Saturday Night Live Stars on the Big Screen

by | September 26, 2014 | Comments

Saturday Night Live celebrates the premiere of its 40th season this weekend, and to celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of critically-acclaimed films featuring SNL alums. The movies listed here aren’t necessarily the best or the best-reviewed movies from these stars; rather, we wanted to give a sense of the range and versatility of the not-ready-for-primetime players. Featuring those who rose to prominence during their time on the show (Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Kristin Wiig) and a few you may have forgotten about (Robert Downey Jr., Julia Louis-Dreyfus), our list is a testament to SNL‘s continuing relevance as an incubator for some of the entertainment world’s brightest talents.


Full of humor and nostalgia, and featuring wry supporting turns by Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, Adventureland is a sweet, insightful coming-of-age comedy that will resonate with teens and adults alike.

Best in Show

A fine example of writer-director-star Christopher Guest’s gift for improv comedy, Best in Show boasts an appealingly quirky premise and a brilliantly talented cast.


A marriage of genuine characters, gross out gags, and pathos, Bridesmaids is a female-driven comedy features star-making performances from Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.

City Slickers

With a supremely talented cast (led by Billy Crystal) and just enough midlife drama to add weight to its wildly silly overtones, City Slickers uses universal themes to earn big laughs.


A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell’s funny and charming performance as one of Santa’s biggest helpers.

Enough Said

Wryly charming, impeccably acted, and ultimately quite bittersweet, Enough Said is a grown-up movie in the best possible way, and it offers a chance to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus play an intriguingly complex character.

48 Hrs.

Marking an auspicious feature film debut for Eddie Murphy, 48 Hrs. is a briskly paced action comedy that succeeds largely due to the outstanding chemistry between its two leads.


An infectiously fun blend of special effects and comedy, Ghostbusters derives many of its biggest laughs from Bill Murray’s hilarious deadpan wit and Dan Aykroyd’s enthusiastic geekiness.

God Said, Ha!

God Said, Ha! plumbs poignant depths, but Julia Sweeney’s sharp, graceful wit makes this one-woman monologue a wise, big-hearted burst of uplifting — and perhaps therapeutic — entertainment.

Good Hair

Funny, informative, and occasionally sad, Chris Rock’s Good Hair is a provocative look at the complex relationship between African Americans and their hair.

Groundhog Day

Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Bill Murray’s dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.


A manic, overstuffed blend of sci-fi, comedy, and romance, Innerspace nonetheless charms, thanks to Martin Short’s fine performance and the insistent zaniness of the plot.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and a spot-on comic performance from Robert Downey Jr. in this dark, eccentric film noir homage.

Mean Girls

Sharper and darker than the average teen comedy, Mean Girls benefits from refreshing honesty and a terrific cast that includes Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Tim Meadows.

National Lampoon’s Animal House

The talents of director John Landis and Saturday Night Live‘s irrepressible John Belushi conspired to create a rambunctious, subversive college comedy that continues to resonate.

National Lampoon’s Vacation

Blessed by a brilliantly befuddled star turn from Chevy Chase (as well as strong supporting work from Randy Quaid and a young Anthony Michael Hall), National Lampoon’s Vacation is one of the more consistent — and thoroughly quotable — screwball comedies of the 1980s.


Elegant in its simplicity and poetic in its message, Nebraska is boosted by a poignant, bittersweet dramatic performance by Will Forte.

Obvious Child

Tackling a sensitive subject with maturity, honesty, and wit, Obvious Child serves as both a showcase for Jenny Slate and a promising debut for writer-director Gillian Robespierre.

Punch-Drunk Love

Odd, touching, and unique, Punch-Drunk Love is also delightfully funny, utilizing Adam Sandler’s comic persona to explore the life of a lonely guy who finds love.

School of Rock

Full of high spirits and loads of heart School of Rock into a hilarious, rocking good time, thanks in part to sharp supporting work from Joan Cusack and Sarah Silverman.

Shrek 2

Topical humor and exuberant vocal performances from Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy help to make Shrek 2 a funny, smart animated tale for audiences of all ages.

The Skeleton Twins

Led by powerful performances from Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins effectively mines laughs and tears from family drama.

This Is Spinal Tap

Smartly directed, brilliantly acted, and packed with endlessly quotable moments, This Is Spinal Tap is an all-time comedy classic, and represents a high water mark for stars Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer.

Trading Places

Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Sharp, witty, and charming, The Truth About Cats and Dogs features a standout performance from Janeane Garofalo.

Wayne’s World

An oddball comedy that revels in its silliness and memorable catch phrases, Wayne’s World is also fondly regarded because of its endearing leads — played with infectious goofiness by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey.

Whip It

Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut has enough charm, energy, and good-natured humor to transcend its many cliches — and it features fine supporting performances by Kristen Wiig and Jimmy Fallon.

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