Of all genres of film, there’s no type of film more difficult to recommend than comedies. While a well-produced drama can keep most viewers glued to their seats, and a quality horror film can produce frights and scares without resorting to jump scares, what constitutes a “good” comedy is far more subjective. Everyone finds different things to love about a comedy, be it the outrageousness of what’s happening in a situation, the romance between the two leads, or the witty wordplay exchanged between characters. Comedy can be broad, based on physical stunts or laughing at the poor decisions of the characters in a film, or it can be subtle, focused on hidden details in the backgrounds or double entendres in the script. And while a horror film can be universally looked at as “poor” or “not scary,” even the worst-received comedies have their defenders, with a solid amount of fans defending the work for being truly hilarious.
Still, we can’t simply ignore the need for comedy recommendations, especially when you’re looking for something easy to laugh at on a night in with Netflix. The world’s most popular streaming service offers hundreds of comedies for you to choose from, from broad and slapstick comedy to subtle and dialogue-based humor. We’ve gathered a small selection of the best that Netflix has to offer, with everything from raunchy, provocative humor, to gallows-based dark comedies, to family-friendly films that can make anyone ages 5 to 105 smile. Make sure to take a look at the description of each film, where we’ve done our best to designate each film with a certain style of humor to better allow for our readers to find a film that will fit their sensibilities. Let’s dive into the 25 best comedies streaming right now on Netflix!
Written by Paul Reubens and Phil Hartman (The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live) and directed by Tim Burton in his full-length directorial debut, Pee-wee's Big Adventure adapts the stage show The Pee-Wee Herman Show for the big screen. Reubens reprises his role as Pee-wee, an overgrown pre-pubescent kid sporting a cropped haircut, blush, lipstick, and a gray flannel suit, lives a quiet yet unique life in his rather bizarre home until someone steals one of his most prized possessions: a fire-engine red customized bicycle. This leads Pee Wee to embark on a cross-country quest to nab the thieves. Along the way, he makes friends with a variety of original characters, endures a myriad of nightmares, and has a supernatural encounter with a ghastly trucker. The film is a delightful comedy for young and old alike, and eventually led the way for Pee-wee's Playhouse and two movie sequels, the latter of which is also available on Netflix as an Original film.
Director Edgar Wright's (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver) second theatrical film and the middle entry in his Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, returning from Shaun of the Dead and the television series Spaced. In Hot Fuzz, Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a London officer who is transferred to the small town of Sanford when his fellow officers realize his excellent police work will put them out of a job. While there, Angel begins to suspect a violent conspiracy is erupting from within the town, and together with police constable Danny Butterman (Frost), he attempts to crack the case behind a series of deadly "accidents" to bring the culprit to justice. Part parody and part homage, Hot Fuzz is a hilarious sendup to American action films with a British sensibility, even going as far to directly parody Bad Boys 2 and Point Break. It's a must-see.
Yes, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a horror film, designed to be as bloody and graphic as possible. It's also an incredibly funny film, a horror-comedy that's just as focused on delivering frights as it is laughs. The film stars Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Tyler Labine (Reaper, Deadbeat) as two well-meaning hillbillies who purchased a lakefront cabin together in the woods. At a gas station outside of camp, the two run into several college students going camping for the weekend. Tucker (Tudyk) pushes Dale (Labine) to talk to Allison, one of the main girls, but ends up simply frightening her instead. While Tucker and Dale work on reconstructing their cabin, the nearby campers go skinny-dipping together, only for Allison to hit her head and be saved by Dale. While she's recuperating with Tucker and Dale, the rest of the college students trick themselves into believing that she's been kidnapped, and attempt to rescue her—only for everything to go wrong.
A classic example of modern black comedy, Burn After Reading is a crime-comedy film brought to you by Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, No Country for Old Men). In this absurdist, deadpan film, a massive conspiracy begins following the loss of a disc containing the memoirs of a former CIA analyst (John Malkovich). Found by two gym employees, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Fargo) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt, playing a dumb beefcake of a jock), the disc is mistaken for containing secrets from the United State government. Thrilled that the two can use the disc as a way to gain a monetary reward, they attempt to return the disc to the CIA analyst and, upon his furious rejection to their offerings, attempt to sell the disc to the Russian Embassy. That barely scratches the surface of this caper comedy, which also stars George Clooney, J.K. Simmons, Tilda Swinton, and Richard Jenkins.
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) works for a Human Resources firm that specializes in termination assistance, traveling around the country to help downsizing companies let go of employees while giving motivational speeches. He enjoys his job and the no-strings-attached life it allows him to lead, but when Ryan's summoned back to his home office in Nebraska, he learns Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a young new hire for the company, has pitched a program that would cut company costs by forcing Ryan to use videoconferencing tools to conduct his job. When Ryan tells Natalie she has no idea how important the human touch is to his job, she agrees to travel with him on a tour around the country to view Ryan's job through his eyes. Along the way, Ryan will be forced to reconsider his life's priorities. Up in the Air was written and directed by Jason Reitman (Juno), and received six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.
When Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan), a rookie director trying to adapt the biography of Vietnam war hero John "Four Leaf" Tayback (Nick Nolte) runs into issues on the set with his actors, he realizes the dangers of his set-based action film simply isn't provided the actors with an accurate depiction of war. After a multi-million dollar pyrotechnics stunt costs the studio millions and puts the project behind by months, Cockburn makes the decision to place his group of lead actors—portrayed here by Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, and Robert Downey Jr., who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the film—in the jungle to shoot the film guerrilla-style. What the actors and crew don't understand, of course, is they've been dropped in the middle of the Golden Triangle, a part of Vietnam known for its drug trafficking. How long will it take for the less-than-brilliant actors to realize the dangers in? Will they make it out of Vietnam alive? Is Tom Cruise wearing a fat suit? You'll have to watch to find out.
Plenty of people remember Space Jam, the first theatrically-released Looney Tunes film, either through nostalgia goggles or ironically. The film was a box office success but was panned by critics upon release. Fewer people remember the follow-up to that film, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, but that's unfortunate—it's undoubtedly the better of the two films. Directed by Joe Dante, one of Hollywood's most inventive and underrated directors (Gremlins and Gremlins 2, The 'Burbs, Small Soldiers), Looney Tunes: Back in Action is far more in tone with the original cartoons. While the plot is convoluted and a bit of a mess, the entire experience of watching the film is reminiscent of watching those classic shorts. With plenty of gags, silly jokes, and moments designed purely for laughter, the film—which also stars Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman as the human leads—is worth revisiting.
*Available April 1st
Finding Nemo was one of Pixar's biggest hits, earning nearly a billion dollars worldwide and becoming the best-selling DVD of all time in 2006. Though a sequel was initially announced following the creation of Circle 7 Films by Disney to create sequels to the Pixar-made films they owned, these plans were cancelled following the acquisition of Pixar by Disney. It wasn't until 2012 when Andrew Stanton announced he was developing a sequel to Finding Nemo, entitled Finding Dory. When the film came out in 2016, it was well-received by audiences around the world, grossing over a billion dollars and becoming the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Finding Dory continues the story of Nemo, Marlin, and Dory, as the regal blue tang (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) tries to find her lost family.
The best-friend-or-romantic-partner conundrum has been a mainstay of Hollywood romantic films since When Harry Met Sally charmed audiences upon its release in 1989. Since then, the romantic comedy has gone through its ups (Sleepless in Seattle, Pretty Women, Clueless) and its downs (New Year's Eve, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Ugly Truth). Thankfully, we've seen the genre make something of a comeback in recent years, with films like Obvious Child bringing back the classic hilarity and romance of those 1980s and 1990s classics. Sleeping with Other People is a bit raunchier than When Harry Met Sally, but it follows the same formula: guy and girl agree to be friends instead of lovers, and romantic hijinks ensue. With an all-star cast including SNL's Jason Sudeikis, Community and GLOW's Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Jason Mantzoukas, and Adam Brody, there's plenty of fun to be had with this dark romantic-comedy.
From director Noah Baumbach, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) tells the story of three children: Danny, Matthew, and Jean Meyerowitz, played here by Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel, respectively. Danny and Jean are siblings, with Matthew as their half-brother, all tied together by their rocky relationship with their father Harold (Dustin Hoffman). Though the three children are relatively estranged from each other, their father's upcoming career retrospective brings all three to New York City to reunite, bicker, and deal with their life's problems. Despite the prominence of Sandler and Stiller, don't expect this to be a broad comedy. Like Baumbach's other tales, this is drama first, comedy second, though critics have praised Sandler's dramatic turn here as his best since Punch Drunk Love.
The ultimate breakup movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall tells the tale of Peter Bretter (Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother), a struggling musician who is best known for dating TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), an actress who stars on a CSI-like show opposite Billy Baldwin. When Sarah returns home from a trip, she promptly breaks up with him for the rockstar Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), whom she's been sleeping with behind Peter's back. Reduced to a broken shell of a man and unable to compose music for his job, Peter purchases a flight to Hawaii, arriving unannounced at a resort without reservations. Things quickly turn messy when Peter realizes Sarah and Aldous are also guests of the resort, leading hotel concierge Rachel (Mila Kunis) to take pity on Peter. Stuck at the resort with his ex-girlfriend, Peter will have to learn how to move on with his life, possibly with the help of some new romance.
