The Best Comedies on Hulu Right Now (November 2020)

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The Best Comedies on Hulu Right Now (November 2020)

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. With not just comedy, but all genres, Hulu tends to offer a more diverse set of films than Netflix, with something for all tastes and ages.

Hulu’s lost some of our absolute favorite comedies recently, including all of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries. Yep, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, and the rest are now gone. And Hot Rod—sweet, lovable Hot Rod—has crashed his last bike on Hulu, at least for the moment. Bummer! At least it’s added some classics, though, including Superbad, Back to School, Broadcast News, and Knocked Up.

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.

Here are the funniest movies on Hulu today as of November 2020, listed in alphabetical order.

Back to School


movie poster back to school.jpg
Year: 1986
Director: Alan Metter
Stars: Rodney Dangerfield, Sally Kellerman, Keith Gordon, Burt Young, Robert Downey Jr., M. Emmet Walsh, Adrienne Barbeau, Ned Beatty, Terry Farrell, Paxton Whitehead
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 minutes

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Rodney Dangerfield, an ideal populist buffoon, graduates from one of four leads in Caddyshack to the star of the show in Back to School. It’s an almost perfect vehicle for Dangerfield’s bluster, which worked so well not just because of his thorough disregard for society’s arbitrary rules but also because of the core of sadness that clearly lurked within. That hint of pathos, along with Dangerfield’s decades-honed schtick, elevates Back to School above most ‘80s college comedies.—Garrett Martin



Beach Bum


beach-bum-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Harmony Korine
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Martin Lawrence, Zac Efron, Jonah Hill
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 56%
Rating: R
Runtime: 95 minutes

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Witness Matthew McConaughey, transcending. Revel in it, because this has got to be as high as he goes. As Moondog, the opposite, arch nemesis perhaps, to the Matthew McConaughey of the Lincoln commercials—on TV the interstitial, nonchalant pool shark and connoisseur of fine leather everything, a man to whom one whispers courteously, in reverence between network shows—Matthew McConaughey realizes the full flat circle of his essence. The actor bears multitudes, and they all converge upon the befuddled Moondog, consummate inhuman and titular hobo of the southern sands of these United States. One could claim that Moondog’s hedonism represents a moral imperative to consume all that’s truly beautiful about life, and Moondog says as much even if he’s plagiarising D.H. Lawrence (which he admits to his best friend Lingerie, who’s carried on a long-time affair with Moondog’s wife, and who’s played by Snoop Dog in a career best performance). Speaking of Lawrence, Martin also gives a career-best performance as Captain Wack, dolphin lover; the film slides effortlessly into absurdity. One could claim, too, that Moondog’s little but a self-destructive addict somehow given a free pass to circumvent basic human responsibility altogether. One could claim that director Harmony Korine doesn’t believe in basic human responsibility anyway. He doesn’t claim much in the way of explicating Moondog’s whole way of being, doesn’t reserve any judgment for the man’s mantra and blissful lurch towards oblivion. Or annihilation. The uniform for which is casual, including JNCO jeans, brandished by Flicker (Zac Efron), with whom Moondog escapes the court-mandated rehab that seemingly does nothing to pierce the armor of intoxication Moondog’s spent his life reinforcing. Whether he’s protecting himself from any serious human connection or from the crass hellscape of capitalistic society—whether he’s deeply grieving a tragedy that occurs halfway through The Beach Bum, Harmony Korine’s masterpiece of feeling good in the face of feeling the worst, or avoiding all feeling completely—he’s still a bad dad. Or he’s an artist. Or a saint. Or he’s from a different dimension, as his wife (Isla Fisher) explains to their daughter, as she most likely always has, against a breathtaking vista followed not long after by a heartbreaking sunset, both photographed by Benoît Debie, in Miami of all places, all magnificent and hollow, the film a hagiography for the end of history. —Dom Sinacola



