The 50 Best Comedies on Netflix Right Now (August 2020)

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The 50 Best Comedies on Netflix Right Now (August 2020)

It’s a new month, so it’s time to update our list of the best comedies on Netflix.

Sadly you’ll have to go back to the future with another streaming service now—Back to the Future dropped off of Netflix at the start of August. A couple other staples of this list have also left, although ones without the pop culture clout of Michael J. Fox’s breakout; if you were hoping to catch Obvious Child or The Edge of Seventeen on Netflix, you’ve missed your chance. Some more greats will be cycling off the service throughout the month, so apologizes in advance if one of the links below takes you a movie that’s no longer on the service. I can vouch that all 50 of the movies below are currently on Netflix as of August 3, 2020.

So here we go. Let’s take a quick trip through the 50 funniest movies on Netflix right now. Again, for the purpose of these rankings I’m looking at how funny a movie is alongside how well made it is—meaning you might see some absolutely hilarious comedies that aren’t that well respected by critics coming in higher than better reviewed, more technically proficient films. You can call this the Mindhorn / Casa de Mi Padre Rule—yeah, they’re not better movies than Jerry Maguire, but they definitely make me laugh more.

Here are the 50 best comedies on Netflix as of August 2020.

1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

netflix poster monty grail.jpg Year: 1975
Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Connie Booth
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 92 minutes

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It sucks that some of the shine has been taken off Holy Grail by its own overwhelming ubiquity. Nowadays, when we hear a “flesh wound,” a “ni!” or a “huge tracts of land,” our first thoughts are often of having full scenes repeated to us by clueless, obsessive nerds. Or, in my case, of repeating full scenes to people as a clueless, obsessive nerd. But, if you try and distance yourself from the over-saturation factor, and revisit the film after a few years, you’ll find new jokes that feel as fresh and hysterical as the ones we all know. Holy Grail is, indeed, the most densely packed comedy in the Python canon. There are so many jokes in this movie, and it’s surprising how easily we forget that, considering its reputation. If you’re truly and irreversibly burnt out from this movie, watch it again with commentary, and discover the second level of appreciation that comes from the inventiveness with which it was made. It certainly doesn’t look like a $400,000 movie, and it’s delightful to discover which of the gags (like the coconut halves) were born from a need for low-budget workarounds. The first-time co-direction from onscreen performer Terry Jones (who only sporadically directed after Python broke up) and lone American Terry Gilliam (who prolifically bent Python’s cinematic style into his own unique brand of nightmarish fantasy) moves with a surreal efficiency. —Graham Techler



2. Groundhog Day

Groundhog1212.jpg Year: 1993
Director: Harold Ramis
Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 102 minutes

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Bill Murray, director/co-writer Harold Ramis and screenwriter Danny Rubin take a Twilight Zone-esque comedic premise—a self-centered weatherman gets stuck experiencing February 2 again and again—and find unexpected profundity. A more conventional film would have love resolve the chronological predicament, but instead, it falls to TV personality Phil (Murray) to become the best version of himself he can possibly be. Whether it’s a Hollywood comedy challenging middle-class Americans to shake themselves from their middle-class torpor, or a meditation on our unattainable ideas of perfection, Groundhog Day doesn’t just elicit laughs, but leaves audiences more deeply moved than they ever expected—even inspiring some obsessive fans, including one fellow who calculated, down to the day, the number of decades Murray spent in February 2. —Curt Holman



3. Monty Python’s Life of Brian

life of brian poster.jpg Year: 1979
Director: Terry Jones
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Rating: R
Runtime: 92 minutes

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Pretty much made on George Harrison’s dime and considered, even if apocryphally, by the legendary comedy troupe to be their best film (probably because it’s the closest they’ve come to a three-act narrative with obvious “thematic concerns”), Life of Brian got banned by a lot of countries at the butt-end of the ’70s. As a Christ story, the telling of how squealy mama’s boy, Brian (Graham Chapman) mistakenly finds himself as one of many messiah figures rising in Judea under the shadow of Roman occupation (around 33 AD, on a Saturday afternoon-ish), Monty Python’s follow-up to Holy Grail may be the most political film of its ilk. As such, the British comedy group stripped all romanticism and nobility from the story’s bones, lampooning everything from radical revolutionaries to religious institutions to government bureaucracy while never stooping to pick on the figure of Jesus or his empathetic teachings. Of course, Life of Brian isn’t the first film about Jesus (or: Jesus adjacent) to focus on the human side of the so-called savior—Martin Scorsese’s take popularly did so less than a decade later—but it feels like the first to leverage human weakness against the absurdity of the Divine’s expectations. Steeped in satire fixing on everything from Spartacus to Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth, and buttressed by as many iconic lines as there are crucifixes holding up the film’s frames (as Brian’s equally squealy mother hollers to the swarming masses, “He’s not the messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!”), the film explores Jesus’s life by obsessing over the context around it. Maybe a “virgin birth” was really just called that to cover up a Roman centurion’s sexual crimes. Maybe coincidence (and also class struggle) is reality’s only guiding force. Maybe the standard of what makes a miracle should be a little higher. And maybe the one true through line of history is that stupid people will always follow stupid people, whistling on the way to our meaningless, futile deaths. —Dom Sinacola



4. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

walk-hard-poster.jpg
Year: 2007
Director: Jake Kasdan
Stars: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Raymond J. Barry, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Margo Martindale
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

