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Amy Poehler's 7 Best And 7 Worst Movies Ranked

Amy Poehler has spent the past several decades making audiences laugh and cementing her place as a top comedic talent. Long before her 2001 debut on "Saturday Night Live," Poehler found a place in the Chicago comedy scene where she met her best friend and frequent collaborator, Tina Fey (per Vulture). The duo met in 1993 when both joined Improv Olympic (a.k.a. iO) and took classes with famed Chicago improv group, Second City, both of which helped Poehler refine her distinctive comedic voice and launch her career.

In 1996, Poehler moved to New York City and along with Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, and Ian Roberts, co-founded the comedy sketch group, the Upright Citizens Brigade in 1999. In 2001, the actress joined her friend Fey as an "SNL" cast member and marked her television debut on the show. Ever since, through prolific work in television and film, she has successfully navigated the comedic path to lasting stardom.

As with anything, comedy films tend to be hit-or-miss with audiences and critics alike. For every successful comedy Poehler has appeared in, there's a head-scratching flop that failed to land. So, let's take a look at some of Amy Poehler's best and worst films.

Worst: Are You Here

In theory, "Are You Here," should have produced pure comedy gold thanks to its stellar cast of Amy Poehler, Zach Galifianakis, and Owen Wilson. However, per Rotten Tomatoes, neither audiences nor critics found much appeal in the movie. 

"Are You Here" tells the story of Steve (Wilson), who spends his time and money attempting to bed multiple women. Steve's best friend Ben (Galifianakis) is a stoner man-child who, when his father dies, inherits the family farm and business ... and millions of dollars. As Steve helps Ben in his new responsibilities, he falls in love with Ben's young stepmother (Laura Ramsey). Poehler plays Ben's sister, Terry, who receives a paltry inheritance in comparison to her brother and tries to contest the will.

Poehler puts a solid effort into offering a nuanced performance as the film's quasi-antagonist, and there are bright, tender, and witty moments from Wilson and Gailfianakis too. "Are You Here" marked the feature film directorial debut of "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner, and bears the markings of a film newcomer. The subject matter here feels better suited for a drama with dark comedic moments, rather than a straightforward comedy with dramatic undertones since there aren't many laugh-out-loud moments. 

As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, "While it aims to explore the crooked path to male self-knowledge and a more harmonious place in the world, this tonal mess rarely puts a foot right as comedy and makes only marginal improvements when it turns poignant toward the end."

Best: Inside Out

Pixar has cornered the market of animated films that warm the hearts of audiences of all ages. Yet, even among excellent films like "Coco" and "Soul," Pete Docter's 2015 feature "Inside Out" shines. The story delves into the personified emotions that live inside 11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and control her life: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). As Riley struggles to deal with moving to a new city, Joy and Sadness embark on a mission to keep Riley from falling under the sway of their destructive counterparts. 

Director Pete Docter gleaned inspiration from the real life emotional struggles of his adolescent daughter, and the movie continues to resonate with many people thanks to its imaginative take on mental health that conveys its important message in a way that isn't heavy-handed. Audiences of all ages flocked to the film, which grossed over $857 million worldwide (per Box Office Mojo). Critics were no less enthusiastic, as the film has a near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score. In fact, "Inside Out" earned the 2016 Academy Award for best animated feature (per IMDb).

Joy is the leader of the emotions and Poehler lends her voice talent in ways that endear audiences to the character. Vulture marveled at Poehler's portrayal of Joy's subtle complexities and growth, stating that "rarely do you find an actor who is asked to do this much in a voice role, and who pulls it off this beautifully," and that ultimately, "[Poehler] IS 'Inside Out.'" Thankfully, Poehler will reprise her role in "Inside Out 2."

Worst: Envy

"Envy" is proof that even a phenomenal cast can't save a weak script. In this 2004 dark comedy, Tim (Ben Stiller) and Nick (Jack Black) are best friends. When one of Nick's wacky inventions (the Vapoorizer) actually leads to wealth and success, Tim's life becomes riddled with failure. Tim grows envious of his friend and attempts to sabotage him. Amy Poehler plays Nick's wife, Natalie, and the rest of the supporting cast includes Rachel Weisz as Tim's wife Debbie and Christopher Walken as a shady drifter.

Poorly-executed, juvenile humor keeps the stellar cast from fully developing their characters and a dead horse consumes much of the storyline. "Envy" failed to impress audiences or critics, with IGN noting, "The film is a barely amusing collection of standard comic devices. ... The cast is impressive which only adds to the disappointment felt by the audience."

