Netflix offers a slew of options when it comes to comedies. In fact, there are currently over 1,100 comedies currently available to stream instantly. So, how does one make a decision with so many choices? What movies stand out from the pack as no-brainers, surefire ticklers of even the most fickle funny bones?
We here at Screen Rant wanted to concoct a list that would make it easy for anyone to find a fantastic funny movie on the go. This list of eleven comedy classics has a little of everything, and titans of the genre like Eddie Murphy, Mel Brooks and Dave Chappelle all make appearances. From slapstick to wit to molasses-thick satire, there's a movie that will fit whatever kind of funny you're feeling...
Here are 11 Amazing Comedies You Can Stream on Netflix.
11 Clerks (1994)
In its own quirky way, Clerks revolutionized how movies were made. It was an indie film by an unknown director — Kevin Smith — that featured a cast of fresh faces and was filmed on a dime. Clerks ended up becoming a cult classic among comedy fans, thanks to its witty dialogue and true-to-life characters of listless twentysomethings in New Jersey. You know the type: the ones who never moved away from their suburban hometowns, who wile away their time working at convenience shops and video rental stores (when those existed), figuring out who they are and what they’re doing.
But Clerks never gets too deep. It stays fun, always tethered to some banter between store clerks Dante and Randal about favorite movies, troubled relationships, and other daily fluff. It’s one of Kevin Smith’s best films, too.
10 Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Slacker buddies Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are high schoolers who hope to make it big with their rock band, the Wyld Stallyns. But first they have to make sure not to fail out of school. They discover that they are woefully unprepared for a big presentation coming up for history class, until help arrives from the future.
Rufus (George Carlin) comes back from the year 2688, exactly 700 years in the future, to let the guys know that someday their music will save the planet, uniting human and alien societies. Rufus lends the guys a time-traveling phone booth, so they can hop through history and take notes for the big final they have. Along the way they meet giants of history, like Napoleon, Socrates, and Beethoven. Billy the Kid saves their lives, and they fall in love with some bodacious medieval princesses.
Thanks in large part to Winters’s and Reeves’s charming performances, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure does quite well with the time-travel motif.
9 Trading Places (1983)
Trading Places is an old story done right by director John Landis. Eddie Murphy stars as down-on-his-luck Billy Ray Valentine, a man of little means who spends his days hustling on the streets. Dan Aykroyd is Louis Winthorpe III, a very wealthy commodities broker working at New York firm Duke & Duke with his managers Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy).
Bored with their lives of blue-blooded Fifth Avenue privilege, Mortimer places a wager with Randolph to see what happens when they take anyone off the street and turn them into a millionaire. It’s a banker’s take on nature versus nurture, wherein the greedy Wall Street tycoons look to turn poor Billy Ray into a business star just for the heck of it. But the other part of the bet is in looking at the other side of the coin; what if someone with everything went to having nothing? So they have Louis framed from drug dealing and a list of crimes, getting him tossed out of his job and socio-economic bracket. Overnight, Billy Ray begins living a life of limousines and buying out the bar, and Louis loses everything. Eventually, the two get the gist of the social experiment they’re part of, and they work to turn the tables on the Dukes.
Murphy and Aykroyd are two comedy legends, and to see the two of them on-screen acting together is great fun.
8 Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012)
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are a couple of guys who have been making their bones exploring a niche of comedy that rides a line between absurdist, gross-out, and surreal. The comedy duo’s schtick is witty, frank, cynical, and distinctly built for, and born from, the Internet age. Most of their work is available on YouTube, and is worth checking out.
After years of making deliberately-shoddy clips and webisodes, in 2012 the pair made a full-length movie. It’s a weird and fun experience that feels at-once like a real big-budget Hollywood film and yet is clearly a Tim and Eric project. The movie opens with Tim and Eric as filmmakers who have just spent a billion dollars of their movie studio’s money on a film called Diamond Jim, a movie starring Johnny Depp in a suit made out of real diamonds. The film is a colossal failure, and the studio bosses threaten Tim and Eric to find a way to recoup their funds, or else. They find an ad for a mall that has run into disrepair, and they determine to fix it up and turn a profit. Along the way, they meet many of the mall’s tenants and discover new facets of themselves.
It’s a ridiculous movie, from guys who do bizarre humor better than anyone.
7 Coming to America (1988)
Another film from the John Landis/Eddie Murphy juggernaut graces this list. Released five years after the successful Trading Places, Coming To America was an even bigger box-office hit, walking away with a staggering $288 million in receipts.
Eddie Murphy stars as Akeem, crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda. Shirking his parents’ request that he have an arranged marriage back home, Akeem instead travels to America with his loyal friend and servant Semmi (Arsenio Hall), in the hopes that he will find an independent-minded bride.
Akeem comes from a life of enormous privilege but does not want to be judged for it, so he adopts a humble existence in America, living in a Brooklyn walk-up and dressing like a regular New Yorker. He obtains work at McDowells, a thinly veiled sendup of burger franchises, owned by Cleo McDowell (John Amos). Akeem meets McDowell’s daughter Lisa, who he pursues while still trying to keep a cap on his real identity.
