Are you a Netflix subscriber? Are you in the market for some side-splitting laughs?
If the answer to both those questions is yes, scroll down and feast your eyes on this article, where we’ve compiled the best comedy films on Netflix from the streaming service’s current crop. From biting satires to heart-warming rom-coms, they’re all here – and be sure to check back regularly for updates, as new films arrive on Netflix all the time.
Oh, and if you’re more interested in funny TV series than funny films, don’t worry: we’ve also got a list of those too: The best comedy TV shows on Netflix.
The Naked Gun
The late Leslie Nielsen may have had the dashing looks and deep voice of a matinee idol, even in his advancing years, but was never better when he was playing clownish Los Angeles detective Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun trilogy, the first of which is streaming on Netflix.
Nielsen masterfully plays Drebin as a guy who thinks he’s the hero of a serious crime thriller, totally oblivious to his social gaffes and tendency to cause disaster wherever he goes. When he uncovers a plot to assassinate the Queen Elizabeth II during a state visit to L.A., he springs into action to save the day.
The middle entry in the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright “Cornetto Trilogy”, Hot Fuzz affectionately parodies the action blockbuster genre in the same way as Shaun of the Dead took on zombie flicks – by making them into a comedy movie packed to the gills with the genre’s tropes and traits.
Not only is Hot Fuzz – in which Pegg’s heroic police officer is shipped off to a sleepy rural village for making the rest of the Met look lazy in comparison – hilarious, it’s also a brilliantly edited, warm homage to the likes of Point Break, Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys.
The Big Short
How the hell do you explain collateralised debt obligation to the 99% of the population that doesn’t work on Wall Street? Stick Margot Robbie in a bathtub, of course. Adam McKay’s scathing retelling of the 2007-2008 financial crisis is jam-packed with these little explainers. Just in case Ryan Gosling’s acerbic narrator hasn’t boiled it down enough for you already.
Don’t let the subject matter turn you off: The Big Short takes a complex money minefield and turns it into a devilishly funny and genuinely exciting tale. You’ll tune in for the incredible cast but stay to the end for the dissection of adjustable-rate mortgages.
Trains, Planes and Automobiles
A holiday favourite from way back in the 1980s, this hilarious and heart-warming road movie stars Steve Martin and John Candy as travellers forced to team up in order to get home in time for the Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Martin shines as the uptight middle-class straight man, the opposite to Candy’s motor-mouthed shower curtain ring salesman – so it’s no surprise when their journey descends into chaos and rancour. It all ends on a positive note, of course, which is probably why this film has become something of a classic of its time. It’s certainly among the late Candy’s best movies.
Ivan Reitman’s 1988 film was the first time Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped outside of his action comfort zone, and the results are surprisingly effective. Arnie’s prodigious muscles and Austrian accent are adequately explained away by the plot, in which he and Danny DeVito are brothers: the results of a genetic experiment to create a perfect human being. Separated at birth, Schwarzenegger’s naive Julius was raised by a German professor on a Pacific island, while DeVito’s Vincent was shipped off to a Los Angeles orphanage, becoming a petty criminal and conman. When the pair reunite, in typical buddy comedy fashion they stumble into an industrial espionage plot which forces them to confront their pasts and reconcile their differences.
Is Amélie as twee and whimsical as it might seem? Maybe, just a little bit. But Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s stylish rom-com is also funny, heart-warming and unconventional. It’s a love letter to Paris that’s bathed in Gallic charm and wit, and rarely cloying.
Audrey Tatou’s performance as the titular character, a lonely woman who decides to improve people’s lives through some light interference, made her into a star, but there’s plenty of merit besides her turn – like the quasi-retro colour cast that apparently went on to inspire Instagram’s winsome vintage filters…
Jim Carrey is at his frenetic, rubber-faced early career best as the loser who turns into a manic, hot-stepping, zoot suit-wearing ball of confidence when he dons an ancient cursed mask.
At the time of its release, The Mask was presented as a showcase for the greatest CGI effects of the time (which, despite being noticeably “not real”, still hold up pretty well 30ish years on), but it’s Carrey’s presence that really makes everything work – and an honourable mention must go to Cameron Diaz in her breakout role as his love interest. Smmmmooookin’!
Attack the Block
Aliens descend on Earth with bad intentions. Aliens land in a South London housing estate. Aliens find out that South London housing estates hold their own kind of dangers.
By refusing to cast judgement, either good or bad, on the actions of its wayward teenage protagonists, it leaves you free to make up your own mind, though you’ll probably be too engrossed in the thrills and spills to bother. Directed by Adam and Joe’s Joe Cornish, Attack the Block is scary, funny and very cool.
There’s a moment in Paddington that will make you leap off the sofa and howl out loud in agony. Whether you’re a fully-grown adult or bushy-eyed sprog, this cinematic ode to everyone’s favourite marmalade fiend finds a way to wind itself around your heartstrings.
