This post is updated frequently as movies leave and enter Netflix. *New additions are indicated with an asterisk.
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.)
More dramedy than comedy, there are still enough funny beats in this tearjerker to qualify. Will Reiser tells his own story of battling cancer in a tender, genuine film that ended up being a sizable box office hit given its subject matter. People were attracted to the truth in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as a young man diagnosed with cancer, and how that diagnosis impacted his relationships, particularly one with a good friend, played by Seth Rogen.
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.
The romantic comedy genre has been in a dire state for many years now, but Hollywood occasionally produces a clever twist on the stale formula. Take this Richard Curtis (Yesterday) movie that features Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams at their most charming. Gleeson plays a man who can travel back in time, and uses that ability to alter his romantic future, learning that it’s better to accept life one day at a time with all of its imperfections.
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.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone aren’t only responsible for the kids of South Park and the characters from Team America. History has kind of forgotten this little comedy released in 1998 starring the famous animated creators in a film written and directed by the legendary David Zucker. Most critics hated it, and audiences kind of ignored it, but a small cult following has developed around it. There were even 20th anniversary celebratory screenings last year. Check it out and see if it’s worth remembering.
*Between Two Ferns: The Movie
Scott Aukerman directs a Netflix Original movie version of his own web series starring the king of awkward interviews, Zach Galifianakis. Believe it or not, they did find a way to string together the hysterical shorts into a movie with a story, although the highlights are still the mean questions asked to people like Benedict Cumberbatch, Will Ferrell, Gal Gadot, Tiffany Haddish, Jon Hamm, Matthew McConaughey, and many more.
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.
One of the most quotable comedies of all time makes its way to Netflix to encourage young subscribers to watch movies made before 1990. This one definitely has some funny dialogue and one-liners, but it’s also a phenomenal example of how far casting can go to make a classic comedy. Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ted Knight, and Rodney Dangerfield weren’t just hysterical here, they were all perfectly cast to play off their comedy reputations. Most of all, it’s still damn funny.
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.
Don’t Think Twice
Mike Birbiglia directs, writes, and stars in one of the smartest movies ever made about improv comedy. He’s a member of a group of comedians in New York City who watches as one of them becomes famous … while the others do not. How even jealousy impacts friendship is smartly examined in this funny, empathetic movie that also stars Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, and Keegan-Michael Key.
Eddie Murphy: Delirious
There are dozens of stand-up specials on Netflix, and at least half of them owe a huge debt to a pair of ’80s comedy films starring Eddie Murphy, Delirious and Raw. There was a time when Murphy was literally the hottest stand-up comedian in the world, and one of many things so mind-blowing about Delirious is that he was only 22 when he made it! There is a buzzed episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in which Jerry Seinfeld talks to Eddie Murphy about a potential stand-up comeback. Watch Delirious to see why people are so excited about this possibility.
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.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Remember when romantic comedies weren’t basically the exclusive territory of Netflix Original movies? It’s hard to believe now, but Mike Newell’s Four Weddings and a Funeral was a legitimate phenomenon, grossing more than any U.K.-produced film in history at the time of its release and earning an Oscar nomination for Best Picture! Why was it such a hit? A lot of the success of great rom-coms comes down to casting, and Newell got Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell at their most absolutely charming.
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.
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.
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.
Relive one of the best comedies of all time over and over again on Netflix. Believe it or not, this 1993 Bill Murray vehicle wasn’t rapturously received either critically or commercially when it came out, but it has become a beloved genre classic. Murray stars as a weatherman forced to repeat the same day over and over again until he gets it right. It’s not just the clever premise but how much Murray and director and co-writer Harold Ramis inject humanism and truth into it. And it holds up so much better than most early-’90s comedies.
*Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay
For some reason, this is the only one of the three Kal Penn & John Cho stoner comedies currently on Netflix, but maybe if you watch it enough times, they’ll drop the other two on here too. All three are incredibly underrated examples of not just smart physical comedy but movies that encourage diversity and friendship. Get some White Castle for when you watch.
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.
*The House Bunny
Anna Faris’ best comedy acting is in this underrated 2008 Happy Madison film about a Playboy bunny who ends up mentoring a sorority of outsiders and transforming them. Some of the jokes are incredibly simple and even sexist but Faris has an incredible commitment and energy level. She keeps it all light and entertaining.
