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Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd smile at each other in front of the New York skyline in They Came Together Photo: JoJo Whilden/Lionsgate via Everett Collection

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The best comedy movies to watch on Netflix, Prime, Max, and more

The best laughs you can stream right now

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Comedy can feel like an ignored genre in modern moviemaking.

Horror just had a fantastic 2023. Thrillers come out on a weekly basis. Even action movies have had some stellar recent releases. But Hollywood has been in a comedic rut in recent years, with fewer and fewer notable releases from big studios.

But fear not, dear reader — we know how to find some good laughs. We’ve compiled a list of the best comedy movies you can watch at home, scraping streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and HBO Max, as well as free services, to find the best of the best.

Whether it’s a romantic comedy that makes your heart sing while bringing out a smile or a gut-busting laugh-out-loud comedy, we have a variety of options sure to bring you laughter and brighten up your night.

Here are our picks for the best comedy movies you can watch at home right now. If you’re only looking for the best comedy movies on Netflix, we’ve got you covered there, too. Our latest update to this list added They Came Together as an editor’s pick.


Editor’s pick: They Came Together

Amy Poehler and Paul  Rudd smile at each other in the window of a coffee shop in They Came Together Photo: JoJo Whilden/Lionsgate via Everett Collection

Director: David Wain
Cast: Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Cobie Smulders
Where to watch: Peacock, or for free with ads on The Roku Channel

One of the most wildly underrated movies of the 2010s — and also one of the stupidest — They Came Together is a spoof rom-com from Wet Hot American Summer’s David Wain and Michael Showalter. As you might expect from that team, it’s a barrage of silliness, non sequiturs and crude sight gags delivered in a cheerful but deadpan style by a stacked cast of comedy performers — but this time framed as a parody in the lineage of The Naked Gun or Scary Movie, taking aim at one of the most convention-bound genres there is.

For some reason, it divided critics and never found its audience, perhaps because the marketing made it look like an actual rom-com, or perhaps because They Came Together parodies movies that are themselves supposed to be funny, a task which sometimes requires being unfunny on purpose. That sounds like a tricky needle to thread, but Showalter and Wain go about it with all the delicacy of a clown wielding a rubber sledgehammer — which turns out to be just as effective, for this viewer at least.

You have to be prepared, however, to roll with a film that is sometimes spoof, sometimes pure absurdism, and sometimes inhabits a strangely hilarious twilight zone of deliberately forced, anodyne blandness — like the immortal scene in which Amy Poehler’s and Paul Rudd’s empty-headed protagonists bond over their shared love of “fiction books.” Whether it really works as a deconstruction of the likes of You’ve Got Mail is debatable. But when gags this gloriously dumb come this thick and fast, who cares? —Oli Welsh


Book Club

Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen sit around a table with food and their copies of Fifty Shades of Grey in Book Club. Image: Paramount

Director: Bill Holderman
Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen
Where to watch: Paramount Plus and FuboTV, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu

This delightful and raunchy romantic comedy stars Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen as a group of best friends who have been a part of a long-standing book club. Each of them, though successful in their careers, are dealing with crises of life or love. When one of them picks Fifty Shades of Grey as the next book they’ll all read together, it opens the group up in a lovely story of personal acceptance and self-realization, no matter what stage of life you find yourself in. —PV

Catherine Called Birdy

a young teenage girl with pale skin and long brown hair looks excited as she grabs a fistful of mud in each hand Photo: Alex Bailey/Prime Video

Director: Lena Dunham
Cast: Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Billie Piper
Where to watch: Prime Video

Lena Dunham’s adaptation of the beloved children’s novel is an outstanding coming-of-age story that is the rare book-to-movie adaptation done right. It’s a warm story about the difficulties of teenage girlhood and all the expectations that come with it in any era (but especially medieval times), anchored by excellent central performances from Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) and Andrew Scott (Fleabag).

Ramsey plays a young girl named Birdy, whose father (Scott) is attempting to arrange a marriage for her in order to save the family’s finances. A strong-willed girl with a penchant for playfulness and mischief, Birdy is intent on disrupting her father’s plans for her. The movie excels through its layered portrayals of Birdy and her father — neither is pure hero or pure villain, and Dunham complicates the book’s portrayal of the two to much success.