It’s stuffed full of belly laughs, impeccable voice acting from Ben Whishaw and a refreshingly affectionate take on immigration. Can a Peruvian bear vanquish the dastardly Nicole Kidman and find a home for himself in Blighty? We’re not telling, but you’ll have a blast finding out.
We’re the Millers
Jason Sudeikis small-time marijuana dealer, faced with a dangerous ultimatum, assembles a fake family to join him on his drug smuggling trip – the idea is to avoid suspicion from border control. But with his “wife” (Jennifer Aniston) being a penniless exotic dancer, his “daughter” a streetwise homeless teenager and “son” a painfully awkward adolescent, this dysfunctional family is about as good as Kanye West at keeping a low profile. The Millers are capable of inducing a few laughs if cringe-worthy comedy is your thing, though. And they’ll make you feel much better about your own family.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes’ iconic tale of a wily suburban teenager ditching school to spend a memorable day with his friends is one of the must-watch 1980s comedies – a movie that seems to represent a whole era. It helps that it’s an entertaining, engaging watch packed with great moments and performances, from Matthew Broderick’s career-best turn as fourth wall-breaking Ferris to Alan Ruck as his morose hypochondriac best friend Cameron, all of which invest it with a appeal that’ll land with free thinkers of all ages.
This Australian indie movie about the unlikely friendship between a cancer-stricken girl and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks is warm-hearted, moving, funny and served with a fantastic cast: not just Little Women‘s Eliza Scanlen in the lead role, but Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis as her protective parents. Far from sentimental or depressing, Shannon Murphy’s film serves as a celebration of life and all that comes with it, good or bad.
The Death of Stalin
Armando Iannucci brings his distinctive brand of political satire to one of modern history’s darkest chapters: in the wake of Josef Stalin’s undignified demise, a troupe of self-serving Soviet grandees – Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin, Jason Isaacs and Paul Whitehouse among them – farcically jostle for power.
While it doesn’t hit the breezy highs of Iannucci’s debut movie In The Loop or his TV series Veep and The Thick Of It (being set in a time and place where political rivals were regularly executed, it’s much bleaker even than them) The Death of Stalin skewers the absurdity of politics just as effectively, and raises lots of laughs along the way.
Mistake Bridesmaids as just another so-called chick flick at your peril. Yes, at its core it’s a romantic comedy focused on the awkward interactions between Kristen Wiig and Chris O’Dowd, but it offers so much more. Lewd jokes, masterfully executed toilet humour and offbeat distractions provided by the likes of Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson make for some genuinely hilarious moments, and the film’s gentle exploration of the themes of friendship, love and marriage are well handled by director Paul Feig.
DreamWorks’ beloved CGI series started 20 years ago with this wonderful fairy tale adventure about a curmudgeonly green ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) who falls in love with a beautiful princess. Sending up various fantasy and fairy tale tropes along the way, Shrek is a children’s movie that gives adults plenty to enjoy too. Packed with clever references and in-jokes, it’s spawned a long-running series – but do yourself a favour and start at the beginning.
Dolemite Is My Name
Eddie Murphy shines in this raucous biopic of Rudy Ray Moore, an overweight, middle-aged and professionally directionless musician and stand-up comedian who found fame in the 1970s by creating a smooth-talking and confident stage alter ego: a pimp named Dolemite. As a rags to riches tale it might sound all too familiar, but Murphy’s performance, a fantastic supporting cast packed with familiar faces and a surprising amount of heart and soul make it a truly engaging watch – particularly if you’re learning about Moore and Dolemite for the first time.
Just as Adam Sandler looks set for a second career renaissance courtesy of Uncut Gems (the first being courtesy of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love), let’s rewind right back to the point in his career before he’d sunk so low as to need one: 1996’s Happy Gilmore, in which Sandler’s ability to play “shouty but loveable man-child” felt genuinely fresh and amusing.
Sandler’s eponymous protagonist dreams of making it as an ice hockey pro, but instead finds himself an unlikely golfing prodigy, able to drive the ball further than anyone else on the tour but hopeless at the more technical aspects of the sport’s short game. When his grandmother’s house come under threat, he decides prize money is the solution – and must overcome not only his skill shortcomings but the stuffy golfing establishment.
One of the classic 1990s teen comedies, Clueless is a high school-set rework of Jane Austen’s Emma. Out go the bodices, in come designer threads as the rich and popular Cher plays matchmaker among her friends – only to realise that she herself knows very little about romance. As with many films of its day, Clueless has aged quite noticeably – but that’s part of its charm. And speaking of aging, we’d love to know Paul Rudd’s secret: he’s barely changed in the 25 years since this film first aired!
