Laugh it up with these great movies
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Need a laugh? You’ve come to the right place.
Netflix’s vast library can be hard to sift through, even if you know what mood you’re in. There are romantic comedies, satires, action comedies, dramedies, musical comedies, and plenty more available on the platform. We’ve put together a list of some of our very favorites that you can watch at home right now.
If you’re looking for comedies beyond just Netflix, check out our list of some of our favorite comedy movies currently streaming across platforms. And for more of the best on this particular streaming service, check out our frequently updated list of the best movies on Netflix, or the best horror and action movies it has to offer.
Adam Sandler’s latest basketball project is one of our favorite new movies of 2022 — it’s a terrific showcase of his skills as a dramatic actor, his love for the game of basketball, and the merits of casting real athletes as performers in sports movies.
Sandler is Stanley Sugerman, a down-on-his luck scout who is finally on the verge of getting a big promotion to assistant coach, allowing him to spend more time with his family. But when the one person who knows how good Stanley is at his job dies, Sugerman must prove himself all over again and find a diamond in the rough — Bo Cruz (real-life NBA player Juancho Hernangómez), who the scout discovers playing pickup basketball.
From my write-up of Hustle as one of the best movies of the year:
Hustle’s performances truly shine. Sandler’s centered, grounded portrayal of a man who loves what he does but would rather have the job he was promised is another terrific, layered role for one of our great modern actors. The cast is also filled with NBA players who deliver memorable performances, led by Hernangómez as the temperamental and talented Cruz and Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Anthony Edwards as his trash-talking rival Kermit Wilts, a terrific addition to a long line of sports movie heels.
Edwards is worth highlighting here, since this is a list of comedies. His performance as Wilts is one of the funniest of the year, repeatedly taunting Cruz with hilarious jabs and making full use of the NBA star’s magnetic charisma. —Pete Volk
A warmhearted martial arts action comedy about three formal martial arts prodigies who are now tired middle-aged men, Paper Tigers is funny, endearing, and features excellent martial arts sequences (thanks in part to the YouTube collective The Martial Club, who are now known for their work on Everything Everywhere All At Once). —PV
Direct-to-video action expert Jesse V. Johnson has made many efficient 90-ish minute action movies and action comedies, but my personal favorite are his two Debt Collector movies with Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor.
Adkins, one of the greatest action stars of his generation, and Mandylor — likewise an underrated screen presence perhaps known best for his part in My Big Fat Greek Wedding — have terrific chemistry as a pair of mismatched tough guys collecting debts for the mob. Adkins is French, a martial arts instructor forced into the world of debt collecting to prevent his studio from being shut down. He’s assigned to partner up with Mandylor’s Sue, a veteran debt collector who is supposed to show French (or “Frenchy,” as Sue often calls him) the ropes.
