True to its name, HBO has always aimed to bring the box office into people’s homes. That is easier than ever thanks to the network’s twin streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now, both of which offer a wealth of new content each month. At any given time, the service offers hundreds of films, from obscure documentaries to summer blockbusters — but not all of them necessarily qualify as “great.” If you feel like streaming a movie and don’t want to waste your time on dreck, we’ve rounded up the best movies on HBO.
(Note: Some of these films might not be available until November.)
Members of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard wrote and starred in this silly 2001 film about a group of prank-happy Vermont state troopers whose daily routine of chugging syrup, hazing the rookie recruit, and tormenting drivers is interrupted by the accidental discovery of a drug trafficking ring. The raunchy stoner comedy was a big hit for studio Fox Searchlight, particularly in the home-entertainment market (read: college dorms and apartments), and after years of pressure to make a sequel, that follow-up film was finally released earlier this year.
After the success of 7 Days in Hell, a mockumentary about a legendary tennis match between two fictional idiots, the Andy Samberg-led team earned a second go-round via HBO. The result? Tour de Pharmacy, a similar story that spoofs the Tour de France by focusing on competitors’ use of performance-enhancing substances in the early 1980s. Samberg returns to play Nigerian rider Marty Hass, while Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, Daveed Diggs, and John Cena appear as the other made-up competitors on whom the film is focused. Tour is filled with classic slapstick comedy, and the concept is bolstered by the inclusion of several veteran actors — we won’t spoil the hilarious surprises here — who play the “modern-day” versions of the film’s protagonists. Lance Armstrong’s cameo doesn’t hurt, either.
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This low-budget comedy came out of nowhere in 2004, shooting to the top of the American consciousness and propelling Jon Heder to stardom (well, for a while, anyway). Heder stars as Napoleon, an extremely awkward Idaho high schooler struggling to fit in. From a surprisingly successful campaign to get his friend Pedro elected to the student government to the surprise reappearance of his stuck-in-the-past Uncle Rico, everything Napoleon does is funny, even if he doesn’t see it that way. Highlights include Napoleon’s brother Kip (and his online girlfriend, LaFawnduh), karate master Rex, and Napoleon’s prom dance with the equally awkward Deb. Director Jared Hess went on to helm more goofy cult comedies like Nacho Libre and Gentlemen Broncos.
Based upon Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World follows a young musician (Michael Cera) who falls in love with the enchanting Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but finds that he must first defeat her seven evil ex-lovers if he wants to truly win her heart. Cera is perfectly cast as Scott, a do-gooder hero with more good luck than brains or brawn, and the film quickly morphs from a mumblecore love story to a crazy, effects-laden superhero flick once the battles begin. Fittingly, the list of evil exes includes both Chris Evans (now Captain America) and Brandon Routh (who previously played Superman), in addition to Jason Schwartzman.
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Starring the late Robin Williams in one of the first leading roles of his career, Good Morning, Vietnam is loosely based upon the exploits of manic Armed Forces Radio Service DJ Adrian Cronauer. Cronauer (Williams) is sent to help raise morale in Vietnam, only to find himself in trouble with his superiors for his “irrelevant tendency” time and again. The DJ makes friends with both soldiers (Forest Whitaker) and local Vietnamese people, learning about the complex politics of war in the process. The sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet film is enhanced by Williams, who improvised nearly all of his radio broadcasts on the spot, deviating from the script entirely.
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