now streaming

The 50 Best Comedies on Netflix Right Now

Photo: Vulture

This post is updated frequently as movies leave and enter Netflix.

As the world continues to fall apart, don’t you just want to something to make you laugh? Netflix is becoming the country’s biggest source for a laughter after a long week at work, but it can be hard to find exactly what you’re in the mood for when you log on to the service. So we’re here to help. (And for more public service announcements, check out our regularly updated lists of the 100 Best Movies on Netflix and the 50 Best TV Series on Netflix.)

The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Judd Apatow has made several funny movies and a great TV show (Freaks & Geeks) but this remains his best and funniest movie front to back. Steve Carell can try to go dramatic all he wants, he will always be remembered for having his chest hair waxed. Carell is great but the supporting cast really makes this one, including Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, and Catherine Keener.

About a Boy

There’s been a bit of a reappraisal of Hugh Grant’s acting ability in the last year with his great work in Paddington 2 and A Very English Scandal, but his career-best work may still be in this adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel about a man-child who learns how to grow up from his friendship with a kid. Minnie Driver is pretty delightful here too.

The Addams Family
You could fill an entire streaming service with the amount of awful film versions of hit TV comedies, but this is one of the rare exceptions to the trend. With playful, fun performances from Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, and Christina Ricci, this one understood the tone of its source while also working as its own stand-alone project. The sequel is arguably even better but it’s not on Netflix (yet).

American Pie
There once was a time when a country fell in love with a boy who made love to an apple pie. Revisit those more innocent days with all of the American Pie movies on Netflix, including even a few of the spinoff flicks. All in all, there are SEVEN American Pie movies on Netflix. Before now, you probably didn’t know there were seven American Pie movies ever made.

Annie Hall
No matter what you think of Woody Allen in 2019, he’s made some great movies over the course of his career, and this massive hit remains arguably his best. You know how the Academy ignores comedy when they hand out Oscars? Not this time, as Annie Hall won awards for Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actress, and even Best Picture. It’s a template for hundreds of relationship comedies to come.

As Good As It Gets
Speaking of Oscar-winning comedies, believe it or not, this is the last movie to win both the Oscar for Best Actor (Jack Nicholson) and Best Actress (Helen Hunt). James L. Brooks’s romantic comedy is a perfect example of a movie that caught its cast at just the right moment, getting one of the last Nicholson performances that could be called charming and supporting it with great work from Hunt and Greg Kinnear.

Beautiful Girls
Ted Demme’s relationship comedy made almost nothing when it was released in the winter of 1996 but it developed a cult following over the years, in large part because of its great ensemble, including a nearly movie-stealing performance from a young Natalie Portman. Remember when they made movies like Diner and The Big Chill — flicks with big ensembles of interesting characters bouncing off each other? This is one of those and it’s a great one.

The Birdcage
Mike Nichols’s remake of the beloved La Cage aux Folles is a joyous comedy about acceptance and love that still works well today (which is not something you can about a lot of mid-’90s comedies). Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are phenomenal as a gay couple forced to jump through hoops for their son’s new in-laws, played wonderfully by Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest. It’s funny and smart front to back.

Bull Durham
Any list of the greatest baseball movies of all time that doesn’t include Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham is simply incomplete. This another great example of a movie that found its three stars at exactly the peak of their powers. Tim Robbins is at his gawky best, and few screen couples had the chemistry that Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon had here. Watch this scene and try to argue otherwise.

Burn After Reading

Joel and Ethan Coen followed their Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men with one of their most cynical and hysterical movies, a comedy of errors about some incredibly stupid people. Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, George Clooney, Richard Jenkins, John Malkovich, and J.K. Simmons star in a movie that’s basically about, well, a bunch of total idiots. No drops an F-bomb like John Malkovich.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
We should include a kids’ movie or two on this list, right? Maybe your quest for a comedy to watch this weekend includes a babysitting gig or time with your family? Well, this is one of the better options on Netflix, a genuinely funny cartoon about ingenuity and creativity. It also features a character named Professor Poopypants. Told you it was funny.

Chasing Amy
Kevin Smith’s best film is also one of his most personal, the story of a man who falls in love with a lesbian and destroys his friendship in the process. Smith has never been better than he is here at capturing believable, funny human relationships, and he gets his best acting work of his career as well from Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, and Jason Lee. It won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for a reason.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Another family movie! This adaptation of the famous kids’ book by Judi and Ron Barrett completely expands on the world of its source material to tell the story of an inventor (voiced wonderfully by Bill Hader) who unleashes a storm of food. The character design here is clever and the script is very smart, written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who went from this to make a little flick called The LEGO Movie and produce Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. They know a thing or two about great cartoons.

