Netflix is a land of constant change. Heraclitis might’ve once said that you can’t step in the same river twice, but if he was around in the days of streaming he’d be just as likely to say that you can’t log into the same Netflix twice. Well, at least not if you wait a month. Because, uh, it’s constantly changing. Yeah.
It’s been three months since we last updated this list. It’s been three long, hard, constantly perplexing months since that day in early March when I last hit publish on this piece, and in that time over ten movies that made the cut have left Netflix. That includes two of our top three (see you later, Caddyshack and Talladega Nights), three of the biggest movies of the ‘90s (Ace Ventura, American Pie and Men in Black), and fine work from Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson, and Steven Soderbergh. It’s not quite a bloodbath, but it’s a solid turnover that hints at Netflix’s insistent flux.
Don’t get comfortable, is what I’m saying. If there’s a movie on Netflix that you want to watch, watch it soon, because who knows how much longer it’ll be on there. Carpe diem, and all that, but, like, with old movies on a website, and not any kind of legitimately important life decision.
This list is up to date as of today, June 7, 2018. (Happy anniversary, by the way—they know who I’m talking to.) It probably won’t be up to date as of July 1. Expect another revision around then. Expect one of these almost every month, for as long as Netflix and websites and comedies exist. Netflix might constantly change, but our responsibility to our readers never does.
(Oh, and here’s your regular reminder: I’m the comedy editor here. I like well-made films and can appreciate some heady, heavy drama, but when I’m compiling a list like this I’m primarily interested in how much a movie makes me laugh. Yeah, all the factors that go into moviemaking get considered a bit—that’s why something like Frances Ha ranks higher than the more-laffs-per-minute Casa de Mi Padre—but almost no level of cinematic artistry can overcome the sheer endless hilarity of the top two movies on this list, even if they’re both not exactly what most people would consider great movies. This is about comedy here, with a little bit of cineaste tendencies on the side.)
40. 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 performance 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
39. 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: 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
37. 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
36. Little Evil
Director: Eli Craig
Seven years after he gave us Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, one of the best horror comedies in recent memory, director Eli Craig has finally returned with another horror comedy exclusive for Netflix, Little Evil. An obvious parody of The Omen and other “evil kid” movies, Little Evil wears its influences and references on its sleeve in ways that while not particularly clever, are at least loving. Adam Scott is the sad-sack father who somehow became swept up in a whirlwind romance and marriage, all while being unfazed by the fact that his new step-son is the kind of kid who dresses like a pint-sized Angus Young and trails catastrophes behind him wherever he goes. Evangeline Lilly is the boy’s foxy mother, whose motivations are suspect throughout. Does she know that her child is the spawn of Satan, or as his mother is she just willfully blind to the obvious evil growing under her nose? The film can boast a pretty impressive supporting cast, from Donald Faison and Chris D’elia as fellow step-dads, to Clancy Brown as a fire-and-brimstone preacher, but never does it fully commit toward either its jokes or attempts to frighten. The final 30 minutes are the most interesting, as they lead the plot in an unexpected direction that redefines the audience’s perception of the demon child, but it still makes for a somewhat uneven execution. Tucker & Dale this is not, but it’s still a serviceable return for Craig. —Jim Vorel
35. Bring It On
Director: Peyton Reed
The first in one of the most unlikely film franchises ever (seriously, there have been six of these movies), Bring It On isn’t just the best of its ilk, but one of the few late ‘90s / early ‘00s Hollywood teen comedies that still holds up to any appreciable degree today. It’s a breezy, self-aware bit of slick studio product that doesn’t fully condescend or pander to its audience. It also recognizes class and racial disparities in a way that basically no other teen comedy of its day did. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s smarter and funnier than it has any need to be.—Garrett Martin
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
33. Bad Santa
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Billy Bob Thornton is sublimely degenerate, as only he can be, but the film’s ending has one of the most redemptive turns this side of It’s A Wonderful Life. A true masterpiece of a dark comedy, in Bad Santa we see the titular Anti-St. Nick pee himself, get wasted, swear at kids, disrespect authority and plan on robbing the very mall in which he (barely) works. That the aforementioned Bad Santa is not just a vulgar caricature is testament to Thornton’s these-are-the-facts deadpan, countered by two brilliant supporting performances from the late greats John Ritter and Bernie Ma, as well as Thornton’s genuinely touching rapport with innocent cherub Thurman Murman (Brett Kelly). —Greg Smith
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
31. Magic Mike
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Hot producer-star Channing Tatum draws from his personal history for this raucous comedy-drama set in Tampa’s Xquisite Male Dance Revue. Tatum worked as a stripper for eight months early in his career, and if Magic Mike is any indication, it was a good time for both the ladies and the performers—the movie certainly is. Channing plays the titular main attraction at a weekend dive run by onetime-stripper-turned-manager Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). Mike is a popular performer, but stripping three nights a week doesn’t pay the bills on his swank beachfront pad and brand-new pickup truck, so he makes ends meet by working a construction gig. He’s also got a couple of entrepreneurial enterprises on the side, including a detailing business that may or may not actually have customers and a dream to custom-build furniture full-time. The guys’ hands-on performances, choreographed by Alison Faulk, are enthusiastic and energetic, if not always polished, with indelible set pieces like the part-Singin’ in the Rain, part-Matrix treatment of “It’s Raining Men” that introduces us to the act. What you may not have even known you wanted until you got it is a solo by McConaughey, an electrifying turn that marks the climax of the action. McConaughey is perfectly cast to begin with but then turns around and makes the role his own, even incorporating an allusion to his infamous bongos incident. He’s sleazy yet sexy, equally alluring to the women he services and the men he employs. The ladies in the small packed house go wild for these guys, and their excitement is infectious. Along with a solid script by Tatum’s producing partner Reid Carolin, director-cinematographer Steven Soderbergh (who took a low-budget, highly experimental look at the life of a high-end call girl in The Girlfriend Experience) brings a warm golden aesthetic that’s at once polished and serendipitous. The way the sunlight dapples the actors’ bodies during a sunset beach scene is particularly lovely. But Magic Mike would hardly be as magical without Tatum, whose good looks, athletic physicality, easygoing charm and heart-on-his-sleeve sincerity are as seductive to moviegoers as to the women he dances for on-screen. —Annlee Ellingson