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The best comedies on Netflix

Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae in 'The Lovebirds'
Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae in 'The Lovebirds' (Image credit: Netflix)

The movie watching experience is different for everyone. Some like to escape to worlds that do not exist, others want to learn or feel something new, and plenty just want to be entertained. One of the easiest ways to offer that entertainment is through the power of laughter. Like all other art forms, comedy and what is considered “funny” is totally subjective. Fortunately, Netflix has more than enough comedy films to choose from that will hopefully guarantee some giggles. From classic staples that completely changed the game, to adventurous genre mashups that keep comedy feeling fresh, here are some of the very best you can tune into from the comfort of your couch.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)

One wouldn’t expect a biopic to fall under the comedy banner, but when your subject matter is renown comedy writer, Douglas Kenney, it’s impossible not to laugh along the way. Directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer, The State) the film focuses on Kenney’s life, specifically during the rise and fall of National Lampoon. It’s a charming look into the existence of one of comedy’s greatest, and the film is littered with some of the most successful comedic actors working today, playing homage to those that came before them. 

Airplane! (1980)

Considered by many to be one of the greatest comedy films of all time, Airplane! is the disaster parody film perfected. Sure, some of the jokes are ridiculously (and sometimes offensively) dated, but its continued quotability has kept audiences laughing for decades. The film is loaded with quips and one-liners from start to finish, ensuring that any jokes that might fall flat for today’s audiences are immediately run over by a joke that does.

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Eddie Murphy is an irrefutable icon of comedy, but his starring roles toward the end of the aughts and into the 2010s were less than stellar. Fortunately, his career was given a much needed spark in the form of emulating filmmaker and rapper Rudy Ray Moore. After Moore creates a character called “Dolemite” as somewhat of his alter-ego, he gets the idea to make a film starring the character as an urban hero, using kung-fu to defeat a crime syndicate, drug dealers, and his rival Willie Green. This film focuses on the creation of Dolemite and its reception upon release, with Murphy reminding everyone why he’s still considered one of the greatest in the game

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

Remember that week during the pandemic where all anyone could talk about was Dan Stevens singing shirtless about lions? Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams star as Icelandic hopefuls Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir, who by sheer tragic luck, end up representing their home country in the Eurovision song contest. Will Ferrell is doing his usual schtick, but Rachel McAdams continues to prove why she’s one of the best comedic actresses working today. The music is legitimately wonderful and you’ll be singing it for days. PLAY JAJA DING DONG! PLAY IT!

The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

Jessica Williams is known by many for her work with The Daily Show and the mega-popular podcast-turned-HBO Special 2 Dope Queens, but her lead performance as the titular “Jessica James” is absolutely star-making. Recovering from a recent break-up, Jessica meets the recently divorced Boone (Chris O'Dowd) and the two must navigate a budding romance while still healing from their recent heartbreaks. It’s clever, charming, and well-crafted romantic comedy for those tired of the same ol’ Kate Hudson/Julia Roberts/Meg Ryan/Sandra Bullock fare. 

Just Friends (2005)

The funniest film ever made about the made-up concept of “the friend zone,” is undoubtedly Just Friends. This Christmas themed rom-com has Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, and Amy Smart all delivering some of the strongest performances of their career, and plenty of one-liners you’ll want to incorporate into your own daily vernacular. You’ll never be able to hear All-4-One’s “I Swear” without picturing a high-school aged Ryan Reynolds lip synching through a retainer ever again.

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Don’t get me wrong, Shaolin Soccer is pretty amazing, but Kung Fu Hustle is Stephen Chow’s masterpiece. Upon its release, Kung Fu Hustle was the highest-grossing film in the history of Hong Kong until it was surpassed in 2011, and it was the first of Chow’s films to be heavily marketed in America. An absurdist martial arts comedy starring Chow himself, the use of comedy helped make the film accessible to Western audiences unfamiliar with the filmmaking style, and helped restart an interest in martial arts cinema. Long live the Landlady. 