Coming to America is an intensely likeable film. Landis’s direction combined with the script and good chunks of late eighties New York give the film a lot of character. Even after multiples viewings, it’s still one of the greats.
6 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
Leslie Nielsen stars as police detective Frank Drebin, in this comedy classic from the Zucker brothers. After his partner Norberg gets shot, Drebin sets out to find the assailant. The bungling cop finds his way into even bigger trouble when in his search he comes across Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban), a businessman who is attempting to brainwash an unlucky patsy into killing Queen Elizabeth II.
The Naked Gun was based on the Police Squad! TV series, and it did well enough to spawn two sequels. It's a wild-eyed satire of the cop movie, from the replacement of the grizzled, brooding protagonist with the bumbling Drebin, to the jokes that poke fun at clichés within the genre. And Nielsen is excellent as Drebin, employing great physical comedy, slapstick, puns, and sight gags. The Naked Gun is one of the best — and best-rated — comedies of all time.
5 Team America: World Police (2004)
By the early 2000s, Matt Stone and Trey Parker were forces to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. The two had created South Park, which was one of the most successful and irreverent shows on TV. South Park blended goofy animation, adult humor, and incisive social commentary into a rip-roaring good time.
So when in 2004 they released Team America: World Police, their fans were ready to laugh but were unsure what to expect. And it ended up doing well at the box office, bringing in over $50 million in its theatrical run, and scoring well with critics. Not bad for a film in which the characters are marionettes.
Yes, puppets. And the whole novelty of it is part of the great fun of watching. But what makes Team America really great is its deep satirical view of America’s foreign policy in those early days of the Iraq invasion. The main characters are an elite counter-terrorism squad who are sent around the world to fight for their country. Along the way, they get into arguments and brawls with Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Alec Baldwin, and Matt Damon, just to name a few. The filmmakers seem to effortlessly blend social observations with absurd humor (and pretty good marionette work), making Team America a comedy classic.
4 Half Baked (1998)
Half Baked stars Dave Chappelle, Harland Williams, Guillermo Diaz, and Jim Breuer as stoner buddies whose lives get upturned when one of them, bringing home munchies for the crew, accidentally kills a diabetic police horse with junk food. He’s arrested and promptly remitted to jail, and his friends need to raise $100,000 bail. In efforts of doing so, they start selling marijuana, stolen from the laboratory where Thurgood (Chappelle) is a “master of the custodial arts.” But their weed business encroaches on an old-school dealer’s profits, and they must deal with him as well.
Half Baked was Chappelle's first time in a lead role. It was an important stepping stone towards his epic Chappelle's Show, which would come six years later. Both the movie and the show were written by Chappelle and his writing partner Neal Brennan. Chappelle, Breuer, and the rest are hilarious comedians in their own right, and the script is snappy and clever. It is a must-see.
3 Zoolander (2001)
Ben Stiller stars as Derek Zoolander, a clueless male model nearing the later phase of his career. Having won all of the industry awards many times over, he is a shoe-in for whatever’s next, until he is upstaged by his catwalk foe, Hansel (Owen Wilson). Hansel’s win for VH1’s Model of the Year deals a serious blow to Zoolander’s job prospects and his ego, leaving him in a tenuous position in all aspects of his life.
But one day he is hired by fashion mogul Mugatu (Will Ferrell), who actually intends to brainwash Zoolander into killing the Malaysian Prime Minister. He discovers the plot and attempts to put a stop to Mugatu’s machinations before it’s too late.
Zoolander is a classic comedy from the early 2000s. Stiller, who also co-wrote and directed the film, is perfect in the role, and he has a bevy of comedic talents to play off.
2 High Anxiety (1977)
One of many legendary films from the mind of Mel Brooks, High Anxiety is an auteur’s homage to another, Alfred Hitchcock. A sendup of suspense films, it features allusions to films like Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, and others.
Brooks stars as Dr. Richard Thorndyke, who is tapped to become the new director of the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous. As he takes in the new environment and gets to know the eccentric patients and staff, Thorndyke soon finds himself embroiled in a murder mystery, for which he’s the main suspect.
The film’s cast contains many Brooks regulars, like Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Ron Carey, and Madeline Kahn. It’s Brooks’s second film as a lead (after 1976’s Silent Movie), and like always features his inimitable style.
1 World’s Greatest Dad (2009)
Robin Williams delivers a superb, funny performance in Bobcat Goldthwait’s dark comedy World’s Greatest Dad. English teacher Lance Clayton (Williams) must deal with the loss of his teenage son, who died in an embarrassing accident. He covers for his son by staging his death to look differently, to save the boy some dignity.
As the students at school rally around memory of his loner son, Clayton starts writing journal entries that he then passes off as the kid’s, and everyone buys it. As things progress, Clayton gains the recognition as a writer that he’s always dreamed of, albeit under the pseudonym of his deceased son.
It’s a dark and dicey comedy, with great writing and direction. It’s a fine exploration into celebrity worship, and a slyly fun movie.
Seen any good comedies lately? Anything to add? Please let us know what you think.
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