Booksmart


booksmart-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Olivia Wilde
Stars: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Booksmart, the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde, is another journey down the halls of a wealthy high school days before graduation, but it’s different enough to be endearing. Written by an all-female writing team—Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman—it centers on life-long besties Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) as they attempt to party one time before the end of high school. Wilde and company draw from a whimsical, rainbow palate to explore friendship at diverging roads. Feldstein and Dever shine as an odd couple. Molly wants to be the youngest person ever elected to the Supreme Court, while Amy seeks to discover what possibilities life may open up for her. Easily feeding off of one another’s energy, as Amy and Molly travel around town, jumping gatherings, trying to reach the ultimate cool kids’ party, they cross paths with a diverse array of students also attempting to hide their painfully obvious insecurities. As the night progresses, those masks begin to slip, and the person each of these students is striving to become begins to emerge. The pendulum of teen girl movies swings typically from Clueless—girl-powered, cutesy, high-fashion first-love-centered—to Thirteen, the wild, angry, depressed and running from all genuine emotion kind of movie. Most of these films lay in the space of heteronormative, white, upper or middle class, and able-bodied representation. Even in films centered on otherness, like Bend It Like Beckham, the white best friend is given equal space in the advertising of the film, and the original queer angle was written out in favor of a love triangle. Visit nearly any segment of the internet visited by Millennial, Gen X, and Gen Z women, and the cry for better representation is loud and clear. There’s a fresh-faced newness of raw talent in Booksmart that begs to be a touchstone for the next generation of filmmakers. Like Wes Anderson’s Rushmore or Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides, Booksmart is an experience cinema enthusiasts will revisit again and again. —Joelle Monique



Broadcast News

broadcast-news.jpg
Year: 1987
Director: James Brooks
Stars: William Hurt, Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter, Robert Prosky, Joan Cusack
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Rating: R
Runtime: 132 minutes

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Broadcast News, against the backdrop of television news, lets play out that age-old cinematic gold mine: the love triangle. But rather than remain just a backdrop, the profession of journalism is the key to our three main characters’ identities: Jane (Holly Hunter) is an extremely driven producer, known for being cool under pressure and unwaveringly excellent at her job; Aaron (Albert Brooks as uber-mensch) is her steadfast partner at work, an intrepid reporter whose dynamism in the field remains overlooked; and then there’s Tom (William Hurt), the new pretty boy anchor way more clever than he seems. Aaron and Tom’s battle for career recognition, as well as Jane’s affection, mirrors the constant balance television journalists must strike between entertainment and hard news. And in typical Brooks fashion, there is no easy resolution to that balance. —Maura McAndrew



Chicken Run

chicken-run.jpg Year: 2000
Director: Peter Lord, Nick Park
Stars: Voices of Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Tony Haygarth, Julia Sawalha
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Rating: G
Runtime: 85 minutes

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If any of the brilliant Wallace and Gromit films aren’t on Netflix Instant, then Chicken Run (made by the same Aardmspacan Animations studios) is certainly the next best thing. The 2000 movie should hardly be classified as a consolation prize, though—with its unique stop-motion clay animation and slapstick sense of humor, this story of a group of chickens who plot their escape from a farm mill provides just as many genuinely hilarious moments as it does thrilling action sequences. It’s an impressive feat of both animation and storytelling, with some spot-on voice acting to boot—what’s not to love about Mel Gibson voicing a slick Rhode Island Red named Rocky?—John Riti



Drinking Buddies


drinking-buddies.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Joe Swanberg
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Rating: R
Runtime: 90 minutes

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If you feel compelled to go full indie and can’t stand love stories with tidy, happy endings, Drinking Buddies should be your pick. It’s an unconventional romance in that most of the characters never commit to the relationships or infidelities we expect them to. Instead, it’s about temptation, the lies we tell ourselves in a relationship and the boundaries between friendship and romantic feelings. A scion of—but not full-fledged entry into—the mumblecore genre, its largely improvised dialog lends an air of reality to the conversations, but those expecting typical genre conventions may find themselves perplexed when you don’t get anything resembling the “wedding bells” ending of the typical romantic comedy.—Jim Vorel