Amy Poehler does her best with her one-dimensional character, but gets lost in the over-the-top antics of her male co-stars. The movie was released on the same day as "Mean Girls" (a film much better suited to showcase Poehler's talents), and quickly left theaters. 

Best: Mean Girls

Upon its 2004 release, "Mean Girls" entered the rarified territory of instant comedy classic. The sharply witty script written by co-star Tina Fey exposes the reality of "mean girl" high school cliques and there's a plethora of quotable lines that have given it an infinite second life as one of the most meme-worthy movies of all time. But ultimately, it's the performances of the actors — both lead and supporting — that bring this magic to life.

When home-schooled Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) returns to the U.S. after spending her childhood in Africa, she enters school for the very first time as a junior. She befriends outcasts Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese) and they plot to take down The Plastics, a popular mean girl clique led by Regina George (Rachel McAdams). As Cady infiltrates The Plastics, she soon finds herself losing sight of the goal at hand and becomes a Plastic herself.

Amy Poehler shines as June George, Regina's washed-up mom, who lives vicariously through her daughter. Poehler infuses her over-the-top "cool mom" character with hilarity, especially via June's questionable relationship with her pet Chihuahua. Yet the actress manages to capture June George's vulnerability as well: June is desperate to fit in with her daughter's friends, and we feel a twinge of sympathy for her. Poehler steals every scene she's in, and according to MTV, is the "best part of the movie." Poehler's portrayal of June is certainly unforgettable.

Worst: The House

The 2017 comedy "The House" asks the question: What happens when you take two brilliant comedians and cast them as leads in the same movie? At times, you strike comedy gold like with "Bridesmaids," starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. Conversely, the answer in "The House" is ... a bit of a mess.

Comedic powerhouses Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler play husband and wife Scott and Kate Johansen, a middle-class couple with financial struggles. The Johansens panic when their daughter, Alex (Ryan Simpkins), is accepted to Bucknell University but her community scholarship is no longer tenable. With the help of their neighbor, Frank Theodorakis (Jason Mantzoukas), the Johansens open an illegal casino in their home to pay for their daughter's tuition. 

The premise feels far-fetched, and despite the phenomenal comedic skills of Poehler, Ferrell, and other cast members, laugh-out-loud moments do not abound. Poehler spoke to Refinery 29 about working with Ferrell: "We share a similar comedy language. We kind of look like we could be married, in a weird way. I think we have a chemistry from knowing each other for so long." 

The chemistry between Poehler and Farrell does shine through in the movie. However, it isn't enough to overcome the flat characters and script and it didn't land with critics or audiences. According to Box Office Mojo,"The House" was produced on a $40 million budget and earned just under $26 million globally.

Best: Blades of Glory

In the figure skating send-up "Blades of Glory," Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) both face lifetime bans from competitive figure skating due to an altercation on the awards stage of the World Games. After experiencing public disgrace, Michaels and MacElroy discover a loophole in competition regulations and join forces to compete in pairs' figure skating. However, brother and sister skaters Stranz (Will Arnett) and Fairchild (Amy Poehler) Van Waldenberg stand as fierce obstacles in the new pair's return to the top of the competitive figure skating world.

Poehler and Arnett were married from 2003 to 2016 (per Vanity Fair), and on screen, their chemistry is palpable. Both actors seem to relish their roles as the film's antagonists, and ham up the villainous (and quasi-incestuous) nature of their characters.

The movie pays homage to '80s sports movies, and has an extremely silly yet serious quality similar to "Zoolander" — the actors never wink at the audience, which helps the film land laugh-out-loud moments and critics agreed, giving it mostly positive reviews. Although Ferrell and Heder deliver great performances, The Guardian noted the "scene-stealing turn from Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as the creepy brother-sister skating team." 

Poehler clearly has fun with her character, and told Collider, "It's way more fun to be evil. What was fun about our stuff was that we had to look like from the outside that we were all sweet but inside we were rotten to the core. That was really fun to play."

Worst: The Ex

"The Ex" is a 2007 dark comedy featuring lowbrow humor and hints of drama. Tom Reilly (Zach Braff) is a fine-dining chef who has difficulty keeping a job. His wife Sofia (Amanda Peet) is an attorney, who takes time off to raise their first child. When Tom loses his job, the couple heads to Ohio where Sofia's family and paraplegic high school fling, Chip (Jason Bateman), live. Chip works for Sofia's father, Bob (Charles Grodin) and when Bob employs Tom as well, conflict arises. Wheelchair jokes, racist jabs, and other preteen antics ensue, and sympathetic characters are in rare supply.

