It’s easy to get Netflix tunnel vision when embarking on an epic telly session, but you’d be a fool of Kraken-sized proportions to discount Amazon Prime Instant Video’s growing library of gems.
As this collection of Stuff favourites shows, Amazon’s streaming service has become particularly adept at laughter generation. And remember; all of these movies and TV shows are already included in your Prime subscription, so sit back and prepare to engage your face’s smile apparatus with these comedy masterpieces...
Amazon spent a long time trying to “do a Netflix” by creating its very own blockbusting TV shows, and Transperent was the moment it got it right. For a start, this is really bold – it tells the story of a sixtysomething divorcee announcing to his three grownup kids that he’s always felt different and is now going to live as a woman.
Sounds heavy, and it sort of is, but it’s also darkly funny, with a degree of wit and sharpness that’s still rare even in this golden age of TV. The bickering between the three kids (each of whom is riddled with their own individual problems and peccadillos) is as chucklesome as it is awkward and believable. Amazing telly.
Mistake this innocently titled movie as another cookie-cutter chick flick at your peril. At its core, it's a rom-com focused on the awkward interactions between Kristen Wiig and The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd, but it offers so much more.
Lewd jokes, masterfully executed toilet humour, and weird distractions provided by the likes of Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson make for some genuinely hilarious moments, and that gives everything a refreshing feel similar to that of the first time we watched Anchorman. That's the sort of level that Bridesmaids is at.
After the success of his own TV show filled Dave Chappelle’s gigs with catchphrase-hollering hecklers, the gangly comic disappeared from the standup circuit (he returned only recently, after a decade-long hiatus) but this early noughties sketch show remains some of the finest American character comedy of the past 20 years.
While it’s best known for inventing “I’m Rick James, bitch!”, there’s far more to Chappelle’s Show than rinse and repeat catchphrases. Its searing social commentary caused controversy on a weekly basis, flipping and mocking racial stereotypes left, right and centre.
Every episode is here, including the three from the aborted third series, but the real highlights are to be found in series one and two.
Parks and Recreation
The show that propelled Amy Poehler to Golden Globe-presenting notoriety and Chris Pratt to blockbuster ultra-stardom has its wit and one-liners honed to perfection. Taking Modern Family’s warmth, mixing it with Arrested Development’s absurdity and building it around The Office’s mockumentary formula, it centres on the inconsequential workdays of the least consequential department (Parks and Rec) of the council of madeup middle- American town of Pawnee, Indiana.
Like The Office, its brilliance lies in its characters and their relationships, although its comic set pieces are also ingenious. But unlike The Office, it’s not tragic – it’s bright, touching and will leave you grinning from cheek to cheek. It takes until series two to really hit its stride, but Parks and Recreation is a true must-see.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
It's easy to forget Edgar Wright has directed only four feature films. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is unique within that quartet - it's Wright's only American film, his only film outside of the so-called "Cornetto Trilogy" (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End), and his only comic book adaptation. Based on this evidence, he would have made a brilliant Ant-Man.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World stars Michael Cera as Scott, a 22 year-old hipster who falls in love with Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a Manic Pixie Dream Girl-type with ever-changing hair. To win her love, he must defeat her seven exes in a series of video game-like battles, while also contending with the overbearing love of his current girlfriend, Knives Chau.
A comic book movie released just as Marvel was getting its cinematic universe going, packed with amazing fight scenes, and boasting all of the visual flourishes that Wright had become known for as a director may seem like a recipe for cinematic success, but Scott Pilgrim massively bombed at the box office.
Judged through today's eyes, some of its hipster angst can grate, and Scott totally chooses the wrong girl at the end, but it's lost none of its visual pizzaz. Plus, it's packed to the gills with cameos from now-major stars such as Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Evans.