When a job they’re sent on goes wrong, the two must work together to extricate themselves from a sticky situation. Part DTV action movie, part buddy comedy, both Debt Collector movies are a blast. —PV
Paddington is the cinematic equivalent of a heated blanket, a warm and cozy flick that just wraps around you in the best possible way. Ben Whishaw stars in Paul King’s 2014 live-action comedy as the eponymous Peruvian bear cub with a love of a marmalade who stows aboard a boat to London in search for a new home. Taken in by the Brown family, Paddington embarks on a series of misadventures in search of a mysterious explorer that inadvertently places him in the crosshairs of a dastardly taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) and a neighborhood curmudgeon (Peter Capaldi). You want a feel-good family comedy with loads of laughs? This is your movie. —Toussaint Egan
Boots Riley’s 2018 directorial debut Sorry to Bother You has it all: incisive class politics, a potent example of the pernicious nature of “code-switching,” the commodification of identity in the workplace, elaborate earring designs, horse people (aka “Equisapiens”), et cetera. That it manages to wrangle all these pieces together into one of the most hilarious, offbeat, and bizarrely original comedies to come out in the 2010s is no small task. If you haven’t seen Sorry to Bother You yet, you absolutely have to give this one a shot. —TE
A somewhat forgotten Lonely Island project from 2019, this straight-to-Netflix Lemonade parody was a delightful surprise when it first arrived, and holds up as a silly and entertaining musical romp. Following Oakland A’s teammates Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire as they mash a metric ton of home runs in the 1980s, the movie features an ensemble cast that includes Maya Rudolph, Jenny Slate, and Sterling K. Brown in addition to Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg as the Bash Brothers themselves. —PV
The 2016 comedy Hail, Caesar! is another sterling work of gut-busting genre pastiche courtesy of the Coen brothers. The story follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a Hollywood fixer tasked with tracking down an errant movie star (George Clooney) kidnapped by a secretive group of Communist screenwriters. But you’re not here for all that; you’re here to see Alden Ehrenreich as actor Hobie Doyle flub his lines in a comedy of manners, and Channing Tatum playing a tap-dancing sailor in an infectiously catchy musical number that could put La La Land to shame. —TE
Back-to-back Coen brothers picks here, but it’s hard to go wrong with their movies. This 2018 anthology is consistently funny, frequently moving, and prominently features Tim Blake Nelson. What’s not to love? —PV
From our 2018 review:
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs plays like the ultimate acceptance of this repetitive process, providing some of the most side-splitting laughs of the year at the cost of human lives (albeit fictional ones), even as we’re made to question this long-standing narrative paradigm. Moments of entertainment between the dread — nuggets of gold, much as Tom Waits’ prospector finds, while putting humanity’s worst foot forward — make The Ballad of Buster Scruggs one of their funniest yet hauntingly pessimistic films in years, asking whether questions about how or why we exist can have answers at all.
Noah Baumbach is well known for his particular form of dramedy, with Frances Ha as a standout example. Frances Ha is no longer streaming on Netflix, but the heartfelt and underseen Meyerowitz Stories is.
A family drama about a group of siblings who return from their very different lives to visit their older father, Meyerowitz features terrific, layered performances by the three dysfunctional siblings (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel), as well as a powerhouse rendition of an aging patriarch by Dustin Hoffman. Adam Driver, Sigourney Weaver, Judd Hirsch, Emma Thompson, and Candice Bergen all also feature in the sprawling ensemble cast. It is also, crucially, quite funny! Intra-generational and inter-family conflicts are often quite humorous, and the specificity of the characters and the ways members of the same family can be vastly different makes for a great modern comedy of errors. —PV
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star in The Nice Guys, Shane Black’s second-best neo-noir buddy cop comedy, as Holland March and Jackson Healy, an unlikely pair of down-and-out private eyes in 1970s Los Angeles who could generously be described as two of the most likable terrible people you will ever meet. When the investigation of a missing girl and the death of a porn star bring the two together, Holland and Jackson are forced to team up to get to the bottom of an insidious conspiracy. —TE
From Matt Essary’s write-up of 10 great detective movies to watch at home:
This wonderfully twisty mystery from writer/director Shane Black finds Ryan Gosling as a shady private investigator in late 1970s Los Angeles who gets inadvertently sucked into a case involving arson, the death of an adult film actress, and a possible government conspiracy involving a politician played by Kim Basinger. Gosling’s only help in this situation, where he is clearly outmatched and in over his head, is a local bruiser-for-hire played by Russell Crowe (in what is his most fun on-screen performance in years). Together, the pair hilariously bumble and argue their way through unraveling how and why everything ties together while barely avoiding angry hitmen and the local authorities. If you only know Shane Black from his work on Iron Man 3, then you owe it to yourself to check out The Nice Guys and see why he is such a cult favorite among people who adore noir films.
Johnnie To’s 2011 rom-com is one of the best love triangle movies of the century. The leads are hot and bothered, the meet-cutes are adorable, and there’s a playful energy that doesn’t undercut the sincerity of the drama at play.
