25 Best Comedies Streaming on Netflix [January 2020]
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!
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, ranging from indie darlings to box office hits. 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. Director Leslye Headland went on to co-create the acclaimed Netflix Original Russian Doll, so if you liked her work there, make sure to check this out.
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.
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.
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.
Ivan Reitman and Bill Murray’s second time working together on a film came together in Stripes, the 1981 comedy about joining the army. In Stripes, we get our first taste of the pairing that would be Reitman, Murray, and Harold Ramis, a pairing that would come together in 1984 to produce Ghostbusters, with Reitman behind the camera, Ramis writing the script, and both Ramis and Murray on screen. Stripes began life as a Cheech and Chong film about joining the army, but when the duo demanded full creative control, Stripes translated into a comedy about signing up and shipping out. When John Winger (Murray) loses his job, car, girlfriend, and apartment all in one day, he decides to throw it all away and join the army. Accompanied by Russell Ziskey (Ramis), the two head to a recruiting office and soon find themselves at basic training. The film features Warren Oates, John Candy, John Larroquette, Sean Young, and Judge Reinhold in supporting roles.
Zombieland wasn’t the first comedy to take on zombies, but it’s one of the best, even a decade after its release. Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Gangster Squad, Venom), Zombieland is nothing if not a surprise hit. Released in October of 2009 and made on a fairly-small budget of just $24 million, Zombieland impressed critics and made by more than four times its budget at the box office, all while building a massive following of people impressed with the film. The film follows a anxious college student named Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) making his way through the zombie apocalypse, meeting three strangers (Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin) along the way and together taking an extended road trip across the Southwestern United States in an attempt to find a sanctuary free from zombies. After a failed television adaptation through Amazon, the cast reunited in 2019 to film Zombieland: Double Tap, currently in theaters.
Loosely adapted from the comic book series of the same name, Men in Black is easily one of the best action-comedies currently streaming on Netflix. The film follows James Edwards (Will Smith), a NYPD officer who discovers an underground world of a highly-funded secret government agency. After joining the Men in Black and becoming Agent J, he’s teamed up with Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and sent on a mission to stop an intergalactic terrorist who will stop at nothing to kill two ambassadors from opposing galaxies currently residing in New York City. Men in Black was a major success, followed up by two sequels and a spin-off, 2019’s Men in Black International.
And who says the romantic comedy is dead? One of the best films of 2014, Obvious Child is a fantastic, breezy indie rom-com from director Gillian Robespierre and star Jenny Slate. Based on Robespierre’s short film of the same name (which also starred Slate), Obvious Child follows Donna Stern, a comedian in New York who is dumped by her boyfriend in the bathroom of her usual comedy club. After confessing he’s leaving her for one of her best friends, Donna begins to tailspin, drinking heavily and bombing at her next set. When she meets Max (Jake Lacy), the two immediately have a connection, leading to a drunken hookup in which they fail to use protection. When Donna learns she’s pregnant, she decides to have an abortion. A chance run-in with Max leaves Donna struggling to tell him about the impending abortion, especially after he mentions his dream of being a grandfather someday.
Step Brothers is routinely named the best comedy of the 2000s, and now that it’s back on Netflix, you can rewatch it again and again. Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) have one thing in common: they’re both lazy and unemployed man-childs who still live with their parents. When Brennan’s mother and Dale’s father marry and move in together, it turns the overgrown boys’ world upside down. Their insane rivalry and narcissism pull the new family apart, forcing them to work together to reunite their parents. Featuring some incredible supporting roles from the likes of Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, Adam Scott, and Kathryn Hahn, Step Brothers is a must-watch comedy.
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 video conferencing 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.
The Lonely Island’s most recent film, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, is a modern comedy masterpiece, but if you haven’t seen the trio’s first film, Hot Rod, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. The film follows Rod Kimball (Andy Samberg), a man who has been performing stunts since he was a child, thanks to his belief that his now-deceased father worked for Evel Knievel’s crew. When Rod’s step-father Frank becomes ill, Rod puts aside his hatred for the man and starts to raise money for the heart operation by planning his largest stunt yet—all while trying to win Frank’s respect. In addition to Samberg and fellow Lonely Island members Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer (who also directs), the film also stars Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Isla Fisher, and Ian McShane. Hot Rod does a great job adapting the Lonely Island’s sense of humor for the big screen, with off-beat, irreverent jokes and often surreal humor. You’ll never hear “cool beans” the same way again.
The classic stoner comedy Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is perfect for watching on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and now that it’s back on Netflix, you can hang out with a bag of your favorite fast food burgers and do just that. Nerdy accountant Harold (John Cho) and his irrepressible friend, Kumar (Kal Penn), get stoned watching television and find themselves utterly bewitched by a commercial for White Castle. Convinced there must be one nearby, the two set out on a late-night odyssey that takes them deep into New Jersey. Somehow, the boys manage to run afoul of rednecks, cops and even a car-stealing Neil Patrick Harris before getting anywhere near their beloved sliders.
Growing up can be pretty difficult, and no one knows that more than high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld, in one of her best performances). Currently trapped in her junior year of high school, Nadine already feels incredibly awkward trapped in her life when her older brother, popular kid Darian (Blake Jenner) starts dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). All at once, Nadine feels more alone than ever, until an unexpected friendship with a thoughtful teen (Hayden Szeto) gives her a glimmer of hope that things just might not be so terrible after all. The film was produced by James L. Brooks, and was the directing debut of Kelly Fremon Craig (Post Grad).
From director Nancy Meyers (The Parent Trap, The Intern) comes her best film to date. Something’s Gotta Give is a fantastic romantic comedy, with sharp writing and an all-star cast leading the way. Diane Keaton stars as Erica Barry, a 56-year-old woman and successful playwright who lives in an upscale beach house in the Hamptons. When she meets 63-year-old Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), a playboy who only dates younger women, the two find themselves drawn to each other—despite Harry currently dating Erica’s daughter, Marin (Amanda Peet). Keanu Reeves, Francis McDormand, Jon Favreau, and Paul Michael Glaser make up the supporting cast in this classic rom-com.