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Melissa McCarthy Movies: 10 Laugh-Out-Loud Films Starring the Comedic Powerhouse

The 'Gilmore Girls' actress paved a hilarious path!

From playing quirky characters in our favorite early 2000s series like Gilmore Girls to laugh-out-loud roles in adult comedies, Melissa McCarthy has been shining on our screens in some of the best movies and TV shows of the 21st century.

MUST-READ: ‘Gilmore Girls’ Cast Then and Now: “It’s A Show; It’s A Lifestyle; It’s A Religion”

Melissa McCarthy, 2003
Melissa McCarthy, 2003

After her Gilmore Girls debut, Melissa McCarthy took on roles in films like The Captain (2007) and Just Add Water (2008), while also acting in the series Samantha Who? In 2010, she took on the lead in the hit CBS sitcom Mike & Molly.

MUST-READ: ‘Mike & Molly’ Cast Then and Now: Catch Up With Melissa McCarthy, Billy Gardell and More!

McCarthy shined brightly in the 2011 hit comedy Bridesmaids, the film that really opened the door for her and established her as a true comedic powerhouse. For her role in the film, she even received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Melissa McCarthy, 2011
Melissa McCarthy, 2011Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage/Getty Images

While comedic films continued to come her way over the years, Melissa McCarthy has also forayed into different genres, acting in movies like Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and The Little Mermaid (2023).

MUST-READ: Melissa McCarthy Has a Surprisingly Simple Secret for Shedding Pounds

Here, take a look at our ranking of the best Melissa McCarthy movies of her career.

Melissa McCarthy best movies

10. The Little Mermaid (2023)

In this live-action remake of the 1989 animated Disney classic, Halle Bailey brings to life the red-headed Princess Ariel. An adventurous young mermaid with a deep curiosity of the human world, it’s not long before a brush with a man on land leaves her wanting more.

Her desire to see what life is like on land results in her making a deal with the menacing sea witch Ursula, played by Melissa McCarthy. Will Ariel find what she’s looking for?

I think she’s been isolated,” McCarthy said of her role in an interview with Screen Rant. “She’s shunned from her family. She’s been alone. She’s not been offered a family of her own or anything. I think the revenge and the mania of her became really real.”

She continued, “Keeping all of her parts I think it’s what makes people and characters great. It’s all that messiness, and you wrap it up in one package. Then you really have somebody I really fell for and I had great compassion for her.”

9. Identity Thief (2013)

Melissa McCarthy goes head to head with Jason Bateman in Identity Thief, in which she stars as Diana, a Florida based con-artist who steals Sandy’s (Bateman) identity through an over-the-phone scam.

MUST-READ: Jason Bateman — From Michael Bluth to Marty Byrde, Check Out the Actor’s Most Iconic Roles

When the police conclude they can’t do anything with Diana being out-of-state, Sandy sets out on the adventure of a lifetime to find her and bring her back home with him so he can clear his name and correct the damage she has done.

I wanted to make sure that she wasn’t just a one-dimensional, mustache-twirling villain. That’s interesting for a scene, but I don’t know how you play that for a whole movie,” McCarthy said of her character in an interview with Collider.

“And I love the thought of someone doing criminal acts, but not doing them to be menacing. She does them ‘cause she’s lonely and doesn’t have anyone. She steals identities, just so she can go out to a store and pretend to have these lives.” 

8. Life of the Party (2018)

When housewife Deanna (McCarthy) is left by her husband, she decides that now is the time to take back control of her life and enroll in college, which she dropped out of in her final year when becoming pregnant with their daughter.

It’s not long before she ends up at the same college as her daughter and is embraced by she and her sorority sisters, allowing her to find a new version of herself.

This is what I spend my time doing,” McCarthy said to Collider when asked how she approaches a character like the one in the film.

“I don’t know what that says about me, but I love the…I always start with the look of the character. That’s usually based on someone that I kind of love, and I thought of this as my mom and my grandma.”

7. Tammy (2014)

Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is a down-on-her-luck woman who wrecks her car, loses her job and finds out her husband is cheating on her. Turning to her parents three doors down, she and her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) come to the conclusion that a road trip to Niagara Falls is in order. Before long, the duo is caught up in a series of hilarious hijinks in this hilarious adventure film.

6. The Nines (2007)

The Nines tells a story in three parts centered around three different men, all played by Ryan Reynolds. Each of these stories also consist of additional characters played by Melissa McCarthy and Hope Davis. The individual stories and characters wind up weaving together over time in unexpected ways, often tied to the number nine.

5. Spy (2015)

Susan (McCarthy) is a CIA analyst glued to her desk rather than being in on the action. She can typically be found guiding agent Bradley Fine to safety on his missions using her knowledge and ability of high-tech equipment.

When things go wrong on one of Fine’s endeavors, Susan volunteers to go undercover and investigate a Bulgarian arms dealer who has plans that could result in epic destruction. Does the unassuming desk-bound agent have what it takes to go head to head?

4. The Heat (2013) movies with Melissa McCarthy

A drug lord brings together two opposite law enforcement agents — FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is known as uptight and arrogant, while Boston detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) is vulgar and overly-aggressive.

The unlikely duo puts aside their differences to get the job done — and they just might find something in common along the way.

3. St. Vincent (2014) movies with Melissa McCarthy

Maggie (McCarthy) is a single mom who moves with her son Oliver to Brooklyn. They soon meet their next door neighbor, Vincent (Bill Murray), and aware of Maggie’s late working hours, he offers to watch Oliver after school.

The two spend a lot of time with each other, frequenting the race track and bars much to Maggie’s dismay, but ultimately learn a lot from one another, with Oliver and his mom seeing Vincent in a way not many do at first glance.

2. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, a struggling writer who is unable to get an advance on her next book and is struggling to make ends meet. When she discovers two letters typewritten by Fanny Brice, the subject of her next book, she attempts to sell them, only to receive a lower price than anticipated due to the bland nature of the letters.

To remedy this, she embellishes additional contents to the letter, which soon begins a scheme in which she forges letters by famous writers to sell.

1. Bridesmaids (2011) movies with Melissa McCarthy

In one of her most iconic roles to date, Melissa McCarthy shines. Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig as Annie, who gets asked by her best friend Lillian to be her maid of honor. While she has hopes of making the pre-wedding festivities perfect, Annie clashes with other members of the party, specifically Helen, Lillian’s fancy new friend.

McCarthy stars as Megan, Lillian’s soon-to-be sister-in-law, whose crude, loud-mouthed and aggressive persona has made her one of the most revered Melissa McCarthy roles to date.

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