Evil Dead II

evil-dead-2-poster.jpg Year: 1987
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Richard Domeier
Rating: R
Runtime: 84 minutes

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On the surface, Evil Dead II is essentially a remake of the first 1981 Evil Dead: Sam Raimi going back to an idea he clearly enjoyed with a bigger budget and more experience to “get it right” by upping the ante of the original. But Raimi also offers up some tweaks that fundamentally alter the nature and tone of the first film, changing the recipe from “horror with occasional moments of black comedy” to a more even mix of both that still doesn’t skimp on scares or guts. Bruce Campbell as Ash goes from being almost a passive “final girl” character in the first film to a much more capable, wisecracking hero right from the get-go, and significantly more of the film features him in a tour-de-force solo performance, which helps make Evil Dead 2 one of the most tightly paced horror films ever. It wastes no time, going straight into its comic violence within the first 10 minutes and never letting up. It’s a film indicative of the changing attitude toward zombies—at this point in the late ’80s it’s becoming rare that zombies are ever treated as simply “scary.” More and more frequently, they’re instead incorporated into madcap comedies and action films à la Evil Dead, and this is a trend that continued through the ’90s. —Jim Vorel



Heathers


heathers.jpg Year: 1989
Director: Michael Lehmann
Stars: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Kim Walker
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

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As much an homage to ’80s teen romps—care of stalwarts like John Hughes and Cameron Crowe—as it is an attempt to push that genre to its near tasteless extremes, Heathers is a hilarious glimpse into the festering core of the teenage id, all sunglasses and cigarettes and jail bait and misunderstood kitsch. Like any coming-of-age teen soap opera, much of the film’s appeal is in its vaunting of style over substance—coining whole ways of speaking, dressing and posturing for an impressionable generation brought up on Hollywood tropes—but Heathers embraces its style as an essential keystone to filmmaking, recognizing that even the most bloated melodrama can be sold through a well-manicured image. And some of Heathers’ images are indelible: J.D. (Christian Slater) whipping out a gun on some school bullies in the lunch room, or Veronica (Winona Ryder) passively lighting her cigarette with the flames licking from the explosion of her former boyfriend. It makes sense that writer Daniel Waters originally wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct his script: Heathers is a filmmaker’s (teen) film. —Dom Sinacola



Hunt for the Wilderpeople


hunt-for-wilderpeople.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Taika Waititi
Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Rhys Darby
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Bella’s (Rima Te Wiata) first encounter with Ricky (Julian Dennison), the new foster child she’s agreed to take on, doesn’t inspire confidence, especially with her clumsy jokes at the expense of his weight. In turn, with child-services representative Paula (Rachel House) painting Ricky as an unruly wild child, one dreads the prospect of seeing the kid walk all over this possibly in-over-her-head mother. But Bella wears him down with kindness. And Ricky ends up less of a tough cookie than he—with his fondness for gangsta rap and all that implies—initially tried to project. An adaptation of Barry Crump’s novel Wild Pork and Watercress, Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople thrives on upending preconceived notions. The director shows sympathy for Ricky’s innocence, which is reflected in the film’s grand-adventure style. Cinematographer Lachlan Milne’s sweeping, colorful panoramas and a chapter-based narrative structure gives Hunt for the Wilderpeople the feel of a storybook fable, but thanks to the warm-hearted dynamic between Ricky and Hec (Sam Neill), even the film’s most whimsical moments carry a sense of real underlying pain: Both of these characters are outsiders ultimately looking for a home to call their own. —Kenji Fujishima



I, Tonya


ITonya-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Craig Gillespie
Stars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Caitlin Carver, Bobby Cannavale, Paul Walter Hauser
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

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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



