When it comes to comedy legends who have blown up in the last twenty or so years, none cross my mind as much as Maya Rudolph. From her explosion into stardom as part of the Saturday Night Live cast or her expansion into comedies like Bridesmaids, Maya Rudolph has truly cemented herself into movie and TV history with her quirky wit and comedic timing.
But, where can you watch the best Maya Rudolph movies or TV performances? Look no further, because we have her best roles right here, and how you can stream or rent them right now.
Saturday Night Live (2000-2007)
You know it, you love it, it’s live from New York, Saturday Night Live. This sketch show that has been ongoing since the 1970s has stayed popular for decades, rotating in new cast members every few years to create entertaining sketches about pop culture, politics, and anything else going on in the world.
Maya Rudolph’s rise to fame happened originally because of her role as part of the Saturday Night Live cast, from 2000-2007. During her time there, she created plenty of memorable characters, moments, and sketches that still live on to this day, along with a cast filled with stars, such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kenan Thompson, and several others.
Next up, we have Idiocracy. This science-fiction comedy tells the story of an American soldier who takes part in a classified hibernation experiment, only to be accidentally frozen and woken up 500 years later, when the world is most certainly not the same.
Maya Rudolph plays Rita in the movie, alongside castmates such as Luke Wilson, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews and more. Personally, it’s one of my favorite cult films because while it wasn’t huge at the box office at the time of its release, it’s so funny. The sci-fi aspect is actually very well-thought out, but the chemistry between the stars is really what seals the deal.
In this Disney+ original film, a young sea monster named Luca wants to explore the surface as a human more, but in order to do that, he teams up with his new friend to win a contest so he can have a Vespa, and drive off to see the rest of the world.
Maya Rudolph (as you’ll see) loves her voice roles. She has such a distinct voice that it’s always easy to pick her among the rest, but the whole Luca cast is fantastic overall. Pixar created another feel-good story, focusing on the newfound friendship between two boys and the ability to overcome odds despite the world looking down on you. While it’s not at the heights of Coco or Up, in my opinion, it still has a special place in my heart, and Rudolph’s character is one of the scene stealers.
Grown Ups (2010)
In this Adam Sandler-led comedy, Grown Ups tells the story of five men who were all friends back when they were kids and won their middle-school championship. However, when the coach from that team passes away, they reunite in their hometown to pay homage to him.
You know, I don’t care what the critics say - I loved Grown Ups. I loved it as a kid and I love it now as an adult. Maya Rudolph is part of a crazy ensemble cast that includes Sandler, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Norm Macdonald, Steve Buscemi - and all of them are so good, due to their fantastic chemistry and amazing comedic timing. You need to watch this movie - you won’t regret it.
Away We Go (2009)
The comedy-drama Away We Go is about a couple, played by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, who are awaiting their baby and searching for the perfect home to raise it in. While traveling, they reconnect with old friends and have their own misadventures, which redefine what the word “home” means for them.
While Away We Go wasn’t the most popular at the box office, I really like this film. Rudolph and Krasinski have great chemistry together and you really believe their love story. But, overall, it’s just a sweet story. Sometimes all you need is that film that will make you smile and pull at your heartstrings, and Away We Go is one of them for sure.
In this iconic comedy, Bridesmaids focuses on Annie, who, when she is to serve as the maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding, suffers a series of unfortunate events and causes mayhem ahead of the ceremony.
Maya Rudolph portrays Lillian, the best friend of Annie, and let me tell you that Bridesmaids is so worth your time to watch for so many reasons. The whole Bridesmaids cast, from Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, to Ellie Kemper, is so fantastic, and the jokes will make you hold your side from laughing so much. This is one of Paul Feig’s best films in my opinion, and it deserves all the praise that it has gotten over the years.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)
In this Netflix original animated film, The Mitchells vs the Machines follows the titular family on a road trip that ends up with them having to save the world from a global robot uprising.
Maya Rudolph portrays the mom in this movie, and let me say that she is so great in so many ways. Heck, the whole Mitchells vs the Machines cast is wonderful. But, what really makes this film stand out to me is two things: the animation is so unique and stunning compared to many of the animated films nowadays, and the story is heartwarming. I love the fact that while the robot takeover adds a lot of action, the story is more centered on family and how important it is to keep your loved ones close.
Wine Country (2019)
Moving on, we take a look at the Netflix original, Wine Country. This film follows a group of friends who have known each other for a long time, as they take a vacation to Napa Valley as a birthday getaway.
I’ve always looked at Wine Country as the female version of Grown Ups, because all of these stars work well off of each other and have worked together before, such as Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. But, all in all, it’s just an enjoyable experience about a girl’s trip, mixed in with some pretty funny jokes. Maya Rudolph shines as Naomi, as does the rest of the cast.
Big Hero 6 (2014)
Another voice role by Maya Rudolph is in Big Hero 6, a Disney animated film that tells the story of Hero, who, after losing his brother in a fiery explosion, takes it upon himself to form a superhero team with his brother's friends to take on the masked villain responsible for his death - with the help of Baymax, of course.
As someone who has always loved superhero movies, Big Hero 6 delivers that and more, with a lot of action scenes, plenty of compelling characters, and some stunning animation sequences. Maya Rudolph (again) stars as the mom, but I love her character even more in this movie. She and her cat have some of the best moments - along with that adorably chubby robot.
The Willoughbys (2020)
In this animated film, The Willoughbys tells the story of the Willoughby children, following four kids who are trying to find new parents to replace their self-centered and neglecting ones.
When I tell you that this cast is star-studded, I mean it. There are so many amazing cast members that join Rudolph, including Will Forte, Terry Crews, Martin Short, Ricky Gervais, and more. Maya Rudolph’s nanny who looks after the kids definitely is one of the best characters, with all of her scenes with the kids either making you laugh or making you tear up, but, all in all, it’s a great, feel-good movie that deserves more praise.
The Good Place (2018-2020)
In this popular series, The Good Place follows Kristin Bell’s character when she is welcomed to the Good Place after her death, a Heaven-like utopia designed for her righteous life. However, she was sent there by mistake, and has to hide her morally imperfect past while trying to become a better version of herself.
While Maya Rudolph was only on the series for a couple of seasons, she stole the show as Judge Gen, who rules on the interdimensional matters between the Good Place and the Bad Place. The Good Place received so much praise for not only its acting, but its direction, story, and its themes about ethics and philosophy. I don’t want to say too much without giving it away. Give it a try if you haven’t already.
Big Mouth (2017-Present)
Lastly, Big Mouth is a popular Netflix animated series that focuses on teens living in suburban New York, exploring what puberty is like and embracing a frankness about sex and the human body with no boundaries.
To be frank, I’ve never been the hugest fan of Big Mouth, just because I think there are some other really great adult animated shows on Netflix that anyone could enjoy. However, I have to give credit where credit is due, because the show does have some great themes and stories about learning to embrace who you really are, paired with an excellent voice cast that features stars like Maya Rudolph, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, and more.
I’m sure that this list will only grow as Maya Rudolph continues to shine in her amazing movies and TV appearances, and maybe even pop up in some new 2022 movies.
But, until that does happen, these are some of her best. Whether you want to smile, laugh, or watch some really awesome action scenes, all of her best projects have you covered. Now I just need to see if Rudolph will be in any of the new 2021 movies - there's only so much time left in the year.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
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