For many of us, there’s nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than settling on the couch and watching a comedy that’s actually funny. Dramas can drag, action movies can be ridiculous, and horror films are designed to be stressful. Comedies are fun and, more often than not, predictable — and that’s not a bad thing, Not every cinematic experience needs to be an adventure, and sometimes you just want a good laugh.
Luckily, Netflix’s repository of movies has grown quite large, though we can’t blame you if you don’t want to spend hours searching for the right film. The service offers dozens of American Pie-style teen comedies, not to mention a slew of B-movies you’ll never want to sit through, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to look.
To make your choice a bit easier, we’ve done all the legwork on your behalf. Put on some kneepads, because the slapping is nigh.
While it’s been said that comedy doesn’t age well, the obvious counterpoint is 1984’s Ghostbusters, which brought together some of the finest comic actors of the era with a suitably talented director (Ivan Reitman) and a script full of memorable lines. The film begins with three scientists — Venkman (Bill Murray), Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Spengler (Harold Ramis) — trying to find proof that ghosts are real. Forming a paranormal investigation service called Ghostbusters, they recruit an additional member, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), and soon stumble into a case beyond their imagining: A cellist named Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) is being possessed by a demon named Zuul, and Zuul is merely the vanguard of something far worse. Ghostbusters is a smart comedy, with snappy dialogue and a distinct premise that still stands out decades later.
Who could have imagined that, in 2017, someone would draw upon 14th-century Italian poet Boccaccio to make a raunchy sex comedy? Renaissance scholars, that’s who, and they got their vindication with The Little Hours, a film from Jeff Baena (Life After Beth, I Heart Huckabees), who recognized that Boccaccio’s The Decameron was as filthy and hilarious as any comedy film made in recent years. The Little Hours takes place largely at a convent in Italy in 1347, where nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Ginevra (Kate Micucci), and Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), try to live pious lives despite their very un-pious attitudes. When a young man named Massetto (Dave Franco) arrives at the convent, taking the job of gardener, the cloistered nuns get a bit … excited. With its incredible cast (in addition to the aforementioned, the film includes John C. Reilly, Fred Armisen, and Nick Offerman, among others) and unique inspiration, The Little Hours is a standout comedy.
These days, the late Doug Kenney is not a household name, yet his comedies have become some of the most iconic of all time. The Harvard grad co-founded National Lampoon magazine in the early ’70s and later penned seminal films such as Animal House and Caddyshack, only to fall into obscurity in the decades since. Director David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) puts Kenney’s madcap career under the knife in A Futile and Stupid Gesture, while assembling a host of modern-day actors to play legendary comedians like Chevy Chase (Joel McHale) and Bill Murray (Jon Daly). It’s a somewhat surface-level biopic — it churns through the highlights more than anything else — but Will Forte is commendable as Kenney, who was absurd as he was brilliant.
Part crime drama, part dark comedy, In Bruges follows two hitmen who are in hiding after their latest “hit” goes awry. Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) must hide out in Bruges, a charming city in Belgium, for two weeks awaiting further instruction from their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes). As they settle in, they realize that maybe the hitman life isn’t for them. Ray has met a girl that he likes, and Ken has found a new appreciation for the simpler life. But Harry is none too pleased and travels to Bruges to knock some sense into them — aka kill them. Will they get to live their fantasy life in Bruges, or meet their demise?
Hot Fuzz is basically actor-writer Simon Pegg’s shot at the buddy-cop genre, one spliced with the same comedic elements that made his previous effort Shaun of the Dead so amusing. Pegg stars as a former London constable who’s assigned to investigate the sleepy town of Sanford alongside the dimwitted Butterman (Nick Frost). However, things start to become interesting following a string of so-called “accidents” plaguing various members of the town. The biting British film is the second in director Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy, which ultimately culminates with The World’s End and capitalizes on the fantastic interplay between Pegg and Frost.
Before Clueless and Mean Girls, there was Heathers, a cult classic that takes aim at high-school cliques, culture, and teenage suicide through a downright cynical lens. The morbid black comedy follows one Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), a popular high-school student who begins dating a sociopath named “J.D.” (Christian Slater), only to get wrapped up in a series of grisly murders that have been carefully masked as suicides. Although the bleak plot mostly focuses on the demise of three of Sawyer’s so-called friends (each named Heather), screenwriter Daniel Waters still manages to address the film’s more sadistic themes with a kind of self-aware humor that — sadly — just isn’t present in today’s teenage comedies.