Ingrid Goes West


ingrid_goes_west_poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Matt Spicer
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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In her post-Parks and Rec career—wherein the crux of her performance was rolling her eyes—and relegated to typecasted roles like Life After Beth and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Aubrey Plaza has gone as far as she can with that kind of material. But in Ingrid Goes West she finds a seed of something so much more complicated, her talents are able to elevate the script to a new plane. Playing Ingrid, whose mental illness allows her social media activity to consume her life and the lives of those around her, Plaza unearths curious, complicated gradations in the character, one that could be easily written off as a weirdo freak. What Plaza senses in Ingrid, as the character desperately tries to become something else, hiding her vulnerability beneath layers of social (media) performance, is the ostensibly monstrous morphed into the deeply human. Plaza’s facial contortions alone, swooning with desperation and desire, lift her performance, and the film, to the ranks of the great queer personality-swap films like Ingmar Bergman’s Persona and David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. —Kyle Turner



Knocked Up

hulu knocked up.jpg Year: 2007
Director: Judd Apatow
Stars: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill
Genre: Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Rating: R
Runtime: 129 minutes

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For its many schlubby white-man sins—and its wolf-in-dog’s-clothing conservatism—Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up performs the essential romantic-comedy service of focusing on, in drawn-out detail, the consequences of not taking responsibility for oneself in any relationship. Though Alison (Katherine Heigl), television “journalist” and career-minded modern woman, is mostly just an impetus for a typical 20-something dude (Seth Rogen) to learn that it’s important to read a book sometimes instead of going out and getting drunk—Heigl’s character satisfied, despite all of her ambition, with someone whose only demonstrable sense of action is to read said book instead of going out and getting drunk—the two still have a very surprisingly ample amount of chemistry together. Which may just be that particularly Apatowan aspect of romantic comedies at its epitome—namely, that we’re willing to overlook a lot of bad storytelling if we like the characters despite ourselves. —Dom Sinacola



Mister America


mister_america_poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Eric Notarnicola
Stars: Tim Heidecker, Gregg Turkington
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%
Rating: R
Runtime: 86 minutes

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Is On Cinema the greatest comedy epic of the 21st century? Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington’s sprawling network of web shows, podcasts, Oscar specials, Adult Swim spinoffs, and live trial coverage started as a bone dry parody of podcasting and has somehow grown into a self-contained comedic universe as detailed as Scharpling and Wurster’s town of Newbridge, New Jersey. It even spawned a feature film, Mister America, a mockumentary account of Heidecker’s campaign to be the district attorney of San Bernardino County. You don’t need to have seen the preceding decade or so of On Cinema to get the movie—it quickly recaps this version of Heidecker’s legal troubles, and establishes his psychopathic arrogance and talk radio-informed ideology in broad strokes—but it will hit a lot stronger if you have. It’s Heidecker’s film, but Turkington might be the MVP, with his perfect depiction of a proud film buff with zero taste and an endless thirst for movie trivia.—Garrett Martin



The Nice Guys

the_nice_guys_poster.jpg
Year: 2016
Directors: Shane Black
Stars: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley, Keith David
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Rating: R
Runtime: 116 minutes

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Good performances can polish average movies with just enough elbow grease they end up looking like gems. Think Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, or Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Every advance that Shane Black’s The Nice Guys takes toward quality is made on the strengths of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Black is as quick with action scenes as with punchlines. The Nice Guys is funny. It’s exciting. If you find yourself growing tired of wordplay, Black will turn things around and slide in some Three Stooges slapstick. If you get tired of that, he’ll set off a gun or throw a few punches, though it is impossible to imagine anybody finding the clownish sight of Gosling tumbling off of balconies or crashing through plate glass tiresome. Gosling and Crowe are a great pair, so great that their team-up should justify funding for a buddy picture series where Holland and Jackson undertake jobs that spiral out of hand and above their pay grades. Crowe plays it straight and grumpy, and you half expect him to declare that he’s too old for this shit at any given moment. Gosling, on the other hand, shapes Holland through boozy tomfoolery and pratfalls. They’re a standout odd couple, but Black’s films are defined by great odd couples as much as they are by great scripting. In The Nice Guys, he leaves it up to Gosling and Crowe to use the former to fill in the gaps left behind by the lack of the latter.—Andy Crump