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.
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.
*Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
One of Kevin Smith’s most underrated comedies is this madcap adventure film featuring a lot of the beloved characters from what is known as the View Askewniverse. Smith took his popular supporting characters and made them the leads of a goofy, star-studded comedy that’s much funnier than you remember. And with the Jay & Silent Bob Reboot about to be released, it’s time to catch up.
Long before he was Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds was a fat kid named Chris Brander. Ignoring the arguably offensive fat jokes, this is an underrated laugher about a guy who is stuck in the friend zone with his best friend (played by Amy Smart) but gets a chance to make his dreams come true a decade later. It’s far from perfect but features very likable performances from Reynolds, Smart, and Anna Faris.
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.
Comedy doesn’t get much darker than this 2015 offering from the 2019 Oscar-nominated Yorgos Lanthimos. The Greek director co-wrote and directs the story of a place where single people go to hook up with others looking for love. The catch? If they don’t find a partner within 45 days, they are turned into animals. As dry and deadpan as comedy gets, there are still some very funny beats in Lanthimos’s exaggerated look at the folly of human connection.
*Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Guy Ritchie’s breakthrough is over two decades old now, making it the perfect time to look back on one of the biggest indie hits of its era. With its tough-talking characters, clever plotting, and charismatic ensemble (this is the movie that gave us Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham), some people wrote off Lock as a Tarantino riff but it’s interesting now to consider how many films were influenced by this one too.
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.
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.
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.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Yes, that Paul Blart. No one is here to argue that this Kevin James hit is on the same level as Caddyshack or Animal House but sometimes you just need a really stupid physical comedy to wash away the concerns of the day. And Paul Blart gets that job done. James is an underrated physical comedian and he works perfectly as a mall cop who stumbles onto a hostage crisis at his job.
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.
*Scary Movie 2
The choices of the Netflix powers that be when it comes to franchises can be a little bizarre. Why just this installment of the five-movie franchise? Is there anything special about it? Not really, but it might be a fun chaser this scary movie season. Watch a ‘90s classic like Scream and then check out the parody of it right after.
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.
*Sleeping with Other People
If you love Russian Doll (and really who doesn’t) then you should dig into the history of its creator, Leslye Headland. She wrote and directed this clever 2015 comedy starring Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Jason Mantzoukas, and, of course, Natasha Lyonne.
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.
Starsky & Hutch
Before he made a fortune with The Hangover, Todd Phillips directed this adaptation of the hit TV series from the ‘70s, turning the action show into more of a physical comedy. It’s not a classic comedy, but it’s fun to watch now to see so many great comedians near the peak of their abilities, including Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the title roles, and supporting turns from Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Terry Crews, and the one and only Snoop Dogg.
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.
Greg Mottola’s 2007 comedy became so beloved for a generation that it’s already a reference point (look at how many people called Booksmart a female version of this). Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Superbad turned Michael Cera and Jonah Hill into stars overnight, and introduced the world to future Oscar-winner Emma Stone. Some of its gender issues already seem a little dated, but there’s an innocent charm to the film that holds up. And it’s just damn funny.
Swiss Army Man
There are a lot of movies on Netflix. There are not a lot of movies like this Sundance hit. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse. The former Boy Who Lived stars with Paul Dano in a film that can’t really be captured in a tiny list entry. Just watch it and report back.
*To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar
It was a very different era in Hollywood when Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo starred in this “drag comedy” about a trio of drag queens stranded during a road trip. Some of it may look dated now, but it’s interesting to see how issues of sexuality and gender were handled in a mainstream comedy that ended up being a surprising hit at the box office.
If a studio had released this delightful romantic dramedy in theaters, even just in major cities, people would have noticed. It’s smart, funny, and contains a pair of wonderful young performances. It’s the story of Danny (Callum Turner) and Ellie (Grace Van Patten), two struggling New Yorkers drawn together over a mysterious briefcase.
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.
*The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience
It may not be a legit Popstar sequel but it will do for now. This short film from the Lonely Island guys is one of the weirdest and most wonderful things to ever be produced under the banner of a Netflix Original. Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer star as, believe it or not, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, and it’s a musical. You gotta see it.
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.