Get your queue in order.
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) Best in Show
The dog-show circuit is vicious, and Christopher Guest’s 2000 mockumentary proves it. Guest’s trusted ensemble cast—including Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and Michael McKean—brings Best in Show’s dog- and self-obsessed characters to life and highlights the subtle humor in animals and humans behaving badly.
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.
Based on the true story of a botched robbery, Zach Galifianakis plays David Ghantt, a Loomis Fargo armored truck driver who lifted more than $17 million from a vault in 1997. Director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) lets Galifianakis, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, and Jason Sudeikis bumble and gaffe their way through the action-comedy and offers us an extended look at McKinnon and Galifianakis’s very ‘90s engagement photo shoot.
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) Young Frankenstein
Mel Brooks’s 1974 black-and-white film is full of iconic scenes and performances from Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and more. There are also bad accents and over-the-top musical numbers. It’s the total package.
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).
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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.
15) The Standups
In the last six months, Netflix has released more than a dozen hourlong standup specials, with a focus on big-ticket names: Silverman, Chappelle, Schumer, C.K. It’s become a destination for comedy fans who want that marquee access, but it’s also experimenting with formats and voices. The Standups is Netflix’s way of experimenting with both. It’s a series of six standup specials from Deon Cole, Nikki Glaser, Fortune Feimster, Nate Bargatze, Beth Stelling, and Dan Soder: Comedians who might not be marquee names but that Netflix thinks are worth your time. —Audra Schroeder
Moana is so good it belongs in the canon of all time Disney greats. You need to add it to your Watchlist immediately if you somehow missed it when it was in theaters. And then you need to cancel your plans for tonight and watch Moana instead. The film brilliantly reinvents the Disney princess formula while also honoring all the Disney classics you grew up loving. The representation. The Rock. The music from Lin-Manuel Miranda. I could go on, but really, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, just watch it first. —Chris Osterndorf
17) The Trip
Most of us, at some point in our lives, have taken a long trip with a close friend. During the course of said trip, you probably had some laughs, saw some sights, ate some food, and occasionally, got on each other’s nerves. That’s what makes Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 comedy, The Trip, and its 2014 sequel, The Trip to Italy, such delights. (Both are on Netflix.) Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play fictionalized versions of themselves, and their dynamic is jokey and light-hearted yet competitive. As Coogan and Brydon make their way first around the English countryside and then around Italy, they spend a lot of time looking at their own lives and attempting to tackle the big questions. It’s fascinating to watch the characters shift from movie to movie; one man will be up and the other down, and then the dynamic will shift just as real life is also apt to do when it comes to close friendships. However, both films are never more at ease than when they simly let the two men riff in their own language, as close friends do. You’ll want to go on more adventures with Coogan and Brydon, and fortunately, since The Trip to Spain is out, you’ll be able to. —C.O.
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.
Movies that are equally entertaining for kids and adults are an increasingly rare breed. When one does come along, it looks like a mirage in the Netflix listings. Fear not, Zootopia is the real deal. It’s the story of a bright-eyed rabbit (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) who fights off Disney-levels of discrimination to achieve her dream of being a cop. She forms an unlikely alliance with a con man fox (the almost too perfectly cast Jason Bateman) to expose a massive conspiracy. Zootopia is a rock-solid buddy cop comedy, but what really separates it is the social commentary running through the narrative. Sometimes the film bites off a little more than it can chew, but that occasionally happens with ambitious movies and should be embraced here. —Eddie Strait
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.
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21) A Street Cat Named Bob
This movie documents the real-life story of James Bowen and the cat who saved him. Bob’s an orange tabby who collides with Bowen, a recovering addict and musician played by Luke Treadaway, at just the right time. The two become an inspirational act, and yes you will cry, but you will also laugh.
Jake Johnson helms this film about a gambling addict and the duffel bag that starts the domino effect. Director Joe Swanberg follows up Drinking Buddies with another tale of a hapless guy in over his head and adds in some memorable scenes with Joe Lo Truglio and Keegan-Michael Key.
23) Cool Runnings
The 1993 film about an Olympic bobsled team from Jamaica became an unlikely hit and has endured online thanks in part to bizarre origin stories and real stories and millennial GIF-ery. Does it hold up in 2017? You be the judge, but it does have John Candy and some very quotable lines.
The Christmas movie you can watch all year. In his 1984 review, Robert Ebert said this Joe Dante film is “a confrontation between Norman Rockwell’s vision of Christmas and Hollywood’s vision of the blood-sucking monkeys of voodoo island.” Did Gremlins scare you as a child? It’s still kind of creepy as an adult, but now it resides as a contemporary monster movie about Reagan-era capitalism.
25) Deidra and Laney Rob a Train
Two sisters must take on the role of survivalists and scrape together a way to get their mother out of jail. That premise doesn’t really scream comedy, but Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) and Laney (Rachel Crow) have great chemistry and it’s one of the entertaining, empowering capers you’ll see.
Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh) is a washed-up actor who’s been playing a detective named Mindhorn for way too long. He can’t quite admit that his career is over, so when he’s given the role of a lifetime—investigating a real murder, unbeknownst to him—his cluelessness knows no bounds. Steve Coogan (The Trip) and Essie Davis (The Babadook) punctuate Barratt’s run-on gaffes.
27) War Machine
This Brad Pitt film is set in 2009, when the political landscape looked a little different, so watching it now it feels almost quaint. Pitt is barely recognizable as General Glenn McMahon, a mirror of General Stanley McChrystal, the subject of Michael Hastings’s 2012 book The Operators. Animal Kingdom’s David Michôd turns the lens on the war in Afghanistan and toes the line between pitch-black comedy and satire.
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The Despicable Me franchise has spawned a spinoff and now they cannot be stopped. The 2015 film put a spotlight on the little yellow freaks, their unintelligible patter, and their history. But don’t think too deep into what it all means; just zone out for two hours and forget about the horrors of the real world.
Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt team up for an animated look at the lengths people will go for fame, and Nerdland unfolds like a mashup of Liquid Television and a 3am Adult Swim short. It’s also a not-so-subtle critique of virality and the pitfalls of internet fame, with some cartoon boobs to keep its audience engaged.
30) Don’t Think Twice
It’s a movie about improv, but don’t think too much about it. Also don’t ask any questions and don’t say no. Mike Birbiglia directs and stars in this touching ensemble film about a close-knit improv troupe and the limits of “I’ve got your back.”
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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