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Although Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story claims to be a spoof of biopics and their extreme depictions of artists—especially musicians—biopics’ exaggerations are a reflection of the frailties and eccentricities of the artists which they profile, so it’s hard to distinguish a satire about biopics from a satire about musicians. Regardless of what category the film falls into, Walk Hard does not really tow the fine line of being clever so much as it provides a fun and absurd romp with heaps of laughs. John C. Reilly, who plays rising and troubled music star Dewey Cox, skillfully presents a dopey-yet-conniving and shallow-but-sincere character with a heart of fool’s gold. Looking something like Johnny Cash crossed with Tom Waits, Cox has multiple addictions, wives and musical phases. Aspiring to a level beyond greatness after he accidentally kills his brother by splitting him in half with a machete when they are young boys growing up in Alabama, Cox is compelled to compensate for the loss of his brother, leading to a life of excess and indulgence. But Reilly isn’t the only star of the film. Kristen Wiig shines as Cox’s frustrated wife and the mother of their seemingly infinite amount of children; as Cox’s other frustrated wife and duet partner, Jenna Fischer is superb. Tim Meadows is hysterical with a stand out performance as Cox’s bandmate who can’t seem to stop doing or introducing Cox to increasingly heavy drugs. Additionally, cameos from Jack White (Elvis Presley), Jack Black (Paul McCartney), Paul Rudd (John Lennon), Jason Schwartzman (Ringo Starr), Justin Long (George Harrison), Eddie Vedder, Jackson Browne and Lyle Lovett make the film even more ridiculous. Like most films of its ilk, Walk Hard may go too over-the-top to prove itself, but there is something charming about it, underscored by its genuine love of music and affinity for musicians. It is also obvious from one of the first lines in the film (“Guys, I need Cox!”) that this project neither takes itself too seriously nor asks the same of its viewers. —Pamela Chelin



5. Airplane!

airplane_netflix_poster.jpg Year: 1980
Director: Jim Abrahams
Stars: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 88 minutes

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The writing trio of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker (ZAZ) defined a genre with their disaster-movie spoof in 1980. The jokes fly fast and furious, from the “Who’s on First” confusion of a crew that includes Roger and Captain Oveur (“Roger, Roger. What’s our vector, Victor?”) to Oveur (Peter Graves) asking a kid in the cockpit, “Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?” to an old lady translating jive (“Jive-ass dude don’t got no brains anyhow! Shiiiiit!”) to “stop calling me Shirley!” Ridiculous and ridiculously quotable, it’s the funniest spoof film of all time. —Josh Jackson



6. The Naked Gun

movie poster naked gun.jpg Year: 1988
Director: David Zucker
Stars: Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, Ricardo Montalban, George Kennedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 85 minutes

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The final hoorah from the comedy trio David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker—ZAZ for short—The Naked Gun is so stupid it’s hilarious. This, of course, was ZAZ’s secret weapon in films like Airplane!, and in Leslie Nielsen’s stone-faced imbecility they found their muse. A former dramatic actor, Nielsen rejuvenated his career by playing Frank Drebin, a hapless L.A. police detective trying to prevent the assassination of Queen Elizabeth. (And in his courting of possible femme fatale Priscilla Presley, he taught us the importance of wearing full-body condoms.) A wonder of slapstick and deadpan silliness, The Naked Gun makes jokes about terrorists, gay panic, boobs, even “The Star-Spangled Banner.” There’s a character named Pahpshmir. Good lord, it’s all so gloriously idiotic. —Tim Grierson



7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

spider-man-spider-verse-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 100 minutes

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There are, rarely, films like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, where ingredients, execution and imagination all come together in a manner that’s engaging, surprising and, most of all, fun. Directors Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, writer-director Rodney Rothman, and writer Phil Lord have made a film that lives up to all the adjectives one associates with Marvel’s iconic wallcrawler. Amazing. Spectacular. Superior. (Even “Friendly” and “Neighborhood” fit.) Along the way, Into the Spider-Verse shoulders the immense Spider-Man mythos like it’s a half-empty backpack on its way to providing Miles Morales with one of the most textured, loving origin stories in the superhero genre. Plenty of action films with much less complicated plots and fewer characters to juggle have failed, but this one spins order from the potential chaos using some comic-inspired narrative devices that seamlessly embed the needed exposition into the story. It also provides simultaneous master classes in genre filmmaking. Have you been wondering how best to intersperse humor into a storyline crowded with action and heavy emotional arcs? Start here. Do you need to bring together a diverse collection of characters, nimbly move them (together and separately) from setting to setting and band them together in a way that the audience doesn’t question? Take notes. Do you have an outlandish, fantastical concept that you need to communicate to the viewers (and characters) without bogging down the rest of the story? This is one way to do it. Would you like to make an instant contemporary animated classic? Look (and listen). —Michael Burgin



8. The Death of Stalin

death-of-stalin-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Jason Isaacs
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Rating: R
Runtime: 107 minutes

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You can trace that dynamic from The Thick of It, through In the Loop and Veep, and then especially in his new film, The Death of Stalin, whose subject matter can be inferred from a mere glance. The Death of Stalin marks a major temporal departure for Iannucci, known for skewering contemporary political embarrassments and turmoil, by taking us back to 1953 Russia. Years out from the Great Purge, the country remains in the grip of widespread fear fomented by nationalism, public trials, antisemitism, executions, mass deportations and civic uncertainty. Iannucci asks us to laugh at an era not known for being especially funny. That’s the give and take at the film’s core: Iannucci drops a punchline and we guffaw, then moments later we hear a gunshot, accompanied by the sound of a fresh corpse hitting the ground. Finding humor in political violence is a big ask, and yet Iannucci’s dialogue is nimble but unfailingly harsh, replete with chafing castigations. We howl with laughter, though we can’t help feeling bad for every poor bastard caught on the receiving end of trademark Iannucci verbal abuse, which typically means we end up feeling bad for every character in his films. He spares no one from insult or injury, even when they’re lying dead on the floor, soaked in their own piss. A tale of mortal sins as well as venial ones, The Death of Stalin adds modern urgency to his comic storytelling trademarks: As nationalist sentiment rears its ugly head across the globe and macho authoritarian leaders contrive to hoard power at democracy’s expense, a farcical play on the political clusterfuck that followed Stalin’s passing feels shockingly apropos. It takes a deft hand and a rare talent to make tyranny and state sanctioned torture so funny. —Andy Crump



9. Lady Bird

lady-bird-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Greta Gerwig
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein, Timothee Chalamet
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

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Before Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan)—Lady Bird is her given name, as in “[she] gave it to [her]self”—auditions for the school musical, she watches a young man belting the final notes to “Being Alive” from Stephen Sondheim’s Company. A few moments before, while in a car with her mother, she lays her head on the window wistfully and says with a sigh, “I wish I could just live through something.” Stuck in Sacramento, where she thinks there’s nothing to be offered her while paying acute attention to everything her home does have to offer, Lady Bird—and the film, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, that shares her name—has ambivalence running through her veins. What a perfect match: Stephen Sondheim and Greta Gerwig. Few filmmakers are able to capture the same kind of ambiguity and mixed feelings that involve the refusal to make up one’s mind: look to 35-year-old Bobby impulsively wanting to marry a friend, but never committing to any of his girlfriends, in Company; the “hemming and hawing” of Cinderella on the, ahem, steps of the palace; or Mrs. Lovett’s cause for pause in telling Sweeney her real motives. Lady Bird isn’t as high-concept as many of Sondheim’s works, but there’s a piercing truthfulness to the film, and arguably Gerwig’s work in general, that makes its anxieties and tenderness reverberate in the viewer’s heart with equal frequency. —Kyle Turner



