10 Great ’80s Comedies You Can Stream Right Now

Otto, Leslie Nielsen, and Robert Hays in 'Airplane!' (1980).
Otto, Leslie Nielsen, and Robert Hays in 'Airplane!' (1980). / Paramount Pictures

When it comes to serious, gritty dramas, the 1970s were perhaps the best decade in movie history. For comedies, it might be the 1980s. In addition to blockbusters like Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, and Back to the Future, the time period gave birth to dozens of enduring comedy classics. Take a look at 10 you can stream on Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Paramount+, and Disney+ right now.

1. Twins (1988)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito scored as an odd couple in this hit from Ivan Reitman. Separated at birth, the two fraternal twins reunite in adulthood to track down their mother. The two briefly toyed with the idea of doing a sequel, Triplets, with Eddie Murphy or Tracy Morgan several years ago, but the film never materialized.

Watch it: Netflix

2. Back to School (1986)

Rodney Dangerfield scored the biggest hit of his career as Thornton Mellon, a middle-aged man who enrolls in college so that his son doesn’t drop out. Robert Downey Jr. co-stars; Jim Carrey was considered for the role of a put-upon professor that eventually went to Sam Kinison.

Watch it: HBO Max

3. Airplane! (1980)

The ZAZ team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker reinvented the spoof genre with their take on the ‘70s airplane disaster epics. Co-star Robert Hays is actually a licensed pilot.

Watch it: HBO Max

4. Running Scared (1986)

Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal co-star in this buddy comedy about two Chicago cops trying to quit the force and open up a bar; drug dealer Julio (Jimmy Smits) has other plans. Gene Hackman and Paul Newman were considered for the lead roles.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

5. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis lead an all-star cast in a caper about a diamond heist gone awry. Cleese named his character, Archie Leach, after actor Cary Grant. (Archie Leach is Grant’s real name.)

Watch it: Amazon Prime

6. Stripes (1981)

Bill Murray scored an early career hit with this comedy about two layabouts (Murray and Harold Ramis) who enlist in the U.S. Army to combat unemployment. While Ramis co-wrote Stripes, he was not that interested in acting in it, suggesting Dennis Quaid appear instead. It was Murray who insisted on Ramis getting in front of the camera.

Watch it: Paramount+

7. Fletch (1985)

Chevy Chase is Irvin “Fletch” Fletcher, an investigative journalist with a knack for impressions. The poster for the film shows Chase disguised as a hockey player and relief pitcher; both scenes were cut from the movie.

Watch it: Netflix

8. Big (1988)

Tom Hanks’s wish to grow up comes true in this comedy from director Penny Marshall, though it could have been a very different movie: Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg were once attached to the film. (Spielberg’s sister, Anne, co-wrote the script.)

Watch it: Hulu

9. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Elisabeth Shue stars in this definitive all-ages comedy about a babysitter who navigates a hazardous night in Chicago with her young charges. Producers had considered Molly Ringwald for the lead role.

Watch it: Disney+

10. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Rick Moranis started a franchise with this family comedy about a scientist who manages to shrink his children to a quarter-inch tall. The film was a big hit, and it may have had Batman (1989) to thank. Some box office observers noted that moviegoers hoping to see the Tim Burton movie and seeing it was sold out opted to head for Honey instead.

Watch it: Disney+

A version of this story ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2023.