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Updated for August 2019.
In the words of two infamous horse boxing promoters: “folks, you gotta laugh.”
And there is perhaps no better way to secure a much-needed laugh than our list of the best comedy movies on Hulu. Hulu has plenty of options to give you the exact kind of laugh you need. Romantic comedies, sci-fi comedies, comedies comedies. The best comedies on Hulu will get you through many a laughless night.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Speaking of wholesome, Hunt for the Wilerpeople is a winsome, hilarious good time from Flight of the Conchords‘ directer Taika Waititi (who has popped up so frequently on these comedy lists that I’m finally learning how to spell his name).
Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a juvenile delinquent who escapes into the woods of New Zealand rather than being brought in by child protective services after his foster mother dies. Ricky is assisted by Bella’s husband Hec (Sam Neill) as they avoid a national manhunt. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is equally whimsical and emotional. It’s a truly great adventure comedy.
Time plus tragedy equals comedy. Joshy tests this theory to the extreme by trying to move from tragedy to comedy about five minutes into the movie The tituar Josh (Thomas Middleditch) is excited to start his life with his fiancee until…bad things happen.
Four months later, Josh’s friends decide to follow through on his would-be bachelor party anyway to get their bro out of the dumps. The gang holes up in a ranch in Ojai for what should be a fun week but in reality turns into an exercise in confronting one another’s friendships. Joshy is equal parts funny and tragic and features a stellar comedic cast.
Think you’ve seen every take on the superhero genre that you need to see? Not if you haven’t seen Super. Super came out the same year as the remarkably similar Kick-Ass and the two create an excellent misantrhopic superhero double feature. Frank (Rainn Wilson) is an objectively pathetic fry cook whose only bright spot in life is his beautiful wife Sarah (Liv Tyler).
When she leaves him to re-enter a life of drugs and other vices Frank, let’s say…overreacts. He adopts the alter ego of Crimson Bolt and takes to the streets in search of crime to defeat. And he does so incredibly violently. Super comes from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and really stretches the dark aspect of “dark comedy.”
Say you’re a young up-and-coming director who needs to make a casting splash for your latest film. You luck out and get Hollywood big shot Michael Fassbender! Score! So what do you do with him? If you say “cover his beautiful face with a giant papier-mache head for the entirety of the film,” you’re likely Frank director Lenny Abrahamson.
Frank is the story of an indie rock band trying to make it big by getting into South by Southwest. Their lead singer, however, is a bit…eccentric. Frank (Fassbender) refuses to be seen without his big papier-mache head. This understandably causes some issues.
Frank is a very funny movie with an excellent cast led by Fassbender but also featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Domhnall Gleeson.
At first glance the story of Tonya Harding is hardly comedic. Harding was a figure skater swept up in a bizarre ’90s controversy in which Nancy Kerrigan somehow ended up taking a pipe to the knee. Craig Gillespie’s 2017 film I, Tonya somehow finds the humor hidden therein.
Margot Robbie is excellent as the eponymous Tonya and Allison Janey won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance as her mother. I, Tonya is a stylish, yet realistic portrayal of lower-class America that finds the dark humor in the strangest, most uncomfortable places.
Hot Tub Time Machine
Sometimes it’s clear from a movie’s title exactly why it got greenlit. 2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine is one such movie.
Hot Tub Time Machine is about…well do you really need us to say it? There’s a hot tub that’s a time machine. John Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson star as three depressed middle-aged. After one of them experiences a health crisis the three, with one of their nephews tagging along (Clark Duke) decide to head to a ski resort to unwind. After a fateful dip in a hot tub the crew discovers that it’s suddenly 1986 and they all have a chance to change the path of their lives.
Hot Tub Time Machine takes a wild premise, adds in some appealing comedic actors and lets the good times roll.
A sizable portion of the Internet is probably only aware of the character of Shrek as a weird one-size-fits-all meme. He’s like a big green Rick Astley or Chuck Norris. The animated movie that bears his name, however, remains just a legitimately hilarious film.
Shrek came around in 2001, shortly after Pixar made digital animation a big thing. Shrek was kind of like a family-friendly Deadpool, a movie that lightly satirized its genre (fairytales instead of superhero movies) while presenting a legitimately funny and entertaining take on it.
This is a movie in which the main villain’s name is designed to sound like “Lord Fuckwad” and it’s immediately implied he has a tiny penis. Watch or rewatch Shrek, please.
Sorry to Bother You
Calling Boots Riley’s 2018 masterpiece Sorry to Bother You merely a “comedy” is reductive. Sorry to Bother You is a lot of things. It’s a bold, bizarre debut feature for the first time director that viciously criticizes capitalism and all the nonsense it engenders. It’s also happens to be pretty funny.
Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) stars as Cassius “Cash” Green, a struggling Detroiter living in his uncle’s garage with his artist girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson). Cash gets a job as a telemarketer and soon begins to climb the corporate ladder by using his “white voice” on the phone. What he finds at the top of that corporate ladder is astonishing, bleak, and ultimately hilarious.
The Birdcage is ostensibly a family comedy with a quirky twist. Based on a ’70s French farce, The Birdcage tells the story of engaged couple Val Goldman (Dan Futterman) and Barbara Keeley (Calita Flockhart) struggling with how to introduce their parents to each other.