10. Clueless

clueless_netflix_poster.jpg Year: 1995
Director: Amy Heckerling
Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Dan Hedaya
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 97 minutes

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The Beverly Hills reboot of Jane Austen’s classic Emma was a sleeper smash in 1995 and, much more importantly, gave the phrase “As if!” to pop culture. Alicia Silverstone is Cher, a pretty, vain, superficial LA teen who goes on a mission to turn ugly-duckling classmate Tai (Brittany Murphy) into a Superswan, only to find herself eclipsed and adrift. A soft-edged satire of nouveau-riche Angeleno culture and simultaneously of the teen rom-com genre, Clueless is neither the most subtle nor the most hard-hitting film of its era, but it’s surprisingly seductive, in large part thanks to Amy Heckerling’s scrupulously researched script, which captured a dialogue style that both represented and influenced teen-speak of the time. —Amy Glynn



11. She’s Gotta Have It

shes gotta have it poster.jpg Year: 1986
Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Tracy Camila Johns, Spike Lee, John Canada Terrell, Tommy Redmond Hicks
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Rating: R
Runtime: 85 minutes

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Spike Lee arrived as a fully-formed talent with this small-budget, black-and-white debut, which wound up being one of the most important movies in the rise of independent films in the 1980s. Lee brought a voice and verisimilitude to the screen that hadn’t been seen before, with a movie that’s smart, funny and audacious. The central theme—that women can sleep around as much as men, and that they shouldn’t be judged or scorned for it—is still relevant 30 years later. In fact, it’s so relevant Lee adapted the movie into a Netflix series that premiered last year.—Garrett Martin



12. Kung Fu Hustle

KungFuHustleHKposter.jpg Year: 2004
Director: Stephen Chow
Stars: Stephen Chow, Wah Yuen, Shengyi Huang, Kwok-Kwan Chan
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Rating: R
Runtime: 95 minutes

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Stephen Chow is probably the biggest name in martial arts comedy since the days of Sammo Hung, and Kung Fu Hustle will likely remain one of his most well-regarded films both as a director and performer. Gleefully kooky, it combines occasional song and dance with extremely exaggerated kung fu parody in telling the tale of a young man who ends up overthrowing a large criminal organization, the “Deadly Axe Gang.” This is not a complex film—rather, it’s simply intended as popcorn entertainment at its most absurd. The action has no basis in reality, being closer to a real-world depiction of Looney Tune physics. The characters are broad pastiches and references to famous actors from the genre’s history abound. With comedy that teeters decidedly on the juvenile or inscrutable side, it’s a film that some will dismiss off-hand, but Chow’s style has always and will probably always be “entertain first, make sense later.” That’s what he does, and he does it better than anyone else. —Jim Vorel



13. A Serious Man

ASeriousMan.jpg Year: 2009
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Stars: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Amy Landecker, Adam Arkin
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Rating: R
Runtime: 106 minutes

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Working with few recognizable stars, the Coens have made a funny but odd and inquisitive film about guilt. It’s also their most Jewish film to date, a film about physics professor Larry Gopnik and the Jewish subculture of a medium-sized late-’60s American town. Larry’s life begins to fall apart when his wife says she wants a divorce, and in the great unraveling that follows, the Coens have made Kafka’s implications explicit. The K word is often slapped onto any old symbolic nightmare, but Kafka’s own work was actually very funny, even though he could slip into gray areas without much warning. The Coens can, too. A Serious Man is one of the most fascinating, maybe even heartfelt, renderings of a Kafkaesque sensibility that I’ve seen. —Robert Davis



14. Spaceballs

spaceballs.jpg Year: 1987
Director: Mel Brooks
Stars: John Candy, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, Joan Rivers, Mel Brooks, Daphne Zuniga
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 57%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 96 minutes

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Originally perceived as one of writer/director Mel Brooks’ lesser works, this loving send-up of the sci-fi/fantasy genre (specifically, Star Wars) has, over the years, wormed its way into the hearts of a new generation of fans catching it for the first time at home. “May the Schwartz be with you,” “Ludicrous Speed,” “Mawg”—if these are all terms that mean nothing to you then it’s high-time you checked this movie out and see what all the fuss is about. —Mark Rozeman



15. Being John Malkovich


being_john_malkovich_poster.jpg Year: 1999
Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

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The feature film debut from director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman is a long, absurd joke whose punchline is its final shot: the view of a man who whimpers as he’s forced to watch his loved ones forget he’s ever existed. Being John Malkovich admits, with sad clarity, that our lives are totally out of our control. In the film, we follow street puppeteer Craig (John Cusack, looking like a small, humming pile of hair) as he confronts the economic viability of his chosen occupation by getting an admin job on the 7 ½ floor of building that also happens to hide a tiny door which leads, if one crawls through cobwebs and puddles, to the inside of John Malkovich’s head, wherein for 15 minutes the brain tourist can vicariously live through famous actor John Malkovich’s eyes before getting spit up into a ditch off the New Jersey Turnpike. Having had his way with marionettes for years, Craig slowly understands how to control Malkovich while inside his head, crouching in the man’s sewer of an unconscious to hide away from the requisite 15-minute limit, but not before falling in love with a coworker (Catherine Keener) who seems to be falling in love with Craig’s wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), but only via various liaisons through John Malkovich’s manipulable corpus. Throughout, Jonze and Kaufman only afford as much logic as is needed to movie the story from one weird scenario to another, but never letting the bleak heart of the film’s happenings overtake how goofily the plot unfolds. Visual detritus litters Jonze’s shots: A chucked can from a speeding car bounces off Malkovich’s head, the culprit recognizing Malkovich in time enough to call him out by name, though why John Malkovich poorly disguised in a ball cap and covered in ectoplasm would be on the side of the road in Jersey is anyone’s guess; a documentary features Brad Pitt briefly only to ignore him; an alternate universe Charlie Sheen embraces his receding hairline. Ideas pile atop more ideas, until the whole thing collapses in on itself, the film’s centerpiece basically John Malkovich singing his own name to himself over and over, attempting to seduce John Malkovich into accepting what we don’t really understand. —Dom Sinacola