A comedy classic, Happy Gilmore has finally made its way onto Netflix. When Happy (Adam Sandler), a hockey player turned pariah, finds out his aging grandmother might lose her house, he takes his skills to the golf course to try and save it. He’s more than out of place sporting his hockey jersey on the course, but when Happy starts winning, people take notice. From getting punched by Bob Barker to wrestling an alligator, nothing is off limits in this movie. For the lovers of dry — sometimes crude — humor, Happy Gilmore is for you.
The Coen Brothers have, over the years, perfected a very simple recipe for comedy: Take characters who think they’re smarter than they are and throw them into a situation that goes way over their heads. In Burn After Reading, the comedy of errors begins when CIA analyst Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) quits his job rather than take a demotion, opting to work on a memoir. His unfaithful wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton) decides to divorce him, making a copy of his important files, which fall into the hands of two gym employees, Linda (Frances McDormand) and Chad (Brad Pitt), who figure they can get a ransom from Cox. Their ham-handed attempt to sell state secrets quickly goes awry. The Coens’ writing is as sharp as ever, and the all-star cast gives outstanding performances.
A Netflix original movie, The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, is a father-son bonding movie starring Josh Brolin and newcomer Montana Jordan. Buck, a hunter made famous for his popular TV show and hunting whitetail deer, decides that it’s time to take his estranged son out for his first hunting trip. Along for the ride is Buck’s cameraman, Don (Danny McBride), who documents the trip as it doesn’t pan out the way Buck expected. This lighthearted comedy shows the lengths to which a father will go to connect with his son.
When Rachel (Kristen Bell) is left at the altar, she gets blackout drunk and ends up taking her estranged father (Kelsey Grammer) on her Caribbean honeymoon cruise. Rachel is not too fond of her dad after he left her mother, because he believed his family was holding back his career. Realizing that they are more alike than they think, Rachel begins to let her father back into her life. Part drama, part comedy, Like Father is a story of mending broken relationships all while trapped on a cruise line.
Directly following Caddyshack, Stripes was one of Bill Murray’s earliest films. He plays John, a man who has just lost his job, apartment, car, and girlfriend in a span of a few hours. John’s life now seems meaningless, so he decides to join the Army, convincing his best friend Russell (Harold Ramis) to tag along. The two get into lots of trouble during boot camp and beyond, making Stripes a hilarious military parody. This classic film may be a bit over the top, but nothing beats the authentic comedic genius that is Bill Murray.
The Emperor’s New Groove is a hilarious buddy comedy that’s got something for everyone. The animated film follows an Incan emperor named Kuzco (David Spade) as he tries to change back into a human after being accidentally transformed into a llama by his ex-adviser, Yzma (Eartha Kitt). While not as popular as some of Disney’s other films, The Emperor’s New Groove, with it’s distinctly Disney vibe, features a great cast, which also includes John Goodman and Patrick Warburton, and some really catchy musical numbers.
Before he was known as Bilbo Baggins and Dr. John Watson, Martin Freeman played the lovable Arthur Dent in the 2005 adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which follows the adventures of a hapless Englishman in space after Earth is destroyed by aliens. The film is based on the series by Douglas Adams, which spans multiple novels, radio programs, and more, and actually uses a screenplay co-written by Douglas before his death in 2001. This campy sci-fi film also features performances by Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Alan Rickman, and Stephen Fry.
One of Adam Sandler’s earliest films, Billy Madison is a classic farfetched comedy about a grown man going back to elementary school. Billy (Sandler) makes a deal with his dad, if he can go through grades first through twelfth all over again he will inherit his father’s hotel empire. Though this may seem easy, Billy is immature and lazy, and it will take every bone in his body to pass his classes. Not to mention there is Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford) an employee of Billy’s father who is trying to get Billy to fail so he can gain control of the company. The laugh-out-loud comedy was produced by Robert Simonds and also appears Darren McGavin and Norm MacDonald.
Forty years ago, Animal House was released, and the stereotypical college frat party subgenre was born. Starring the late, great John Belushi, as well as Kevin Bacon, Tim Matheson, and Donald Sutherland, Animal House was directed by John Landis. It’s based on the college experiences of writers Chris Miller and Harold Ramis and producer Ivan Reitman. It follows two young men wanting to join a fraternity who find themselves at Delta Tau Chi, where they are unceremoniously welcomed by John “Bluto” Blutarsky (Belushi). When the life of the fraternity is put in jeopardy, the members will do anything to save it. From toga parties to the chaotic homecoming parade, every scene is its own hilarious take. This over-the-top comedy will have you in stitches till the very end.