I put Catherine Called Birdy on one Saturday afternoon, expecting it to be enjoyable background fare while I played some games and did some work around the house. Instead, I was completely enthralled for all 108 minutes. It’s one of the most delightful movies of the year, and I can not recommend it highly enough. —PV

Charade

Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade. Image: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Director: Stanley Donen
Cast: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau
Where to watch: Prime Video, for free with a library card on Hoopla or Kanopy, or for free with ads on Vudu, The Roku Channel, Freevee, Tubi, and Pluto TV

The heist at the center of Charade was successful years prior to the movie, and without realizing it, Reggie (Audrey Hepburn) has been living off the profits from her husband’s crime. When he is suddenly murdered, she realizes she didn’t really know anything about him — or, for that matter, the new man in her life, Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). To make matters worse, the remaining money is missing, and a lot of terrible people think Reggie knows where it is. As more people are pulled into the orbit of the money, it becomes less clear who, if anyone, Reggie can trust.

Hepburn and Grant, two famously talented and charming stars, are at their most charming and talented in Charade. In the span of a single scene, Hepburn might move from pragmatic to seductive to fearful with believable ease. Grant’s initial discomfort with their age gap — 25 years, a still-not-uncommon chasm in Hollywood — resulted in rewrites to the script to make clear that Reggie was pursuing him; it remains one of the few movies in which the gap is acknowledged and dealt with believably, rather than taken for granted. Their chemistry is immediate and undeniable; it’s key in carrying off the film’s snappy dialogue and mixture of flirtatious comedy, captivating mystery, and genuine thriller. It’s His Girl Friday by way of Hitchcock. —Jenna Stoeber

Clueless

Alicia Silverstone is perplexed and/or disgusted in Clueless. Image: Paramount Pictures

Director: Amy Heckerling
Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd
Where to watch: Paramount Plus, or for free with ads on Pluto TV

There have been many adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma over the years — and many actresses taking on Jane Austen’s self-proclaimed unlikable heroine. There’s Gwyneth Paltrow in the pastel-swathed 1990s version who makes Emma haughty, yet lovable; Joanna Sotomura in the 2013 webseries Emma Approved turns the socialite into an ambitious, albeit misguided lifestyle guru; and more recently, Anya Taylor-Joy’s rendition of the character gives her a piercing mean streak worthy of the original.

All these Emmas have their own merits, but sometimes the most memorable Emma isn’t an Emma at all, but a Cher.

Clueless takes the general framework of Emma — a rich, bored young woman who just can’t stop getting involved in everyone’s business — and transports the story from Regency-era England to 1990s Beverly Hills. Emma is now Cher, played wonderfully by Alicia Silverstone, a chic, stylish, and popular high school student who thinks she knows what’s best for everyone.

The beats of Jane Austen’s original story still play out. Cher takes an unpopular new student under her wing and tries to set her up with a hot match that’ll catapult her to social fame. All those matches end up being catastrophic failures. Cher goes too far and learns a bit about herself along the way. All of it is done with bright, bold 1990s fashion and slang, with iconic quotable lines and the very best that teen movies have to offer. Come for young Paul Rudd, stay for the sentiment that stories are timeless and that human traits transcend eras (and also Cher’s digital closet). —Petrana Radulovic

Coming to America

Eddie Murphy in his fast food restaurant outfit in Coming to America Image: Paramount Pictures

Director: John Landis
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones
Where to watch: Digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu

Eddie Murphy stars in the 1988 romantic comedy Coming to America as Akeem Joffer, the crown prince of the fictional African country of Zamunda who, tired of his mother and father’s meddling in his love life, journeys to the borough of Queens in New York City with his personal aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) to search for a wife. Directed by John Landis and based on a story by Murphy, Coming to America is packed with endlessly quotable performances by Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, Louie Anderson, John Amos, and Murphy and Arsenio in multiple roles. The movie is an absolute riot front to back and an enduring classic for good reason: It’s one of Murphy’s finest films. —Toussaint Egan

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Image: Netflix

Director: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Gao Yuanyuan
Where to watch: Netflix

