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The 20 best comedies streaming on Netflix right now

From Wet Hot American Summer to Thor: Ragnarok

Universal Pictures

From outright laugh riots to more bittersweet humor, funny post-apocalyptic survival stories to kung-fu capers, the selection of comedies on Netflix spans a wide range. That is to say, even if you have a single genre in mind — comedy, in this case — picking a single movie to watch on the streaming platform can feel overwhelming.

For the sake of making things a little easier, we’ve put together a list of the 20 best comedies you can watch right now. Whether it’s secretly a stoner comedy that your heart longs for, or a loving send-up of action movies, or even a funny superhero flick, we’ve got you covered.

Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek in The Breaker Upperers.
Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek in The Breaker Upperers.

The Breaker Upperers (2018)

Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek directed, wrote, and starred in The Breaker Upperers, a comedy about two women who run an agency devoted to helping people break up. They’ll show to a soon-to-be-ex’s door, for instance, and sing them a song about how they’ve been dumped, or tell them that their significant other has been murdered. Naturally, things start getting complicated when Mel (Sami) falls for one of their clients, putting a strain upon the business as well as her friendship with Jen (van Beek). In case you need any more incentive, the film was executive produced by Taika Waititi, and features appearances from Jemaine Clement and Lucy Lawless.

Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading.
Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading.
Photo: Focus Features

Burn After Reading (2008)

What may just be the Coen brothers’ meanest film is available to watch on Netflix, and more uncomfortably topical than ever. When a draft of a disgruntled former CIA analyst’s (John Malkovich) memoir accidentally falls into the hands of two gym employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt), chaos ensues, involving spies, Russians, and utter cluelessness on the part of the government. Stressful though the increasingly deadly hijinks are, the film is worth watching at least for Pitt’s perfectly pitched comic performance.

Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Karl Johnson in Hot Fuzz.
Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Karl Johnson in Hot Fuzz.
Photo: Working Title Films

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Of the three films in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy, Hot Fuzz may be the most rewatchable. A loving send-up of action films, Hot Fuzz stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as partners in crime — or rather, in justice. Officer Nick Angel (Pegg) is transferred out of London for being too good, but the sleepy little town he finds himself is less innocent than it seems. His initial pairing with the sweet Danny Butterman (Frost), who loves action movies and doesn’t seem to take his duties particularly seriously, seems like a mismatch, but they quickly come to need each other as circumstances grow dire.

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in In Bruges.
Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in In Bruges.
Photo: Universal Studios

In Bruges (2008)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri may be Martin McDonagh’s most lauded film, but In Bruges is his best. Hitman Ray (Colin Farrell) is sent to Bruges after botching a job, with Ken (Brendan Gleeson) tagging along to keep an eye on him. They’re meant to hide out for a few days, but the outcome of the job weighs on Ray, exacerbated by how much he doesn’t care for the idyllic Belgian city. Heartbreaking and hysterical in turns, the film is one of the best currently streaming on Netflix, regardless of genre, with virtuoso turns from everyone involved, including Ralph Fiennes as Ray and Ken’s oft-enraged boss.

Chiu Chi-ling showing off the Hung Ga Iron Fist technique in Kung Fu Hustle.
Chiu Chi-ling showing off the Hung Ga Iron Fist technique in Kung Fu Hustle.
Image: Sony Pictures Classics

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

There’s just the thinnest thread of plot holding Kung Fu Hustle together, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most exhilaratingly fun films ever made. Set in a crowded apartment complex known as Pig Sty Alley, Kung Fu Hustle is mostly just an excuse to construct the most outrageous fight scenes possible. Just when it seems like the kung fu mastery the characters wield can’t get any more colorful, another kung fu master is revealed to take things to the next level.

Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde.
Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde.
MGM Distribution Co.

Legally Blonde (2001)

With a third installment supposedly on the way for 2020, now is as good a time as any to revisit (or watch for the first time) Legally Blonde. Nobody takes Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), a sorority girl with a fondness for the color pink, seriously, including her boyfriend, who breaks up with her because she isn’t “serious” enough to fit in with his future political ambitions. To prove him wrong — and, eventually, simply for her own sake — she gets into law school, even winning an internship with the school’s most respected professor as she works through the program.