The Edge of Seventeen
Great comedies about those harrowing days of late teenage life, especially from a female perspective, are few and far between. So it’s a shame that more people didn’t see this one with Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, and Woody Harrelson. It’s truthful, hysterical, and anchored in reality in a way that most of the movies don’t even try to be.

Empire Records
Remember record stores? This movie may not be classically great, but it’s a wonderful time capsule of mid-’90s culture, a time when it was cool to hang out in record stores all day. It’s also got a great ensemble, including Liv Tyler, Robin Tunney, Renee Zellweger, Ethan Embry, and Rory Cochrane. It’s fun and will play differently for those of you who grew up with music stores as a part of their lives than it will for the iGeneration.

Frances Ha
Greta Gerwig got a lot of deserved attention for Lady Bird but it wasn’t her first semi-biographical screenplay, and maybe wasn’t even her best. She co-wrote this quarter-life crisis comedy with director Noah Baumbach, in which she stars 27-year-old New Yorker Frances Halladay. It’s one of those films that doesn’t have much of a plot but works because of the genuine, empathetic way it approaches its leading lady, a character who feels both incredibly specific and yet universally relatable at the same time.

Goon

Michael Dowse’s 2011 hockey comedy is a great sports movie about finding your ideal role in life. It made hardly anything in theaters but found an audience at home (so much so that they’ve already made an inferior sequel). Seann William Scott stars as Doug Glatt, a sweet but kinda dumb guy who becomes the tough guy on a hockey team. You know, the one who starts and finishes most of the fights. It’s funny and surprisingly sweet with Scott’s career-best work.

The Graduate
It’s hard to overstate how culturally impactful Mike Nichols’s The Graduate was when it was released in 1967. And it’s equally remarkable to think how much this movie still connects with audiences a half-century later. It’s both a document of when it came out, down to its music and fashion, and a piece of work that taps into themes about those hazy days after college that will be forever timeless. There’s a reason it’s regularly listed as one of the best films of all time.

Happy Gilmore
Adam Sandler signed a gigantic contract with Netflix, who has produced most of his recent comedies, including critically reviled films like The Ridiculous Six and The Week Of. Most of those are horrible, so just ignore them and go back to the beginning, watching what is still Sandler’s funniest movie overall. Forever quotable and still funny 20 years later, Happy Gilmore now seems to be a comedy landmark that Sandler will never top.

Heathers
People love to talk about “movies that could never be made today” as if that’s some criticism of the modern state of comedy. The truth is that comedy has always shifted and changed to reflect the times. However, one has to wonder if this dark comedy about murders at an average high school could get to the screen in 2019. With peak-of-their-charisma performances from Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, Heathers has an edge we don’t see that often anymore, and it has things to say about teen life that still resonate. There’s nothing more dangerous than high school.

Hot Fuzz
Only the middle part of what is referred to as Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy is on Netflix (all three would be on this list if they were eligible) but it’s also arguably the best (the other two are Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End FYI). Hot Fuzz is not just a parody of dumb action movies but a love letter to flicks like Point Break and Bad Boys too. The best parodies come from fandom, and this is definitely one of the best.

I Love You, Man
Male friendship is rarely shown onscreen at all outside of buddy action movies or superhero flicks. One of the great exceptions is this 2009 comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. Rudd plays a guy who realizes he has no male friends and wants find one, discovering that some guys can make friendship difficult. Segel and Rudd are fantastic, and there’s a fun supporting cast that includes Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Jane Curtin, and Jon Favreau.

The Incredible Jessica James
There are not a lot of great Netflix Original comedies (sorry, Adam Sandler fans) as the company has focused more on sci-fi and drama in its first few years of nonstop production. One of the exceptions is this Sundance hit, a great vehicle for Jessica Williams. The former Daily Show correspondent stars as the title character, someone trying to find happiness and love. She’s charming and delightful in a movie that not enough people have seen.

The Informant!
It could be argued that Steven Soderbergh’s character study of the man who blew the whistle on lysine price-fixing in the ’90s isn’t exactly a comedy, but it’s close enough to make the list. It’s certainly quirky and odd, and contains one of Matt Damon’s most inspired, unforgettable performances. The success of Soderbergh’s Netflix Original High Flying Bird is likely going to lead people to some of his earlier works. Hopefully they find this one.

The Interview
Remember the movie that almost started a war? It was actually pretty funny. The drama leading up to the release of The Interview, a movie that made Kim Jong-un so mad that he ordered a hack of Sony and threatened terrorist attacks against multiplexes, understandably overshadowed the actual movie. The truth is that while it’s not perfect, The Interview contains some inspired work from James Franco, and a great supporting turn from Randall Park as Kim. Go ahead and watch it. North Korea will never know.

