As ‘Rough Night’ heads into theaters, we’re here to remind you that there are plenty of funny ladies waiting for you to watch at home.
Young Frankenstein (1974, Netflix)
Like most Mel Brooks films the lead roles here go to the guys, but the boisterous bevy of supporting ladies keep pace throughout delivering just as many big laughs. Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Teri Garr are all pure magic here, and if you can watch this film (and their performances) without cracking repeated smiles than you’re probably dead inside. Garr’s “roll in the hay” is alone worth any number of modern Hollywood comedies as I’m still laughing about it decades later.
The Bad News Bears (1976, Amazon Prime)
Michael Ritchie’s fun and foul-mouthed tale of a ragtag kids’ baseball team and the lousy drunk who coaches them is heavy on the testosterone, both pre and post puberty, but some of its biggest laughs don’t come until a little lady joins the crew. Tatum O’Neal doesn’t even appear until nearly halfway through the movie, but she immediately joins in on the mildly raunchy fun delivering some biting barbs and priceless reactions.
Heathers (1988, Netflix)
Sure Christian Slater channels an exaggerated Jack Nicholson as the film’s resident bad boy, but it’s Winona Ryder who delivers the laughs as she laments high school life and the dramas it contains. Her diary readings are irresistible, her verbal assaults on classmates are highly memorable, and on top of making people laugh she also gets to save hundreds of teenagers from certain slaughter.
The Brady Bunch Movie (1995, Amazon Prime)
It’s been over two decades since this ridiculously funny big-screen revamping of the popular television show was released, and I still don’t think it gets the respect it deserves. Director Betty Thomas created a template for other TV to film adaptations to come including 21 Jump Street and Baywatch, and among her secret weapons were a game cast including an unsung gem of a performance by Jennifer Elise Cox as Jan Brady. Everyone in the film is great fun, but Cox is next level comedy perfection.
While You Were Sleeping (1995, Netflix)
Demolition Man and Speed were among my first exposure to Sandra Bullock, but it was her first leading role that secured her as both a dramatic and comedic talent to watch. It’s a traditional romantic comedy in many ways, but Bullock absolutely nails the sweet humor and awkward moments resulting in an eminently re-watchable comedy that never fails to earn laughs and smiles.
Emma (1996, Amazon Prime)
Jane Austen’s novels have been the source of multiple films pairing romance, social commentary, and laughs, but this one doesn’t seem to get the same degree of affection. It did at the time, but I think people have cooled on it the more disinterested they’ve grown in Gwyneth Paltrow‘s off-camera persona. It’s worth looking past that though as Paltrow is a witty and confident delight here dishing out humorous jibes and observations throughout.
Jawbreaker (1999, Hulu)
In the vein of Heathers, high school is once again fertile ground for rude behavior, cruel laughs, and murder. This time it’s the likes of Rose McGowan, Judy Greer, and Julie Benz who find themselves caught up in the quest for popularity against the blackest of comedic backdrops. Each of them, along with many of the other ladies among the cast, get to deliver at least one funny jab or observation aimed at their peers.
Heartbreakers (2001, Hulu)
Okay, yes, Gene Hackman’s performance here is funny enough to power a small city on the laughter he generates, but the film’s two leads bring plenty of comedic goodness too. Neither Sigourney Weaver nor Jennifer Love Hewitt are typically considered as funny performers, but this tale of love, lies, and con-women affords them ample opportunity to earn laughs, and they succeed. It’s a smart, sweet, and above all funny romantic comedy, and this onscreen mother & daughter pair are a big part of why it succeeds.
Legally Blonde (2001, Hulu)
Reese Witherspoon recently knocked viewers sideways as part of a terrific ensemble in HBO’s Big Little Lies, but she’s been a reliable comedic performer for decades when given the chance. From Election to Sweet Home Alabama, she’s shown terrific timing and delivery, and this film is no exception. She’s fast-witted, capable of moving from sweet to terrifying in seconds, and able to earn laughs with a simple expression. The sequel’s a far lesser creation, but you can’t go wrong with this mash-up of law school and the color pink.
Wetlands (2013, Netflix)
I’ll be the first to admit that this German import probably won’t be up most people’s comedic alley, but I find it absolutely hilarious. Carla Juri brings to life an unforgettably odd and crass young woman who steals our hearts even as she’s picking at her ass. It’s comedy done dark, sticky, and gross, but amid the foulness there’s an undeniable sweetness, and if you let her Juri just might tickle your funny bone (while also testing your gag reflex).
The Dressmaker (2015, Amazon Prime)
Kate Winslet isn’t often thought of as a comedic talent, but she’s seized the momentary chances she’s been handed in films like The Holiday and Steve Jobs. This Australian feature affords her a far meatier opportunity, and she unsurprisingly delivers beautifully. It’s a revenge tale of sorts with Winslet embracing a character who’s been wronged with wicked enthusiasm and wit. We’re furious for her, but as the minutes tick by we’re also laughing beneath our breath with her.