16. Sleepless in Seattle


sleepless-in-seattle-210.jpg Year: 1993
Director: Nora Ephron
Stars: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell, Bill Pullman, Rob Reiner
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Sleepless in Seattle is essentially one giant love letter to 1957’s An Affair to Remember from writer/director Nora Ephron. Rita Wilson gives a memorable teary summary of the movie, and Annie (Meg Ryan) watches it before writing to Sam (Tom Hanks) inviting him to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building—the way Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr attempt to in their movie—on Valentine’s Day. When they finally meet on the observation deck, the theme from An Affair to Remember swells, setting the mood for anyone with an appreciation for good rom-coms. —Bonnie Stiernberg



17. Dolemite Is My Name

dolemite-is-my-movie-poster.jpg 2019
Director: Craig Brewer
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Snoop Dogg, Ron Cephas Jones, Barry Shabaka Henley, Tip “TI” Harris, Luenell, Tasha Smith, Wesley Snipes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

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“I want the world to know I exist,” Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) declares in Dolemite Is My Name. Awareness on a grand scale is an ambitious goal—but it didn’t stop Moore from trying. Rudy Ray Moore is a multi-hyphenate performer looking to propel his comedy career. After seeing Rico (Ron Cephas Jones), the local homeless man that visits where Rudy works, do stand-up, Moore decides to steal and refine Rico’s material. He assumes the character of Dolemite, a sharp, vulgar pimp who oozes confidence, and the “new” material kills in local clubs. Eventually, Moore signs a comedy record deal and charts on Billboard. Emboldened, he sets a new goal: to make a Dolemite film, exhausting all his personal expenses to do so. At the heart of Dolemite Is My Name is the smooth-talking man himself, played by Eddie Murphy. The actor has, since 2012, been quiet in the public eye, taking years-long breaks between films. In 2016, he resurfaced for the drama Mr. Church, his performance praised but the film critically panned. Being hailed as his “comeback” role, Dolemite finds Murphy in fit comedy shape, tackling this lead part with gusto. He embraces Moore’s slightly goofy enthusiasm and can-do attitude without a hint of mocking. For a character like Dolemite, so deeply rooted in the Blaxploitation era of the ’70s and frankly riddled with so many stereotypical elements, Murphy succeeds by being earnest, even when delivering Dolemite’s raunchiest lines. He reminds us he’s one of the best at balancing drama and comedy. A figure who could have been an offensive caricature in the wrong hands, Dolemite, in Craig Brewer’s film, is so much more; we go beyond the surface of the character, exploring one man’s quest for stardom and the entrepreneurial risks he took to be the talk of the town. We get a film befitting of Moore’s legacy while simultaneously reminding audiences the star power of Eddie Murphy. —Joi Childs



18. The Lobster

the_lobster_movie_poster.jpg Year: 2015
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Stars: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden, Olivia Colman, Ashley Jensen, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia, John C. Reilly
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

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Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up to international break-out Dogtooth ditches that film’s knotted familial pathology, but refuses to be any less insular. Instead, it expands, even bloats, Dogtooth’s logic as far as it’ll stretch. I know: That doesn’t make much sense, but stay with me—which is exactly how Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou assume the audience will approach The Lobster, starting with the familiar, leading man visage of Colin Farrell, gone full dad-bod for a role that is debatably the actor’s best example for his still unheralded genius. With a remarkable dearth of charm, Farrell inhabits David, a man who, upon learning that his wife has cheated on him and so must end their relationship, is legally required to check in to a hotel where he has 45 days to find a new mate, lest he be transformed into an animal of his choosing. David easily settles upon the titular namesake, the lobster, which he explains he picks because of their seemingly-immortal lifespans, the creatures like human ears growing and growing without end until their supposed deaths. At the hotel, David tries his best to warm to a beautifully soul-less woman, knowing his remaining days are numbered, but the depths to which she subjects his resolve eventually encourages him to plan an escape, through which he matriculates into an off-the-grid conglomerate of single folk, led by Léa Seydoux. There, of course, against all rules he has a meet-cute with another outsider (Rachel Weisz) involving elaborately designed sign language (a metaphor maybe, like much in Lanthimos’s world, for the odd ritual of dating), and they fall in love. The world of The Lobster isn’t a dystopian future, more like a sort of mundane, suburban Everywhere in an allegorical alternate universe. Regardless, Lanthimos and Filippou find no pleasure in explaining the foundations of their film, busier building an absurdly funny edifice over which they can drape the tension and anxieties of modern romance. In that sense, The Lobster is an oddly feminist film, obsessed with time and how much pressure that puts on people, especially women, to root down and find someone, no matter the cost. If you’ve ever had a conversation with a significant other concerned about the increasing dangers of becoming pregnant in one’s late 30s, then The Lobster—and its ambiguous but no less arresting final shot—will strike uncomfortably close to the home you’re told you should have by now but probably can’t afford. —Dom Sinacola



19. Tootsie

tootsie.jpg Year: 1982
Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, Bill Murray
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 119 minutes

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Can you imagine how audiences and critics might react to Tootsie if it came out in theaters today? Sydney Pollack’s film plays with gender roles and layers its portrait of an actor going full-drag with gay panic for giggles. You can just picture this film getting lambasted in 2015 for making a joke out of homophobia and for having the gall to ask viewers to sympathize with the plight of an actor who has to dress as a woman to find work. But the reason Pollack’s 1982 classic endures is because of its compassionate heart. This is a kind, empathetic movie that puts its hero, Dustin Hoffman’s cranky perfectionist thesp Michael Dorsey, in the shoes of his female peers to teach him (and us) a lesson, not to make snide jokes at the expense of the opposite sex. The humor is never mean-spirited; the message is rarely pompous, though when it is, that’s meant to be part of the point. Tootsie’s sharp comedy makes it a great piece of entertainment, but it’s the film’s sincere sensitivity that makes it timeless. —Andy Crump