To may be best known as a filmmaker for his gangster thrillers, but as Don’t Go Breaking My Heart shows, he’s one of the most versatile directors working today. Soon after a breakup, Chi-yan (Gao Yuanyuan) finds herself torn between two men vying for her heart — a CEO (Louis Koo) who works across the street and makes images with Post-it notes on the glass wall that separates them, and Kevin (Daniel Wu), an alcoholic ex-architect with whom Chi-yan finds mutual inspiration. —PV
Will Smith stars in the 1997 sci-fi action comedy Men in Black as James, a former NYPD detective who, after encountering a bizarre alien creature, is scouted by Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) to join a clandestine government agency responsible for maintaining the secret balance of coexistence between humans and extraterrestrials on Earth. Besides spawning a franchise consisting of an awesome animated spinoff with a kick-ass theme song and a series of sequels that run the gamut from “pretty good” to “unfortunate,” the original Men in Black is just a solid action comedy through and through with a terrific lead duo, a memorable villain performance by a pre-Daredevil Vincent D’Onofrio, and a rich universe of colorful supporting characters. —TE
A quintessential romantic comedy of the late 1980s, Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally has an Oscar-nominated screenplay written by Nora Ephron (who went on to direct Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, among others). A movie that attempts to tackle the question of what happens when friends sleep together, the origin of the movie is worth talking about, too. After Rob Reiner and fellow director Penny Marshall’s (A League of Their Own) divorce, he came up with the idea for the movie, and Ephron interviewed him to come up with the “Harry” character (played by Billy Crystal). Ephron based the “Sally” character (Meg Ryan) partially on herself, and Crystal (a long-time friend of Reiner’s) came in to add his own comedic edges. —PV
As my colleague Toussaint said when it was added to the platform in May:
More than just a question of “Will they or won’t they,” the drama, humor, and heart of When Harry Met Sally is rooted in the question of whether men and women can ever be friends. In search of that answer, Harry and Sally find both that and so much more; they find each other.
Mean Girls is, quite simply, one of the 21st century’s most iconic comedies. Seriously, there may be too many memorable quotes to name. “She doesn’t even go here!” “You go, Glen Coco!” “Get in loser, we’re going shopping!”
The movie follows a young girl (Lindsay Lohan) who is thrust into an American high school after being brought up homeschooled overseas. The cast is a who’s who of stars of the time and the future (Lohan of course, as well as Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, and the film debut of Amanda Seyfried), and was written by Tina Fey (who also co-stars). Lohan is terrific in this, as is McAdams as the perfectly sinister high school bully Regina George (fun fact: Lohan and Seyfried originally read for the part of Regina). —PV
This modern Bollywood classic comes from Farah Khan, a decorated choreographer in addition to her work as a director. Starring Hindi superstar Shah Rukh Khan, it’s an absolute delight of a musical comedy, with plenty of romance and thrills along the way. —PV
From Sydney Wegner’s list of the best Hindi-language movies on Netflix:
Om Shanti Om is an epic of romance and reincarnation following a young man whose life is changed after he encounters his favorite actress. [It has] plenty of comedy, romance, action, and joy.