Johnnie To is one of our great modern directors, equally adept in hard-boiled triad crime dramas and light-hearted romantic comedies alike. 2011’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart falls in the latter category, and is one of the many high marks of the Hong Kong director’s legendary career. Fresh off the end of a long-term relationship, Chi-yan (Gao Yuanyuan) is an analyst for an investment bank who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. On one side, there’s Sean (Louis Koo), a CEO who works across the street from Chi-yan and yearns for her through the tall corporate glass windows that separate them. On the other, there’s Kevin (the always-dreamy Daniel Wu), an alcoholic former architect who helps Chi-Yan move on and is inspired by her to start creating again. What follows is a sincere, funny, and truly charming romantic time. —PV

Eega

Nani slides on his knees on a wet street while holding Samantha’s hand in Eega. Image: Vaarahi Chalana Chitram

Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: Sudeepa, Nani, Samantha
Where to watch: Netflix

One of the very best movies on Netflix, the logline for Eega will clue you in right away as to whether this movie is up your alley or not. A whirlwind slapstick comedy revenge thriller from the director of RRR and the Baahubali movies, Eega is about a man who is murdered by a romantic rival and reincarnated as a fly, teaming up with the woman he loves to exact revenge on the man who killed him. It’s joyously fun and absolutely bonkers (complimentary), with exciting action sequences, groundbreaking visual effects, and plenty of laugh-out-loud jokes. Much to its benefit, the fly in Eega is completely silent, instead pushing director Rajamouli to employ some classic tricks from silent cinema for laughs and gasps alike. —PV

The Gold Rush

Charlie Chaplin in the Gold Rush standing in the middle of the snow atop the mountains Image: The Criterion Collection

Director: Charlie Chaplin
Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain
Where to watch: Max and Criterion Channel, or for free with ads on Freevee, Tubi, and Plex

Charlie Chaplin’s adventurous comedy is nearly 100 years old, and it absolutely still holds up for the modern sense of humor. In The Gold Rush, Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” is a prospector living on a shack in the middle of the Klondike. Extreme slapstick and farce ensue, as Little Tramp’s blown by Canadian winds, stoops to eating a leather shoe for sustenance, and eventually performs his legendary fork dance. Chaplin — even more than the muscle icons of the 1980s — is the key DNA to modern action entertainment, and if you’ve never seen one of his classics, The Gold Rush is a hilarious entry point. —Matt Patches

I Married a Witch

Veronica Lake sits near a cauldron in I Married A Witch Image: United Artists

Director: René Clair
Cast: Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Robert Benchley
Where to watch: Max and Criterion Channel, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon and Apple TV

René Clair, who made his name in early French silent and sound cinema, spent a few years making movies in the U.S. during World War II. Among them is the exemplary black-and-white romantic comedy I Married a Witch, which stars the incomparable Veronica Lake as a witch who hopes to exact revenge on the descendant of the man who imprisoned her by making him fall in love with her.

When two witches — Jennifer (Lake) and her father, Daniel (Cecil Kellaway) — are burned at the stake by Puritans in colonial Salem, they curse the man who denounced them. He and his descendants (all played by Fredric March) will be doomed to be unhappy in love, always marrying “the wrong woman.” Jennifer and Daniel awake 270 years later, and she begins pursuing her target: Wallace Wooley, the latest descendant of the man that caused her execution and also a leading candidate for governor. Oh, and his wedding to the daughter of his top political supporter is tomorrow.

With costumes by the legendary Edith Head, charming practical effects (the two witches are represented by wisps of smoke before inhabiting bodies), and plenty of hilarious gags (there’s a “popped maize” vendor during the “intermission” of the witches’ execution), I Married a Witch is a breezy 77 minutes of Classic Hollywood delight. —PV

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Harmony (Michelle Monaghan) and Harry (Robert Downey Jr.) talking in a bar in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Image: Warner Home Video

Director: Shane Black
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan
Where to watch: Digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is, without a doubt, one of the funniest and most effortlessly cool movies I have ever seen. Partially based on Brett Halliday’s 1941 novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them, Shane Black’s neo-noir black comedy crime thriller stars Robert Downey Jr. as Harry Lockhart, a petty thief who, due to a series of extraordinary circumstances, is mistaken for an actor and whisked away from the back alleys of New York to the twinkling lights of Los Angeles for a screen test. While there, Harry inadvertently finds himself ensnared in a murder mystery involving his childhood crush (Michelle Monaghan), a sarcastic private detective (Val Kilmer), and a retired actor named (Corbin Bernsen) with a terrible secret to hide.

