With a vast library at its disposal, HBO Max features enough movies to provide a comprehensive history of comedic cinema. Here are 10 of the best comedy movies you can stream on HBO Max.
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Mike Judge’s animated creations made the leap from MTV to the big screen in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. Judge takes the two moronic, horny teenagers on an epic trip across the country, driven by their base desires (to get a new TV and “score” with “chicks”). As usual, Beavis and Butt-Head’s idiotic observations prove to be surprisingly trenchant and funny, even if they don’t realize it themselves. The movie takes a short, simple cartoon and expands it into a clever satire on American culture.
Director Christopher Guest put together a formidable repertory company for his multiple comedic mockumentaries, and Best in Show is the strongest work to emerge. The cast includes Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Jennifer Coolidge, and many other talented improvisers. Together, they take on the absurdity of a high-profile dog show, where various self-absorbed characters obsess over their pampered pooches and flaunt their personal eccentricities.
Eddie Murphy went from star to superstar with the 1984 action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop, one of the defining films of a subgenre that flourished in the 1980s. Murphy is so charismatic and funny as rule-breaking Detroit police detective Axel Foley that it doesn’t really matter what the plot is.
Judge Reinhold makes a perfect comedic partner for Murphy as an earnest Beverly Hills detective who admires Foley. Director Martin Brest balances Murphy’s electric screen presence with some well-crafted action sequences.
Righteous dudes Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) travel through time in order to complete their high school history report in this beloved buddy comedy. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is an exuberant celebration of friendship and music, with irreverent, funny takes on historical figures, including Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, and Socrates. Winter and Reeves make the central duo into an iconic pairing, later returning for two uneven but welcome sequels.
Filmmaker Kevin Smith was working as a clerk himself when he made the micro-budget indie comedy Clerks in 1994. The black-and-white film chronicles a day in the life of best friends Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson), who work in adjacent stores in a New Jersey strip mall. It’s full of Smith’s now-familiar pop-culture geekery, with articulate characters who overthink every aspect of their lives. Smith mines plenty of humor from the mundane drudgery of suburban retail employees.
Will Ferrell is known for his work in raunchy, over-the-top comedies, but his most famous role to date may be in this wholesome Christmas movie. Elf stars Ferrell as Buddy, a human orphan who’s grown up among Santa’s elves in the North Pole. Now an adult (but still equipped with the wide-eyed wonder of a child), Buddy comes to New York City to seek out his biological father (James Caan). While there, he wreaks havoc, falls in love, and, of course, saves Christmas.
The feature film debut of both director Tim Burton and Paul Reubens’ bow tie-clad title character, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is a goofy, manic road-trip comedy adventure. Pee-wee Herman (Reubens) is a childlike weirdo who goes on a cross-country odyssey to recover his stolen bike, encountering all manner of strange characters along the way. He somehow manages to endear himself to all of them (as well as to the audience) with his oddball charm and enthusiasm.
You need to be on your toes to keep up with the rapid-fire, witty dialogue in the classic screwball comedy The Philadelphia Story. In typical farce fashion, misunderstandings abound over a weekend in which socialite Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) is set to get married. James Stewart and Cary Grant play her potential love interests, with one as her ex-husband and the other as a snooping journalist. It’s a smart and sophisticated romantic comedy with satisfying Hollywood endings for everyone involved.
Before it became a slightly overblown franchise, Pitch Perfect was a sweet, unassuming comedy about the world of college a cappella groups. Anna Kendrick stars as an aspiring music producer who reluctantly joins the all-female a cappella group at her college, eventually leading them to the national championships.
There’s a lot of creative singing and choreography to be enjoyed along the way, plus a bit of romance. Kendrick is joined by an ensemble cast of talented women, including Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, and Elizabeth Banks.
Of the comedy stars of the silent film era, Harold Lloyd often gets overshadowed by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. But if you watch Lloyd’s 1923 masterpiece Safety Last!, you’ll see why he deserves to be mentioned right alongside those comedy legends.
Lloyd is as soulful of a character actor as Chaplin, playing a downtrodden department store employee. And he’s as talented a physical comedian as Keaton, especially in a still-dazzling stunt sequence of Lloyd hanging from the hands of a giant clock on the side of a building.