Sandra Bullock stars as an FBI agent working undercover as a beauty pageant contestant with the hopes of thwarting a bomb threat. It’s a perfect fit for her particular combination of movie-star screen presence and down-to-earth charisma, and lives on as a standout fish-out-of-water comedy of the era. —PV
Matthew Broderick stars in John Hughes’ 1986 teen comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as the eponymous Ferris Bueller, a talented, popular high school slacker who feigns sickness in order to stay home from school and embark on a whirlwind day out in Chicago. As much a love letter to the Windy City’s most iconic landmarks as it is a heartening story about taking the time to appreciate the small pleasures of life, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is in the Library of Congress for a reason: It’s not just nostalgic hype, it really is that good of a movie. —TE
David Dobkin’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is just as ridiculous and entertaining as its title. Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams star as Lars and Sigrit, two musicians who are given the opportunity to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. As we said in our review, “Director David Dobkin doesn’t land every single beat, but he taps into that well of carefree exultation so potently that the movie’s stumbles hardly register.” It’s a joyous, goofy, irreverent film that’s not without its foibles, but nonetheless wins you over with through its sheer absurdity and silliness. —TE
Eddie Murphy is brilliant as Rudy Ray Moore, a comedian, actor, and larger-than-life personality best known for playing the character Dolemite. A movie very much about who gets to make movies (and which get made — Murphy’s Moore remarks in disgust that a movie has “no titties, no funny, and no kung fu”), Dolemite works best as a display of Murphy’s outrageous talent (and of Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s, as well), and it’s shame his performance went mostly unnoticed in awards circles. —PV
One of Adam Sandler’s least Sandler-y comedies, this is a fun mystery movie send-up pairing him with Jennifer Aniston and directed by television veteran Kyle Newacheck (Workaholics, What We Do in the Shadows). Sandler is a cop, while Aniston is his mystery novel-obsessed wife. While on an anniversary trip, the two get caught up in a real murder mystery, and must work together to figure out what actually happened. It’s a funny, breezy 97 minutes that also cleverly inverts some expectations about the genre and the roles “husbands” and “wives” typically play in them. —PV
If The Other Guys consisted only of its opening scene, a brilliant send-up of high-octane action movies starring Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson, it would be enough to get a spot on this list. But the odd-couple buddy comedy that ensues with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell is often delightful and always ridiculous. Wahlberg always works better for me in comedic roles than in dramatic ones, and he thrives as the straight man to Ferrell’s usual oblivious fool. —PV
There’s a fair bit of Monty Python material on Netflix at the moment, including the British comedy troupe’s four-season original TV run, a collection of live specials, and a few documentaries about the group’s origins and importance. But Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the boiled-down test piece, the film newbies can most easily dive into to see whether the Python brand of dry, straight-faced absurdity is for them. This episodic feature built around the King Arthur story has the six Python members playing a wide variety of kings, knights, peasants, and buffoons, as they face a dragon and a killer rabbit, a sneering coterie of French knights and a mysterious dark knight who won’t stay down even with his limbs hacked off. There’s singing and dancing, banter, repetition gags, and a whole lot more, but above all, there’s that incredibly influential specific Python sense of humor. The way this group treated childish ridiculousness with haughty self-importance helped define British humor for decades to follow. —Tasha Robinson
To have an effective parody of a genre, you have to be able to realistically mimic the things that draw people to it. It’s the reason why Wes Craven’s Scream movies work so well, and the same could be said about Last Action Hero.
A young movie-obsessed child (Austin O’Brien) is thrown into the world of his favorite action franchise, while the movie’s villain (a deliciously over-the-top Charles Dance) is sent to the real world. The child and the movie’s hero (Arnold Schwarzenegger) have to get back to the real world to stop the villain.
Directed by John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard), Last Action Hero benefits greatly by having that kind of skill behind the camera, and by having a bona fide action star in a leading role. But my favorite part is Dance, and the many different prop glass eyeballs his character uses in the movie. —PV
Adam McKay’s endlessly quotable satire on American TV journalism is one of the bona fide comedy classics of the the early aughts. Will Ferrell stars as Ron Burgundy, a braggadocious anchorman at the height of his career in the mid-’70s who’s forced to reckon with his own bad behavior when a rival female anchorwoman (Christina Applegate) rises to challenge his primacy. From fire-spewing jazz flute solos, fourth wall-breaking freeze frame jokes, and over-the-top back alley street brawls, Anchorman is phenomenally funny movie front to back. —TE
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The best comedy movies to watch on Netflix: August 2022 – Polygon