Director Wes Anderson is often seen as the prime example of a modern auteur. The filmmaker behind works like Rushmore and the Oscar-nominated The Grand Budapest Hotel also gained critical acclaim for his 2012 coming-of-age story, Moonrise Kingdom. The film takes place in 1965, centering around the tale of 12-year-old orphan Sam Shakusky, a Khaki Scout attending Camp Ivanhoe in New England. While at camp, he rekindles a friendship with Suzy Bishop, a 12-year-old girl who resides in a house called Summers' End with her parents. The two had met the prior summer and become pen pals in the time since, and they've secretly planned to meet and runaway with each other. The film is gorgeous, with the distinct Wes Anderson style only he has mastered, and both the young Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are fantastic. They're joined by an all-star cast of Anderson regulars, including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, and Jason Schwartzman.
Another sports comedy in the spirit of Cool Runnings, Goon tells the story of Doug Glatt, a bouncer-turned-minor league hockey player who takes up the position of enforcer on the Halifax Highlanders after finding success on his local team. Seann William Scott (American Pie) portrays Glatt as a kind-hearted, dimwitted man who tries to do the right thing when he can, and finds hockey as giving him a shot to be successful in a world that he feels he doesn't belong in. After joining the Highlanders, Glatt—now nicknamed Doug the Thug—starts to find meaning in his life, becoming successful as an enforcer (the muscle of the team) and meeting Eva (Alison Pill), whom he falls for immediately. Things get complicated when Doug meets his hero, Ross "The Boss" Rhea, a major-league player demoted to playing in the minors following a slashing incident, only to have to face him on the ice.
Jake Kasdan wrote and directed this musical-biopic parody in 2007, produced and co-written by Judd Apatow and starring John C. Reilly as the titular character, Dewey Cox. Following the story of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, Walk Hard introduces viewers to Dewey Cox, a fictional Cash-esque persona who grew to popularity throughout the 1950s and 1960s as a rock star. Featuring fictional cameos and parodies of stars like Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles (portrayed by Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman in one of the funniest scenes in the film), Walk Hard is an absurdist take on the biopic genre of filmmaking, yet also manages to tell a compelling story without devolving into the worst trappings of the parody genre. Though the film wasn't commercially successful, Kasdan later went on to write and direct 2017's breakout hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
If there was ever a movie that hits harder today than it did when it was first released, The Truman Show might be that film. Directed by Peter Weir (Witness, Master and Commander) and starring Jim Carrey, The Truman Show is at once a comedy, a science-fiction drama, and a social satire, following the life of Truman Burbank, a man taken as a baby by a corporation to star in the first always-on reality show about a single man. Truman lives his life inside a dome located in Hollywood known to Truman as "Seahaven," where everything from his wife to his parents and even his friends are simply actors reading from a script or reciting lines fed to them through an earpiece. In the era of reality television and always-active online social media presences, The Truman Show constitutes a must-watch piece of media.
Once a critical and commercial flop, Wet Hot American Summer has undergone a transformation in the public eye since it premiered nearly two decades ago in 2001. Roger Ebert famously tore the film apart with a parody of "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh," and audiences failed to show up at the theater. Slowly, however, the film began to grow an audience online, becoming a cult classic thanks to its irreverent humor and over-the-top ridiculous satire of the summer-camp comedies of the 1970s and 1980s. The cast here is stacked, including Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Meloni, David Hyde Pierce, and so many other incredible, recognizable comedians and actors. In addition to the original film, two Netflix Original miniseries have been produced, including First Day of Camp and Ten Years Later, a prequel and sequel series respectively. As for the plot, the film is fairly bare: Wet Hot American Summer chronicles the last day of camp as the counselors try to have one final romantic encounter at camp.
Adapted by director Barry Sonnenfeld (The Addams Family) from the comics of the same name, Men in Black stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as secret agents belonging to an organization responsible for dealing with alien life on Earth. When New York Police Dept. officer James Edwards III (Smith) pursues a criminal into the Guggenheim, but after the suspect is able to get away using supernatural speed and agility, Agent K (Jones) pays Edwards a visit. He neuralyzes James' memory, erasing the incident entirely from his memory, but leaves him a card, instructing him to visit a location for a training exercise. Upon passing the tests, Edwards is offered a position into the Men in Black, and not a moment too soon: a new alien threat soon threatens the world, leaving Agent K and the newly-named Agent J to save humanity as we know it.
Speaking of sports comedies, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is the perfect example of what happens when you combine the slapstick humor of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; Step Brothers) with the world of NASCAR, something prime for being mocked and parodied on-screen. Ferrell stars as the titular Ricky Bobby, a man who works for the pit crew of Terry Cheveaux. After Cheveux walks away in the middle of a race after falling to last place, Bobby steps in and manages to place third, cementing him as the next NASCAR great and winning the love of his future wife, Carley. But not all is as great as it seems, as Bobby is pushed into a life he might not be ready for.
