The most famous comedy series of all-time is inarguably the forty-years running live sketch show Saturday Night Live. The show has been the dream-job for up and coming comedians for nearly its entire run and has consistently created stars out of many of those comedians.
In their long-running tenure, the producing team at SNL, led by Lorne Michaels, have taken multiple attempts at bringing their popular comedy to the big screen, to varying results. They have produced eleven feature films based on popular sketches from the show. Two other films worth mentioning are It’s Pat, an SNL film that just barely missed the cut, by being the lowest-ranked of the eleven films, and The Three Amigos, a widely liked film co-written by Lorne and starring SNL alum, which was not produced by the team. Here are the ten best SNL movies, according to their IMDb score.
10 Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) – 4.9
Over a decade after the release of the first film, writer/director John Landis attempted to recapture the magic. The film isn’t terrible and John Goodman actually fits into the black-tie blues group naturally but making a sequel without the late John Belushi just proved to be an impossible task.
Belushi’s impact on the first film cannot be overstated, which led to the sequel being panned upon its release, with nearly every review having the same things to say.
9 Superstar (1999) – 5.1
Molly Shannon brings her awkward Catholic schoolgirl to the big screen to mixed results. The movie, also starring SNL alum Will Ferrell, received mostly negative reviews upon release but has gained new respect in the decade since. A decent audience has revisited the film and found it to be a pleasant, funny, surprise.
The film’s review scores have actually risen in the years since it was relevant, so maybe this one wasn’t given a fair shake.
8 Stuart Saves His Family (1995) – 5.2
Based on the sketches where Al Franken would portray a would-be self-help speaker, the movie follows Franken’s Stuart character as he attempts to balance his own dysfunctional family and his failing public access show.
Despite being the most well-received of the list so far, Stuart Saves His Family was a complete failure at the box office, not breaking a million. It found more success on home release, where it was sold paired with two other SNL films that will be appearing later on this list.
7 The Ladies Man (2000) – 5.2
Tim Meadows’ character of Leon Phelps had a slew of skits on SNL in the 90s, where he would use his radio show to offer romance and sex advice to his loyal listeners. The film adaptation has Leon lose his job at the radio, only to then have to backtrack through all the women he has been with.
Despite being a cult classic of sorts now, the film was the last of a line of failures from SNL, both critically and financially, bombing to the point that the company wouldn’t produce another film for ten years.
6 Coneheads (1993) – 5.3
On a list of potential sketches to be made into films, the one where cone-headed cast members talk in bizarre voices wouldn’t have been my first choice for a stretch to 90 minutes, and yet, here we are. The film follows Dan Akroyd, Jane Curtin, and Michelle Burke as the kind aliens stranded on Earth.
On its release, it easily beat its mixed reviews, becoming a rare SNL success at the box office. It was so successful that it was released on home video as part of a triple feature with Stuart.
5 MacGruber (2010) – 5.5
The latest attempt from SNL has become a cult classic in just the last couple of years, finding enough success that a new series is currently in production for NBC’s new streaming service Peacock. The film follows Will Forte’s character of haphazard spy that somehow gets results despite seemingly making every wrong decision he can find.
Directed by The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone, the film received mixed reviews, which admitted the silly antics were genuinely funny. Unfortunately, it still flopped, only staying in theaters for three weeks.
4 Wayne’s World 2 (1993) – 6.2
The sequel to one of the most popular SNL ventures of all-time, following Wayne and Garth, portrayed by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, as they adventure through the wild world of public access television.
The first film on this list to succeed critically, the film didn’t make critics jump up and applaud, but it did do well enough to secure more positive reviews than negatives. While it didn’t make a bank, it did make back a little more than its budget, making it a successful sequel all around.
3 A Night At The Roxbury (1998) – 6.3
The feature version of the hit sketch follows Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell’s wacky club-going characters as they bob their heads and hit on women to varying negative results.
It’s a hilarious romp that was one of the first to showcase how comedically talented Will Ferrell truly is, setting up his eventual run of massively popular star vehicles.
2 Wayne’s World (1992) – 7
The first film to feature slacker rockers, Wayne and Garth, this movie is the true enigma of 90s SNL ventures. It was number one at the box office, easily becoming the highest-grossing SNL film of all-time. it was also critically successful, receiving overly positive reviews.
The film was so popular that many of its catchphrases and scenes became overnight pop culture magnets, being quoted and reenacted by fans. It was also popular enough to be paired with Coneheads and Stuart Saves His Family upon home release.
1 The Blues Brothers (1980) – 7.9
The best SNL film just happens to be the first. A classic comedy about two blues-inclined convicts that go on a cross-country adventure to raise the money needed to save the orphanage they were raised in, facing everything from the police to Nazis along the way.
The chaotic amount of plot points is exactly why the film works so well, with the two titular characters handling every situation with hilarity and coolness. Akroyd and the late Belushi are iconic in the roles and the humor, action, witty dialogue, and wonderful music all battle to be the movie’s best attribute, instead then coming together to make a true classic.
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