Palm Springs

palm_springs_poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Max Barbakow
Stars: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, June Squib, Conner O’Malley, Jena Friedman
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Rating: R
Runtime: 87 minutes

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Imagine living the same day of your life over and over, stuck within an hour and a half of Los Angeles but so closely nestled in paradise’s bosom that the drive isn’t worth the fuel. Now imagine that “over and over” extends beyond a number the human mind is capable of appreciating. Paradise becomes a sun-soaked Hell, a place endured and never escaped, where pizza pool floats are enervating torture devices and crippling alcoholism is a boon instead of a disease. So goes Max Barbakow’s Palm Springs.

The film never stops being funny, even when the mood takes a downturn from zany good times to dejection. This is key. Even when the party ends and the reality of the scenario sinks in for its characters, Palm Springs continues to fire jokes at a steady clip, only now they are weighted with appropriate gravity for a movie about two people doomed to maintain a holding pattern on somebody else’s happiest day. Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned time loop to force folks trapped in neutral to get retrospective on their personal statuses.—Andy Crump



Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

peeweebigadventureposter.jpg Year: 1985
Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 92 minutes

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Tim Burton’s full-length directorial debut is also one of his best. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure brings us into the bizarro world of Pee-wee Herman, the excitable, ageless protagonist that’s hopelessly attached to his bike. After it’s stolen in broad daylight, we see Herman travel across the U.S. to reclaim his baby. And through the adventure and its ongoing discoveries (who knew the Alamo didn’t have a basement?) we’re introduced to unforgettable characters like Herman; his (sort-of) love interest, Dottie; the horrifying trucker ghost Large Marge; the snotty, rich Francis; and Herman’s dog, Speck. Herman’s wacky world is fully realized through the eye of Burton, and this one stands alone as a film that kids and adults can both get a kick out of.—Tyler Kane



Sorry to Bother You


sorry-to-bother-you-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Boots Riley
Stars: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Stephen Yeun, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Terry Crews, Danny Glover
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

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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



Superbad

superbad poster.png Year: 2007
Director: Greg Mottola
Stars: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Emma Stone, Martha MacIsaac
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Rating: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

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Every generation of teens has its generation of teen movies, and Greg Mottola’s Superbad is the epitome of mine. In Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), my friends and I had a mirror for our own insecurity and awkwardness—they were our modern-day Anthony Michael Halls. In Fogell/McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), we had an icon of weird who somehow ended up a winner, a sort of photonegative of Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick). And in Superbad’s constant dick jokes (care of a script by namesakes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg), we had an accurate representation of the way we all talked, maturity be damned. The film would join the pantheon of mid-2000s comedies—most notably Anchorman and Step Brothers—that created a white-adolescent-boy language made up entirely of lewd, absurd references. It’s a rom-com in many respects, but unlike its predecessors, Superbad is a romance between two buddies, a story wherein the ostensible sex drive is secondary to Platonic need. Most of John Hughes’ ’80s oeuvre centers on the cringe-worthy struggle of X character getting Y other character to notice their existence in order to have Y inevitably fall for X. No matter what else Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink have to say, their endgame remains Molly Ringwald getting with the correct Good Guy. Ditto Amy Heckerling’s iconic contributions to the genre, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, and the literary reimaginings (Ten Things I Hate About You, et. al.) that followed in the latter’s wake. In Superbad, Seth and Evan’s versions of the Good Guy aren’t Jules (a precocious Emma Stone) and Becca (Martha MacIsaac): they’re each other. In the film’s denouement, with the two leads snuggled up close in sleeping bags, Seth literally says, “I just wanna go to the rooftops and scream, ‘I love my best friend, Evan.’” For teenage boys struggling with anxiety over the seeming hopelessness of losing their virginity, Superbad provides a welcome respite, an acknowledgement that focusing your entire life upon your dick is pointless when there’s fulfillment to be had by your side the entire time. —Zach Blumenfeld