The Lovebirds (2020)

Forced onto an early streaming life after theatres closed down, this Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani romantic comedy focuses on a long-term couple realizing their relationship has run its course, but on the day they agree to separate, they’re thrown into a criminal adventure after witnessing a murder. From there on, the recently broken-up duo must work together to save themselves from the criminal who wants them dead, and hopefully find a way to put away their differences and remember why they fell in love with each other in the first place. It’s cute, cheeky, and an absolute delight to watch with a partner. 

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The Package (2018)

Four teenagers on a Spring Break camping trip are suddenly thrown in a race against time after Jeremy (Eduardo Franco of Booksmart and The Binge fame) accidentally severs off his own penis, and it’s up to his friends to reunite him and his lost member after he’s airlifted to a hospital without it. It’s the same joke over and over again, but there’s a lot of heart and some genuinely funny performances. If you’re a fan of sophomoric humor and an endless barrage of wiener-jokes, Netflix has got the film for you.

Pineapple Express (2008)

Stoner comedies seem to be going the way of the dodo now that many states are legalizing recreational use, which means we will likely never get another comedy that hits quite like Pineapple Express ever again. The Seth Rogan and James Franco vehicle focuses on an average joe and his weed dealer on the run from their supplier (played perfectly by Danny McBride) after unwittingly witnessing the murder of a rival drug supplier. It’s an adventure comedy that solidified Rogan and co-writer Evan Goldberg’s place in the new class of go-to comedy writers.

The Producers (2005)

If you’re going to remake a Mel Brooks classic, you better do something different. Fortunately, this remake of The Producers is actually a movie version of the Broadway stage production inspired by Brooks’ film of the same name. A commercial failure upon release, The Producers has since developed a loyal cult fanbase of those who love to sing along to songs with titles like "Keep It Gay,” "Heil Myself,” and "Springtime For Hitler.” It’s a film about deconstructing the musical theatre industry in 1959, and commentary on the ridiculous things audiences will find “entertaining” even when they absolutely shouldn’t.

Spaceballs (1987)

Piggybacking off the previous entry, asking someone to pick their favorite Mel Brooks film is a lot like asking someone to choose between their favorite children, but this Star Wars spoof has remained hilarious and relevant for decades. Bill Pullman perfects the Han Solo/Luke Skywalker hybrid parody, Rick Moranis’ “Dark Helmet” created an iconic silhouette, and John Candy’s half-man, half-dog “Barf” is the sidekick companion of every renegade space pirate’s dream. Now that Star Wars movies are just as popular as ever, Spaceballs is a perfect comedy to hold you over before the new season of The Mandalorian

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting corpse in this sincerely endearing comedy about learning what it means to be human. No, I’m serious. Part of A24's increasing collection of oddball comedies you can't help but love, Swiss Army Man sucks people in with it's ridiculous premise, and ends up capturing your heart. With an original score to warm indie-music lovers everywhere, the genuine hilarity of this film comes not with its absurdity, but with its relatability regardless of suspending disbelief. 

Vampires vs. The Bronx (2020) 

Horror comedies have been using monsters as allegories for social issues for decades (see: every film by George A. Romero), and Vampires vs. The Bronx is the latest massive success. It’s charming, packed with action, and filled with hilarious characters you can’t help but want to befriend. Telling a story about teens fighting against gentrification in their neighborhood in the form of literal vampire real estate agents, Vampires vs. The Bronx, as our own Matt Donato puts it, “proves that New Yorkers can handle anything--even neck-biting real estate nightcrawlers.” Get ready to root for some unlikely heroes, and desperately want to subscribe to GloTV.

Waiting…(2005)

There’s a reason this shot to the Top 10 most watched list after appearing on Netflix at the end of September. Anyone who has worked in the service industry likely has a huge affinity for this wildly inappropriate yet way-too-close-to-reality comedy. Waiting… focuses on a group of employees on an average night working at Shenaniganz, a stand-in for every chain restaurant your dad wants to go to for his birthday for endless appetizers. It’s easy to write this film off as just another gross-out film from the mid 00s, but Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long, Anna Faris, David Koechner, Luis Guzman, and permanent treasure Alanna Ubach all absolutely shine as everyone you’ve ever worked alongside in food service.