20. Get Him to the Greek


get_him_to_the_greek_poster.jpg Year: 2010
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Stars: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Elisabeth Moss, Rose Byrne
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%
Rating: R
Runtime: 109 minutes

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Aldous Snow, the preening rock star Russell Brand played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, takes center stage in Get Him to the Greek, alongside a nervous, uptight young record label scout played by Jonah Hill. Brand’s one great American role perfectly captures his trademark mix of manic, ostentatious energy and wounded sensitivity. Greek has plenty of sharp-eyed scorn for the music business and the entertainment industry as a whole, but the depth and emotion that Brand brings to the film elevates it into something genuinely special.—Garrett Martin



21. Hail, Caesar!

hail-caesar.jpg Year: 2016
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Alden Ehrenreich, Christopher Lambert, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 106 minutes

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The period zaniness of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Hail, Caesar! is an ode to old Hollywood—and much more—as only they can do, tracing the efforts of James Brolin’s studio scandal fixer through a parade of 1950s soundstages, back lots and actors. His latest potential headline concerns the abduction of a Biblically epic movie star—George Clooney having a helluva good time doing his best Chuck Heston/Kirk Douglas amalgam—by what turns out to be a tea sandwich-serving think tank of communists. Other subplots have Scarlett Johansson’s starlet plotting out her unwed motherhood in the public eye and the screen makeover of an unsophisticated cowboy by Ralph Fiennes’ debonairly enunciating director, Laurence Laurentz. There are dueling gossip columnist twins (Tilda Swinton pulling double duty), a hapless film editor (Frances McDormand) and scattered movies-within-the-movie, which even pauses midway through for a thoroughly enchanting—and cheeky—Gene Kelly-styled song-and-dance number starring Channing Tatum as a heavily made-up matinee star with controversial extracurricular activities. Most of the main characters/performances take blatant inspiration from Hollywood legends of yore, and the cast seems to have as much fun as the Coens. Hail, Caesar! is by no means their best work, but it’s characteristically gorgeous, spiritedly acted and rife with political, religious and creative (sub)text for moviegoers as thoughtful and dorky as Joel and Ethan themselves. —Amanda Schurr



22. Mindhorn

mindhorn poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Sean Foley
Stars: Julian Barratt, Essie Davis, Richard McCabe, Alex Wyndham, Steve Coogan
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Julian Barratt gives a charismatic lead performance, using those chiseled cheekbones and glorious mustache in concert with uncommonly sad eyes to make his washed-up actor Richard Thorncroft both recognizable and worthy of empathy, despite his arrogance and stupidity. The rest of the cast is also strong, though largely overshadowed by Barratt’s magnetism. If Steve Coogan, who also produced, wants to continue spending large chunks of his time in very small, brutally funny roles in comedy movies (see: The Other Guys, In the Loop, and technically Hot Fuzz), that’s fine by me. Kenneth Branagh, shockingly, cameos as himself in one early scene where he auditions Richard for a Hamlet adaption—it’s nice to see he has a sense of humor about still being the go-to Shakespeare guy. It’s clear, in any case, that Mindhorn is a labor of love for the cast and crew.—Deborah Krieger



23. Frances Ha

frances-ha.jpg Year: 2012
Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Rating: R
Runtime: 86 minutes

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Frances Ha is endearing, kind and, in many ways, Noah Baumbach’s best movie to date. One could trace his films, from his debut (Kicking and Screaming) to his most recent (Greenberg) and see a slow but steady focus on the individual, as well as his abandonment of an ironic, sometimes caustic stance against the very characters he writes. It is as if Baumbach could only write a certain type of person—the privileged, socially crippled intellectual with either too much self-awareness or none at all—and for a while it seemed like even the writer himself couldn’t stand to be in the same room with such characters. This anger has faded, and what has emerged over his last few films, and culminated in Frances Ha, is an embrace of not only the flaws of his characters, but also his flaws as a filmmaker. He has settled down and created a film imbued with love, fun and melancholy. It feels simple and open and is a joy to watch.—Joe Peeler



24. The Lovebirds

lovebirds_poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Michael Showalter
Stars: Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Sparks, Anna Camp, Kyle Bornheimer
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%
Rating: R
Runtime: 87 minutes

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Michael Showalter updates the After Hours template with this fun romp, in which a modern, mundane couple who just broke up gets entangled in unexpected crime and danger. Rae and Nanjiani are a great comic duo who nail the mix of pettiness, tenderness and lived-in comfort of a couple who have already been going through the motions longer than it took to establish them; their blithe bickering and chatter, insistent whether they’re infiltrating a secret society orgy or about to be tortured, is consistently funny without feeling too quippy or sitcom-ish. There are a lot of movies like this—Date Night, Game Night, probably others that have the word “night” in the title—but The Lovebirds might be the sharpest one since Scorsese sent Griffin Dunne panicking through mid ‘80s Manhattan.—Garrett Martin



25. Observe and Report

netflix observe and report.jpg Year: 2009
Director: Jody Hill
Stars: Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta, Michael Peña, Anna Faris, Jesse Plemons
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%
Rating: R
Runtime: 86 minutes

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In 2009 comedy fans bought tickets for Observe and Report expecting Seth Rogen’s lovable stoner man-child schtick. Instead they had to confront the ugly, violent dark comedy that director Jody Hill perfected with his HBO shows Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals. Rogen is surprisingly good in a role that seems written for Danny McBride, a seething cocktail of confusion, depression, arrogance and anger. Anna Faris, Aziz Ansari, Michael Pena and a young Jesse Plemons round out a strong cast.—Garrett Martin



26. Always Be My Maybe

always-be-my-maybe-210.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Karan Soni
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 102 minutes

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A film written by and starring Ali Wong and Randall Park was always guaranteed to be a home run, but the endlessly funny and charming Always Be My Maybe truly exceeds all romcom expectations. The duo (who penned the script with Michael Golamco) play childhood friends who lose touch after an impulsive teenage romance ends badly. From there, Wong’s Sasha becomes a celebrity chef as Park’s Marcus continues to live at home and work for his father’s blue collar business after his mother’s tragic passing. They each have things to learn from one another, sure, but Always Be My Maybe doesn’t just end when romance blossoms; it leans into the complications of two adults with independent lives choosing to be together and figuring out how to make it all work. Part of that, crucially, includes both Marcus and Sasha playing supportive roles in one another’s careers rather than compromising and giving up their passions to be together. Director Nahnatchka Khan keeps the stylish film moving at a pleasant comedic clip throughout, and there’s a killer cameo appearance you will not want spoiled before you see the movie. Seriously, you should watch it right now. —Allison Keene