Kicking and Screaming

Noah Baumbach, who would go on to make several films on this list (Frances Ha, While We’re Young), made his directorial debut with this 1995 comedy released when the filmmaker was only 26. It’s a great ensemble with fun, youthful energy and has a theme that Baumbach would return to over the years: young people struggling with responsibility and getting older. Trivia: It was also the first producing credit for Baumbach’s college roommate, a young man named Jason Blum.

Kung Fu Hustle
You have likely never seen a movie quite like this 2004 martial arts comedy, Stephen Chow’s masterpiece. Set in 1940s China, this worldwide hit features some of the best stunt work you can find on Netflix, all in service of a movie that often plays like a live-action cartoon. It’s ridiculous and unforgettable.

The Land of Steady Habits
Nicole Holofcener is one of the most underappreciated writer-directors alive, even if she did just earn an Oscar nod for co-writing Can You Ever Forgive Me? You simply have to see Enough Said, Lovely and Amazing, and Please Give. Her latest stars Ben Mendelsohn as a man deep in a mid-life crisis that comes from the realization that he’s not as important as he thought that he was his whole life. It’s not as good as some of her best work, but minor Holofcener is still worth a look.

The Little Hours
There’s a movie on Netflix that features Aubrey Plaza as a profanity-spewing nun and you haven’t watched it yet? Jeff Baena’s Sundance hit also stars Alison Brie, Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, and Fred Armisen in a ridiculous, raunchy retelling of The Decameron. It’s reminiscent of classic Mel Brooks in the way it skewers classical storytelling structures with modern comic sensibilities.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
There’s a bunch of Monty Python specials and movies on Netflix, but this remains arguably the career peak of one of the most beloved comedy troupes of all time. A parody of tales like those of the Knights of the Round Table, Holy Grail is one of the most heavily quoted movies of all time, a comedy that feels like it’s playing in some theater somewhere in the world, probably at midnight, every single day. Its popularity simply never recedes.

Monty Python and the Life of Brian
Holy Grail may be laugh-out-loud funnier, but it’s arguable that Life of Brian is actually smarter. Monty Python’s most controversial movie stars Graham Chapman as Brian Cohen, the neighbor of Jesus Christ. It’s an incredibly smart film that caused quite an uproar when it was released due to accusations of blasphemy. Modern comedy could use a little more blasphemy every now and then.

Mr. Roosevelt
Not every movie on a list like this should be a smash hit, so we’re digging a little deeper for this South by Southwest hit starring the delightful Noël Wells of Master of None and Saturday Night Live. She also wrote and directed this story of a young lady returning to her hometown and dealing with some unresolved issues regarding her ex-boyfriend, now with a new partner. Wells is charming and funny.

National Lampoon’s Animal House
Maybe you’ve heard of it? One of the most influential comedies of all time is a great example of a flick in which the fun everyone was clearly having on set translated to the big screen. People forget how cheaply made this movie was and how most of the major players weren’t stars at the time. They were just a bunch of friends getting together to do something funny. And they made movie history.

Obvious Child
Jenny Slate should be a household name. She’s always charming, has great comic timing, and seems to find new dramatic registers with each outing. This remains her best overall film and performance, the story of a stand-up comedian who has to deal with a few of life’s unexpected curveballs. Shorthanded as “the abortion comedy,” there’s more to Obvious Child than just that brief description allows. It’s smart and genuinely likable — things that aren’t often said about what could be called a rom-com.

People Places Things
This Sundance hit from stars the great Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords in a low-key performance that really works. He stars as a novelist whose life is upended when he walks in on his partner with another man. As his life spins out of control, one of his students (Jessica Williams) sets him up with her mother (the always-great Regina Hall). It’s not going to bust your gut with laughter, but it’s a true, pure character study, a chance to spend 90 minutes with people probably more likable than most you interact with.

Pretty in Pink
Netflix knows that a lot of their paying subscribers grew up in the ’80s, and so there’s a ton of classic films by people like Steven Spielberg and John Hughes, who wrote this cult classic, a film that really defined a generation in terms of music and fashion, and helped launch the Brat Pack. It’s not a great movie as much as a great time machine, a way to revisit 1986 in all its pain and glory.

Results
Andrew Bujalski’s Support the Girls got a lot of buzz last year, even winning some awards for its great central performance from Regina Hall. If you liked it, check out Bujalski’s last film, another movie about a very unique working environment. Cobie Smulders, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Corrigan star in this quirky rom-com set in the high-pressure world of personal trainers.