The Other Guys
Before Adam McKay was tackling weighty subjects like big finance, media empires and politics (in The Big Short, Succession and Vice respectively), he was making a bunch of hilarious mainstream comedies with his pal Will Ferrell; The Other Guys is probably the second-best of these after Anchorman. A clever twist on buddy cop movies (albeit one that actually ticks off all the genre’s tropes), the film sees Ferrell’s pen-pushing desk jockey detective partner up with testosterone-fuelled maverick Mark Wahlberg.
From The Squid and the Whale to The Meyerowitz Stories (the latter of which you’ll also find recommended in this article), Noah Baumbach’s movies have a knack for laying bare the tragi-comic complexities of modern human relationships – and this Netflix original delivers more of the same by digging into the breakdown of a young couple’s (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson) marriage.
The pair attempt a “conscious uncoupling” for the sake of their young son, but stumble into something far more acrimonious along the way. The setup is there for a depressing tale of love gone sour, but Marriage Story instead blooms into something far more nuanced and bittersweet.
Always Be My Maybe
Describing a film as “Netflix’s best original romantic comedy” might sound as if we’re damning it with faint praise, but Always Be My Maybe is a genuinely enjoyable, occasionally hilarious riff on the well-worn genre starring (and written by) two likeable leads in Ali Wong and Randall Park.
It’s about a pair of childhood friends who unexpectedly reunite many years after an awkward falling out, their lives having diverged onto very different paths in the mean time. You can probably predict how it turns out, but the route it takes is the fun part – particularly when a certain beloved Matrix megastar proves himself an excellent sport in a scene-stealing cameo.
Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Ray Romano gives the performance of his life in this quiet and affecting indie comedy. Romano stars as the neighbour and friend of the equally impressive Mark Duplass – the duo’s enjoyably mundane routine of martial arts movies, jigsaw puzzles, pizza and their invented pastime of “paddleton” disrupted by a terrible medical diagnosis.
What might easily have been an overwrought drama instead works as a beautifully understated, unsentimental and utterly convincing depiction of male friendship – and certainly one of the best Netflix-produced movies we’ve seen.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Originally intended to be a series of six individual episodes, the Coen brothers instead combined this collection of tales from the Wild West into a single anthology; over the course of its two hours we meet a cast of typically Coen-esque characters including the singing cowboy of the title, a bank robber who meets his match, and a determined prospector played by Tom Waits.
It certainly comes with its fair share of quirky Coen brothers charm, black humour and memorable lines, but the format means The Ballad of Buster Scruggs never quite gets going – and just as it looks like it might, with the tale of a blossoming romance on a wagon train journey to Oregon, it feels like it’s over too soon. Even so, it’s a must-watch for Coen fans.
Why can’t all teen comedies could be as funny, pacy and ultimately life-affirming as 2007’s Superbad, which manages to juggle all the tropes of the genre (partying, sex, friendship) without feeling hackneyed or bloated?
It’s ninety minutes of proof that parties are sources of never-ending angst. You need someone over the age limit to buy the booze – your high school friend with an ID that reads “McLovin” will do. You’ve got to impress the girls – Seth works out that headbutting them in the face works a charm. And in American movies, there’s always the chance the cops will show up – we just wish all of them were as warped as Bill Hader and Seth Rogen.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
“He’s not the Messiah; he’s a very naughty boy!” Falling foul of blasphemy laws in several countries upon its 1979 release (it was banned for eight years in Ireland), Life of Brian is now regarded as one of the greatest comedy films ever made, a British national treasure and a smart satire on the hypocrisy of organised religion. Like pretty much everything else ever made by the Monty Python team, it’s now available to watch on Netflix, bringing this fantastic film – in which a regular, unremarkable Judean man is mistaken for Jesus Christ – to a brand new audience.
Will Ferrell’s patchy movie output doesn’t take away from the fact that when he’s good, he’s really good, and Step Brothers is one of his films which – perhaps a little surprisingly, given its premise – illustrates this fact. Ferrell and the superb John C. Reilly play coddled middle-aged men who still live with their respective mother and father – and are forced to live together as step brothers when said parents get married.
If it sounds like the sort of film Adam Sandler would turn down, Step Brothers actually morphs swiftly from standard slapstick fare to, well, superior slapstick buddy comedy fare as the two enemies become allies and unite to combat a greater threat. It won’t change your life, but it will keep you laughing for 90 minutes of it.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Netflix has occasionally sought out real quality with its original movies, as evidenced by this wry, intelligent indie comedy-drama written and directed by Noah Baumbach – one of cinema’s most perceptive chroniclers of modern human relationships.
Starring Adam Sandler (in his best “serious” performance since Punch-Drunk Love), Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) examines a dysfunctional New York family through the prism of several of its members, all of whom revolve around Hoffman’s preening, needy and manipulative patriarch.