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.
Dumb and Dumber
Starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as the titular simpletons, Dumb and Dumber is a road movie packed with memorable scenes: the boys’ fingernails-down-the-blackboard rendition of "Mockingbird", Carrey’s dream sequence of a fantasy life with Lauren Holly, and the “assassination” of an endangered snow owl using a champagne cork stand out, as does Daniels’ unfortunately-timed bout of illness (never let your friend give you a cup of tea laced with pre-date laxative).
It’s low-brow gross-out stuff, true – but it’s so gloriously over the top and packed with gags that you’ll have little choice but to succumb to its wiles. A 1990s classic, all told.
Hot Rod – in which Andy Samberg plays a would-be stuntman attempting to win the respect of his tough stepfather – received mixed reviews and little box office success upon its 2007 release, but has since garnered something of a cult following. Having recently stumbled upon it ourselves, we can attest to its rough diamond appeal.
Originally envisioned as a Will Ferrell vehicle, it instead morphed into a platform for the sort of surreal humour that Samberg and his Lonely Island cohorts Jorma Taccone (who co-stars) and Akiva Schaffer (who directs) have since become famous for. Describing it as “ahead of its time” might be overdoing things a little, but a decade-plus on this style of comedy is practically mainstream. So do yourself a favour and give Hot Rod a run.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes’ iconic tale of a wily suburban teenager bunking off 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 universal appeal that’ll land with free thinkers of all ages.
His career in tatters, Seth Rogen’s impassioned investigative journalist takes a job as speechwriter to Charlize Theron’s presidential hopeful. The twist? She used to be his babysitter, and he’s harboured a huge crush on her since childhood.
If the setup sounds like an absolute dog’s dinner, don’t be put off: Long Shot is surprisingly brisk, funny and engaging, with the chemistry between its stars stronger than you might expect. If you like the idea of a rom-com that veers towards the coarser, grosser end of the market, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here – although we suspect those more used to Richard Curtis-style romps might find the infantile tone a tad wearying.
Robert De Niro plus comedy wasn’t always a formula for mediocrity. This fine example of a 1980s buddy comedy makes the most of the great man’s tough guy image by casting him as an ex-cop forced to turn bail bondsman’s lackey. Tasked with tracking down and bringing in an eccentric accountant (Charles Grodin) in hiding after defrauding a mob boss, he must traverse America pursued by a rival bounty hunter, the FBI and the mafia. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore and, while it’s certainly of its time, Midnight Run serves as a reminder of just how enjoyable a well-made action-comedy can be.
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.
Writer-director Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical Lady Bird was nominated for no fewer than five Oscars. It didn’t win any (bagging a couple of Golden Globes instead), but the fault probably lies with the Academy rather than the movie, which is a fantastic indie comedy full of heart, drama and believable characters.
Saoirse Ronan in particular shines in the lead role: an artsy 17-year old looking to break away from what she sees as her stifling town and stifling mother. If you think you’ve seen this story played out on screen a hundred times before, don’t worry – Lady Bird manages to defy expectations to dig much deeper than your average quirky coming-of-age comedy.
Coming to America (1988)
One of the classic big screen comedies of the 1980s, Coming to America stars Eddie Murphy as a pampered African prince seeking a wife in New York – and where better to find a royal consort than the borough of Queens?
The fish-out-of-water setup provides gags aplenty and it’s bolstered by a wonderful supporting cast including James Earl Jones, John Amos and a pre-superstardom Samuel L Jackson. Still, this is definitely Murphy’s show. Even if his central protagonist is a little less outwardly comedic than some previous roles, his performances as several other characters give him licence to put all his comic talents on display.
Groundhog Day existed before Groundhog Day, but it was really Groundhog Day that turned Groundhog Day into… y’know, Groundhog Day. That is to say, it used to be a quaint American tradition involving a chubby mammal; now it’s a cliché used to describe pretty much anything that happens more than once. And it’s all Bill Murray’s fault.
Murray’s at his lugubrious best in this easy-to-watch comedy from Caddyshack director Harold Ramis, which builds on a great hook of a premise – man keeps living the same day over and over again – and is just funny enough not to squander it to sentimentality. (Warning: may contain romance and/or Scrooge-like self-discovery.)
The film that made Seth Rogen a star and catapulted writer and director Judd Apatow into the comedy A list, Knocked Up remains the very definition of “an enjoyable rom-com romp” well over a decade after its release.
When Katherine Heigl’s uptight TV presenter and Rogen’s directionless stoner have an unlikely one-night stand, things are further complicated by an even more unlikely pregnancy. Deciding to stay together for the benefit of the baby, the pair discover that parenthood is a tougher test than either of them expected.
A fine supporting cast including Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann and Jason Segel help push Knocked Up beyond its romantic comedy boundaries, while Rogen’s loveable everyman qualities shine through.
From the moment its unforgettable opening scene (an unbroken 10-minute monologue that’s a masterclass in crafting audience discomfort) comes to a cringeworthy end, it’s clear that Thunder Road isn’t your average quirksome indie comedy.
Written by, directed by and starring newcomer Jim Cummings, it’s the story of a Texas cop whose life quickly unravels following the death of his mother, and proof that comedy provides perhaps the easiest route to portraying tragedy and truth. Cummings delivers a wonderful performance as a grief-stricken man trying to find something stable to grip in the midst of a manic downward spiral.
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.