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.
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.
Maybe this isn’t one of the best comedies of all time, but it’s fascinating as a snapshot of when Adam Sandler was one of the biggest stars in the entire world. This movie made almost $200 million! That’s insane by 2003 numbers and wouldn’t happen today. And there are beats in here that are funny, especially how much Jack Nicholson totally throws himself into his role. Like he always did.
Yes, it’s super-weird that Netflix didn’t add this great Aardman family film before Christmas, but if you’re in the mood for that holiday spirit outside of the Peppermint Mocha window, this is one of your best options. It’s a sweet, clever film about how the son of Father Christmas saves the day for one kid and recaptures the entire spirit of the holiday. We don’t talk enough about how great Aardman, the team behind Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, are every single time out. Aardman rules.
*As Good As It Gets
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’ 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. Some of it is a bit dated, but it catches just enough lightning in a bottle in terms of casting to justify another look.
The Austin Powers Trilogy
Mike Myers never could have imagined that his goofy superspy parody would launch a franchise, but all three films about the inimitable Austin Powers are on Netflix, just waiting for a rainy-day marathon. The reason these movies work is Myers’ complete fearlessness — he’ll do anything to make you laugh.
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.
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.
Dolemite is My Name
Eddie Murphy is back! It’s been a long time since we saw this version of Eddie, who reminds us how funny and charismatic he can be with the right part. That part is the flashy personality that was Rudy Ray Moore, a washed-up musician who transformed himself into the character of Dolemite. Like The Disaster Artist and Ed Wood, this is an ode to DIY filmmaking with not just a great performance from Murphy, but Wesley Snipes and Keegan Michael Key too.
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.
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.
*Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
One of the most popular comedies of its era turned its title character into a household name. The pitch is so beautifully simple: the most popular kid in high school takes the day off and gets into trouble in Chicago while driving his sister and principal insane. Great physical sequences mixes with a very hip ‘80s sensibility to create a classic comedy that could be a hit if it came out today.
The First Wives Club
Living legends Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton collaborated on this 1996 comedy that became a surprise smash at the box office. The trio of beloved comediennes play women who seek revenge on their husbands after they’re left for much-younger new brides. The catharsis for people jilted by jerks was part of it, but the movie works because these three ladies always deliver.
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.
*Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Netflix has been playing round robin with the Harold & Kumar movies and are back to the original now, the classic stoner comedy about a couple of guys who just want some sliders. It’s easy to write this movie off as broad comedy, but it’s actually a really progressive flick when it comes to representation and the theme of fighting to get what you want in life, even if all you want is a soggy cheeseburger.
Long before Popstar and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Andy Samberg starred in his first Lonely Island project and first major film after Saturday Night Live. Relatively ignored and critically derided at the time, Hot Rod has developed a loyal cult following over the years. It’s easy to see the Lonely Island comedy voice developing in this story of a goofy stuntman trying to perform the biggest stunt of his career to save the life of his irascible father.
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.
*Julie & Julia
Meryl Streep landed an Oscar nomination for this Nora Ephron adaptation of two stories: the legendary Julia Child and a New Yorker named Julie Powell who tried to cook all 524 recipes of the famous chef. The movie is a little slight, but the performances are great, including Streep, Amy Adams, and Stanley Tucci. It’s also a movie with a nice message about getting outside your comfort zone and a reminder of how influential Julia Child was on the home chef market for generations.
He may have won awards for Green Book, but Peter Farrelly’s best film remains this 1996 comedy starring Woody Harrelson as a grifting bowler and Randy Quaid as the Amish prodigy he exploits and then befriends. All you need to know about this movie is that it’s laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end, and also features one of Bill Murray’s best supporting performances.
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.
The Longest Yard
No, not the Adam Sandler remake — the Burt Reynolds original that so understood its main appeal that its movie poster was just a shirtless image of its leading man. Men wanted to be Burt and women wanted to be with Burt in the ‘70s, when he was the biggest box office star in the world. Watch this charismatic comedy and find out why.
It’s hard to say that you’ll laugh out loud at this look at marital dysfunction, but Azazel Jacobs indie critical darling has enough black humor to qualify. The wonderful Tracy Letts and Debra Winger star as an estranged, middle-age couple who are both having relatively open affairs. As their lovers insist that they end the marriage, the couple is surprised to fall back in love with each other.
Men in Black
Remember when they rebooted and updated Men in Black with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson? Yeah, we don’t really either. The original sci-fi/comedy has had much longer legs, now delivering its quirky blend of genres to a new generation. The reboot may not have worked like Sony hoped it would be, but we’ll always have Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the original to make us smile.
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.
Jared Hess and Jack Black’s goofy senses of humor meshed well in this 2006 comedy hit. Black plays a cook at a Oaxacan monastery who unexpectedly becomes a famous luchador, but that’s just the skeleton of a plot on which to hang physical humor and silly behavior. It’s the kind of comedy that’s easy to put on in the background while you’re doing other things. Sometimes that’s all you want from Netflix.
*The Naked Gun
No one ever could have guessed that the unsuccessful TV series Police Squad! would turn into the wildly successful film series The Naked Gun, which was such a hit on its 1988 release that it turned Leslie Nielsen into a massive star and produced two sequels. The first film is still a best, a gloriously ridiculous spoof of cop shows/films in which Nielsen’s Frank Drebin stumbles upon a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth II that involves Reggie Jackson. It’s too bad they don’t make movies this gloriously stupid (in a good way) as often as they did in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The second film is also on Netflix (but not the third.)
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.
*The Original Kings of Comedy
Spike Lee directed one of the best stand-up movies of all time when he helmed this look at a tour featuring sets by Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and a movie-stealing Bernie Mac. Shot over two nights of the tour, Lee focuses mostly on the stand-up, but we also get some nice behind-the-scenes footage on a magical event. It’s also a nice reminder that we lost Bernie Mac way too soon, and how incredibly funny he was in everything he did.
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.
The team behind this 2000 comedy knew that movies like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer were so incredibly popular that people would turn out in droves for a parody of them. In fact, this movie made more than both, launching an entire franchise of Airplane-esque mockeries of popular horror films. It’s more than just a comedy, it’s a snapshot of a fascinating movement in pop culture.
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.
The pinnacle of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s comedy career remains this modern classic, a movie that’s as rewatchable as anything you could possibly find on any streaming service. One of the reasons for that is the fearless joy with which Ferrell and John C. Reilly literally throw themselves into the roles of stepbrothers who start as enemies and end as family.
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.
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 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.
*Up in the Air
Jason Reitman’s best film stars George Clooney as a man who spends more time on the road than he does at home. The writer/director won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and the film feels just as timely a decade later as people continue to be increasingly divided by work and technology. Clooney has arguably never been better, and Oscar nominees Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are pretty fantastic too.
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.
Ten years after the first movie, the stars finally aligned for this Fall’s Zombieland 2: Double Tap. Before they were household names, Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg rocked this story of a group of misfits united by the zombie apocalypse. If you’re wondering why people have been clamoring for a sequel for the entirety of the ‘10s, do yourself a favor and catch up with this very clever movie before you catch up with the sequel.