Comedy can make you laugh, it can make you cry, it can make you think, and sometimes, in the best moments, it can make you do all three. It’s also a strange beast that includes all forms from toilet humor to cerebral satire to that perfect one-liner you quote forever. Thankfully, Netflix is loaded with comedies to keep the good times going.
Here’s a little of everything mined from the comedy films on Netflix: a roundup of the best comedy movies on Netflix right now.
1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes made a time capsule of 80’s nostalgia in this perfect storm of inspired casting, extraordinary writing and directing, and a simple plot that has all but defined the high school movie (its nearest rival is probably Hughes’ other work The Breakfast Club). Matthew Broderick effortlessly channels teen cool in this tale of a boy extraordinaire who engineers a plot to overcome oppressive authority (in the form of a strict, evil principal and overbearing parents) and escape school for a day with his girl and his best friend. Ferris Bueller wanted everything from life, long before the term “live your best life” was cool, and he gets it in this story that has crime, capers, cool cars, romance, rebels with a very loosely-defined cause, and wall-to-wall quotable one-liners. It’s one of the few nearly-perfect movies to exist.
2. Hot Fuzz
Successful black comedy requires a wire’s edge of balance between humor and darkness. Edgar Wright made the style his own in his famous Cornetto trilogy, of which Hot Fuzz is the second entry (preceded by Shaun of the Dead and followed by The World’s End). Endlessly charming Simon Pegg is a dim-witted cop with a superhero complex who is reassigned to a quiet English town. He’s paired with an even more dim-witted partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), but when the town’s evil undercurrents and something worse collide, it’s up to them to save the world, or at least stay alive while bodies drop all around. Every list of the best funny movies on Netflix requires this.
3. The Princess Bride
Speaking of quotable and classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: The Princess Bride. You’ve almost certainly already seen this, but have you rewatched it in the past year, or five? Spoiler alert: it holds up. It’s still funny, romantic, and quirky, with a trope-laden story that holds up because this is one of the original sources that helped launch those tropes into mainstream consciousness. Without this movie, it’s unlikely that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise would exist. Beautiful farmgirl Buttercup (Robin Wright) falls for dashing farmhand Wesley (Cary Elwes), only to be forced into an engagement with a prince after Wesley is supposedly killed by pirates. Wesley (of course) returns as the swashbuckling Dread Pirate Roberts, and faces off against a giant, a vengeance-driven master swordsman (Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya), the evil prince, a poisonous kidnapper, and a bog (let’s not forget the bog) to save his princess. It’s one of the most rewatchable movies of all time.
4. Grosse Pointe Blank
John Cusack was born to play hyper-articulate, socially questionable comedic roles, and every bit of his charisma is on display here in this stunningly brilliant film that cast him as a hitman going back to his hometown. It’s unexpected, witty, funny, incredibly romantic, and unapologetically, bracingly violent at times. Edgar Wright may have the current market cornered on black comedy, but he owes a massive debt to director George Armitage’s blending of small-town domesticity and ruthless crime scenes in this film. And it’s one of the funniest movies on Netflix.
5. Moonrise Kingdom
Going into a movie from renowned stylistic director Wes Anderson, with a title like Moonrise Kingdom, it would be reasonable to expect it to be charming but Not Actually Funny. Moonrise Kingdom is actually funny, though yes, it’s more consistently charming. Nevertheless, genuinely laugh-out-loud moments pop up, particularly driven by Edward Norton’s pitch-perfect turn as Scoutmaster Ward. On a New England island in the 60’s a young boy and girl fall in love and decide to run away together, setting in motion a chain of increasingly epic and odd events. Also stars Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Frances McDormand.
6. How To Steal a Million
Undeservedly somewhat forgotten, this immensely clever and charming heist film outshines almost all the modern ones. There’s something for everyone in a story that stars Audrey Hepburn as the saucy daughter of a famous Parisian forger, who gets sucked into a cat-and-mouse game between a sophisticated thief (Peter O’Toole) and the police. Comedy films on Netflix come and go, especially older ones, catch this while it’s available!
7. O Brother, Where Are Thou?
Three escaped convicts hunt for treasure in the Depression-era South in this cult classic Coen Brothers’ film. George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson set out on an epic quest, while pursued by a ruthless sheriff. They accidentally become a highly successful musical group, and cross paths with a blind man, a guitar player who’s set to sell his soul to the devil, a one-eyed Bible salesman, and the KKK. It’s hilarious, unique, and full of unexpected twists and turns, and notably, it’s almost the best known for its killer soundtrack.
8. Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen creates a delightful concoction in this heady mix of jazz, fame, romance, heartbreak that transports a restless Hollywood screenwriter (Owen Wilson) back to 1920’s Paris. The pitch-perfect casting includes Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Tom Hiddleston, and Lea Seydoux, as Wilson’s character meets luminaries such as Cole Porter, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway. And despite the charm, it’s not all airy layers – Allen mines real emotion from the famous characters he depicts, and in particular from the era, as he captures the quintessential flavor of nostalgia, that sharp, effervescent longing for something gone or past. It’s perhaps ultimately a slight film, but enjoyable.