Amy Poehler plays Carol Lane, Tom's new coworker at his father-in-law's advertising firm. Although Poehler isn't in a lead role here, she's memorable. Carol welcomes Tom to the firm and, in a rare humorous moment, warns him to run. In a review of "The Ex," The New York Times said the movie "never quite delivers what it promises. As its pace quickens, it becomes increasingly sketchy and its parts begin to come unglued." According to Rotten Tomatoes, "The Ex" failed to win over critics or audiences, and only earned $3.1 million at the box office (per Box Office Mojo).

Best: Moxie

2019 saw the release of Amy Poehler's directorial debut "Wine Country," and she returned to the director's chair just a few years later for her second film "Moxie," a teenage comedy-drama (per The Hollywood Reporter). 

Obedient and shy Vivian (Hadley Robinson) is a 16-year-old, who takes feminist inspiration from her outspoken mom Lisa (Poehler) to defend her new classmate Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña). When jock and bully Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger) harasses Lucy, Vivian wants school officials to take action, but they're reluctant to get involved. So, Vivian turns to her mom for advice and starts Moxie –- a feminist magazine with a mission to snuff out the rampant social wrongs spreading throughout her school.

Poehler deftly manages her dual roles as director and costar here, and plays Lisa as an authentic and flawed mother. The mother-daughter relationship between Vivian and Lisa feels genuine. The film tackles misogyny, gender oppression, sexual assault, and other vital social justice issues while encouraging girls to boldly stand against the patriarchy that wants to "keep them in their place."

The empowering message of "Moxie" resonated with critics and audiences alike (per Rotten Tomatoes). The Guardian called Poehler's second directorial effort "a winningly optimistic high-school romp with timely #MeToo-era themes" and noted that in front of the camera, Poehler is "in her element as Vivian's single mom, in search of a quiet life but whose rebellious spirit has not quite been quashed."

Worst: Sisters

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey first appeared as co-leads in 2008's comedy "Baby Mama," and it wasn't until 2015's "Sisters" that the two shared top billing again. Unfortunately, "Sisters" wound up being much worse than what was expected from a Poehler-Fey powerhouse collaboration.

Maura Ellis (Poehler) is a responsible, hard-working divorcée, who must clean out her childhood home with her partying, irresponsible sister, Kate (Fey). Kate hasn't matured past adolescence, and her teenage daughter Haley (Madison Davenport) lives with Maura. The sisters decide to have one last blow-out party at their old home, and the house is destroyed by their aging friends, who all revert back to high school behavior.

Poehler spoke with Collider about the film and said, "I know that we have had fun improvising just because it does keep things fresh, and Tina and I really do know how to play off of each other so instinctually, and I think we like to keep the crew laughing always." While fans of Fey and Poehler's chemistry will appreciate seeing it translated into this sibling relationship on-screen, "Sisters" often falls flat. Not surprisingly, the film got mixed reviews from critics and audiences (per Rotten Tomatoes).

Best: On Broadway

The small, independent 2007 drama, "On Broadway" never enjoyed a wide theatrical release, which is a shame since it showcases the deeper side of comedic talents like Mike O'Malley and Amy Poehler. 

The film stars Joey McIntrye of New Kids on The Block fame as Jack O'Toole, a Boston carpenter who writes a play titled "God Willing" after he witnesses the tragic work accident death of his Uncle Pete (Andrew Connelly). Jack produces the play himself, and creates his stage in the back room of the Irish pub "On Broadway" where he bartends part-time. Jack slowly assembles a cast and crew, including Leena (Eliza Dushku) and funeral director Tom (Will Arnett), and, ultimately, realizes his dreams.

Amy Poehler appears as Farrah, a Hollywood set designer, who dismisses Jack's play as "cute" and assumes the pub is a fabricated set. Although Poehler's character isn't integral to the plot, she provides much needed levity. Written and directed by Boston native Dave McLaughlin, the movie's no-frills approach allows audiences to connect with the characters (per IndieWire). 

The small production budget and McLaughlin's love for the Bostonians and Irish American culture showcased here are evident in each scene. "On Broadway" earned just under $24,000 at the box office (per Box Office Mojo), and garnered award nominations on the film festival circuit (per IMDb).