*Leaving May 12th
And now the story of a sweet little bear from Peru, whose wild adventures unfold for the first time in live-action. Paddingtonfollows a bear named Paddington, raised in the jungles of Peru with his aunt Lucy and uncle Pastuzo, who gained their names when an explorer nearly hunted them down. Attuned with a taste for marmalade sandwiches, Paddington is forced to leave the comfort of his jungle after an accident during a storm costs uncle Pastuzo his life. Now a small bear in a big city, Paddington must find the explorer who cared for his aunt and uncle and adapt to life with the humans, including the Brown family, who take him in upon finding him in Paddington Station. Featuring an all-star cast of English and Australian actors (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman, and the voice of Ben Whishaw) and a ton of Harry Potter alumni (including Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, and the voices Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon), Paddington is a family-friendly film everyone will love to watch again and again.
Directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) and starring an ensemble cast of comedians and actors like Will Forte, Joel McHale, Domnhall Gleeson, Seth Green, Annette O'Toole, Max Greenfield, and Ed Helms, A Futile and Stupid Gesture tells the story of Doug Keeney, the founder of National Lampoon magazine in the 1970s. The film follows the life of Keeney as a comedy writer, following his childhood through his time at Harvard and the founding of National Lampoon. Though Doug Keeney is obviously brilliant to the people around him, his behavior and troubled mind often lands in in hot water, and his drug problems follow him throughout his life, up to and including at the press conference surrounding Caddyshack, a film he co-wrote, that had received negative reviews. A Futile and Stupid Gesture is a Netflix Original, so you can be sure this film will always be ready to stream on Netflix at your heart's content.
I Love You, Man is a romantic comedy that follows Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a real estate agent located in Los Angeles who proposes to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones), only to find he doesn't have a large group of friends to share the news with. Realizing he lacks any kind of close male friends—something he overhears his fiancee's friends complaining about. Realizing he has to find someone to be the best man at his wedding, he begins to hunt for someone to fill the position of best friend. After some failed encounters, including some advice from his brother Robbie (Andy Samberg), he meets investor Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), and the two bond over their love of the prog-rock band Rush. I Love You, Man explores the relationship between two close friends while also showing how friendships can have a strain on relationships if not reigned in.
James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) cannot wait for his summer vacation. It's 1987 and he has everything planned: after his graduation from Oberlin College with a degree in comparative literature, he'll travel to Europe for the summer before returning to study journalism at Columbia University. There's only one problem: his parents have hit a period of financial trouble, and without their financial support, James is unable to travel to Europe. Stuck in his hometown of Pittsburgh, James is forced to get a summer job at Adventureland, a rundown theme park where his childhood friend Tommy works. While there, he meets Em (Kristen Stewart), who saves him from an attack by an angry customer. When he begins to develop feelings for Em, things quickly take a turn for the complicated.
The story of three entrepreneurs who start up a new business, Ghostbusters is often considered one of the best comedies of all times. Director Ivan Reitman, who had previously worked with Bill Murray and Harold Ramis on Meatballs and Stripes, joins Murray, Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, and Ernie Hudson in a paranormal science-fiction comedy that has become a critically-acclaimed comedy, renowned for the mixture of horror and comedic elements, Bill Murray's deadpan delivery, and some fantastic visual elements that still hold up to this day. When Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler are all forced out of their positions at Columbia University, the three men start Ghostbusters, a ghost elimination service. Just in time, too: a serious evil has begun to threaten New York City, putting the lives of every citizen at peril.
In the sequel to the stoner classic Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, the film picks up where the previous entry left off: with Kumar convincing Harold to follow his new girlfriend and neighbor to Amsterdam after returning home from White Castle. Things get rocky at the airport when passengers on the plane mistake Kumar's bong for a bomb, leading to sky marshalls apprehending the two before they can reach the Netherlands. Held in captivity by a racist, power-hungry Deputy of Secretary of Homeland Security Ron Fox, the two are sent off to Guantanamo Bay after being mistaken for agents of a joint Al-Qaeda and North Korea conspiracy. The film covers their misadventures as they escape from prison, paddle their way to Miami, and attempt to make their way back to Texas to clear their names.
The newest installment in Adam Sandler's ongoing Netflix deal also happens to be the best one released on the streaming service yet not directed by Noah Baumbach. The Week Of is by no means high art, but it's a surprisingly realistic take on a father's hopes of paying for his daughter's wedding while simultaneously having to budget the entire thing out of pocket. The film follows fathers of the bride and groom Kenny (Sandler) and Kirby (Chris Rock), as they attempt to put aside their differences in views in order to present their children the perfect wedding. Directed by longtime Sandler contributor Robert Smigel (the writer of You Don't Mess With The Zohan and the voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog), the film manages to score more laughs than the majority of Sandler's recent projects, thanks to effort on Sandler's part and the supporting cast featuring Rachel Dratch, Steve Buscemi, Allison Strong, Noah Robbins, and more.