Netflix subscriber? In the mood for some belly-shaking, side-splitting laughs?
Then you’ll want to scroll down and feast your eyes on this article, where we’ve assembled our favourite comedy movies from the streaming service’s current crop. From black comedies to biting satires to heart-warming rom-coms, they're all here – and be sure to check back regularly for updates, as new films and specials 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.
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.
Forget reboots, the upcoming sequel and even the original sequel: if you’re watching a Ghostbusters movie, make it the original. One of the best-loved comedies of the 1980s, it stars Bill Murray as a New York parapsychologist who gives up his academic career to lead a pest control service for spooks – and amid a mysterious rise in supernatural activity, business is booming.
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.
The Big Lebowski
Louche, laidback and outwardly lightweight, Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 follow-up to the multiple award-winning thriller Fargo rewards the astute viewer. It’s packed to the gills with call-backs, references to classic movies and other clever touches to pick up on.
It’s also an absolute riot, as Jeff Bridges’ ageing hippy sets out to right a wrong (in a case of mistaken identity, two hoodlums broke into his apartment and “soiled” his beloved rug) and ends up drawn headlong into a kidnapping case involving a German electropop group, ruthless pornographers, a paraplegic philanthropist, a sullen teenage car thief, the police chief of Malibu, a (possibly hallucinatory) cowboy… and bowling. With an outstanding script and supporting cast including Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Goodman, The Big Lebowski is a rare cinematic gift: one that keeps on giving with each subsequent viewing.
A few years on from the superbly brain-twisting Being John Malkovich, director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman reunited with Adaptation, another smart comedy about Kaufman’s own real-life attempts to adapt Susan Orlean’s non-fiction book The Orchid Thief for the screen.
Starring Nicolas Cage as both Charlie Kaufman and his fictional twin brother Donald, it manages to be the very adaptation Kaufman was asked to write, as well as a postmodern dissection of Hollywood screenwriting. Wildly entertaining and filled with wonderful performances (Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper are particularly impressive in their roles), it’s one of the best examples of mainstream movie creativity around.
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is a teen comedy that could be lazily described as “Superbad with girls”, but it stands up more than capably on its own. It’s not hard to pick out the parallels: both centre on two best friends in the final days of high school who fall into a wild night of partying, self-discovery and ungainly attempts to lose their virginities before heading off for college.
The similarities are further focussed by the fact that Superbad’s breakout star Jonah Hill’s younger sister Beanie Feldstein stars. Feldstein and co-star Kaitlyn Dever are charming and hilarious as the bookish BFFs who realise – possibly too late – that they may have squandered some of the best years of their lives in pursuit of those A grades.
Burn After Reading
Burn After Reading might be the Coen brothers’ “spy movie”, but it has far more in common with a bedroom farce than your typical espionage thriller.
In this black comedy, a succession of awful human beings – played by such luminaries as Frances McDormand, George Clooney, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton and, in one of his comedic highlights, Brad Pitt – find their lives intersecting in various ways, all against the backdrop of Virginia, Washington DC and the US intelligence community. While it might sound like lightweight fare, a clever and quirky follow-up to the terrifying bleakness of the Coens’ previous film, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading is actually similarly dark at its core – it’s just funnier along with it.
If you’re old enough, you’ll remember when Lindsay Lohan was known for being an up-and-coming actress instead of an example of what happens when fame goes sour? Mean Girls was one of the movies that propelled her into the limelight – a biting satire of high school cliques which sees new girl Cady (Lohan) ingratiating herself with the cool kids as part of a long-term revenge plot.
The plot thickens as Cady destroys the Queen Bee: starting with her love life, moving on to her figure and eventually to exposing the "Burn Book" – a top secret notebook filled with vicious rumours, secrets, and gossip about all the other girls (and teachers) in their class. Ouch.
Shaun of the Dead
The first (and we think best) of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s “Cornetto trilogy”, this horror-comedy skews towards guffaws over gore – although it’s not without its moments of graphic violence or human drama.
Pegg plays Shaun, a shop assistant who’d rather be gaming or boozing with his best friend Ed than moving up the professional ladder. When a bust-up with his long-suffering girlfriend prompts him to change his ways, it happens to coincide with a deadly zombie outbreak – meaning he must navigate ghoul-infested North London to save his loved ones and survive the night.
Packed with smart references, sight gags (Wright’s signature quick-fire editing is something to marvel at) and scorching one-liners, Shaun of the Dead adds up to far more than your average horror comedy. There’s a real heart and soul to it too, and it’s easy to see why Pegg and Wright became hot Hollywood properties off the back of its release.
Sorry to Bother You
Satire rarely comes as stylishly packaged as Boots Riley’s black comedy. Lakeith Stanfield stars as a penniless call centre worker who begins to rack up the sales once he learns to use his “white voice”. Landing punches on the gig economy, the housing crisis, the crass commoditisation of art and black culture by the establishment and lots more, Sorry to Bother You is a strange, surreal trip into a parallel universe – one that’s a lot closer to our reality than it might first appear.
There aren’t many recent Hollywood comedies that hammer the funny bone as reliably as Game Night. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams play a married couple who bonded over their mutual love of competition: pub quizzes, board games and charades. Every week they meet with their friends for a game night – but when Bateman’s arrogant playboy brother muscles in, he insists on hosting a “deluxe” version that goes beyond a heated Scrabble sesh: this involves guns, kidnapping and a host of ruthless criminals (or are they actors?). There’s no particular secret as to why this movie works: it just has a tight script packed with gags and a great ensemble cast, showing that if you nail the basics you end up with a fine film.