For many of us, there’s nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than settling down on the couch and watching a good comedy. Dramas can drag, action movies can be over the top, and horror films are designed to be stressful. Comedies are fun and, more often than not, predictable — but that’s not a bad thing. Not every cinematic experience needs to be an adventure, and sometimes you just want a good laugh.
Luckily, the repository of movies on Netflix has grown quite large, and we can’t blame you if you don’t want to spend hours searching for the right film. The streaming 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 the legwork for you. These are the best comedies on Netflix right now.
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Airplane! is not a movie that can simply be seen. It has to be experienced and given the full attention of the viewer. David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams’ manic comedy features an onslaught of visual gags and hilarious dialogue that could overwhelm a lesser film. Airplane! is also a near-remake of the ‘50s thriller Zero Hour!, and it liberally borrows from that movie while adding an avalanche of comedic moments, one after the other. Robert Hays stars as Ted Striker, a former Vietnam pilot with just a little PTSD, who gets on a flight to save his relationship with flight attendant Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty). But when the pilots are stricken with food poisoning, Elaine and Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) both convince Ted to overcome his fears and take control of the airplane. This was also the beginning of Nielsen’s long association with Abrahams and the Zucker brothers, which led to The Naked Gun trilogy.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen
Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Runtime: 87 minutes
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
If you loved Airplane!, then The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! will also find a place in your heart. The two films share a creative team, as well as Leslie Nielsen in a starring role. The brilliance of Nielsen’s Lt. Frank Drebin lies in his inability to realize just how hilarious he is. Drebin occasionally reacts to the onslaught of silly events around him, but as far as he’s concerned, he’s just a cop with a job. And that job is to protect the Queen of England from an assassination attempt during a California Angels game. The sight gags come fast and furious, so be sure to keep your eyes on the screen. But the dialogue is also delightfully side-splitting. Believe it or not, this movie was actually based on a short-lived TV series called Police Squad, that also featured Nielsen. By the time The Naked Gun made it to the big screen, fans were finally willing to embrace its unique brand of comedy.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, Ricardo Montalbán
Director: David Zucker
Runtime: 85 minutes
Back To the Future (1985)
It’s to the credit of director and co-writer Robert Zemeckis that Back To the Future works equally well as both a sci-fi film and a comedy. Michael J. Fox stars as Marty McFly, a teenager whose best friend is the local mad scientist, Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd), the man who created a time-traveling DeLorean. After witnessing Doc’s death in the present, Marty finds himself trapped 30 years in the past with his very existence in peril. Marty’s mom, Lorraine (Lea Thompson), has unknowingly fallen for her son. And if Marty can’t get his dad, George McFly (Crispin Glover), to win Lorraine over, then Marty will simply fade away. The personal stakes are high for Marty, but Back To the Future never forgets to bring the laughs as well. It’s a classic in every sense of the word.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Runtime: 116 minutes
Lady Bird (2017)
Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, Lady Bird, works equally well as both a comedy and a drama. Saoirse Ronan stars as the titular Lady Bird. It’s the name adopted by Ronan’s character, Christine McPherson, as she starts openly rebelling against her Catholic high school and her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf). Over the course of Lady Bird’s senior year, she redefines herself through her friends, new and old, as well as her ambitions for college and her quest for love. Gerwig didn’t shy away from showing Lady Bird’s mistakes and growing pains, but those are some of the qualities that make her story so endearing to watch.
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts
Director: Greta Gerwig
Runtime: 94 minutes
Ice Cube leads the impressive cast of Barbershop, which also includes Anthony Anderson, Eve, Michael Ealy, Keith David, and Cedric the Entertainer. Barbershop also spawned two sequels, but the original film holds up very well as a stand-alone comedy. Ice Cube’s Calvin Palmer Jr. owns a local barbershop in Chicago, but he can’t wait to free himself from the business that he inherited. That’s why Calvin secretly sells the shop to Lester Wallace (David), a shady businessman who wants to destroy it. However, Calvin realizes how important the barbershop is to him and the community only after making the deal. But Calvin’s attempt to save the shop is complicated by one of his employees, Ricky (Ealy), when he gets in trouble for a robbery he didn’t commit. Calvin’s loyalty to Ricky saved them both, and a franchise was born.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer
Director: Tim Story
Runtime: 102 minutes
The Muppets (2011)
Disney has had trouble figuring out what to do with Jim Henson’s signature creations since buying the Muppets in 2004. But The Muppets feature film is not only hilarious but also firmly understands what made the franchise great in the first place. Jason Segel co-wrote the film and stars as Gary, a long-time fan of the Muppets who has a Muppet brother, Walter, with a bit of an identity crisis. Amy Adams is also very charming in the film as Mary, Gary’s girlfriend, and longtime romantic partner. But the Muppets and Walter are at the heart of the story, as they get one last chance to make a comeback and save the historic theater where they filmed The Muppet Show. This is great fun for kids of all ages.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Rashida Jones
Director: James Bobin
Runtime: 102 minutes
The Interview (2014)
Released in 2014, The Interview is the only movie on this list that could have conceivably launched World War III. The premise — an American talk show host going to North Korea to interview the nation’s dictator and infiltrate the government for the CIA — drew the ire of the despotic nation and its thin-skinned ruler, Kim Jong-un. North Korean hackers coordinated a massive attack against Sony Studios, leaking personal emails that so humiliated studio president Amy Pascal, she was forced to resign. However, when the movie was released after short delays to consider national security, all the fuss seemed to be about nothing. The Interview is just plain silly. If anything, Kim Jong-un comes off looking good. The joke is probably on all of us for thinking Seth Rogen and James Franco would make a movie provocative enough to start a war. The context of The Interview is probably funnier than the movie itself, but it is still a pretty entertaining ride.
