Comedy is not the box office force that it once was, and a lot of comedies now skip theaters entirely before going direct to streaming. That’s unfortunate because laughing in a crowded theater during a comedy can be a cathartic experience. And as far as we’re concerned, the genre’s best days are still in front of it because some of the best comedies from the last half-decade more than hold their own against classics from the ’80s, ’90s, and the 21st century.
When compiling this list of the five great comedies from the past five years, we stuck with a strict release window between 2018 and 2023 for every film from either theatrical or streaming. Surprisingly, none of the movies from 2020 or 2021 made the cut for us. But after giving each movie due consideration, we feel that these five films will be the ones that withstand the test of time.
No Hard Feelings isn’t Jennifer Lawrence’s first comedy, but she fearlessly throws herself into the genre this time, especially during some very R-rated scenes. Her character, Maddie Barker, is a bit of a mess and facing a crisis since she can’t make money as an Uber driver after her car is impounded. To save herself from financial disaster, Maddie answers a very unusual Craigslist ad from Laird (Matthew Broderick) and Allison Becker (Laura Benanti).
The Beckers offer Maddie the money she needs to survive if she agrees to date their introverted son, Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), before he goes off to college. The problem is that Percy doesn’t really know much about dating, and Maddie’s attempted seductions go over his head. Of course, Percy doesn’t know the truth about why Maddie is pursuing him, and he’s not going to like it if he finds out.
Watch No Hard Feelings on Netflix.
Game Night follows a couple, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie Davis (Rachel McAdams), who love throwing gaming events with their friends, perhaps a little too much. Max also feels insecure about potentially becoming a father, and is overshadowed by his more successful older brother, Brooks Davis (Kyle Chandler), especially when Brooks insists on holding the next game night at his house.
When the time arrives, Max and Annie, as well as their group, watch as Brooks is abducted by armed criminals. They initially believe it’s part of Brooks’ elaborate game. But Max and Annie soon discover that the danger is all too real. And they’re going to need a lot of help to get Brooks back alive.
Watch Game Night on The Roku Channel.
Only Weird Al Yankovic would use his own biopic to parody other biopics. That’s why Weird: The Al Yankovic doesn’t even pretend to be the true story of Weird Al’s life. Instead, it makes up events in Al’s life to play up sensational elements, while casting former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe as the young Weird Al and comedy veteran Diedrich Bader as the voice of Weird Al’s present-day self.
The movie hilariously focuses on Weird Al’s passion for creating song parodies, with The Office‘s Rainn Wilson as his mentor, Dr. Demento, and Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna. This is also one of the rare films that manages to get away with being relentlessly silly from start to finish.
Watch Weird: The Al Yankovic Story on The Roku Channel.
Netflix got a whole franchise out of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, with sequels and a TV series spinoff. That wouldn’t have happened if the original movie wasn’t among the best comedies in the last few years. X-Men: Apocalypse‘s Lana Condor stars as Lara Jean, a high school student who made a habit out of pouring her heart out in letters to the boys she had crushes on…and then she never mailed the letters.
One day, Lara Jean is alarmed to discover that not only has someone mailed out her letters, but her former crushes, Peter (Noah Centineo) and Josh (Israel Broussard), want to talk to her about it. Lara Jean confesses the truth to Peter, who suggests they pretend to date to make his ex-girlfriend, Gen (Emilija Baranac) jealous. But that’s going to make things really weird when Lara Jean and Peter start to have actual feelings for each other.
Watch To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix.
Olivia Wilde established herself as a director with Booksmart, which stars Kaitlyn Dever (No One Will Save You) and Beanie Feldstein in the leading roles. In their last days as high school students, overachievers Molly Davidson (Feldstein) and Amy Antsler (Dever) come to the realization that they’ve spent too much time studying and not enough time having fun. So they decide to turn that around during one final party before graduation.
This turns out to be easier said than done since neither girl is popular enough to know which party they should go to. And before the night is over, both of their hearts may be broken and their friendship will be tested.
Watch Booksmart on Freevee.
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