Barbara’s dad is an uptight Republican senator (played by Gene Hackman) while Val’s dad is a gay Miami drag club owner (Robin Williams) whose partner is the flamboyant star of his club (Nathan Lane). The Birdcage has a madcap plot working in its favor to go along with some major acting, writing (Elaine May), and directing talent (Mike Nichols). All it really needs though is Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
He’s not even supposed to be here today! Before Kevin Smith was an omniscient podcaster and nerd culture commenter, he was a filmmaker (and still is for the most part!). And among his several quality ’90s comedies remains the one that started it all, the mythical film that he made by maxing out his own (and his parents’) credit cards to pay for the $28,000 passion project, which was shot on black and white 16mm film.
Clerks was and is radical simply because it features just a couple of dudes (and some of their friends) kicking back and talking over the span of one very long work day. Clerks is fascinating to watch as a ’90s cultural document and still remains quite funny to this day.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
I saw Borat in the theater with my dad. I don’t recommend you do it the same. By the first scene I suspected it was a bad decision. By the time the title character Borat had an exhaustingly long naked fight with his producer in a hotel, I knew it was a bad decision. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch Borat at all though!
Borat just might be the Citizen Kane of documentary-style cringe comedy. British Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen introduces himself to mass American audiences (at least to those who hadn’t seen Da Ali G Show) by adopting the persona of his character, Borat, an unassuming and dimwitted journalist from Kazakhstan. Borat, the film, follows its lead character as he travels around America to interact with real people and basically make their lives a living hell.
Oh hey, it’s Tom Hanks! Hanks is his usual talented, wholesome self in The ‘Burbs – a deceptively dark, yet still truly funny movie. Hanks stars as Ray Peterson, a normal suburbanite, who becomes suspicious of the new neighbors.
It’s like Rear Window as a screwball comedy. The ‘Burbs is a hilarious, yet weirdly accurate depiction of suburban paranoia and the various eccentrics that populate the cookie-cutter developments around America.
God bless the movies whose titles are essentially their premise. Billy Bob Thornton is a mall Santa. He’s bad. It’s Bad Santa. Ok, that’s selling it a bit short. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Willie T. Soke, who is actually a thief. He and his assistant Marcus disguise themselves as Santa and an elf to rob malls by night though Willie’s alcoholism and sex addiction begin to get in the way of him even pretending to be a competent mall Santa.
Bad Santa is hilariously crass and brutal, which makes sense given the talent involved. Christmas has plenty of movies to get you in the spirit of the season. This one will get you in a completely different kind of Christmas cheer.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels marks an important transition in cinema history from Michael Caine Serious Actor to Michael Caine Lovable Goofball. Caine and Steve Martin star as two suave conmen, Freddy and Lawrence, who compete to swindle a rich heiress out of $50,000 (admittedly a pretty paltry sum in hindsight).
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a fun, picturesque comedy that enjoys pitting American v. Brit.
When the time comes to begin measuring Jokes Per Minute in film, it wouldn’t be surprising if Airplane! features the highest JPM of them all. Airplane! is ostensibly a parody of the disaster movie genre that plagued the mid-century of filmmaking.
Through a modern lens, however, the parody angle isn’t as important and this movie is just an absurdist amusement park of great joke after great joke after great joke after great joke. Comedy is subjective, Airplane! is not. It’s objectively hilarious when you learn to love your puns.
Of all Mel Brooks’ satirical comedies, Spaceballs is the most straight-forward, irreverent, and goofily fun. The world needed the definitive Star Wars parody and Brooks was all too happy to oblige.
Bill Pullman and John Candy as Lone Starr and Barf (basically Han Solo and Chewbacca) go on a hilariously inept journey across the galaxy culminating with a confrontation with Lord Dark Helmet (an excellent Rick Moranis). May the Schwartz be with you.
The Brady Bunch Movie
The Brady Bunch Movie is how you do a movie adaptation of a beloved, but corny throwback TV show correctly. The Brady Bunch Movie leans in to the corniess by imagining a world in which the wholesome 1970s Brady clan just happens to exist in present day (which is in this case 1995). It’s a winking meta comedy that doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves.
The Brady Bunch Movie sets the groundwork for other films we love like 21 Jump Street. And we’re about to blow your mind. The Brady Bunch Movie came out 21 years after the show ended…which is 24 years from present day. That’s right. The Brady Bunch Movie is older to us than The Brady Bunch was to The Brady Bunch Movie. Mindexploding.gif.
Meet the Parents
“I have nipples, Greg, could you milk me?”
Comedy is good at revealing and exploiting universal fears for laughter. Meet the Parents takes a fear that we all must have and converts it to film. What if the love of your life’s father is an ex-CIA agent played by Robert De Niro? That’s the situation that poor Gaylord “Greg” Focker (Ben Stiller) finds himself in as he and his girlfriend Pam head to Long Island to meet her parents.
Pam’s father Jack puts Greg through a ringer of psychological torment including polygraph tests, ill-fated Volleyball games, and continual dismissal of his career as a nurse. Stiller and De Niro have excellent chemistry and Meet the Parents turns an easily-realized nightmare into a hilarious reality.
Any given satire doesn’t have to predict the future to be good, but it certainly helps. Mike Judge’s cult classic, Idiocracy, was all but squashed to death by the studio upon its release and in hindsight you can kind of see why. Perhaps Mr. Judge’s satire about a future world crushed under the weight of its own stupidity was a bit too dead-on for an entertainment conflomerate relying on that future.
Luke Wilson stars as Corporal Joe Bauers, a man who is selected to be entered into suspended animation and thawed out in the future. Joe wakes up 500 years later to find that humanity has made itself incredibly dumb through the process of natural selection. In fact, Joe may be the smartest man on Earth and uniquely suited to answer some of society’s most pressing questions like: how do we feed plants?