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Stars: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan
Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Runtime: 112 minutes
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Detective shows and movies aren’t all serious — as Brooklyn Nine-Nine illustrates. In 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Jim Carrey plays an eccentric detective who captures and tames some of the wildest animals east of Wynnewood, Oklahoma. When the Miami Dolphins’ mascot — appropriately, a dolphin — goes missing, Ventura is called in to crack the case and save the team ahead of the Super Bowl. Dolphins legend Dan Marino stars in the film as himself and a kidnap victim, likely to the delight of Buffalo Bills fans. Some of the scenes are somewhat dated by modern standards — there are moments that come off as transphobic, at best — but the film still features a ton of hilarious bits that come a mile a minute, as this comedy movie clocks in at just an hour and 26 minutes.
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Stars: Jim Carrey, Courtney Cox
Director: Tom Shadyac
Runtime: 86 minutes
Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
All hail the return of Eddie Murphy! Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore in this Netflix original. Moore was a washed-up musician who transformed himself into the 1970’s blaxploitation character named Dolemite, becoming a cult star in the process. An ode to extremely independent filmmaking with a subtler touch than Bowfinger, this film features additional, outstanding performances from Wesley Snipes and Keegan-Michael Key.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Director: Craig Brewer
Runtime: 118 minutes
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Like the great, fake Dewey Cox himself, Walk Hard was not properly appreciated in its time. Starring John C. Reilly as the titular rocker, Walk Hard directly parodies Walk the Line, a Johnny Cash biopic released a couple of years before this blistering satire of Walk the Line and biopics, in general, arrived in theaters. What makes this film stand out from similar parodies is the genuine heart Reilly pumps into his character, creating a sentiment the movie could’ve surpassed for an extra few laughs. Rather than toe the line between hilarious and heartfelt, Walk Hard tries to do both, making sure Reilly comes off as nothing less than a “Starman.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Stars: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer
Director: Jake Kasdan
Runtime: 96 minutes
The Lobster (2015)
Imagine a world where if you didn’t fall in love and get married, you were turned into an animal and treated as livestock. Dark, right? Well, and funny. Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster hits all the grimmest notes while still, inexplicably, bringing a smile to your face. The story centers on a place where single people go to meet other singles looking for love. If they don’t find love in 45 days, they’re turned into animals. Taking a deep, dry look at the desperation inherent in human connection, The Lobster features great performances from Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, and John C. Reilly and comes equipped with a jaw-dropping twist that will make you wonder what you just watched.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Runtime: 118 minutes
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
A person doesn’t truly love Monty Python unless they love Life of Brian. Well, and Flying Circus. There’s much more to Monty Python than Holy Grail. While Grail is the better-known film, Life of Brian is more ambitious, cynical, and downright crazier for a very simple reason: It parodies Jesus Christ rather than King Arthur. Well, Christ’s neighbor, Brian Cohen, played by Graham Chapman. The film follows a case of mistaken identity as Brian is treated as a prophet, blasphemer, and enemy of the state in a series of events meant to skewer the Bible. It was, needless to say, not popular with the Church upon its release, but it’s still darn funny and encourages everyone to “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam
Director: Terry Jones
Runtime: 92 minutes
The Artist (2011)
There are elements of drama and romance, but at its core, The Artist is a comedy. Once you move through the black-and-white barrier, you enter a world of cinematic nostalgia unparalleled in film today. While old, silent films can be difficult on modern sensibilities, The Artist never stops trying to surprise with visual and audio tricks, along with humorous title cards and visceral acting. The 2011 film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and closes with a rollicking dance scene that rivals anything Fred Astaire created during his heyday.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Runtime: 100 minutes
The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience (2019)
One of the oddest Netflix originals, not least of all because it hit the platform seemingly out of nowhere, The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience is the most fun you can have reliving the glory days of the 1990’s Oakland A’s. But you don’t have to be an A’s fan or even a baseball fan to enjoy. Created by The Lonely Island, this musical short stars Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer as the Bash Brothers, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, singing about hitting dingers, doing steroids, and being on top of the world. It’s as silly as it sounds but so strangely satisfying.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer
Director: Akiva Schaffer, Mike Diva
Runtime: 30 minutes
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