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) 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 Some of the racial themes and language will seem very outdated now, the physical comedy is absurd, and the plot kind of disappears, but the chemistry between Pryor and Wilder is what you’re really there for.
2) 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.
Noah Baumbach has successfully usurped Woody Allen’s title as the greatest living director of New York comedies. His latest love letter to the Big Apple comes in the form of The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), a thoughtful meditation on the challenge of letting the pain caused by a parent go. Dustin Hoffman’s Harold Meyerowitz is an aging sculptor, largely overlooked in his time. His children, played respectively by Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Elizabeth Marvel, are all semi-dysfunctional, thanks to Harold’s over or under-involved parenting. As a comedy, it certainly isn’t a laugh riot, but it absolutely leaves an impression. —Chris Osterndorf
Netflix’s The Incredible Jessica James opens on something many of us are all too familiar with: a very bad Tinder date. We’re introduced to James, played by the truly incredible Jessica Williams, sitting with her match while engaging in some terrible, first-date small talk. Almost immediately James shuts it down and, in brutally honest fashion, tells him all the reasons that they are not going to “bone.” From the first scene, we learn that James is a character we can relate to but also admire. One we can empathize with but also wish we were bold enough to be. Through her hilarious, genuine performance, Williams takes a script that is a typical millennial rom-com and turns it into something more. She fills out the character, grounds her in reality, and makes us laugh sympathetically as James tries to get her life together following a messy breakup and a low point in her career. —Sarah Jasmine Montgomery
5) 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.”
6) 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
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
- The 30 best standup specials on Netflix when you really need a laugh
- The best thrillers on Netflix to get your heart racing
- Amazon Prime vs Netflix: Which streaming service is the best?
- The best comedy made by women on Netflix
8) 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.
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.
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.
Meet Nola Darling. In her own words, she’s a “sex-positive, polyamorous, pansexual.” In other words, she’s the ideal television protagonist for right now. As played by DeWanda Wise, Nola is deeply flawed, given to impulsivity and selfishness, but she’s also confident and unapologetic about what she wants. She’s Gotta Have It is about more than just sex. The men in her life are just a way of introducing us to her outlook and her world. It’s all vital, compelling work from New York’s prodigal director, Spike Lee. —C.O.
12) Oh, Hello
If you’re already a fan, I assume you’ve stopped reading to go watch the special, so here’s a brief setup for newcomers. Gil and George are turtleneck-rocking bachelors from the Upper West Side, played by the two of the best comedians out there. John Mulaney, best known for his standup and work on Saturday Night Live (he wrote Stefon bits with and for Bill Hader ), is the nominal lead in Oh, Hello. As George, he introduces most of the premises and stops sporadically to scold the unfortunate stagehand. Nick Kroll (The League and Kroll Show), is marginally more unruly as Gil, who walks the stage like a septuagenarian praying mantis. Mulaney and Kroll are incredible improvisers, and they leave themselves plenty of room within the show’s structure for spontaneity. —Eddie Strait
13) Mr. Roosevelt
In her directorial debut, Noel Wells (Master of None, SNL) plays Emily Martin, a struggling YouTube-famous comedian who hastily moves back to her hometown of Austin and has to adjust to the new relationships around her—and the death of a cat. It’s a love letter to a time and place, though not exactly a love story. Emily is directionless, but her self-discovery includes some very relatable moments and a great Holly Hunter impression.
14) 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.
15) 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.
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.
- The 105 best movies on Netflix
- What’s new on Netflix
- The 12 best ’90s movies on Netflix, according to the critics
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.
18) 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!
19) 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.
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
- 20 movies on Netflix guaranteed to make you cry
- 30 must-watch indie movies on Netflix
- 20 classic movies on Netflix everyone should see
- The 15 best movies based on true stories on Netflix
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.
24) Brave New Jersey
Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds tricked a nation into thinking aliens were coming. In Jody Lambert’s version of that event, the focus is on a small town in New Jersey and how the threat of annihilation brings out people’s true colors. Tony Hale, Anna Camp, and Dan Bakkedahl star in this satire of truth and the American way.
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.
- The best Netflix original series
- 8 Netflix original docuseries everyone should see
- 15 Netflix original documentaries worth watching tonight
- Ranking the best Netflix original movies
28) Little Evil
Evil comes home to roost in Eli Craig’s horror-comedy Little Evil, which follows a stepdad (played by Adam Scott) and his complicated relationship with his stepson, who happens to be the Antichrist. Fun times. I don’t mean that sarcastically. Despite a few tense moments, the movie is more comedy than horror. Craig takes a tired premise and injects life (and plenty of jokes) into it. Aside from Scott, the pitch-perfect cast also includes Evangeline Lilly, Bridget Everett, Donald Faison, and Chris D’Elia. —Eddie Strait
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).
30) 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.
Still not sure what to watch tonight? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, and comedy specials when you really need to laugh.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Pure, uncut internet. Straight to your inbox.