Relentlessly meta, wickedly funny, and boasting one of the coolest opening title sequences of its time, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the rough-and-tumble blueprint to Black’s 2016 movie The Nice Guys, and by all degrees the better film of the two. —TE

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Image: Buena Vista Pictures

Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett
Where to watch: Free with a library card on Hoopla, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

Wes Anderson’s eccentric 2004 ensemble comedy is dedicated to Jacques Cousteau and is a loving (and hilarious) homage to the legendary French oceanographer. Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) is an oceanographer/documentarian who loses his best friend to a shark attack while working on his project. Zissou sets out for his next project: to find and kill the shark, and film the whole thing.

The hilarious ensemble cast includes Anjelica Huston (Zissou’s estranged wife who finances his projects), Willem Dafoe (an emotionally insecure German first mate), Owen Wilson (a Zissou super-fan who believes he is Zissou’s son), and Jeff Goldblum (playing Zissou’s rival, a more successful oceanographer). With an excellent soundtrack of Portuguese David Bowie covers by Brazilian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge and Anderson’s typical attention to detail in composition, The Life Aquatic is a cinematic feast of the senses. —PV

Little Monsters

Lupita Nyong’o brandishing a shovel while surrounded by zombies in Little Monsters Image: NEON

Director: Abe Forsythe
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad
Where to watch: Hulu

Director Abe Forsythe’s 2019 horror comedy Little Monsters stars Alexander England (Alien: Covenant) as Dave, a foul-mouthed and down-on-his-luck rock musician living with his sister and nephew after a rough breakup. Attempting to get on the good side of Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o), his nephew’s kindergarten teacher, Dave agrees to come along and chaperone the class’ field trip to a petting zoo. Unfortunately for them, the petting zoo sits right next to a U.S. Army base that happens to be experiencing a zombie outbreak. As the class finds itself cornered by the undead horde, Dave will have to help Miss Caroline to make sure everyone gets out alive. Can he win her heart, or at the very least grow as a person for the experience? We won’t spoil it, but we will tell you Josh Gad gets attacked by zombies in the process. —TE

Love & Friendship

Kate Beckinsale talks to Morfydd Clark in Love & Friendship. Image: Amazon Studios

Director: Whit Stillman
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell
Where to watch: Prime Video

Whit Stillman’s uproarious adaptation of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan stars Kate Beckinsale in one of her richest (and most hilarious) roles. Beckinsale plays Lady Susan, a young widow looking to secure appropriate matches for both her daughter (Morfydd Clark) and herself. Susan flirts and schemes her way throughout the movie to the delight of the audience and the frustration of her suitors and friends.

Love & Friendship features terrific supporting turns by Chloë Sevigny (as Susan’s supportive best friend), Tom Bennett (playing a hilariously dense wealthy fool), and the rest of the cast, as well as Stillman’s characteristic biting dialogue and an attention to detail in sets and costuming. But the whole thing is brought together by Beckinsale’s transcendent performance, one of the more recent examples of how comedic roles get ignored during awards season. —PV

Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL

Joe Manganiello, shirtless, dances to I Want It That Way in a supermarket. Image: Warner Home Video

Director: Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike); Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL)
Cast: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello
Where to watch: Hulu, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

Two joyous celebrations of bodies in motion contained within working class stories of trying to Make It Work in the face of a grueling world? Pure excellence. Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, and the rest of the ensemble cast soar, and both movies contain unforgettable set-pieces sure to get you off your feet.

Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike is an excellent subversive rom-com, inverting many standard gender tropes in the genre. The follow-up, Magic Mike XXL, is even more rapturously joyous than the first, celebrating pleasure in its many forms (in this way, you could say it is like Hellraiser without the pain). XXL also doubles as a road trip movie and a “the crew gets back together for one last job” movie. Also: Manganiello goes all out in a minimart dancing to “I Want It That Way.” Perfection, no notes. —PV

Moonstruck

Cher sniffs a rose in Moonstruck Image: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Director: Norman Jewison
Cast: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia
Where to watch: For free with ads on Pluto TV, Tubi, and The Roku Channel, with a library card on Hoopla, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

The joy is in the smaller moments in Moonstruck. A mother cooks an egg-in-a-hole for her daughter. An older couple trades barbs with each other before the conversation shifts on a dime to expressions of eternal love. An elderly man basks in the moonlight with his five adorable dogs.

A widow (Cher) is convinced her ill-fated first marriage was doomed by bad luck after a hasty engagement and wedding. When a suitor (Danny Aiello) proposes, she accepts, but ends up falling for his estranged brother (Nicolas Cage) instead.

With warm sets that feel lived-in, loving depictions of food (the egg-in-a-hole has since been colloquially dubbed “Moonstruck Eggs”) and romance, hilarious family conversations (“Old man, you give another plate of my food to those dogs, I’m going to kick you till you’re dead!”), and complementary lead performances by an assured Cher and an intense Cage, Moonstruck is a touching, uproarious romantic comedy about superstition, love, and family. —PV

Multiple Maniacs

Mary Vivian Pearce and Divine in Multiple Maniacs Image: The Criterion Collection

Director: John Waters
Cast: Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce
Where to watch: Max and Criterion Channel, for free with ads on Tubi and Plex, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon and Google Play

The early transgressive comedies of John Waters have been anointed by Criterion as art, and one can only imagine what Waters circa 1970 would make of that. Multiple Maniacs, the provocateur’s second film, is just batshit nutso, constructing a flimsy scenario in which Lady Divine (Waters’ go-to collaborator) spirals out of control on a murder spree and her ex-lover (David Lochary) plots to kill her first with other members of Waters’ Dreamlander acting troupe. In true Waters fashion, the plot is an excuse for bodily fluid expulsion, flamboyant performance, and a moment of backdoor penetration courtesy of a sacred religious object. Today, with scrutiny from every side of the ideological spectrum, it would be almost impossible to do what Waters pulled off back in the ’70s. Criterion knew what it was doing preserving these jaw-dropping memories. —MP

The Paper Tigers

Ron Yuan and Ray Hopper in The Paper Tigers Image: Well Go USA Entertainment

Director: Tran Quoc Bao
Cast: Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, Mykel Shannon Jenkins
Where to watch: For free with ads on Tubi, for free with a library card on Kanopy, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

Tran Quoc Bao’s kung fu action comedy stars Alain Uy, Ron Yuan (Mulan), and Mykel Shannon Jenkins as the eponymous Paper Tigers: three former martial arts prodigies who, after a lifetime of strenuous training and hard fighting, have grown into beleaguered middle-aged nobodies. But when their master is murdered, the three swear an oath to avenge his memory and bring his killer to justice. If that sounds serious, please know this falls into the Apatowian camp of Dumb Man comedy. —TE

Plus One

Maya Erskine (Pen15) and Jack Quaid (The Boys) looking nice for a wedding in Plus One Image: RLJE Films

Directors: Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer
Cast: Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid
Where to watch: For free with a library card on Hoopla, for free with ads on Tubi, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

Netflix may be cranking out romantic comedies, but the best still come from a more personal, filmmaker-driven place. Plus One, from Pen15 writers Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival before quietly settling into a place on streaming and has been largely overlooked. Don’t miss it: Maya Erskine (Pen15) and Jack Quaid (The Boys) star as best buds who’ve seen all of their friends get hitched and have become go-to plus ones for the endless marathon of nuptials. Formula works to the movie’s advantage, finding sweet humor in modern situations and wringing Erskine and Quaid for every drip of charisma they have to offer. A gem that could easily been mistaken as product in our current era of rom-coms. —MP

The Road to El Dorado

miguel and tulio, mighty and powerful gods Image: DreamWorks Animation

Directors: Eric “Bibo” Bergeron, Don Paul, Jeffrey Katzenberg
Cast: Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Rosie Perez
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase on Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

The Road to El Dorado came out at the wrong time.