27. Jerry Maguire

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Year: 1996
Director: Cameron Crowe
Stars: Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Rating: R
Runtime: 138 minutes

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Besides acting as the megahit blockbuster of 1996, Jerry Maguire also quickly achieved the status of the modern day romantic-comedy done right. Certainly, between Say Anything and Almost Famous, writer/director Cameron Crowe has never been one to hide his inner softie. Jerry Maguire is no different, featuring career-best performances from Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. as well as litany of memorable lines still quoted to this day. And, let’s face it, whoever doesn’t get at least a little bit teary-eyed when Renee Zellweger proclaims, “You had me at hello,” is probably a Cylon spy who should be blasted away at once. —Mark Rozeman



28. Between Two Ferns: The Movie

between_two_ferns_movie_poster.png Year: 2019
Director: Scott Aukerman
Stars: Zach Galifianakis, Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Gaul, Matthew McConaughey
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 82 minutes

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Netflix originals are routinely criticized for their general low stakes vibe, like they’re the modern equivalent of old primetime made-for-TV movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s. You can’t really say that about Between Two Ferns: The Movie, because “low stakes” has been the entire point of Zach Galifianakis’s web series all along. This Funny or Die production sends Galifianakis and his public access crew (including Lauren Lapkus) on a cross-country jaunt to save their show and help Zach realize his dreams of being a legitimate late-night talk show host. Along the way they interview people like David Letterman, John Legend, Chance the Rapper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, and more. (And for some reason Phoebe Bridgers and that guy from The National show up for a musical number.) Scott Aukerman’s screenplay is as absurd and hilarious as you’d expect, and a game cast keeps it running smoothly throughout. Between Two Ferns: The Movie is basically the Citizen Kane of entirely unnecessary feature-length adaptations of one-joke web shows.—Garrett Martin



29. All About Nina

netflix all about nina.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Eva Vives
Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common, Chace Crawford, Clea DuVall, Beau Bridges
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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Eva Vives’ grimy, crusty black comedy about the comedy world works best in its primary mode: As a story about navigating that world as a woman, that woman being (surprise!) Nina (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an acerbic, sharp, blisteringly funny stand-up with a life out of sorts, a brutal drinking problem, and worse taste in men than her alcoholic upheavals leave in her mouth. (Her ex, played by Chace Crawford, hits her, hard, within the film’s first five minutes, and just a minute after that, we see them together basking in the morning afterglow of late night sex.) All About Nina functions well as a profile of its lead, and her past (at first unspoken) trauma, and how the things she’s lived through have shaped her as both a woman and as a comic. It functions less well by comparison as a rom-com, as Nina slowly, cautiously falls for Rafe (Common), an older, but gentle, honest man, who shows her the curative power of real adult love. Sort of. The film skirts the edges of eye-rolling cliché, mostly thanks to the blunt, bleak hilarity of its central thread. It helps that Winstead carries that frank tenor through her work, such that even when All About Nina courts excess sentiment it still speaks in a bitter language; she gives an absolute knockout performance, making her the strongest (and perhaps only) recommendation anyone needs for checking the movie out in the first place. —Andy Crump



30. The Other Guys

the_other_guys_netflix_poster.jpg Year: 2010
Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 107 minutes

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The Other Guys might be the least heralded collaboration between Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, but it foreshadowed McKay’s shift into politics with an animated closing credits sequence that digs into the then-ongoing economic crisis in great detail. That might be what it’s best remembered for, and it might not have the absurd brilliance of Step Brothers or Talladega Nights, but Other Guys shouldn’t be overlooked. Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are a great clash of personalities, and Steve Coogan, Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson are all hilarious in smaller roles.—Garrett Martin



31. Casa de Mi Padre

casa de mi padre.jpg Year: 2012
Director: Matt Piedmont
Stars: Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez, Nick Offerman, Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%
Rating: R
Runtime: 84 minutes

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Will Ferrell’s Spanish-language comedy is more than just a gimmick or one-note joke. It alternates between being a pitch perfect telenovela parody and a bloated, feature-length version of Ferrell’s more surreal Saturday Night Live work. Ferrell is wonderful, of course, but it also has great turns by Diega Luna and Gael García Bernal (who, yes, American film critics will always automatically associate with one another because of Y Tu Mamá También). There’s one scene with all three of them in a bar together that is one of the most scathing and hilarious criticisms of modern day America you’ll see in any comedy.—Garrett Martin



32. The Incredible Jessica James

incredible jessica james movie poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Jim Strouse
Stars: Jessica Williams, LaKeith Stanfield, Noël Wells, Taliyah Whitaker
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 85 minutes

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Jessica Williams plays Jessica James, a twenty-something theatre fanatic who’s trying to get one of her plays produced while simultaneously dealing with a breakup. The ex? Damon, played by the equally wonderful Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Short Term 12), who can’t manage to stay out of Jessica’s dreams. When she meets a new fling, played by the comically refreshing Chris O’Dowd, she begins to re-evaluate her love life while clinging to her life goals. When do you know you’ve made it? As lighthearted as the film can be, it’s rooted in an exploration of the deeper questions that any artist, or person for that matter, grapples with. Williams is hilarious, which we all know from her time on The Daily Show. She’s also incredibly powerful, showcasing a feminine strength that’s so crucial to this generation and a passion for her craft that’s the opposite of the indifference often associated with millennials. The film is perfect for a popcorn and beer night with the gals and guys. —Meredith Alloway



33. Swiss Army Man

swiss-army-man.jpg Year: 2016
Directors: Daniel Scheinert, Dan Kwan
Stars: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%
Rating: R
Runtime: 95 minutes

