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. 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
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. Anger Management
Director Peter Segal
Adam Sandler’s steady downward slide was momentarily halted almost entirely because of Jack Nicholson. The Hollywood legend unleashed his malevolent side as an unconventional therapist helping Sandler overcome his rage issues. Nicholson’s charisma—and the perverse appeal of seeing him in such a low stakes, low brow comedy—is a fine antidote to the increasing laziness of the Sandler formula. Nichoson’s not the only legitimately great actor in this movie—in addition to talented Sandler regulars like John Turturro and Luis Guzman, the cast also includes Woody Harrelson, Harry Dean Stanton, John C. Reilly, and, in a true coup, acting legend Rudy Giuliani.—Garrett Martin
23. Larger Than Life
Director: Howard Franklin
Yes, this is that elephant movie. If you want to know how great Bill Murray was during his ‘90s revival, just watch this movie, which is better than it ever should’ve been due to Murray. It’s nowhere near the brilliant level of his Quick Change / What About Bob? / Groundhog Day trifecta, but Murray’s so comfortable in his routine, which somehow has never really grown old, that he’s able to almost save this thoroughly mediocre movie. Arriving the same year as Kingpin, this was essentially Murray’s farewell to straight comedy, unless you count the Garfield movies, for some reason.—Garrett Martin
22. Ace Ventura Pet Detective
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
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