25 Best Comedies Streaming on Netflix – May 2019
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!
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.
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.
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.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11; Sex, Lies, and Videotape), The Informant! tells the true story of Marc Whitacre (Matt Damon), the rising star of Archer Daniels Midland in the mid-1990s. When Whitacre discovers that his company has been participating in a price-fixing scheme, Whitacre decides to blow the whistle on the company, becoming an informant for the FBI despite his less-than-qualified nature. Thanks to his own internal struggle with bipolar disorder, Whitacre begins acting erratically, possibly risking the entire operating and consistently risking the case of the agents he’s been working for. As he continues to struggle in acting for both himself and on behalf of the FBI, Whitacre’s case spirals out of control in truly insane ways.
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.
Set It Up is one of Netflix’s many new releases in the romantic-comedy genre, something it seems desperate to bring back to life regardless on whether the studio system will allow it. Like many old-school rom-coms, Set It Up has a pretty basic plot: two assistants to rich, self-important bosses (one the editor of an online sports empire a la Deadspin or SB Nation, the other an investment and venture capitalist) decide that, in order to get their bosses to calm down for a bit, will use their loneliness to set up dates for each other. With a cast including Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, and Joan Smalls, Set It Up is perfect for a Friday night in or for a lazy Sunday morning.
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.
One of the most underrated films of this decade, Edgar Wright’s (Hot Fuzz, Baby Driver) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a visual triumph, a funny and charming story that wears its heart on its sleeve. The film follows bass guitarist and 22-year-old Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, in a pitch-perfect casting), who is floundering in his adulthood without a job after being crushed by his ex-girlfriend. Now dating a high schooler, he seems content in just letting his life pass him by, when he runs into Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a girl new to Toronto who seems to be, quite literally, the girl of Scott’s dreams. A visual triumph, pulling direct inspiration from video games, anime, and the graphic novel this series is based on, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a perfect action-comedy.
Based on the book of the same name, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara-Jean, a half-Asian, half-Caucasian 16-year-old high school student who begins her first year of high school without her older, now-graduated sister, Margot. Lara-Jean has never had a boyfriend, but has had multiple crushes, including on her sister’s now-ex-boyfriend Josh and the popular boy at school, Peter. She keeps a series of five letters to her former crushes in her room, a method that allows her to clear out her love of these boys without having to worry about keeping her feelings bottled up. When her younger sister mails the letters, she’s forced to reconcile with her feelings now being out in the open.
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.
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.
Based on the Broadway show of the same name, Mamma Mia! is a jukebox musical comedy based on the songs by Swedish pop group ABBA, with the title originating from the group’s 1975 chart-topping hit. Mamma Mia! largely follows the plot of the stage musical, taking place on a Greek island and following the 20-year-old bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried). She reveals to her bridesmaids that she’s invited three men to her wedding without telling her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), in order to try to figure out which of the three is her biological father. The three men—played by Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgard—each arrive at the wedding, only to stir up unfamiliar emotions in both themselves, Donna, and Sophie. The film is treat for fans of all musicals or romantic comedies, and you can catch the sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again on home video and digital this fall.
Yorgos Lanthimos mastered the balance of absurdist humor and dystopian fiction in his 2015 film The Lobster, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, after managing to grab the attention of critics and moviegoers alike with his 2010 film Dogtooth. The Lobster is set in a dystopian universe where single people are given just 45 days to find a romantic partner before being turned into animals. When David’s wife leaves him for another man, he attempts to form a relationship in his hotel to avoid being turned into a lobster, his animal of choice. At the hotel, he makes acquaintances who are also attempting to find love at the hotel, all while living in a society with byzantine rules. Anyone with a desert-dry sense of humor will enjoy this.
A brand-new Netflix original film, Dumplin’ was released at the tail end of 2018 quietly onto Netflix. Unlike a film like Bird Box, which saw massive promotion during the holidays, Dumplin’ went more unnoticed by fans, and it’s time to correct that. Based on a young adult novel of the same name, Dumplin’ follows a plus-size teenage daughter (Danielle Macdonald) whose mother is a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston). When she signs up for her mother’s pageant as a protest against the idea of mainstream beauty contests. When other contestants follow in her footsteps, however, things escalate quickly, leading to a full-on revolution of the pageant in Dumpin’s small Texas town.