The Oath


hulu poster the oath.jpg
Year: 2018
Director: Ike Barinholtz
Stars: Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Carrie Brownstein
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

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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



The Sisters Brothers

the_Sisters_brothers_poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Jacques Audiard
Stars: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Carol Kane, Rutger Hauer
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

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The Sisters Brothers, Jacques Audiard’s eighth, and first English-language, film as director, begins with violence of mythical, gunslinger proportions—the voice of Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) declaring the title of the film as a warning, followed by the yellow flash of gunshots between the opaque blackness of the American frontier—only to pull apart that myth as the film winds down to a warm end. A deconstructionist take on the Western is nothing starkly new, but Audiard pays careful attention not just to the moral repugnance at the heart of American expansionism, but to the physical repugnance as well, filling The Sisters Brothers with bad teeth, horse death, vomit full of spiders, sweaty surgery and the general sentiment that living in the Oregonian and Californian wilderness in 1851 was a mostly difficult, dangerous, gross-ass endeavor. For Charlie and Eli (John C. Reilly) Sisters, the West fits their lawless acumen well, at least to the extent that indiscriminate murder, bounty hunting, projected daddy issues and nature tracking provide them with a living wage. Though Charlie thrives in the outlaw lifestyle, drinking and whoring through one tiny town after another, Eli hopes for better things, whatever that may be—a family, perhaps, with the school teacher who gave him the red handkerchief he wears around his neck—fed up with fearing for their lives and sleeping on the ground and nursing his brother’s hangovers, despite how good they’ve become at what they do. Handsomely, Audiard finds salvation for the brothers via camaraderie and femininity (Carol Kane appears, as if from a half-remembered dream), which isn’t so much subversive as it is refreshing, his Western anti-Western gently lulling into something that operates less like a genre flick and more like Oscar bait. Too often, Eli speaks of his brother as someone who needs to change, who is changing, who has changed; the old ways are dying, and Charlie’s too easily trapped within a cycle of violence and degradation. Audiard wants to offer a way out—for his characters, and for us, too—but his way out is much too traditional to make a difference. —Dom Sinacola



The Skeleton Twins

skeleton-twins.jpg Year: 2014
Director: Ted Manahan
Stars: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

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OK, I’ll admit it. I thought the hype around this film coming into Sundance was because everybody loved Saturday Night Live twins Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig so much that they’d overfluff an average movie. What I didn’t notice was that the film was directed (and co-written) by Craig Johnson, the man behind the underrated indie True Adolescents. Even had I realized that, I’m not sure i would have been prepared for what I saw — two fantastic performances from actors who had never really moved me before, a fantastic script that deservedly won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the end of the week, a couple of brilliant supporting turns from Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell, and a film with a heart as big as the moon, about two messed-up people just trying to get by. The characters move into and out of likeability, but the movie never does.—Michael Dunaway



A Simple Favor

a-simple-favor-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Paul Feig
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Jean Smart, Sarah Baker
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Rating: R
Runtime: 116 minutes

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Everything we know going into A Simple Favor suggests one of those Hitchcockian mysteries that blurs the lines between homage and emulation. Its premise and tone are right out of the Master of Suspense’s beginners’ playbook: Through a series of unfortunate choices or just plain bad luck, an average Joe or Jane, whom the audience projects themselves onto, gets sucked into a dangerous mystery that throws them completely out of their element and threatens their lives, leaving them with only their wits and survival instincts to get out of this madness unscathed. Director Paul Feig immediately eases us into this mood of light intrigue through a Saul Bass-inspired title sequence full of sliding split screens and uniformly pleasant colors, aided by peppy ’60s-ish French pop to smoothe out the intensity of the film’s thriller elements. Feig is primarily known as a comedy director who has a knack for improvisational R-rated banter between neurotic, but confident, female characters, and in A Simple Favor those characters participate in in a missing person thriller/mystery. Feig finds a way to keep it all fun and light, injecting well-earned humor even during the uneasiest moments. He can actually get away with capping a nerve-racking Mexican standoff with a slapstick dick punch. As messy and predictable as its plot can get, A Simple Favor is an engaging throwback to the aforementioned tongue-in-cheek mysteries, drawing much of its energy from the chemistry between Kendrick and Lively. It need not be anything more than that. —Oktay Ege Kozak