Worst: Wine Country

Amy Poehler made her directorial debut with "Wine Country," a Netflix comedy which she also produced (per The Hollywood Reporter). The film brings many of Poehler's friends and fellow SNL alumnae together including Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, and Maya Rudolph. 

In the midst of life's struggles, Abby (Poehler) plans a Napa Valley trip for her friends to celebrate the 50th birthday of Rebecca (Dratch). The girls' weekend takes unexpected turns, as the friends all wind up revealing issues that they're dealing with. Paula Pell and Emily Spivey round out the cast, and, of course, Tina Fey makes an appearance too.

In an interview with NPR about "Wine Country," Poehler said, "I think that female friendships are an untapped fossil fuel. I think they help run the world. And they're very precious to me. So in any way I can honor them, I'm up for it." However, with such a stacked comedic cast, this film and its featured friendships could have reached "Bridesmaids" heights. 

Unfortunately, the movie doesn't land many "laugh out loud" moments, and doesn't dig beneath the surface of its characters. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said the movie "follows the Sitcom 101 formula," and while "Wine Country" was received positively by a number of critics, it failed to make a strong impression on audiences (per Rotten Tomatoes).

Best: Baby Mama

"Baby Mama" gave the world the gift of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey as leads in the same feature film in 2008. Successful professional Kate Holbrook (Fey) decides to have a baby via surrogate. Enter Poehler as the working-class surrogate and South Philly native, Angie Ostrowski. Angie is crass and obnoxious and shortly after becoming pregnant, finds herself homeless. So, Kate allows Angie to move in with her, as she wants to ensure the safety of the pregnancy –- it's an early 2000s take on "The Odd Couple." Kate and Angie learn to overcome their differences and become best friends in the process.

The special bond between the actresses shines through every scene, and in some moments, comedy magic is born. In his review of the film for The Atlantic, Christopher Orr called the movie "exceptionally executed by Fey and Poehler, firmly in their respective comedic comfort zones of wry vulnerability and barely restrained derangement." Amy Poehler adds depth and nuance to her character and helps "Baby Mama" to shine.

Worst: Wet Hot American Summer

Written and directed by Michael Showalter and David Wain, "Wet Hot American Summer" is a raunchy spoof of 1980s comedies like "Meatballs" and "Porky's." The amount of talent represented by the large cast is staggering — along with Amy Poehler as over-the-top drama counselor Susie, the cast includes Bradley Cooper (in his feature film debut), Christopher Meloni, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Rudd to name a few.

It's 1981 and Camp Firewood is about to close for the summer, but the horny college-aged camp counselors want last-minute romance. It won't be so easy to find though, as they're busy putting on epic musical productions and trying to save the camp from a piece of a NASA space station that's beelining towards Earth.

While Amy Poehler wasn't yet a household name when "Wet Hot American Summer" first came out, she owns every scene she's in — we dare you not to laugh each time she utters, "How DARE you." In the decades since the film's 2001 release, "Wet, Hot American Summer" has developed a sizable cult-following (per The AV Club). 

However, the movie was initially deemed a flop by critics, although audiences strongly disagreed (per Rotten Tomatoes). Variety declared the movie "nearly half over before it finds a consistent groove, let alone a decent hit-to-miss joke ratio." Meanwhile, Roger Ebert eviscerated the film in his 1-star review that spoofs Allan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" camp song, in which he called the movie "cinematic torture."

Best: They Came Together

"They Came Together," the 2014 satire of the over-saturated rom-com film genre, reunited stars Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd with "Wet Hot American Summer" creators David Wain and Michael Showalter. Wain and Showalter co-wrote the script (which Wain directed), which pokes fun at the "meet cute" and unrealistic romantic comedies.

"They Came Together" follows the relationship of Molly (Poehler) and Joel (Rudd). Molly and Joel share a stereotypical romance — with a few twists thrown in for fun. For example, Molly's parents are white supremacists — a dark turn that causes Joel to temporarily break up with her. The standout supporting cast features Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, and Kenan Thompson.

Poehler makes it easy to root for her character — despite the film's obviously satirical story — and she and Rudd make their romance believable, which is essential, even though this is a parody. Critics agreed, with Jennifer Pozner writing that Poehler's "brilliant comedic timing" works perfectly with Rudd while Vulture noted that "there's an elegance to 'They Came Together' that you don't usually see in spoof movies" thanks in part to Poehler's background of doing parody while on "SNL."