Netflix is the perfect service for a relaxing night in — and when it’s time for a relaxing night in, Schindler’s List doesn’t really fit the bill. No, you’re going to want a comedy tonight: maybe something raunchy, maybe something sweet, but definitely something funny, because work is stressful and you’ll watch the Oscar nominees some other time, man. We get it, and that’s why we’re here to help. This is the AllFlicks guide to the best comedies on Netflix. There’s a little bit of everything on this list: action-comedies, romantic comedies, and comedy-comedies, which are just comedies. Let’s check it out.
The Best Comedies on Netflix
This ingenious mockumentary follows a fictional group of dog trainers as they prepare for a prestigious dog show in Philadelphia. Directed by Christopher Guest, who also made the mockumentary classic This Is Spinal Tap, this film is a near-perfect example of the mockumentary genre. If you watch only one fake documentary this year, make it Best in Show.
There are funny bits in almost all of the Coen brothers’ films, but Burn After Reading is one of the acclaimed filmmakers’ few true comedies. Funny as it is, this is still a carefully made film from perhaps the greatest directorial team in Hollywood history, so this is a great choice if you’re looking for a comedy that’s also a well-made movie. Brad Pitt stars alongside Coen brothers veterans like Frances McDormand and George Clooney.
If you’re looking for a comedy to watch with the whole family, you’ve found it. Cool Runnings is Disney’s fictionalized take on the incredible true story of the Jamaican bobsledding team. Bobsledding is an Olympic sport, of course, but Jamaica doesn’t historically have much of a presence at the winter games, for fairly obvious reasons. Jamaican athletics are traditionally all about running track. So when a star athlete misses out on the track team, he looks for an alternative route to the Olympic games — and settles on bobsledding. Our lovable heroes are led by an out-of-shape former American great, played by John Candy. This is fun and quote-able romp.
One of a few great Simon Pegg-Nick Frost action-comedies out there, Hot Fuzz is a critically acclaimed comedy about a London cop sent to a small British town to investigate strange accidents. Naturally, all is not as it seems, and comedy hijinks — as well as plenty of explosions and firefights — follow shortly. Cleverly shot and carefully made, this is a comedy with some quality to it.
There are a few of Wes Anderson’s quirky comedies on Netflix these days, so you can check out some of his other flicks if you are so moved. For now, we’ll just recommend this 2004 oddity, in which Bill Murray plays an oceanographer in search of a shark that killed his partner. As always with Anderson, the humor is offbeat, the costumes are dorky but strangely stylish, and the A-list actors are everywhere. Never change, Wes.
Miss Congeniality has a classic fish-out-of-water hook: a no-nonsense FBI agent with no time for girly-girl stuff is remade as a beauty queen for an undercover investigation at a beauty pageant. That’s pretty typical Hollywood fare, but Miss Congeniality is superbly paced, gleefully executed, and stocked with world-class actors. Like pop art or artisanal junk food, Miss Congeniality is both what you’d expect and actually very good.
Superbad is the definitive high school coming-of-age comedy for a certain generation (mine). Michael Cera and Jonah Hill play two high school seniors determined to improve their skills with the ladies before graduation. They set off to get booze for a party and get very seriously sidetracked. This Judd Apatow-produced comedy is plenty raunchy, but it steers clear of the dumb and tired tropes of most high school comedies while instead charting a smarter and more meaningful path. It’s also just really funny, which is important, too.
Does your dad stop channel surfing whenever he see Tropic Thunder on cable? Mine does. And there’s a lot we can learn from our dads, like the fact that Tropic Thunder is funny and good.
Tropic Thunder is a movie about making a movie: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. play actors (not themselves) shooting on location in Vietnam when all hell breaks loose and they find themselves lost in the jungle. The actors all seem familiar enough: Stiller is washed-up action star, Black is a drug-addled overweight comedian, and Downey Jr. is an obnoxious Australian method actor. The result is a really funny and surprisingly compelling movie — just ask my dad.
Thanks to his deal with Netflix, there are enough bad Adam Sandler movies on Netflix for you to watch one every day until the day you die.* But forget those, because there is at least one Adam Sandler movie on Netflix that isn’t completely terrible: The Waterboy.
The Waterboy features Adam Sandler as a mentally challenged Louisiana boy with a hyper-religious mother and a deep love for football. He’s the waterboy, but he makes the team by the end, of course. Does Adam Sandler do a really over-the-top voice for literally this entire movie? I think you know that he does.
I’m not going to tell you that The Waterboy is smart and witty, because it is not. It’s a bit dumber than Happy Gilmore, in fact. But it’s a great deal better than whatever the heck Adam Sandler is doing now, and it’s delightfully funny in a deeply, deeply stupid way.
*Editor’s note: Not really, unless you do not live very long.
Before we go, here’s one more Mel Brooks film for you. Brooks’ hilarious parody of classic horror is filmed entirely in black and white (of course) and is one of his smartest and best-made films. This was the inspiration for the popular Broadway musical, but this is not itself a musical — just a regular old comedy, and a really good one at that. Frequent Brooks collaborator Gene Wilder is in this, as is Peter Boyle (in one of his best roles).