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.
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, Arsenio Hall and a pre-superstardom Samuel L Jackson. Even so, this is unmistakably 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 his prodigious comic talent on display.
The Dead Don’t Die
Jim Jarmusch’s zombie movie is closer to Night on Earth than Night of the Living Dead. As you’d expect from the veteran indie auteur, this undead uprising is spiced with quirky, fourth wall-breaking dialogue, a large cast of recognisable faces (including Jarmusch mainstays like Bill Murray, RZA, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits) and a plotline that gently and comically meanders along its own wide furrow, seemingly unconcerned with generating tension, pace or dread.
If you’re looking for a standard horror film, this ain’t it – but The Dead Don’t Die will tickle the funny bones of movie geeks with a taste for the unusual.
As Good as It Gets
Coming with all the hallmarks of a typical 90s mainstream romantic comedy (a New York setting, an odd-couple matchup, a gay best friend and a protagonist who writes romance novels for a living), As Good as It Gets immediately sets itself apart by making its main character a truly horrible person.
Jack Nicholson plays a reclusive, obsessive writer who goes beyond grouchy. Racist, sexist, homophobic and needlessly cruel to anyone he encounters, he nevertheless finds himself drawn to Helen Hunt’s diner waitress, a struggling single mother and one of the few people who dares to push back against his constant needling. When his artist neighbour (Greg Kinnear) is viciously attacked, he also enters his orbit – and gradually these new forces start to influence our antihero’s misanthropic outlook.
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 1980s and 90s were well-served with classic horror-action-comedies, and Tremors is among the finest. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward play handymen whose plans for a new life are scuppered when their tiny desert town is besieged by mysterious underground monsters.
There’s nothing particularly clever or ground-breaking (no pun intended) about this film, but it’s a brisk creature feature with some great comic moments, tense action scenes and enjoyable cast of characters. We can dig it.
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.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
One of the Coen brothers’ most inventive movies, 2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? is an unconventional adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey. The 1930s rural American South stands in for ancient Greece, with George Clooney’s escaped convict making an unlikely Odysseus – but any halfway keen observer will pick up the similarities easily enough. Rich with the Coens’ trademark offbeat humour and boasting a fantastic bluegrass and folk music soundtrack, this movie is a delightfully weird and effortlessly entertaining trip into the mythical past.
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.
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.
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.
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.