Reading screenplays is an important step in becoming a great screenwriter.
Sure, you can watch the movie, but seeing the story and dialogue on the page is a totally separate experience – especially when it comes to comedy.
Until the day screenwriting software autocorrects bad jokes, reading how funny dialogue and action sequences are written or described in the script offers valuable clues into writing your own. Luckily, The Script Lab has a vast library of screenplays anyone can download for free. Here are 10 to download so you can start your own script library.
BridgertonDownload the script!
Based on the book by Julia Quinn, Chris Van Dusen’s pilot script for the hit Netflix show has set a new standard for diversity on screen, proving that even British history doesn’t have to be a stuffy banquet of old white men. Depicting an inter-racial romance between Simon (Regé-Jean Page) and Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) feels fresh and exciting, bringing the Regency period into the 21st century. The show’s grand success offers new possibilities in storytelling.
Palm SpringsDownload the script!
This rom-com, written by Andy Siara, has a sci-fi bent to it, creating an homage to Groundhog Day. Nyles (Andy Samberg) goes to a wedding in Palm Springs where he meets Sarah (Cristin Miloti), only to discover they’re stuck in a time loop. The film is half comedy and half existential nightmare but is an excellent lesson in balancing two different tones. The other reason you should read it because the film sold at Sundance in 2020 for $17,500,000.69. The 69 cents was meant to be a joke, but at the time, it was the highest selling Sundance film ever.
Borat Subsequent Movie FilmDownload the script!
Writer/actor/improviser Sacha Baron Cohen is no doubt a comedic genius. What’s interesting about reading this script, which was also written by Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, and Lee Kern, is you get to see how much of the film was written verbatim and how scenes changed with great improvisational skills. This screenplay balances political satire with huge belly laughs. Expect this screenplay to be nominated for an Oscar.
BooksmartDownload the script!
Booksmart, written by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Susannah Haskins, and Katie Silberman, isn’t your typical high school movie. Think of recreating Clueless for Gen Z and you have one of the funniest teen films of all time. While the lead characters may be snowflakes, the movie is full of so much heart and humor, you’ll enjoy reading every page. The screenplay is also significant because it portrays a protagonist, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), who’s in the LGBTQ+ community – one of the few high school movies to do so.
Shakespeare in LoveDownload the script!
Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s screenplay is a gem – it’s erudite, hilarious and romantic. It also makes writing a complicated story that weaves together plots and dialogue from Shakespeare’s greatest plays look easy. The characters are brave but flawed, and somehow feel very relatable to us today, roughly 500 years after the Bard lived. It also has one of the simplest, most wonderful titles of all time – Shakespeare in Love tells you everything you need to know about the story and tone.
Crazy Rich AsiansDownload the script!
Based on the multi-generational best-selling book by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians, written by Adele Lim and Peter Chiarelli, is a modern-day, Asian Cinderella tale where romance is central to the story. But what’s impressive about the screenplay is that it doesn’t just hit the stale fairytale tropes of courtship, love, rejection and marriage. Instead, it delves deep into traditional cultural values, some Chinese, some American, along with the reality of what it means to be a modern, independent woman looking for love.
I, TonyaDownload the script!
Former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding is considered one of the biggest villains in American sports for *possibly* orchestrating an attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan. Steven Rogers’ screenplay is a great example of writing an underdog, or antihero, as a protagonist. But the secondary characters like Tonya’s mother, LaVona (Allison Janney), are equally villainous and darkly comedic.
Girls TripDownload the script!
This movie is one of the funniest R-rated comedies of all time. Starring Queen Latifa, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish and Regina Hall, it’s about four women who’ve known each other since high school and decide to let loose at the Essence festival in New Orleans. If you like raunchy humor, Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver’s screenplay is the hands-down outrageous and adds the act of “grapefruiting” to our collective consciousness.
The HangoverDownload the script!
Talking about R-rated comedies, The Hangover is the one that started this recent trend that eclipsed rom-coms. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Heather Graham, this is the most fun anyone’s ever had with an alcohol-induced headache. The screenplay, written by Scott Lucas and Jon Moore, is an excellent example of balancing camaraderie and conflict between four good friends as they try to solve the mystery of what happened last night.
BridesmaidsDownload the script!
This Oscar-nominated script by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo is another great R-rated comedy, this time focused on a group of women. Yes, there’s some raunchy scatological humor that provides big laughs, but this screenplay has enormous heart when it comes to protagonist Annie (Wiig) and her journey to find love and acceptance. This screenplay proves that women can be just as witty, funny and foul-mouthed as men.
Hungry to read more scripts? There are hundreds of Hollywood’s top film and TV screenplays on the TSL Script Library just waiting to be downloaded!
And if you’re itching to tickle some funny bones with your own comedy script, enter the 2021 ScreenCraft Comedy Screenplay Competition!