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Netflix has been rolling out more original comedy series and standup specials, but it can be an uphill battle to find a good comedy film—and sometimes those generic descriptions make it even more difficult. Here are the films you can press play on right now that are almost guaranteed to make you laugh.
The best comedy movies on Netflix
1) Slow Learners
This 2015 film didn’t see a huge turnout when it was released, and that’s a shame because it’s a fine comedy. Adam Pally plays Jeff, a nerdy teacher who has a book club with his male friends and a not-very-exciting life. Sarah Burns is Anne, his co-worker and friend who is in a similar slump. Together they attempt to make each other over into more interesting people, and while the wait-I’m-falling-for-you plot is nothing new, the comedic chemistry and bits of improvisation between Burns and Pally are the linchpin.
2) Cheap Thrills
Though this is listed under comedy, it’s definitely a dark one. The 2014 film follows Craig (Pat Healy), a man drowning in life’s responsibilities. When he runs into an old friend (played by Ethan Embry), he also happens upon some cash that might help him, courtesy of a flush couple (David Koechner and Sara Paxton). But in order to get the cash, Craig has to agree to a series of increasingly physical challenges, and in the last act, the dark comedy really comes out.
3) Blazing Saddles
Mel Brooks’s 1974 satire of Westerns carried a heavy message about race and racism, and it exists as a snapshot of a very unique time in film history. Brooks got away with some pretty subversive jokes about racial stereotypes, characters uttering the N-word, and some truly great scenes between the late Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little. No one escapes unscathed.
4) Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Netflix released a companion piece to this classic film in 2016—Pee-wee’s Big Holiday—but you’ve got to go back to the source. The 1985 Tim Burton film was the first to showcase the comedic talents of Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) on the big screen, post-Pee-wee’s Playhouse. It gave us Large Marge, the breakfast machine, and a film both kids and adults could hold near and dear.
Netflix turned this into an original series in 2015, offering a look at the first day at Camp Firewood, but there’s something about the original film that can’t be beat. It might be because so many of its stars (Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks) weren’t yet famous in 2001, which gives the film about counselors on the last day of camp in 1981 a special feel. It was pretty much panned by critics when it was released, but more than a decade later it’s become a cult classic for its tangential, absurdist bits (like when the counselors go into town and get hooked on drugs) and timeless characters (like Christopher Meloni’s Gene, a chef who talks to cans and fondles sweaters).
Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood team up to redefine the buddy-cop movie in Macon Blair’s directorial debut. Blair took his own personal experience of being robbed and feeling helpless and channeled it into this dark comedy about justice, boundaries, and friendship. It’s a revenge movie with hapless victims and perpetrators, which only lends to the titular worldview—and the comedic moments.
7) Silver Streak
After Gene Wilder’s death in 2016, his roles in Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka were rightfully elevated in pieces about this life and work. But this 1976 action-comedy with Richard Pryor is worth a visit. Some of the racial themes and language will seem very outdated now, the physical comedy is absurd, and the plot kind of disappears, but the chemistry between Pryor and Wilder is what you’re really there for.
8) In the Loop
Veep creator Armando Iannucci’s 2009 film paved the way for the HBO series. A political satire that hinges on breakneck dialogue and impending war, In the Loop’s cast of characters (including a standout performance from Peter Capaldi) circle like sharks in an effort to clean up a gaffe, and in the process shows all the cooks involved in walking back a comment.
9) This Is Spinal Tap
Rob Reiner’s 1984 mockumentary chronicles the last gasp of a metal band and generated some classic lines about amps and dead drummers. The film’s clash of egos and clueless entertainment types still holds up more than 30 years later, and it also paved the way for Christopher Guest’s own string of mockumentaries.
10) Hot Fuzz
As a follow-up to the hugely popular Shaun of the Dead, this 2007 Edgar Wright film had a lot to live up to, but it really does get better with age. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two cops bumbling around a small town in search of clues about a series of murders. One of its best recurring gags, which involves an escaped swan, became a reality recently.
Look, I’m not going to try to sell you on this one. Everything you need to know is there in the title, and the premise has been enough to fuel three more sequels (also on Netflix).
Speaking of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries, Mascots marks his return to the form with a Netflix original. Mainstays like Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, and John Michael Higgins pop up in this film about a mascot competition, mirroring Guest’s Best in Show. It doesn’t have the structure or comedic heft of his past films, but it does boast a Parker Posey dance sequence.
13) Magic Mike
When this Steven Soderbergh film debuted in 2012, who knew it would reach midnight-movie levels of (feminist) fandom? Channing Tatum drew from real-life experience to shape the titular stripper, and the film explores sexuality, identity, and commerce from a different angle. Plus: abs!
14) Slums of Beverly Hills
If you’re a fan of Natasha Lyonne in Orange Is the New Black, this 1998 film is good supplemental viewing. Lyonne plays Vivian, a teenager enduring the indignities of being a developing woman in Beverly Hills in the ‘70s and keeping up with her nomadic family. The supporting cast (Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Corrigan) sketches out this sitcom-ready comedy.
This 2007 film fits in the grand tradition of teen movies in which guys (Michael Cera and Jonah Hill) must get laid, but they have to get through a night of obstacles first. However, since this was co-written by Seth Rogen and produced by Judd Apatow, you get a lot more dick jokes and gross-out humor.
16) 10 Things I Hate About You
Ah, this 1999 film gave us the perfect combination of Shakespearean angst and late ‘90s pop. Julia Stiles’ Kat became a style and attitude template for many disaffected teens, and Heath Ledger’s Patrick offered a more complex look at the “bad boy.” Supporting work from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larry Miller, and Allison Janney anchored this adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew.
17) Big Trouble in Little China
18) Kung Fury
This 2015 film seemed to come out of nowhere, but it definitely has its source material down. The 30-minute short rolls through nods to ‘80s martial arts and cop films, as the protagonist (played by creator David Sandberg) indulges the time-honored tradition of going back in time to kill Hitler. Dinosaurs, muscled mythological gods, and Hitler being punched in the balls all make an appearance.
19) God Bless America
A followup to Bobcat Goldthwait’s pitch-black comedy World’s Greatest Dad, this 2011 film focuses on an even less conventional relationship. Thrill-seeking teen Roxy (Casual’s Tara Lynne Barr) randomly crosses paths with Frank (Joel Murray), a man bent on taking out society’s ignorant, fake, reality-TV-obsessed masses. Together, they go on a killing spree, but there’s a deeper subtext about what constitutes entertainment and free speech.
20) Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special
It doesn’t need to be Valentine’s Day for you to enjoy this window into Michael Bolton’s love life. In this Comedy Bang! Bang!-Lonely Island production, the singer hosts his own variety show, during which he puts out a call to make love so there will be more babies. The baby-making doesn’t go as planned, but we do get cameos from Andy Samberg, Sarah Silverman, Maya Rudolph, Will Forte, Kenny G, and more.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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