The Trip / The Trip to Italy / The Trip to Spain / The Trip to Greece

trip to italy poster.jpg Year: 2011 / 2014 / 2017 / 2020
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Claire Keelan
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89% / 87% / 83% / 87%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 107 minutes / 108 minutes / 111 minutes / 112 minutes

Watch on Hulu

Watch on Hulu

Watch on Hulu

Watch on Hulu

All four of Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon and Michael Winterbottom’s comedy travelogues are now streaming on Hulu. We’ve lumped them all together on this list not just because they are equally great and hilarious, but because, unlike many film series, they’re all improved by each other. The two actors’ relationships—with each other and with their families—slowly develop across the four films as if in real time, capturing the way old friendships tend to weather whatever momentary storms come their way. Watching two middle-aged men eat their way through scenic European vistas might not sound like a great recipe for laughs, but Coogan and Brydon are both brilliant comic minds, and together they have an easy and irresistible charm that makes their impression-heavy banter deeply enjoyable.—Garrett Martin



Up in the Air


CoverUpintheAir.jpg Year: 2009
Director: Jason Reitman
Stars: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Danny McBride, Jason Bateman, Melanie Lynskey
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Rating: R
Runtime: 109 minutes

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Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) lives his life traveling, and he loves it, even though his job is to fire workers for employers who can’t break the news themselves. The gig’s a downer, but at least he gets to fly. His remote boss is played by the great Jason Bateman, Vera Farmiga plays a fellow traveler, and when these actors pair off they’re fantastic. The film is primarily a portrayal of Bingham’s isolation and the depressing circumstances of his job, and in doing so provides a spot-on illustration of the the life of the jaded business traveller who knows his way around an airport better than his own home. —Ryan Bort



The Waterboy

the waterboy poster.jpg
Year: 1998
Director: Frank Coraci
Stars: Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk, Jerry Reed, Henry Winkler, Paul Wight
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 34%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 88 minutes

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I saw The Waterboy in the theater on opening night and I’m still not sure if it’s the last of the classic Adam Sandler films or the first of the not-so-classic Adam Sandler films. It’s clearly a step below Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer, but it’s not quite as obnoxious or depressing as pretty much every other comedy he’s made since The Waterboy. His manchild antics didn’t feel redundant yet, and here he has the help of a great supporting cast that includes Kathy Bates, Jerry Reed, Henry Winkler and Blake Clark. (And, uh, the Giant from WCW, aka the Big Show, also has a ton of charisma in his brief cameo.) If you’ve always hated Sandler, you should avoid this one; if you recognize those first three films as the classics that they are, you’ll probably enjoy The Waterboy enough to not feel like you’re wasting your time.—Garrett Martin



Wayne’s World 2


waynes_world_2_poster.jpg Year: 1993
Director: Stephen Surjik
Stars: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Christopher Walken, Tia Carrere
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 94 minutes

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Hollywood sometimes just cranks those movies out, huh? Wayne’s World 2 came out the year after the original, and, some early repetition aside, it’s as hilarious as the first one. It also provides a solid road map that these Saturday Night Live movies should have continued to follow; the second half is basically just a series of inspired pop culture parodies starring Wayne and Garth, basically turning it into a sketch comedy show with the budget of a movie and starring two great comedians in perhaps their most beloved roles. It’s still worth watching today, in case you were wondering.—Garrett Martin

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