Mental Floss

10 Great ’80s Comedies You Can Stream Right Now

Jake Rossen
Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins star in ‘Big’ (1988).
Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins star in ‘Big’ (1988). / Aaron Rapoport/GettyImages

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, and Disney+ right now.

1. Risky Business (1983)

Tom Cruise turns in a star-making performance as a teen who goes a little too far when his parents go out of town. The actor ad-libbed much of the famous underwear dance scene (in which he is not wearing Ray-Bans).

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. Caddyshack (1980)

Chevy Chase and Bill Murray lead a motley crew of misfits who cause trouble at a swank country club. A lot of the source material came from Murray’s brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, who worked at a golf club as a caddy growing up.

Watch it: HBO Max

4. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

Chevy Chase stars in the most beloved Griswold tale yet. As family patriarch Clark, Chase tries to handle the holidays, malfunctioning lights, and a visit from Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid). First-time feature director Jeremiah Chechik had never seen a prior Vacation film.

Watch it: HBO Max

5. Police Academy (1984)

The movie that launched a long-running franchise may have met with diminishing returns, but the original remains a time capsule of ’80s humor. Star Steve Guttenberg’s father was an actual New York City cop.

Watch it: Netflix

6. Stripes (1981)

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: Hulu

7. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman prop up their expired boss (Terry Kiser) to avoid being suspected in his demise in this cult hit. A stuntman broke a rib during the scene where poor Bernie is tossed around on a boat.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

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+

Looking for a new movie to watch, or at least a movie that’s new to you? Mental Floss’s new book, The Curious Movie Buff: A Miscellany of Fantastic Films from the Past 50 Years, offers behind-the-scenes details and amazing facts about some of the greatest movies of the past half-century. And it’s available now at your favorite place to buy books, or online right here.

A version of this story ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2022.