The 15 Best Comedies to Stream on Netflix Right Now
If you've exhausted your go-to list of reliable comedies, there's hope: Netflix has a steady flow of classics and contemporary hits, including a handful of originals. Check out 15 of the funniest movies currently streaming on the service.
1. Tootsie (1982)
Almost 40 years after its release, Sydney Pollack’s comedy about an out-of-work actor (Dustin Hoffman) who pretends to be a woman to land a part on a soap opera sounds like silly, disastrously outdated mistreatment of gender politics. But Pollack and an especially deft turn from Hoffman transform a “cross-dressing comedy” into an honest and insightful barometer of the dynamics between men and women, both at that time and even today.
2. The Money Pit (1986)
As the celebrity whose diagnosis with COVID-19 helped alert the world to the pandemic’s far-reaching, permanent risks, Tom Hanks seems to re-earn “beloved” status every few years, for a different reason. Two years after Splash and two years before Big, he charmed Cheers star Shelley Long—and audiences—with this surprisingly resilient comedy about a couple buying a cheap house that costs them their sanity. The enduring time frame of each repair on their fixer-upper—“two weeks”—will undoubtedly ring familiar to anyone who has ever tried to motivate a landlord or contractor. Meanwhile, Hanks’ acumen as a physical comedian—here subjected to some truly hilarious indignities—has seldom been better showcased.
3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
The conniving and resourceful Ferris (Matthew Broderick) opts out of school for the day, dragging friends Cameron (Alan Ruck) and Sloane (Mia Sara) through a series of misadventures in Chicago. It's Broderick's show, though credit for its enduring appeal still resides with writer and director John Hughes, who was just about done being the seminal voice of the 1980s high school movie.
4. School Daze (1988)
Recreating a heightened version of his own experiences at Morehouse College, Spike Lee’s second film almost bites off more than it can chew. Lee attempts to explore differences within the black community that had virtually never been addressed on film, much less all together in a powder keg academic environment. But Lee juggles his many ideas with typical visual sumptuousness and remarkable balance, never quite aligning himself with one perspective over another as his gorgeous cast (featuring Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell, and Lee himself) steps, dances and demonstrates for the things they believe in.
5. Groundhog Day (1993)
A film that probably resembles daily life a bit too closely right now, Harold Ramis’ comedy about a man trapped in the same day over and over again offers a study of what to do when presented with inescapable repetition. Bill Murray’s cantankerous weatherman ends up with more time than (we hope) most of us will, but he takes advantage of it to test out a number of viable options to alleviate boredom, including wooing a crush, binge-eating, learning a new language, and working on some earnest self-improvement.
6. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Jim Carrey left nothing behind while taking part in this broad send-up of detective films--his Ace is an animal lover out to recover the Miami Dolphins mascot--but it paid off. Carrey's brand of physical humor is so relentless in its desire to please that he becomes as close to a flesh and blood cartoon as audiences are ever likely to see.
7. As Good As It Gets (1997)
James L. Brooks has always been uniquely gifted at combining exasperating characters and irresistible sentimentality, and this 1997 film about an obnoxious, OCD-suffering author and the makeshift family he reluctantly collects netted Lead Actor Oscars for Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. Particularly at a time when not everyone can be with the ones they love, this astute, occasionally raucous, and ultimately remarkably tender comedy offers an important lesson in learning to love the ones we’re with—or at least learning what’s beneath that gruff or off-putting exterior.
8. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Stephen Chow’s juxtaposition of tones is virtually peerless in world cinema; almost no one else can slam Looney Tunes-style comedy and heart-wrenching pathos together and pull it off, but he almost always does. In this martial arts comedy, a feckless crook reluctantly discovers his destiny as a great fighter after coming between a ruthless gang and the eccentric residents of a rundown slum. Chow’s cinematic references are conspicuous, but they only add to a tone that would become unwieldy, or even schizophrenic, were it not for his sure directorial hand, which elevates even the silliest gag to something emotionally meaningful.
9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Suffice it to say that there’s been plenty of time for self-inventory during the quarantine, but Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series of the same name offers a unique bit of wish-fulfillment as the young, decidedly immature Mr. Pilgrim (Michael Cera) gets to wrestle, quite literally, with the romantic history of his would-be partner—rollerblading dream girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). From Chris Evans to Kieran Culkin to Brie Larson, the casting choices offer an embarrassment of riches, while each new showdown—peppered with an exhilarating blitz of pop culture references—shepherds young Scott ever closer to the woman he thinks he loves, and of course, a few important life lessons of his own.
10. About Time (2013)
Richard Curtis’s story of a young man named Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) who discovers he can travel through time offers an often extremely funny but beautifully bittersweet tribute to the special, meaningful, and always too-short time we get to spend with the ones we love. If anyone could make a lovesick boy turn down an invitation to Margot Robbie’s hotel room, it’s a delightfully daffy Rachel McAdams, with whom Tim builds a beautifully messy life. But it’s his relationship with his father James (Bill Nighy) who truly teaches him how to experience and appreciate each moment with friends and family for how precious they are, with or without magical abilities.
11. The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
The ever-reliable Paul Rudd stars in this amiable indie film about a writer who takes on a side hustle as a caregiver for a teen (Craig Roberts) with muscular dystrophy. Lessons are naturally learned, but it's also a prime example of the affability that's made Rudd one of the more pleasant screen actors of the past two decades.
12. The Death of Stalin (2017)
Armando Iannucci never pulls punches in his political satires, from The Thick of It to In the Loop to Veep. This slightly off-the-radar comedy is no exception, depicting the ferocious, petulant battle for power that ensues after, well, the death of Joseph Stalin. As the most politically overt film on this list of winners, it offers some insights to more than a few recent parallels in world events—a bonus to some, but too close to reality for others—but it also delivers a merciless takedown of world leaders and the sniveling, manipulative sycophants who all seem destined to destroy themselves as they claim the fleeting, fragile power they crave.
13. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Injecting the Spider-Man mythos with their trademark irreverence and humor, 21 Jump Street and LEGO Movie duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller enlisted directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman for an animated adventure rebuilding the superhero’s back story (and superhero mythos) from the ground up. While there’s plenty of spectacular action, the movie’s humanistic treatment of its web-slingers—and the family members whose tragic stories inspired or motivated them—gives the story a funny, familiar, relatable edge, whether you’re actively trying to be a hero, or just going through the motions.
14. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Eddie Murphy returned to form with this funny and moving biopic of Rudy Ray Moore, a struggling stand-up comic in the 1970s who finds his big break as Dolemite, a butt-kicking alter ego that became the subject of Moore's low-budget film debut. After years spent in the kiddie pool of family comedies, it's nice to see Murphy embrace the edge that made his name.
15. Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Ali Wong was already a treasure as a stand-up, but this romantic comedy cemented her unique, irresistible charms, playing a celebrity chef reconnecting as an adult with her childhood crush (played by Randall Park). The cultural specificities of a largely Asian-led cast and crew give the film a decidedly different flavor than others, even as those details underscore the universality of its ultimate truths. Meanwhile, Internet Boyfriend Keanu Reeves plays himself as a love interest for Wong’s character, offering some truly choice lines to replay for those eager to hear the actor whisper sweet nothings in their ear.