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It should be ridiculous, this. A buddy comedy built atop the premise of a man (Paul Dano) lugging around, and bonding with, a flatulent talking corpse (Daniel Radcliffe)—but cinema is a medium in which miracles are possible, and one such miracle occurs in Swiss Army Man. A film with such a seemingly unpalatable concept becomes, against all odds, a near-profound existential meditation. And, for all the increasingly absurd gags about the utilities of that talking corpse’s body—not just as a jet-ski propelled by bodily gas, but as a giver of fresh water through projectile vomiting and even as a compass through its erection—there’s not one iota of distancing irony to be found in the film. Directors Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan are absolutely serious in their attempts to not only re-examine some of the most universal of human experiences, but also explore the idea of a life lived without limits, casting off the shackles of societal constraints and realizing one’s best self. It’s a freedom that the Daniels project exuberantly into the film itself: Swiss Army Man is a work that feels positively lawless. Witness with amazement what bizarrely heartfelt splendors its creators will come up with next. —Kenji Fujishima



34. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

tucker and dale vs evil poster.jpg Year: 2010
Director: Eli Craig
Stars: Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Rating: R
Runtime: 88 minutes

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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



35. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

scott pilgrim poster.jpg Year: 2010
Director: Edgar Wright
Stars: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Brie Larson, Chris Evans, Alison Pill, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Schwartzman, Kieran Culkin
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 113 minutes

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In many ways, all of Edgar Wright’s films have been romantic comedies in some fashion. Shaun of the Dead just happens to have zombies and Hot Fuzz just happens to have two males as its romantic leads. In this way, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is perhaps Wright’s most clear-cut attempt at a rom-com. The story deals in a situation that is all too familiar in the relationship world—that of dealing with your romantic partner’s past romantic baggage. However, to paraphrase Scott Pilgrim’s own words, this emotional baggage (i.e., his girlfriend’s evil ex-boyfriends) is actively trying to kill him every 30 seconds. Just as in a musical, where characters start singing when emotions run too high, Scott Pilgrim dishes out videogame-style duels whenever emotional conflict comes into play. As heightened as Scott Pilgrim may seem at times, its undertones are all too relatable. —Mark Rozeman



36. The Artist

the-artist.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 100 minutes

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In his black-and-white ode to the Golden Age of Hollywood, Gallic writer-director Michael Hazanavicius honors form as well as content, packaging his romantic melodrama about the rise of a new ingénue and the fall of a silent movie star in 1920s and ’30s Los Angeles in luxurious black, white, and shades of shimmering silver. It’s a beautiful, ambitious, nostalgic endeavor that demonstrates its makers are, indeed, artists. —Annlee Ellingson



37. Silver Linings Playbook


silver-linings.jpg
Year: 2012
Director: David O. Russell
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Rating: R
Runtime: 122 minutes

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With leads as winning as Cooper and Lawrence, and Russell’s signature mix of clever and sincere dialogue, the hook is set. Every single detail doesn’t gel—Chris Tucker’s role as Danny, Pat Jr’s escape-prone friend from the treatment facility, seems a bit extraneous—but it doesn’t need to. By the end of the dance competition finale (yeah, there’s that), the audience, actors and director are on exactly the same page—and it’s Russell’s playbook.—Michael Burgin



38. The Little Hours

the little hours movie poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Jeff Baena
Stars: Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Rating: R
Runtime: 90 minutes

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Raunchy comedies rarely cop to such well-regarded sources: The Little Hours claims its basis lies within Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th-century novella collection The Decameron, which makes its structure, bawdiness and characterizations all feel appropriately pithy. A series of incidents involving three horny nuns—Alessandra, Genevra, and Fernanda (Alison Brie, Kate Micucci and Aubrey Plaza, respectively)—and sexy farmhand-on-the-run Massetto (played by Dave Franco in full romance novel cover mode), The Little Hours finds writer/director Jeff Baena (who minored in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at NYU) delighting in updating The Decameron’s light and witty stories, helped by the fact that Boccaccio’s language was opposed to the flowery erudition of most of the period’s texts. That translates to a very vulgar (and funny) movie both indebted to and different than a wide spectrum of vulgar nun and nunsploitation movies that have spanned porn, hauntings and thrillers promising both nude nuns and big guns.—Jacob Oller



39. Killer Klowns From Outer Space

killer klowns poster (Custom).jpg Year: 1988
Director: The Chiodo Brothers
Stars: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, Royal Dano, John Vernon
Rating: R
Runtime: 88 minutes

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Stephen, Charles and Edward Chiodo are a trio of siblings who have spent most of their careers working in practical movie effects, on everything from Critters to Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, but to horror fans they’ll always be known as those guys responsible for Killer Klowns From Outer Space. The titular monsters are actually aliens—it appears to be a series of incredible coincidences that everything about them is related to clowns. As in, their spaceship is a giant circus tent. Or the fact that they turn people into cotton candy before eating them. Or the fact that they’re all wearing floppy shoes and red ball noses. Coincidences, beautiful coincidences. The movie is a darkly comic story that never legitimately attempts to frighten—it’s saccharine faux-horror fun as silly and colorful as the clowns themselves. Today, it’s mostly worth seeing for the impressive makeup and FX work that the Chiodos managed to pull off on a small budget. Particularly memorable is the “shadow puppets” sequence, wherein one of the clowns uses what can only be described as Clown Magic to create a shadow T-Rex that first entertains, then devours, a crowd of onlookers. —Jim Vorel



40. Up in Smoke

hulu poster up ins moke.jpg
Year: 1978
Director: Lou Adler
Stars: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Stacy Keach
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%
Rating: R
Runtime: 86 minutes

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Between Adler’s inexperience, the influence of Robert Altman’s intentionally shambolic aesthetic, and Cheech & Chong’s trademark pot humor, Up in Smoke is a comedy that’s exceptionally loose and shaggy. It’s essentially a series of vignettes based around the duo’s love of drugs and music, largely adapted from their series of hit stand-up albums. Like a lot of first-time movies by popular comedians, it’s less interested in creating a unified film than in capturing the essence of what made Cheech & Chong popular in the first place. That’s made it both an artifact of a very specific time and place, but also a comedy that has transcended its era and remained relevant for decades.—Garrett Martin



41. Ace Ventura Pet Detective


ace ventura poster.jpg Year: 1994
Director: Tom Shadyac
Stars: Jim Carrey, Courteney Cox, Sean Young
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 86 minutes