The animated buddy comedy came out during the transition point between the Disney Renaissance and the eventual wave of crass CG movies ushered in by Shrek (what I’ve dubbed the Beloved Failures era). But even though it failed spectacularly in theaters, home video turned it into a cult classic and a meme powerhouse. So many frames of the movie have been repurposed as reaction GIFs and meme templates, but while the vivid facial expressions and body movement of the animated characters certainly lends itself to memeable formats, the movie itself is truly hilarious.

The setup is already promising: two runaway con men from Spain somehow end up in South America, where the locals of El Dorado believe them to be gods. But the banter between pragmatic Tulio and idealistic Miguel is absolutely amazing, with Kline and Branagh slipping into an easy and comedic repartee (not to mention the shipping potential that comes from their married-couple-like banter). Toss in snarky Chel (Rosie Perez), a local who wants out of the city, and the trio is electric — and distinctly made up of morally gray lying characters, a rarity in that era of animation where heroes and princesses save the day.

The three of them attempt to leave El Dorado with buckets of gold, but first they must play along with the charade, which only gets them into increasingly ridiculous situations. They partake in local festivities, go 2-vs-15 in a sports game, and eventually have to defend El Dorado from Conquistador Hernan Cortez. With each impossible feat, the ragtag trio of schemers pulls it off again and again, heightening their antics and plans — all with excellent banter (and a banging Elton John soundtrack). — Petrana Radulovic

Singin’ in the Rain

Donald O’Connor performs “Make ‘Em Laugh” in Singin’ in the Rain Image: Warner Home Video

Directors: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds
Where to watch: Max, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

What is there to say about one of the most well-loved movies of all time? I’ll tell you this: If Singin’ in the Rain wasn’t on this list, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs right.

Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s timeless 1952 classic is as joyous and funny as you remember — Donald O’Connor’s “Make ’Em Laugh” bit will leave you in stitches — but it’s probably a bit stranger, too. In addition to all the industry jokes and the contemplation on the addition of sound to movies, the 13-minute dream sequence “Broadway Melody” is absolutely hypnotizing. —PV

Spy

Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne wear black dresses outside in Spy. They are standing in front of a man kneeling on the ground and presenting something in his hand. Two severe looking men in tuxedos stand behind them. Image: 20th Century Fox

Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham
Where to watch: Max, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu

As the biggest blockbusters in the world have become more and more comedy-oriented, there’s been less space for true comedies in theaters. Spy is the rare exception, and it’s finally more broadly available to watch at home after its addition to the Max catalog.

A sendup of espionage movies from director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Freaks and Geeks), it stars a pitch-perfect Melissa McCarthy as a desk worker for the CIA who is forced into active duty when her partner (Jude Law) is killed by the daughter of an arms dealer (Rose Byrne, who is positively delightful in this). Add in scene-stealing turns from Jason Statham as an overconfident Bond parody, Allison Janney as McCarthy’s skeptical boss, and appearances by Bobby Cannavale, Peter Serafinowicz, and Miranda Hart, and you’ve got a rollicking good time (with terrific action shot by Day Shift director J.J. Perry). —PV

Support the Girls

Regina Hall and Shayna McHayle sit at a bar in their work uniforms while talking to a third woman in Support the Girls Image: Magnolia Pictures

Director: Andrew Bujalski
Cast: Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, James Le Gros
Where to watch: Prime Video, Hulu, Paramount Plus w/ Showtime, for free with a library card on Kanopy and Hoopla, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

This terrific day-in-the-life comedy from writer-director Andrew Bujalski (Computer Chess) follows the manager (Regina Hall) of a Hooters-like sports bar as she deals with training new hires, rude customers crossing lines, and an idiotic boss, all the while trying to take care of her girls through various major and minor crises.

Hall, one of the great performers of our time, gives a tremendously layered performance in one of the richest roles she’s had the opportunity to play. Hall’s Lisa is a protective force in the lives of her girls, able to put on a brave face in front of them (and in support of them) even when the circumstances around them seem on the verge of a total spiral. Haley Lu Richardson (as the peppy Maci) and Shayna “Junglepussy” McHayle (as the no-nonsense Danyelle) stand out among the movie’s many great supporting turns.

