Are you a Netflix subscriber? Are you in the market for some side-splitting laughs?
If the answer to both those questions is yes, scroll down and feast your eyes on this article, where we’ve compiled our favourite comedy movies from the streaming service’s current crop. From biting satires to heart-warming rom-coms, they’re all here – and be sure to check back regularly for updates, as new films 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.
Somewhat counterintuitively for a zombie film, this slacker comedy hits the ground running with a smartly self-aware opening credits sequence laying out the ground rules for survival in a post-apocalyptic undead-infested world. Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus is a coward who survives by adhering to these rules like glue; his companion, Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee, is a ghoul-killing machine on a quest for the last surviving Twinkie in America. Sharp, witty and blessed with one of the best cameo appearances ever, this is a zombie movie with brains.
We’re the Millers
Jason Sudeikis small-time marijuana dealer, faced with a dangerous ultimatum, assembles a fake family to join him on his drug smuggling trip – the idea is to avoid suspicion from border control. But with his “wife” (Jennifer Aniston) being a penniless exotic dancer, his “daughter” a streetwise homeless teenager and “son” a painfully awkward adolescent, this dysfunctional family is about as good as Kanye West at keeping a low profile. The Millers are capable of inducing a few laughs if cringe-worthy comedy is your thing, though. And they’ll make you feel much better about your own family.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes’ iconic tale of a wily suburban teenager ditching 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 appeal that’ll land with free thinkers of all ages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Always Be My Maybe
Describing a film as “Netflix’s best original romantic comedy” might sound as if we’re damning it with faint praise, but Always Be My Maybe is a genuinely enjoyable, occasionally hilarious riff on the well-worn genre starring (and written by) two likeable leads in Ali Wong and Randall Park.
It’s about a pair of childhood friends who unexpectedly reunite many years after an awkward falling out, their lives having diverged onto very different paths in the mean time. You can probably predict how it turns out, but the route it takes is the fun part – particularly when a certain beloved Matrix megastar proves himself an excellent sport in a scene-stealing cameo.
Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Ray Romano gives the performance of his life in this quiet and affecting indie comedy. Romano stars as the neighbour and friend of the equally impressive Mark Duplass – the duo’s enjoyably mundane routine of martial arts movies, jigsaw puzzles, pizza and their invented pastime of “paddleton” disrupted by a terrible medical diagnosis.
What might easily have been an overwrought drama instead works as a beautifully understated, unsentimental and utterly convincing depiction of male friendship – and certainly one of the best Netflix-produced movies we’ve seen.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Originally intended to be a series of six individual episodes, the Coen brothers instead combined this collection of tales from the Wild West into a single anthology; over the course of its two hours we meet a cast of typically Coen-esque characters including the singing cowboy of the title, a bank robber who meets his match, and a determined prospector played by Tom Waits.
It certainly comes with its fair share of quirky Coen brothers charm, black humour and memorable lines, but the format means The Ballad of Buster Scruggs never quite gets going – and just as it looks like it might, with the tale of a blossoming romance on a wagon train journey to Oregon, it feels like it’s over too soon. Even so, it’s a must-watch for Coen fans.
Why can’t all teen comedies could be as funny, pacy and ultimately life-affirming as 2007’s Superbad, which manages to juggle all the tropes of the genre (partying, sex, friendship) without feeling hackneyed or bloated?
It’s ninety minutes of proof that parties are sources of never-ending angst. You need someone over the age limit to buy the booze – your high school friend with an ID that reads "McLovin" will do. You’ve got to impress the girls – Seth works out that headbutting them in the face works a charm. And in American movies, there’s always the chance the cops will show up – we just wish all of them were as warped as Bill Hader and Seth Rogen.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
"He’s not the Messiah; he’s a very naughty boy!" Falling foul of blasphemy laws in several countries upon its 1979 release (it was banned for eight years in Ireland), Life of Brian is now regarded as one of the greatest comedy films ever made, a British national treasure and a smart satire on the hypocrisy of organised religion. Like pretty much everything else ever made by the Monty Python team, it’s now available to watch on Netflix, bringing this fantastic film – in which a regular, unremarkable Judean man is mistaken for Jesus Christ – to a brand new audience.
Will Ferrell’s patchy movie output doesn’t take away from the fact that when he’s good, he’s really good, and Step Brothers is one of his films which – perhaps a little surprisingly, given its premise – illustrates this fact. Ferrell and the superb John C. Reilly play coddled middle-aged men who still live with their respective mother and father – and are forced to live together as step brothers when said parents get married.
If it sounds like the sort of film Adam Sandler would turn down, Step Brothers actually morphs swiftly from standard slapstick fare to, well, superior slapstick buddy comedy fare as the two enemies become allies and unite to combat a greater threat. It won’t change your life, but it will keep you laughing for 90 minutes of it.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Netflix has occasionally sought out real quality with its original movies, as evidenced by this wry, intelligent indie comedy-drama written and directed by Noah Baumbach – one of cinema’s most perceptive chroniclers of modern human relationships.
Starring Adam Sandler (in his best “serious” performance since Punch-Drunk Love), Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) examines a dysfunctional New York family through the prism of several of its members, all of whom revolve around Hoffman’s preening, needy and manipulative patriarch.