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The character of Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is the definition of zany. And slightly deranged. And…bird-like. According to an Inside The Actors’ Studio interview, Carrey based Ace Ventura’s voice, clothes, walk, hair and mannerisms on the behavior of birds. To base an entire performance on birds or any animal and to get such hilarious results as Carrey had is a mark of an original actor.—Anita George



42. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-before-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Susan Johnson
Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 100 minutes

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the teen scene’s newest runaway hit, is a flat-out excellent film. It is not excellent “for a teen flick.” It is not excellent “for a romantic comedy.” It is excellent for a film. TATBILB fully inverts the 80/20 ratio: Within the first 20 minutes, all five of the deeply private love letters our daydreamy, emotionally buttoned-up protagonist Lara Jean (Lana Condor) has written to her childhood crushes over the years have been stolen and mailed out—including the one to her neighbor and best friend, Josh (Israel Broussard), who just happens to also be her older sister’s just barely ex-boyfriend. This swift puncturing of any protracted emotional dishonesty Lara Jean might have hoped to indulge in, well, forever, leaves the film’s final eighty minutes free for her to embrace some really radical emotional honesty. The importance of Lara Jean and her sisters being half-Korean, and the majority of the cast (along with Mahoro) non-white, is hard to overstate, but it isn’t the most impressive thing about the cast by a long shot. In a genre that can so often see its characters lean too far into caricature, Lara Jean’s world is instead populated with teens—and through them, love—you can believe in. —Alexis Gunderson



43. Little Evil

little evil poster (Custom).jpg Year: 2017
Director: Eli Craig
Stars: Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Bridget Everett, Clancy Brown, Sally Field, Owen Atlas
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 94 minutes

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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



44. Goon

goon movie poster.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Michael Dowse
Stars: Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Eugene Levy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Rating: R
Runtime: 90 minutes

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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



45. Sleeping With Other People

sleeping-with-other-people.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Leslye Headland
Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Jason Mantzoukas
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 95 minutes

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The romantic comedy is a genre crying out for an update. We’ve had a few worthy entries in the 21st century—the imaginative Amelie, the clever and quirky Silver Linings Playbook, even the irreverent Knocked Up. But none of those films embraced the genre and all its tropes quite like the latest from Leslye Headland does. With her third film, which is little more than 90 minutes of sexual tension building between two friends, Headland has managed to create a direct descendent of Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron—and make it just as uproariously funny as its forebears’ best works. Sleeping With Other People pushes at every boundary without ever feeling unnecessarily tawdry; it’s the Cards Against Humanity version of When Harry Met Sally (there’s even an “I’ll have what she’s having” moment involving a bottle of tea). Alison Brie could be our decade’s Meg Ryan, and Sudekis could be our Hanks—but there’s no doubt that Leslye Headland will keep making us laugh for years to come. —Josh Jackson



46. Baby Mama


netflix baby mama poster.jpg Year: 2008
Director: Michael McCullers
Stars: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Sigourney Weaver
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 99 minutes

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Baby Mama is not great. If you can get past the disappointment felt in the wake of high expectations for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s first big screen team-up, though, you’ll find a piece of Hollywood product that’s just charming enough to be worth your time. Fey and Poehler help elevate hit and miss material, and Steve Martin revives some of his early career absurdity in a great supporting role. It’s still not what we were hoping it would be back in 2008, but it’s far from a disaster.—Garrett Martin



47. Zack and Miri Make a Porno

zack-and-miri.jpg Year: 2008
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Traci Lords
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%
Rating: R
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Kevin Smith used the experiences of making his first film (Clerks) at night in the convenience store where he worked, and injected it into Zack and Miri Make a Porno, where cash-challenged roommates shoot their first adult film at night in the coffee shop where they work. Zack (Seth Rogen) and his partner/roommate/possible love-interest Miri (Elizabeth Banks) attend their high-school reunion where Miri tries to reacquaint herself with Bobby, her unrequited high-school crush hilariously played by Brendan Routh. When Miri learns Bobby’s “partner” is a gay porn star (Justin Long in a memorable performance) Miri is shattered but Zack is inspired, and the two begin to shoot their homemade porn film to help pay the rent. The audition scenes are priceless (use your imagination to learn Bubbles’ talent), but when Zack and Miri have to star in their own film they discover more than just sex. —Tim Basham



48. Mascots

mascots movie poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Christopher Guest
Stars: Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Christopher Guest, Ed Begley Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, Harry Shearer, Zach Woods
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 120 minutes

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“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



49. Nacho Libre

nacho_libre_poster.jpg Year: 2006
Director: Jared Hess
Stars: Jack Black, Héctor Jiménez, Ana de la Reguera
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%
Rating: PG
Runtime: 100 minutes

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Jared and Jerusha Hess’s follow-up to Napoleon Dynamite wasn’t the pop culture phenomenon that their first movie was, which is both a good and bad thing. It means Nacho Libre’s rep might be a little bit worse than it should be, but it also means it doesn’t feel as ancient and utterly played out as the extravagantly memed Dynamite. Nacho Libre isn’t a great comedy—the Hesses’ fixation on weirdness for weirdness’s sake remains a crutch, Jack Black can be a little too unhinged, and there’s a queasiness surrounding its depiction of Mexican culture—but there is some genuine hilarity to be found here. It’s one of the best showcases for Black’s peculiar talents. It’s a must-watch for wrestling fans, too.—Garrett Martin



50. Starsky & Hutch

starsky_hutch_poster.jpg Year: 2004
Director: Todd Phillips
Stars: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Vince Vaughan,
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 100 minutes

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The comedy director du jour, Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Old School), is clearly comfortable here. And fortunately for him, the source material isn’t held holy by a legion of rabid fans, thus freeing it up for some creative interpretation. The Starsky and Hutch characters are the spitting image of their TV show precursors, but they’re also parodies of them (although the last few seasons of the show were much goofier and more focused on Starsky and Hutch’s relationship than the first season, which was a serious cop drama).

Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller prove once again that they’re the best comedic team since Farley and Spade. Stiller is hilarious as the clumsy, spastic, yet poignantly driven Starsky (whose mother was on the force for 20 years before she died). The scene where Stiller takes part in a disco dance-off after unknowingly loading himself up on some of Vaughn’s “New Coke” is wonderfully reminiscent of the walk-off scene in Stiller and Wilson’s modeling spoof Zoolander. And Wilson is as cool as his partner is clumsy.—Scott Sloan

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