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5 underrated Ryan Reynolds movies you should watch now

He’s a Canadian icon, an innovator in mobile phone services (as an owner of Mint Mobile, recently sold to T-Mobile), and a passionate English football team co-owner. Ryan Reynolds does more than just act. Nonetheless, the Hollywood star is best known for his time on the big screen, showing his range in everything from rom-coms to dramas, comedies to Marvel Comics superhero films.

Sure, Reynolds got his start on a little Canadian soap opera called Hillside, then starred on the TV show Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place. But he catapulted from National Lampoon’s Van Wilder to being taken seriously once he started taking on more dramatic and nuanced roles. Reynolds is about more than just Deadpool, The Proposal, Red Notice, and the one movie he wishes to forget, Green Lantern. He has had some fabulous, often forgotten roles, too.

Adventureland (2009)

A man touches a woman on the knee in Adventureland.

A comedy-drama, Adventureland features a star-studded cast that also includes Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bridesmaids‘ Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader. Set in the ‘80s in a run-down amusement park, Reynolds has a smaller role in this movie as Mike, the maintenance man at the park. He constantly gets in the way of a brewing romance between James (Eisenberg) and Em (Stewart), and Reynolds pulls off the charming, arrogant, and deeply annoying character.

Adventureland offers up relatable elements for young folks graduating and entering the working world (James ends up at the park when he’s forced to find a summer job to pay for graduate school). It’s also one-part general workplace comedy about the mundane daily lives of staff members simply punching a clock. Critics call Adventureland a “sweet and insightful coming-of-age comedy,” making it one of those forgotten Reynolds movies that are worth a watch.

Adventureland is streaming for free on YouTube.

Mississippi Grind (2015)

Two mean lean on a railing in Mississippi Grind.

What happens when a long-time, struggling gambler meets a young, traveling gambler at a casino? They go on a bender, of course, team up, and take things way too far. This is precisely the plot of Mississippi Grind, which stars Secret Invasion‘s Ben Mendelsohn as Gerry, a real estate agent who spends his leisure time gambling, and Reynolds as Curtis, a young gambler who typically does his thing and swiftly leaves town.

Neither of the men is doing very well at their expensive hobby and trouble follows both as they rack up debt and make enemies along the way. So begins a wild ride as the two men fall deeper and deeper into their respective messes. The chemistry between the two leads makes Mississippi Grind a fun watch as the toxic “friendship” between them continues to be tested.

Mississippi Grind is streaming on Max.

Definitely, Maybe (2008)

A man talks to a woman on a roof in Definitely, Maybe.

As far as sweet and wholesome rom-coms go, Reynolds is a pro, having starred in many of them. But Definitely, Maybe doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The story is about a young father helping his 10-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) deal with her parents’ divorce. During an extra-long bedtime story, he decides to tell her the story of how he met his ex, Maya’s mother April (Isla Fisher), and how they fell in love.

The movie draws obvious comparisons to the series How I Met Your Mother, but its focus on the father-daughter relationship as much as the hilariously sentimental flashbacks allow Reynolds to shine in two different ways. His character explores who he was, and the rise and fall of his relationship to who he has become today. As is customary with most of Reynolds’ films, there are funny moments, too, like when Will glosses over inappropriate moments and glaring potholes in his stories either to show himself in a better light or avoid inappropriate details of the courtship.

Definitely, Maybe is available for rental or purchase at digital vendors like Prime Video.

Buried (2010)

A man is Buried alive in Buried.
Warner Bros./Lionsgate

Buried doesn’t get as much attention as it should. The movie is gripping, despite the fact that Reynolds spends almost the entire time trapped in a coffin buried underground, trying desperately to survive. It’s a worst-nightmare scenario, with the intensity present almost immediately when the film begins. Paul (Reynolds) has nothing but a lighter and a phone with a battery that’s quickly depleting. Meanwhile, he only has so much time before his supply of oxygen is nil.

When it was released in 2010, Buried received fabulous reviews from critics and viewers, alike. The movie was a real opportunity for Reynolds to show that he could not only be a leading man but that he could also command the camera alone, scene after scene, with urgency and panic. Buried isn’t for everyone, but fans of Reynolds need to see this film.

Buried is streaming for free on Tubi and YouTube.

Smokin’ Aces (2006)

Ryan Reynolds points a gun in Smokin' Aces.

With an illustrious cast that also includes Air‘s Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Common, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Taraji P. Henson, Chris Pine, Matthew Fox, and the late Ray Liotta, Smokin’ Aces is one of those Reynolds movies that’s often overlooked. He plays an FBI special agent named Richard who is assigned to protect Robert “Buddy Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven), a washed-up magician being targeted for assassination by a violent mob boss.

Though Smokin’ Aces was not well received by critics, who drew comparisons to Quentin Tarantino’s style but criticized the film’s supposed lack of wit and humor, Smokin’ Aces has since developed a cult following. It’s a mess of different plot lines, but an entertaining watch, nonetheless, with Reynolds offering a stand-out performance.

Smokin’ Aces is streaming on Hulu.

Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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