Funny, heartwarming, and undeniably tangible in its ground-level depiction of a hectic workplace, Support the Girls is a movie about looking out for each other in a trying world. There’s nothing wrong with that. —PV

Tampopo

A row of customers slurping ramen in Tampopo. Image: Janus Films

Director: Juzo Itami
Cast: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kōji Yakusho
Where to watch: Max and Criterion Channel, or for digital rental or purchase at Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

This 1985 “ramen western” is a hilarious romp that also happens to be one of the most gorgeous depictions of food ever put on screen. When a pair of truck drivers stop at a run-down ramen shop, they befriend the widowed owner and help her turn the restaurant's fortunes around. A lovely story of community, passion, and human nature all filtered through the appreciation of good food, Tampopo is a cinematic feast. —PV

To Be or Not to Be

Carole Lombard in To Be or Not to Be. Image: United Artists

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Cast: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack
Where to watch: Max and Criterion Channel

Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 masterpiece is an uproarious and touching anti-war story about a group of actors who use their theatrical skills to dupe a group of Nazi soldiers in occupied Warsaw. Superstar acting couple Joseph (Jack Benny) and Maria Tura (Carole Lombard) run a theater planning to put on a performance of “Gestapo,” a comedic play satirizing Hitler. But when Germany invades and a Nazi spy schemes to give a list of secret identities of Resistance fighters to the Nazis, the troupe uses every theater trick in the book to outmaneuver the Nazis (including a visiting Hitler himself) and do their part in the war effort.

With hilarious repeated gags, disguises galore, and a rock-solid emotional foundation of a group of people trying to look out for each other in the face of evil, To Be or Not to Be is a high mark in the history of American cinema and one of my personal favorite movies ever made. —PV

The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience

The Bash Brothers fist bump Photo: Eddy Chen/Netflix

Director: Mike Diva, Akiva Schaffer
Cast: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer
Where to watch: Netflix

The Lonely Island dropped this musical movie — a spoof of Beyoncé’s Lemonade focused on Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire’s notorious 1980s home run streak — out of nowhere in 2019. It deserves more love.

In line with their previous efforts, like Tour de Pharmacy and 7 Days in Hell (co-starring Kit Harington!), The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience explores the shared psyche of Canseco and McGwire through poetry, abstract imagery, and profane lyrics. Alana Haim, Maya Rudolph, Hannah Simone, Jenny Slate, Jim O’Heir, and Sterling K. Brown — as Sia — all appear. Surprisingly, Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer don’t skimp on the darkness of the Bash Brothers. With lyrics like “Stab that needle in my ass until I am rich / Make me a god with the chemical sciences,” the Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience eventually finds McGwire begging a vision of his father to save his life as Canseco raps about how therapy is for the weak. —MP

Wheels on Meals

Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao hold epees vertically in Wheels on Meals. Image: Miramax

Director: Sammo Hung
Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao
Where to watch: For free with ads on Plex and Freevee, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon

Few creative teams have ever managed the consistent level of excellence that Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao did with their Hong Kong martial arts action comedies in the 1980s, and Wheels on Meals is one of the best of an outrageously good group of movies (and my personal favorite). Set and shot in Barcelona, the movie centers on Thomas (Chan) and David (Yuen), a pair of cousins who run a food truck (with skateboarding tricks to boot) and find themselves enamored with a local woman (Lola Forner). When they run into a somewhat incompetent private investigator (Sammo Hung) who is also looking for the woman, the group bands together to save her when she is suddenly kidnapped.

Wheels on Meals features some of the very best fight scenes of Jackie Chan’s prolific filmography, as he squares off against legendary kickboxer Benny Urquidez (the two would later fight again in Dragons Forever), who at the time was among the most prominent and successful fighters in the world. The whole movie is worth your time, but if you want to just find their six-minute marathon fight session on YouTube, there are few things better in this world.

If you like this, you should also check out Project A, which came out a year before and features one of the most daring and jaw-dropping stunts of Chan’s illustrious career. —PV

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