We owe a debt to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s 2009 film for helping bring Emma Stone toward stardom, but the movie has also become a minor comedy classic. Two teenage best friends (played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera), on the verge of splitting up to go to different colleges, are tasked with getting beer for a party. They view beer as their ticket to finally being cool and getting laid, and go on a journey to find some. It’s as deliberately awkward and vulgar as Rogen’s comedies always are, but truth about how life is hums along under it, and the movie hits the right notes with its exploration of friendship versus sex, and even friendship versus everything else.
Both sweet and very funny, Adventureland stars Jesse Eisenberg as a lost teenager who’s assigned to work at an amusement park to make for damages to his parents’ car. A standout 80’s soundtrack and charismatic cast contribute to his journey, including Kristen Stewart as the girl he falls for, plus Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and Ryan Reynolds. Eisenberg and Stewart shine in early roles that hint at the stardom to come.
Doug Glatt (Sean Williams Scott) isn’t the brightest kid on the block, but he unexpectedly finds his place when he’s recruited to a semi-pro hockey team as an enforcer. A surprisingly good sports comedy (partly written by Evan Goldberg of Superbad) that also stars Liev Schreiber. Violent, profane, and very funny, it’s a fun take on the underdog sports tale.
12. In the Loop
Before he did Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi was the breakout star of this sharp political satire of the invasion of Iraq. Director Armando Iannucci skewers the political climate and events of the Bush and Blair era, with Capaldi playing Director of Communications to the British Prime Minister. His profoundly profane Malcolm Tucker made him beloved in much of England. In the Loop was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009.
13. Wet Hot American Summer
This is either very much up your alley or very much not, but since it’s an enduring cult classic and stars a ton of comedic faces you probably love, it’s worth a shot to find out which. Nihilistic and raunchy, it’s set at a summer camp and features a talking can of vegetables, the threat of imminent doom, and Paul Rudd, Christopher Meloni, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, and more.
14. The Trip
You like food? Doesn’t matter, if you like either dialogue or celebrity impressions, because all three of those things (food, conversations, and celebrity impressions) light up this bizarrely charming entry in the burgeoning buddy-roadtrip genre (see also: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World). Two British actor/comedians playing versions of themselves travel through England, stopping to eat at expensive/well-known restaurants along the way. The friends (and sometimes rivals and enemies) do impressions of Michael Caine, Woody Allen, Liam Neeson, and various British personalities, but it’s mostly a film driven by their rambling, witty, biting conversations.
15. What About Bob?
Bill Murray is a neurotic New Yorker who concludes that his issues can’t handle it when his arrogant psychiatrist (Richard Dreyfuss) goes on vacation. Turning into a stalker, Bob (Murray) tracks the man down to his home on Lake Winnipesaukee and adopts himself into the family. Murray preserves an innocence in Bob that makes the chaos that happens around him, much of which he causes, somehow even funnier.
16. Bridget’ Jones Diary
Here’s the thing about Bridget Jones’ Diary: either you haven’t seen it and you think it’s a probably dreadful, awkward, fat-shaming film trying really hard to be funny, or you’ve seen it and you know it’s very good at situational comedy and also has a pitch-perfect cast that a modern romantic comedy may never obtain again. Sweet, sexy, and funny, it’s that rarest of things, a successful and well-rounded rom-com. Most of the credit goes to the marvelous Renee Zellweger, who simultaneously buoys Bridget and grounds her and makes her insistently winning. But most of the fun is from the minute-by-minute escapades, biting one-liners, and sizzling chemistry between the trio at the heart of it: Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant.
17. Magic Mike
It’s an easy joke a minute for the title alone, but director Steven Soderbergh ably balances drama and comedy in a movie that yes, delivers male strippers and abs aplenty, but also explores the cost of easy money and sex-driven work. An immensely likable cast is fronted by Matthew McConaughey in the movie that started the McConaissance (his meteoric rise from half-forgotten actor to one of Hollywood’s top leading men). Channing Tatum also stars.
18. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
This oddball pairing of actors shouldn’t work – it defies reason – but the script is strong enough that these two able actors find a chemistry for their characters, first as friends, then as something a little more. On the eve of the apocalypse, Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightly) take off on a roadtrip to get her home to her family and for him to find his long lost love. There’s a lot of terribly sad moments, but a whole ton of hilarious ones too from cameos that include T.J. Miller, Gillian Jacobs, Rob Corddry, Amy Schumer, and Patton Oswalt.
19. Big Trouble in Little China
Kurt Russell just has a knack for starring in films that turn out to be cult classics: never cool enough to be mainstream hits, badass enough to be enduringly loved by genre fans. Big Trouble in Little China is one of the most popular cult movies of all time and mixes up a ton of different genres, from action to fantasy to comedy. Russell stars as Jack Burton, a truck driver who’s drawn deep into a fantastical underbelly of San Francisco’s Chinatown to help his friend. It’s hilariously goofy.
This has been hyped far beyond its actual status, as periodically happens with animated movies, but it’s still a well-written, clever, sweet comedy with winning characters. Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman give life to a story about a determined, cheery police rookie who reluctantly teams up with a con-artist fox to solve a series of crimes plaguing the city. Come for the cute animals, stay for the sloth.
As you dive into comedies on Netflix, may this be a guide for your viewing pleasure. Good comedy movies on Netflix abound, as long as you catch them during the months they’re available!
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