is a subversive joy: Independently, from no wellspring of societal angst (unlike, say, The Graduate’s Benjamin Braddock), he wants to do nothing. And besides being a hilarious antidote to scores of predictable, cookie-cutter hyperactive hero-protagonists, his needs feel absolutely real, and is what the corporate rat race deserves in an anti-hero. The do-gooder replaced by the do-nothing. It also helps that Judge has a cast perfectly on board with his tone. Together, they turn caricature into depth, a cartoon into vivid life. —Harold Brodie


1. Caddyshack
Year: 1980
Director: Harold Ramis
There are four faces on that poster to the left, and all of them are equally crucial to Caddyshack’s enduring popularity. From Ted Knight’s aristocratic bluster, to Rodney Dangerfield’s irreverent populism, to the glib playboy Chevy Chase, to Bill Murray’s iconic idiot, Caddyshack has one of the greatest casts of any comedy in memory. Add in a sharp script from National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney and amiably shaggy direction from Harold Ramis, and you have an all-time classic.—Garrett Martin

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