With a vast library at its disposal, HBO Max features enough movies to provide a comprehensive history of comedic cinema. So if you’re looking for a laugh, here are the 10 funniest movies you can stream on HBO Max.
Update, 11/23/22: Two of our picks, Best in Show and Emma, have left HBO Max, so we’ve replaced them with two new comedy recommendations.
Romantic comedy 13 Going on 30 is a top-tier entry in the body-swap subgenre, starring Jennifer Garner as a 13-year-old girl who makes a birthday wish and wakes up in the body of her 30-year-old self. Garner’s Jenna is thrust ahead 17 years in time, forced to face adult responsibilities but also face her friend Matt, who’s grown into a handsome, charming man played by Mark Ruffalo.
Within the predictable rom-com framework, director Gary Winick provides plenty of laughs and some heartfelt character moments, and Garner perfectly portrays the gawky teen who’s suddenly in an adult’s body.
Eddie Murphy combines his raunchy comedy style with a heartfelt story in Coming to America. Murphy plays Akeem, the prince of a fictional African country, who rejects his designated bride and travels to New York City to search for true love.
Along the way, he and his trusted companion Semmi (Arsenio Hall) get a crash course in American capitalism while working at a fast food restaurant, where Akeem woos the owner’s daughter. It’s a warm, feel-good story full of goofy comedy, including Murphy and Hall both playing multiple ridiculous characters.
Director Peyton Reed creates a masterful parody/pastiche of Rock Hudson and Doris Day’s 1960s romantic comedies in Down With Love. You don’t have to be familiar with those vintage movies to be entertained by the stunning costumes, production design, and cinematography of this impeccably crafted movie, or to enjoy the hilarious performances from stars Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger. They play a pair of professional rivals in the publishing world who fall in love via whip-smart banter and possibly the highest proportion of double entendres in any movie ever made.
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.
Although perhaps not as well-known as Mel Brooks’ other parody films, High Anxiety is an expert send-up of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. Brooks recreates Hitchcock’s style so effectively that audiences may get caught up in the central mystery, no matter how absurd it is. Brooks stars as a psychiatrist investigating strange activity at an institute he’s been hired to run. Brooks favorites Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Harvey Korman play some of the oddball supporting characters, bringing their full talents to both the comedy and the suspense.
Marisa Tomei won a rare (and deserved) Oscar for a comedic performance in the brilliant legal comedy My Cousin Vinny. Joe Pesci plays the title character, an Italian-American New Yorker who’s severely out of his element in a small-town Alabama courtroom defending his cousin and his cousin’s friend on a murder charge. The movie successfully subverts stereotypes in the interactions between Vinny and the court officers, functioning as a gripping legal procedural filled with hilariously quotable lines.
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.
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.
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Christopher Guest established his reputation as a master of the mockumentary with Waiting for Guffman. Guest directed and stars as Corky St. Clair, a deluded small-town theater director who mounts an overly ambitious production to celebrate his Missouri home’s 150th anniversary.
The improvised film features many actors who went on to work with Guest multiple times, including Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, and Fred Willard. It’s a hilarious but good-natured parody of community theater, with catchy songs and delightfully oddball characters.
Charlize Theron gives one of her best performances in the scathing dark comedy Young Adult. Writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, who previously collaborated on the Oscar-winning Juno, reteam for this wonderfully nasty character study about a self-destructive author (Theron) returning to her hometown and attempting to seduce her married ex-boyfriend (Patrick Wilson).
Cody and Reitman deliver a bleakly funny examination of a toxic narcissist whose supposed artistic success barely covers her loneliness and insecurity.
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