Saturday Night Live, the enduring late-night sketch show, has had some remarkable comic talent rotate through its cast over the years. Many of these talented actors have gone on to make successful movies—and many others have not.
But there’s one particularly unique type of movie that has come out of Saturday Night Live that’s wholly its own: the movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch.
These movies are famously hit-or-miss. Some of them have been legitimately great, while others have ranged from groan-worthy (at best) to aggressively unfunny (at worst).
Which of these SNL-originating movies are actually worth your time to watch? We’ve rounded up the best SNL movies based on SNL skits, and we’re listing them in chronological order.
In many ways, The Blues Brothers is the least SNL movie of all of the SNL movies. Yes, It’s based off of a sketch from the show, but nearly every sketch was simply an excuse for John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd to perform songs on a comedy sketch show.
The movie has plenty of moments when the music takes over, courtesy of guest stars like Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, and Ray Charles. That said, it also has a cohesive plot, which you can’t say about a fair number of SNL movies that would come afterward.
The Blues Brothers may be a very different sort of SNL movie, but this may be what makes it one of the very best.
Of all of the SNL sketches that led to movies, Wayne’s World makes some of the most sense.
Even on the sketch show, Wayne and Garth were hosting a show on cable access, which is excellent fodder for a movie script. It doesn’t hurt that Mike Myers and Dana Carvey were both actors whose time in the spotlight was very nearby.
In addition to Myers and Carvey, Wayne’s World features excellent comedic performances from Chris Farley, Rob Lowe, and brother of Bill Murray, Brian Doyle Murray.
It also relies heavily on fourth wall-breaking meta-comedy, something that wasn’t nearly as popular in 1992 as it is now.
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Maybe thanks in part to the success of Wayne’s World, Paramount Pictures decided to do a Coneheads movie, despite the fact that the sketch dated back to the 1970s, very early in the SNL catalog.
While critics largely panned the film, it’s funnier than its reputation suggests. It also features SNL cast members from a variety of generations of the show.
Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtin were some of the first cast members, while Michael McKean was a cast member alongside David Spade, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler and Phil Hartman, all of whom also appear in the film.
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The only SNL movie that is a sequel, Wayne’s World 2 simultaneously treads very similar and very different waters compared to the original.
There are callbacks a-plenty, and mirrors of jokes in the original movie, but this is also a much more ambitious film than Wayne’s World was. While the first movie largely stuck to the format established by the sketch, Wayne’s World 2 sees Wayne and Garth throwing an ambitious music festival.
Along the way the movie parodies classic kung-fu films, The Graduate, An Officer and a Gentleman, and much more.
Tim Meadows is not only one of the longest-running cast members of SNL ever, he’s also one of the most reliably funny.
He was also one of a few cast members to not have a recurring character until the introduction of the Ladies Man, the sketch on which this film is based.
Like many SNL movies, critics largely panned The Ladies Man, which is a shame. Not only is the movie funnier than many people give it credit for, but it also takes a not so serious look at the wreckage a character like the titular Ladies Man leaves behind in his wake.
The fact that MacGruber got a movie while MacGyver—the show on which the title character is based—did not, is both strange and strangely funny.
While the era that birthed this sketch was far from SNL at its best, the MacGruber sketches were funny, and the movie is funnier. It’s definitely low brow humor, even compared to most other SNL films, but it works.
The humor is closer to older Mel Brooks comedies and Zucker-style films like Airplane! than it is to modern companies, and main cast members like Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, and Val Kilmer (calling back to his Top Secret days) commit to this style fully, which makes the movie work.
More Old-School Comedy Movies
When it comes to good SNL movies, the movies above are really all that are worth mentioning. Of course, you might disagree, thinking that some of these movies don’t belong in any kind of “best of” list. Or maybe you’re shocked your favorites aren’t included!
If you think Stuart Saves His Family or Superstar belong here, that’s fair enough. If you’re reading this article wondering where A Night at the Roxbury or the famously terrible It’s Pat are, well, let’s just leave that one alone. Some comedy just works better in a short-form format.