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.
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.
The World’s End
The third of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright “Cornetto trilogy”, The World’s End might lack the immediate punch of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz – but it’s arguably the most poignant and heartfelt of the three comedies.
Pegg and Frost play old school friends who reunite as adults (along with three other pals) to attempt an almost-mythical pub crawl in their hometown – a feat they came tantalisingly close to pulling off as young whippersnappers. The first problem? Owing to a mysterious past event, Frost’s character is now teetotal. The other problem? Some kind of malevolent force has infiltrated the town, possessing people’s bodies and robbing them of their personalities in preparation for an apocalyptic event. Looks like the lads are going to have bigger issues than bladder control to contend with…
The Death of Stalin
Armando Iannucci brings his brand of manic political satire to one of modern history’s darkest chapters: a host of self-serving Soviet grandees – including Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin and Jason Isaacs – farcically jostle for power in the wake of Joseph Stalin’s unexpected demise. Heads, it’s clear, will roll.
While it doesn’t hit the same breezy notes of Iannucci’s debut movie In The Loop or his beloved TV series Veep and The Thick Of It (being set in a time and place where political opponents were usually exiled or executed, it’s much more bleak and cynical even than those) The Death of Stalin spotlights the absurdity of politics just as effectively. It’s also devilishly funny – as long as you like your comedy served pitch black.
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.
DreamWorks’ beloved CGI series started almost 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.
Just as Adam Sandler looks set for a second career renaissance courtesy of the Safdie brothers’ 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 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 seemingly dry 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.