Role Models

Raunchy and hysterical, this Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott entry never quite got the attention it deserved and is so incredibly rewatchable (which is all we really want sometimes from Netflix — something we know we liked once and will probably like again). Scott and Rudd play two schmoes forces to do 150 hours of community service, which pairs these man-children with actual children. David Wain (They Came Together, Wet Hot American Summer) is an innovative comedy director, and this is one of his best.

Scary Movie 3
Yes, THAT Scary Movie. If you wrote off the second sequel to a movie that wasn’t that funny in the first place because, well, it makes sense to do so, no one would blame you. The shocking thing is that this one is actually pretty funny. Easily the best of the Scary Movie franchise, this one was helmed by David Zucker (Airplane, The Naked Gun), and his comic timing helps. The parody structure is the same, but enough of the jokes land to make this worth a laugh or two on a rainy weekend.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Michael Cera stars in Edgar Wright’s vibrant adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel, a movie that feels like it could come out exactly the same way today, almost a decade after its release. Wright’s style is perfect for this material, capturing the tone and structure of the source material with his razor-sharp editing and wit.

Set It Up
When Set It Up hit Netflix in the Summer of 2018, it felt like a splash of cold water for one reason: the rom-com is in a dire state. They barely get released in theaters at all any more, and they’re typically awful when they do. So to see an old-fashioned, charming romantic comedy felt like something new again. It also helps that Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell have future stars written all over them. They’re charming and delightful — two things we wish we could say about more rom-coms in the past decade.

Shaolin Soccer
Stephen Chow rules. This Cantonese-language international hit was one of his first breakthroughs (followed by his masterpiece, Kung Fu Hustle, which you really need to see if you have yet to do so). Shaolin Soccer is pretty much exactly what that title implies — a kung fu sports movie. It’s almost impossible to describe a Chow movie in a way that captures his inspired, bizarre filmmaking. Just watch this one. Trust us.

Silver Linings Playbook
One could argue that this is more a drama than a comedy, but there are just enough funny beats in David O. Russell’s award-winning hit that we think it qualifies (and it was on that side of the ledger for the Golden Globes, for what that’s worth). And, wherever you put it, Silver Linings Playbook does leave you with that uplifted, warm feeling you want from a comedy, and a reminder that a chance encounter could change your life.

Sixteen Candles
John Hughes defined a generation with his look at teenage life in the Chicago suburbs, and this remains one of his most beloved films (even if some of its humor hasn’t aged that well). Like a lot of Hughes movies, there’s something so likable and buoyant about Sixteen Candles, especially in the performance by Molly Ringwald (and the great Joan Cusack). Like Pretty in Pink, it’s kind of a time machine to your childhood. (Or your mom’s childhood.)

Stripes
We still miss John Candy. His co-starring work here is only one of the great things about this near-perfect comedy, a flick that caught Candy, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis at their charismatic peaks. Murray is at his sad-sack best as a man who gets knocked down by life and decides to join the Army. Comedy hijinks ensue. A lot of comedies from the early ’80s have not aged well. This one has.

Swingers
Every few years, a comedy comes completely out of nowhere and taps something in the Zeitgeist that makes everyone involved a star. No one knew who Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn the day before Swingers came out, but it launched them into the celebrity sphere, where they still reside. This movie is still money, baby, as it captures the posturing of young men trying to get work and get laid in Hollywood in the mid-’90s.

The Trip to Spain

Maybe you haven’t heard of The Trip franchise? Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan play barely fictionalized versions of themselves, traveling to different places around the world as they deal with their own personal problems and eat really well. This is the third movie in the series after 2011’s The Trip and 2014’s The Trip to Italy. They’re worth a look just for Brydon’s perfect celebrity impressions.

Wet Hot American Summer
David Wain’s ode to teen camp movies didn’t find much of an audience at all when it was released and critics mostly hated it, but it became a word-of-mouth cult classic over the years. Audiences took to it so much on DVD and cable that it even returned for a revival series on Netflix. See where it all began at Camp Firewood way back in 2001.

While We’re Young
Look, another Noah Baumbach movie! When Netflix launches movies by auteurs, they often include a lot of their older films in the catalogue, and so the inclusion of The Meyerowitz Stories means a lot of old Baumbach. This 2014 comedy may not be his deepest work, but it’s one of his funniest, with likable, perfectly tuned performances from Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, and Adam Driver.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Sometimes it’s fun to watch what could be a mediocre movie get totally carried by the charms of its two stars. That’s the case here. Is this a great comedy? Not really, but Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks are so delightful and fun to watch that you just don’t care.

The 50 Best Comedies on Netflix Right Now