The fearsome foursome sit in a car.
Nick Moran, Dexter Fletcher, Jason Statham, and Jason Flemyng in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Gramercy Pictures

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Guy Ritchie’s first film, which centers on a group of friends who decide to rob a gang in order to pay off a debt incurred while playing cards, is lean and sprawling at the same time. Multiple characters weave in and out of the narrative, which crescendos to a remarkably simple conclusion as the disparate elements of the film all finally wind together. The crime caper was Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones’ introduction to the film world as well, and remains the standard to which the rest of Ritchie’s films are held.

The Bash Brothers fist bump
Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg in The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience.
Photo: Eddy Chen/Netflix

The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience (2019)

For anyone mourning the lack of a Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping sequel, there’s The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience, a half-hour delight that bills itself as a “visual poem” by baseball stars Jose Canseco (Andy Samberg) and Mark McGwire (Akiva Schaffer). With guest appearances from Sterling K. Brown, Maya Rudolph, and even the Haim sisters, the film is an unmitigated delight, and evidence of the way The Lonely Island just keep getting better and better.

Yoo Hae-jin in Luck Key.
Yoo Hae-jin in Luck Key.

Luck Key (2016)

A remake of 2012 Japanese comedy Key of Life, Luck Key stars South Korean character actor Yoo Hae-jin as Hyung-wook, an infamous assassin whose life takes a sharp turn after a concussion in a public bath robs him of his memory. A would-be actor steals his locker key, replacing it with his own, leading Hyung-wook to believe he’s the aspiring actor. Improbably, his assassin skill set comes in handy in the part-time jobs he has to work to get by, and he finds his acting career slowly taking off.

Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler in The Meyerowitz Stories.
Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler in The Meyerowitz Stories.
Image: Netflix

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)

Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman) casts a long shadow; in it are all three of his children, Danny (Adam Sandler), Matthew (Ben Stiller), and Jean (Elizabeth Marvel). Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, The Meyerowitz Stories weaves together vignettes of the family’s life that fill in the ups and downs of what is supposed to be unconditional love, and long-held wounds and resentments that bubble to the surface as Harold’s health begins to fail. Through it all, Baumbach maintains a line of bittersweetness that helps mitigate just how cutting the events become.

Julian Barratt in Mindhorn.
Julian Barratt in Mindhorn.

Mindhorn (2017)

Mindhorn is wonderfully lean and wonderfully strange, taking an oddball premise and spinning it into a feature that somehow doesn’t just lose steam halfway through. Julian Barratt stars as Richard Thorncroft, a washed-up actor best known for playing Detective Bruce Mindhorn in a cult ’80s television show. Though it’s been a quarter of a century since his heyday, he finds himself back in the public eye when a man wanted for murder tells the police he will only speak to Mindhorn, whom he believes to be real.

King Arthur (Chapman), surrounded by his knights.
Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, and Terry Jones in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Cinema 5

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Every Monty Python film on Netflix is worth watching, but arguably the most famous of the bunch is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The comedy group’s take on the tale of King Arthur and his knights sees all six members of the Flying Circus taking on multiple roles as the characters are pit against deadly rabbits, French mockery, and a W. G. Grace-faced God. Often cited as one of the greatest comedies of all time, the film serves as a perfect watch for anyone with a fondness for Arthurian myths, for sketch comedy, for hand-drawn sketches, or simply looking for an introduction to one of the greatest comedy groups of all time.

Jenny Slate in Obvious Child.
Jenny Slate in Obvious Child.

Obvious Child (2014)

“Abortion” and “comedy” aren’t words often found within arm’s length of each other, but Obvious Child is the exception to the rule. Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre, who wanted to remove some of the stigma surrounding abortion, the film stars Jenny Slate as a stand-up comedian who becomes pregnant as the result of a one-night stand, and decides to have an abortion. Obvious Child is particularly remarkable not just for how warm it is given the potentially anxiety-inducing subject matter, but for a refusal to include any explicit political message, and a striving for emotional honesty.

Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon in Other People.
Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon in Other People.
Vertical Entertainment

Other People (2016)

A similarly impressive balance between comedy and drama can be found in Other People, which draws from director Chris Kelly’s personal experiences for its story. David (Jesse Plemons) returns home to take care of his mother (Molly Shannon), who is in the advanced stages of leiomyosarcoma. Complicating matters are the fact that David’s family, including his mother, are still struggling to accept his homosexuality, as well as his mother’s decision to quit treatment. The film is wonderfully tender without being saccharine, and funny without being blasé.

Seth Rogen and James Franco in Pineapple Express.
Seth Rogen and James Franco in Pineapple Express.
Columbia Pictures

Pineapple Express (2008)

Directed by David Gordon Green (Joe, the latest Halloween), Pineapple Express is a loosey-goosey movie, but that easiness actually plays to the stoner comedy’s advantage. When Dale (Seth Rogen) and his dealer Saul (James Franco) witness a murder, they become the targets of both a drug lord and corrupt cops. The ensuing adventure unfolds in a cloud of marijuana smoke, with surprisingly compelling action as well as a Han Solo-esque turn from Danny McBride.

Emily Watson and Adam Sandler in silhouette in Punch-Drunk Love.
Emily Watson and Adam Sandler in silhouette in Punch-Drunk Love.
Columbia Pictures

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

After the release of his three-hour Magnolia, director Paul Thomas Anderson stated that, for his next film, he wanted to work with Adam Sandler, and he wanted it to run 90 minutes. Lo and behold, with Punch-Drunk Love, Anderson did exactly that. Sandler plays Barry Egan, a socially inept entrepreneur who is forced to contend with identity theft and extortion just as he meets the woman who may just be the love of his life. Boasting lush colors and a delicate score by Jon Brion (as well as one of Sandler’s best performances ever), Punch-Drunk Love is a comedy that also taps perfectly into the head-over-heels sensation of falling in love.

Thor: Ragnarok - Hulk, Thor, Valkyrie, Loki
Mark Ruffalo (sort of), Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Tom Hiddleston in Thor: Ragnarok.
Image: Marvel Studios

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Taika Waititi’s spin through the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a joy, and arguably the thing that finally led even the staunchest of Thor skeptics into the light. As per the film’s title, Ragnarök, a cataclysmic event in Nordic mythology, is drawing closer and closer, and it’s up to Thor to save Asgard and prevent the destruction of all that he knows. As bright and colorful as it is funny, and with a supporting cast that includes Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum, Thor: Ragnarok is one of the best entries in the MCU, and not so far afield that it’s impossible to follow if you’re unfamiliar with the franchise, either.

Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
Magnet Releasing

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

A send-up of horror movies like The Hills Have Eyes and Evil Dead, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil stars Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine as Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies who become embroiled in trouble when they cross paths with a group of camping college students. A series of misunderstandings leads the students to believe that Tucker and Dale are trying to kill them, while Tucker and Dale come to suspect that the students are enacting a suicide pact. As they dance around each other, Eli Craig pulls out all the slapstick stops.

Michael Showalter, Christopher Meloni, and A.D. Miles in Wet Hot American Summer.
Michael Showalter, Christopher Meloni, and A.D. Miles in Wet Hot American Summer.
USA Films

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Though a critical and commercial failure at the time of its release, Wet Hot American Summer has become a cult film, to the point that Netflix released two follow-up TV series, set before and after the events of the movie. Directed by Direct Wain, the film is set at the fictional Camp Firewood, and chronicles the last day of camp as kids and counselors alike try to take advantage of the last vestiges of summer. The cast is full of familiar faces (Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Christopher Meloni), all of whom commit fully to the absurdity of the unfolding proceedings.

Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson in Zombieland.
Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson in Zombieland.
Columbia Pictures

Zombieland (2009)

Joining Shaun of the Dead in the zombie-comedy genre is Zombieland, which sees four survivors road tripping across America in search of a zombie-free sanctuary. Each is referred to not by name, but by a place significant to them, e.g. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), who is on his way to Columbus, Ohio, to see if his parents have survived the zombie outbreak. Along for the ride are Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), as well as the greatest Bill Murray cameo of all time.

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