Following the conclusion of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the group didn’t wait long to begin releasing theatrical films expanding on their now-legendary comedy chops. The first of three original films, Monty Python and the Holy Grail continues to be praised for being a groundbreaking film in the world of independent comedy. Though original reviews of the film were mixed upon release, the group’s loving parody of the legend of King Arthur has become beloved for its weird sense of humor, it’s ability to spin out of control at all times, the meta-awareness of the film, and its legendary ending. Though some viewers prefer the successor, Life of Brian, if you’ve never seen Holy Grail, now is the time to do it.
James L. Brooks has had a prolific career, from his work on television shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Simpsons to his debut feature Terms of Endearment and the landmark Broadcast News, but one of Brooks’ best films came in 1997 with the release of As Good as It Gets. Paired yet again with Jack Nicholson, one of Brooks’ most common collaborators, the film follows Melvin Udall (Nicholson), an obsessive-compulsive writer of romantic fiction who’s rude to everyone he meets, including his gay neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear), but when he has to look after Simon’s dog, he begins to soften and, if still not completely over his problems, finds he can conduct a relationship with the only waitress (Helen Hunt) at the local diner who’ll serve him.
Based on the novel of the same name, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a 2008 romantic comedy-drama film set in the indie music scene of New York in the 2000s. The film begins with Nick (Michael Cera) dealing with the heartbreak of his ex-girlfriend Tris, whom he continues to make breakup mix CDs for despite the breakup happening more than three weeks ago. Tris, who attends a private Catholic school in Manhattan, throws these CDs in the trash—but not until they’re fished out of the trash by Tris’s classmate, Norah. When Nick’s band plays a club on the Lower East Side, Tris, Norah, and Caroline, the friend who holds them together. When Norah, trying to convince Tris she has a boyfriend, kisses an unexpecting Nick, the two end up on a wild adventure through New York hunting for their favorite mutual band, “Where’s Fluffy?”. The soundtrack features all of the 2000s indie rock you could ever hope for, from bands like Vampire Weekend, We Are Scientists, Band of Horses, and Modest Mouse.
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.
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.
An adaptation of the 1960s sitcom created by Mel Brooks, Get Smart recasts Steve Carell as Max Smart, the bumbling spy who works for CONTROL, the secret spy agency in the United States. Smart becomes a field agent at the beginning of the movie, but his bumbling attitude and constant mistakes make him more of a headache than an asset for his teammates, Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) and Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson). The film was supposed to feature a follow-up after the success of the first one, but unfortunately, issues with the script and delays from the cast and crew made the film unlikely to ever happen.
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) an attractive, wealthy and popular fashion merchandising student and president of her Delta Nu sorority, is crushed when her boyfriend Warner Huntington III breaks up with her over a romantic dinner rather than proposing to her, as she was expecting. He argues that he needs a more serious woman in order to fulfill his political aspirations, which include attending Harvard Law school. Encouraged by her sorority sisters, Elle decides to also enroll in Harvard Law in order to win Warner back. After much effort, Elle manages to gain admission but soon discovers that the personalities and atmosphere in Harvard are very different from hers. In order to win back the love of her life, she’ll have to study like hell. Though the script is fairly formulaic, Witherspoon’s performance elevates this film into something great.
Though perhaps not as well-received as the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 manages to up the ante in a way that doesn’t just succeed in following up on the original film’s crowd-pleasing humor and action, but also manages to tell a more-human story—albeit one with a living planet and a talking raccoon. Guardians Vol. 2 picks up just a few months after the first film, in which Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) have decided to take up protecting the universe from threats both small and large. While trying to escape from a rogue alien race upset by the Guardians’ actions, the team crashlands on a planet only to find that the man who saved the gang is none other than Quill’s long-lost father, Ego. While Quill returns to Ego’s home to learn about his mysterious past, the team must deal with conflicts as their big personalities continue to clash. Guardians manages to be one of the few Marvel films that truly feels different; even the big final battle has larger stakes than most of the Marvel finales.
The directorial debut of Judd Apatow, The 40-Year-Old Virgin is one of the most important comedies of the 2000s, establishing Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and others as major bankable stars. The film follows Andy Stitzer (Carell), a 40-year-old virgin who lives in his apartment alone. Sitzler is a nerd, his apartment filled with his collection of action figures, video games, and other geek paraphernalia. At a poker game with his co-workers David, Cal, Mooj and Jay, when conversation turns to past sexual exploits, they learn that Andy is still a virgin, and resolve to help him lose his virginity. When Andy meets Trish, he falls for her quickly, but the two establish a no-sex rule, causing stress in the relationship.