I grew up knowing Paul Reiser, mainly, as “that one guy from Mad About You” and, sometime later, knew him as “that guy who was also in Aliens.” It was not until I was pleasantly surprised to see him join the Stranger Things cast that I began to really appreciate him as an actor, which is why also seeing him show up on The Boys Season 3 as “The Legend” was quite a treat.
Now that the Emmy-nominated comedian is becoming even more well-known to this generation for the aforementioned roles, it makes me want to explore some of the moments in his career that I (and, I assume, other audience members) have unfortunately missed. If this describes you, too, then check out these picks for the best Paul Reiser movies and TV shows on streaming or elsewhere. However, we will start with his most popular credit at the moment.
Stranger Things (2017-Present)
A group of ordinary, close-knit people of varying ages from a small, Midwestern town all make an extraordinary, otherworldly discovery — involving a young girl with psychokinetic abilities (Millie Bobby Brown) and an alternate dimension where slimy, malevolent creatures exist — that irrevocably changes their lives in the 1980s.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: Considering how creators and executive producers The Duffer Brothers cited Aliens as an influence on Stranger Things Season 2, it is appropriate that one of its stars, Paul Reiser, was brought onto the cast of Netflix’s nostalgic hit sci-fi series that year as Hawkins Lab’s Director of Operations, Dr. Sam Owens, who later appeared briefly in Season 3 before returning as a Season 4 regular.
Stream Stranger Things on Netflix (opens in new tab).
Years after becoming the sole survivor of a bloodthirsty creature’s attack on a commercial space craft, a woman (Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver) and a crew of Marines must face off against hordes of beasts overrunning a colonized planet.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: Speaking of Aliens, Paul Reiser played Weyland-Yutani junior executive Carter J. Burke — essentially the human antagonist of the story — in writer and director James Cameron’s action-packed and cleverly constructed sequel to Ridley Scott’s terrifying 1979 creature feature (and one of the best space movies ever), Alien.
Mad About You (1992-2019)
The life and times of a loving, but frequently bickering, couple from Manhattan made up of a filmmaker (Paul Reiser) and a public relations worker (Academy Award winner Helen Hunt).
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: As I hinted at above, my introduction to Reiser was through Mad About You — the witty, romantic NBC sitcom that he also co-created and later revived for an eighth season as a Spectrum original in 2019.
My Two Dads (1987-1990)
Following the tragic death of her mother, a teenage girl (Staci Keanan) is left in the care of two of her mom’s former boyfriends who could not be more different from each other — a straight-laced businessman (Paul Reiser) and a more liberally minded artist (Greg Evigan) — but attempt to put aside their differences and combine efforts for the sake of her upbringing.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: Before co-creating and starring on Mad About You, Reiser’s first lead role on a sitcom was as the prim and proper Michael Taylor on My Two Dads — co-creators Danielle Alexandra and Michael Jacobs’ NBC sitcom with a concept that is not so unconventional these days as it would have been in the late 1980s.
A group of men in their early twenties (Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Tim Daly, and Paul Reiser) spend their free time together at a local eatery where they swap stories about their personal struggles with adulthood in late 1950s Baltimore.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: Paul Reiser made his screen acting debut in the apt role of a stand-up comedian named Modell in Diner — also one of the best Kevin Bacon movies, which earned writer and director Barry Levinson an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Beverly Hills Cop And Beverly Hills Cop II (1984, 1987)
A rebellious Detroit detective (Eddie Murphy) travels to the Golden State to track down his childhood friends’ killer, leading to the discovery of a huge drug ring, and, years later, returns to help two local cops he befriended (Judge Reinhold and John Ashton) investigate their chief’s attempted murder, leading to the discovery of an international arms trafficking scheme.
Why they are some of Paul Reiser’s best: For his first major film role following Diner, Paul Reiser starred in the smash hit action comedy Beverly Hills Cop as Jeffrey Friedman — a hip fellow detective from Detroit who often takes heat for the sake of his friend, Axel Foley — whom he would also reprise in the first sequel from director Tony Scott, Beverly Hills Cop II.
Stream the Beverly Hills Cop movies on Paramount+ (opens in new tab).
Buy the Beverly Hills Cop movies on Blu-ray on Amazon (opens in new tab).
Bye Bye Love (1995)
Three adult friends (Paul Reiser, Matthew Modine, and Randy Quaid) each try to help one another cope with the trials and tribulations of being a divorced father, while also running into complex situations that might threaten to put them at odds with one another.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: In his first collaboration with his Stranger Things co-star Modine (Dr. Martin “Papa” Brenner), Reiser gives one of his most heartfelt and hilarious performances in Bye Bye Love — a heartfelt and hilarious comedy from director Sam Weisman.
Stream Bye Bye Love on Starz (opens in new tab).
A young, aspiring jazz drummer (Miles Teller) pushes himself to his breaking point in the hope of living up to the unattainable expectations of his abusive, domineering instructor (J.K. Simmons) at a prestigious music conservatory.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: In what might be his all-time best movie and certainly one of the best movies of the 21st Century so far, Paul Reiser plays Jim, the supportive and protective father of Teller’s Andrew Neimann, in Whiplash — the stunning feature-length debut of writer and director Damien Chazelle that earned three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Simmons’ unflinchingly brutal performance.
Horse Girl (2020)
A socially awkward young woman (Alison Brie) who works in an arts and crafts store and has a self-described overactive imagination begins to struggle with determining what is real and what is fantasy in her own life.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: In one of the most visually unique and dramatically intense films of his career, Paul Reiser plays Gary, the concerned, widowed father of Brie’s Sarah, in Horse Girl — a mesmerizing Netflix original thriller that offers a disturbing first-person view of the main character’s experience with mental illness from director Jeff Baena, who also co-wrote the script with Brie.
Stream Horse Girl on Netflix (opens in new tab).
The Kominsky Method (2019-2021)
A cynical, fallen Hollywood star who now makes a living as an acting instructor (Academy Award winner Michael Douglas) and his longtime agent and best friend (Academy Award winner Alan Arkin) struggle to come to terms with the challenges of getting older.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: Paul Reiser is nearly unrecognizable in his Emmy-nominated role as the balding, beer-bellied, cigar-chomping Martin Schnieder, who eventually becomes the son-in-law of Douglas’ title character in the third and final season of The Kominsky Method — an honest and endearing, Emmy-nominated Netflix original dramedy from The Big Bang Theory and Mom co-creator Chuck Lorre
Stream The Kominsky Method on Netflix (opens in new tab).
Red Oaks (2014-2017)
As he prepares for his future, a 20-year-old college student and aspiring videographer (Craig Roberts) makes new friends, strikes up a potential new romance, and encounters other life-changing experiences while working as a tennis pro at a suburban New Jersey country club during the summer of 1985.
Why it is one of Paul Reiser’s best: Paul Reiser gives a scene-stealing performance as Doug Getty, the father of the young woman the main character falls in love with and his boss at the titular country club on Red Oaks — a fun, nostaglia-fueled, Amazon Prime original coming-of-age dramedy from co-creators Joe Gangemi and Gregory Jacobs.
Stream Red Oaks on Amazon Prime (opens in new tab).
As for the next chapter of the “Reiser-sance,” Paul Reiser is currently in pre-production on the upcoming comedy film The Problem with People, which Deadline reports that he both co-wrote and stars in. He will also appear on the Hulu original series, Reboot, in which the dysfunctional cast of a hit sitcom from the early 2000s struggle to get along as they film a revival of their old show.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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