Comedy is subjective. Duh. All art is subjective. Your favorite movie might be the only movie I’ve ever walked out of the theater on (uh, if your favorite movie is Caddyshack II, well, bless your heart.) When it comes to ranking a collection of comedies that spans almost the entire history of film (sorry, silent film fans, Netflix is almost exclusively about the talkies) you’re going to wind up weighing complete farces against more serious comedies that regularly veer into dramatic turf. How do you balance something that’s willfully absurd and packed with jokes against a comedy that’s grounded in believable characters and situations?
I’m the comedy editor here at Paste. I’m here for comedy. Something like, say, Mike Nichols’s Working Girl might be a better made film than, say, Wet Hot American Summer, but it’s not nearly as funny, or even trying to be. They’re different kinds of comedy, with different aims and methods, but both are funny in their own way, and both have a slot on a list like this. The one that makes me laugh the more, though, will probably win out in the end.
Once again we sifted through the long list of comedies currently on Netflix this month, including all those Adam Sandler exclusives that make you sadly gaze back on the glory days of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, to find the 50 best that you can stream right this very second. Hopefully you’ll find something you can dig below.
You can also check out our guides to the best movies on other platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and The Best Movies in Theaters. Visit the Paste Movie Guides for all our recommendations.
Here are the 50 Best Comedy Movies Streaming on Netflix in March 2017.
50. Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
Directors: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
So, yeah: comedy is subjective. Not everybody likes what Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim do. That’s cool. Those who do dig it will love their movie, where they take their patented aesthetic and their love of uniting the perverse and the mundane and stretch them out to feature-length. You know how when you watch a David Lynch movie you can’t always tell when he’s trying to be funny? Tim and Eric are clearly trying to be funny throughout this thing, but it still can be as weird and frightening and (yes) unforgettable as a Lynch movie.—Garrett Martin
49. Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal The Movie
Director: Jeremy Konner
Too short to rank higher on this list, but maybe still too long for what it tries to do, this Funny or Die-produced parody is an absurd, caustic pseudo-adaptation of the 1987 memoir that first brought our most inexplicable of presidents to national prominence. Starring Johnny Depp, in his best perfrmance since that 21 Jump Street movie, as Trump, The Art of the Deal is a cameo-filled 50 minute sprint through Trump’s formative business years, with the joke-a-minute style of Zucker-Abraham-Zucker and the voice of a late night comedy sketch.—Garrett Martin
Director: Jon Favreau
Jon Favreau took a break between the $163 million dollar Cowboys & Aliens and Disney’s live-action remake of The Jungle Book to write, direct and star in a small indie comedy-drama about a celebrated chef rediscovering his love for food. When the owner of his restaurant (Dustin Hoffman) won’t let him experiment in the kitchen and his social-media ignorance leads to a very public feud with a food critic (Oliver Platt), he quits and buys a food truck. The road-trip that follows is the sweet, earnest heart of the film—reconnecting with his son as he reconnects with a passion for food. There’s not much to the straight-forward plot, but the film’s humor and mouth-watering food porn make it a treat. —Josh Jackson
47. Band of Robbers
Directors: Aaron Nee, Adam Nee
As strong as the talent is in front of the camera (including the comedic sidekick duo of Hannibal Buress and Matthew Gray Gubler), consider the talent behind it even more. The Nees know their stuff, whether they’re setting up a punch line (of which Band of Robbers has many) or composing countless lovely shots in widescreen. They’ve made a film that’s as hilarious as it is beautiful. As Huck himself might say, it’s nothin‘ but magic.—Andy Crump
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
It’s hard to read Frank’s emotions because his facial expression never changes. How could it? It’s painted on. Walking around with a big, spherical paper mâché head, he looks like a walking cartoon character. But unlike the folks at Disneyland, Frank plays bizarre, haunting music with disorienting melodies and foreign, electronic tones. It would all be quite intimidating if his disembodied voice weren’t so darn friendly. The title character in Frank looks like Frank Sidebottom, the alter ego of British comedian and outsider musician Chris Sievey. But Frank is a variation on a theme in a contemporary setting rather than a true story. The film enters Frank’s world through the eyes of Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), a young, aspiring musician who doesn’t have much to say or any ideas how to say it. He lives a comfy life at home until he is swept into the adventurous life of a band on the road, driving all night and playing to empty rooms. He sees the romance, but is rather slow to pick up on some of the anguish and mental illness that his bandmates suffer. Frank doesn’t just wear the head for shows—he never takes it off. Michael Fassbender has the most difficult job of any cast member, as he has to create the character of Frank without any facial expressions. He uses his voice and body language to express excitement, a welcoming nature and varying degrees of anxiety. Director Lenny Abrahamson finds plenty of humor in his band of misfit characters, but the movie doesn’t treat their odd behavior as mere fodder for slapstick. The movie’s heart lies in its understanding of their fragility. At the film’s finale, Fassbender’s stirring performance reminds us of the power that can be had simply by singing the song you want to sing.—Jeremy Mathews
Director: Greg Mottola
For anyone who has ever held a summer job, this film hits home. Jesse Eisenberg is a recent college graduate whose plans for a trip to Europe fall through due to financial problems. Instead, he gets a job at the titular amusement park. Adventureland is full of poignancy in capturing that time of uncertainty, but also of post-college growth. Plus it has a kick-ass soundtrack.—Caitlin Peterkin
Director: Michael Dowse
You’d think Slap Shot would’ve said all there is to say about violence as a crucial marketing tool for minor league hockey, but Goon carves out its own nook in the sports comedy pantheon thanks to a funny script from Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg and fine performances from Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber. A sequel is actually being released a week from the day this list was originally published in March 2017.—Garrett Martin
43. Sausage Party
Directors: Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan
Though Sausage Party is uneven at times, all is made whole by a third act that presents scene after scene of some of the most unbelievable ridiculousness ever shown in a film. Credit goes to Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who wrote This Is the End and The Interview, as well as to The Night Before writers Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir. This team knows how to end their films with a literal and metaphorical bang that pays off beautifully.—Ross Bonaime
42. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Director: Eli Craig
Let’s face it, hillbillies and their ilk have been getting the short end of the pitchfork in movies since the strains of banjo music faded in 1972’s Deliverance. And whether due to radiation (The Hills Have Eyes) or just good old determined inbreeding (Wrong Turn and so, so many films you’re better off not knowing about), the yokel-prone in film have really enjoyed slaughtering innocent families on vacation, travelers deficient in basic map usage skills, and, best of all, sexually active college students just looking for a good time. But fear not, members of Hillbillies for Inclusion, Consideration & Kindness in Screenplays (HICKS)—writer/director Eli Craig has your hairy, unloofahed back. His film, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, answers the simple question: What if those hillbillies are just socially awkward fellows sprucing up a vacation home and the young college kids in question are just prone to repeatedly jumping to incorrect, often fatal, conclusions? Think Final Destination meets the Darwin Awards.—Michael Burgin
Director: Christopher Guest
“Diminishing returns” might apply to Christopher Guest mockumentaries more than anything else on earth, but when you start from the unparalleled heights of Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show there’s a long way to plummet. To wit: Mascots, his latest film, is still full of great performances and good jokes. Much of his stock company returns for the Netflix exclusive (Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, Fred Willard and Ed Begley Jr. are still standouts), and although the absence of Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara is palpable, the ensemble is still stocked with capable improvisers. The satire isn’t as sharp as his earlier films, but there’s still an endearing goofiness at the movie’s heart.—Garrett Martin