The 10 Funniest Movies on Netflix

The 10 Funniest Movies on Netflix


“Laughter is the best medicine.” “We could all use an escape right now.” “I just want to turn my brain off.” Clichés all, but some things become cliché because they’re true — and right now, while we’re all cooped up in varying states of worry for the foreseeable future, there are worse ideas than queuing up a comedy and taking your mind off … well, everything.

With that in mind, here are some of the most effective laughter delivery systems currently on Netflix:

Stream it here.

There’s more Python on Netflix than you can shake a dead parrot at, including the full series of “Flying Circus,” compilation packages from that show, live performances, documentaries and their controversial 1979 skewering of biblical epics, “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.” But the highlight is “Holy Grail,” the troupe’s beloved 1975 sendup of the King Arthur legend, featuring such classic bits as the never-say-die Black Knight, the inventively profane French guards, the Knights Who Say Ni! and the fourth-wall-breaking opening credits and conclusion. (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

For sheer laughs per minute, it’s hard to top this 1988 gag fest from the creators of “Airplane!,” who turned their short-lived TV comedy series “Police Squad!” into a sidesplitting spoof of cop movie clichés. (Its lesser, but still enjoyable, 1991 sequel “The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear” is also on Netflix.) Leslie Nielsen is a deadpan delight as Lt. Frank Drebin, a police detective so bumbling he makes Clouseau look like Columbo; Nielsen knew, as the best comic actors did, that the only way to sell this silly material was with the straightest possible face. (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

It is easy to imagine Bill Murray and the co-writer and director Harold Ramis taking the premise of a smarmy jerk who relives the same day over and over again and turning it into an ’80s-style “high concept” comedy, full of wisecracks and sitcom situations. Instead, they crafted both an extension of and an antidote to earlier collaborations like “Stripes” and “Caddyshack,” reveling in the dry wit and bitter sarcasm of the typical Murray protagonist — and then daring him to be better. (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

Good news for Murray fans: three of his funniest pictures are currently in the Netflix rotation, including this 1996 comedy from the Farrelly brothers. Woody Harrelson is in top-notch dirtbag form as a hard-luck former bowling champ who takes the Amish whiz kid Randy Quaid on the road as his manager and hustler. It’s a comic riff on “The Color of Money,” affording opportunities aplenty for the Farrellys’ signature style of gross-out burlesque. (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

Murray’s appearance as Dustin Hoffman’s bemused roommate is one of the high points of Sydney Pollack’s 1982 smash, in which Hoffman riffs on his own “difficult” reputation by playing a struggling New York actor who finally finds employment by masquerading as a tough, middle-aged actress. “Tootsie” deftly mixes screwball comedy, social commentary, gentle romance, and media satire, culminating in a third-act reveal as satisfying as any door-slamming farce. Or, as Murray puts it, “That is one nutty hospital.” (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

Will Smith is so good at saving the world, he rarely gets the chance to flex his considerable romantic charm on the big screen. He filled that niche a bit here, as a relationship expert whose latest client (a sweet and likable Kevin James) proves something of a challenge — one that arrives just as he meets the woman of his own dreams (Eva Mendes). The director Andy Tennant mines plenty of laughs from Smith’s built-in swagger and James’s customary oafishness before turning those personas inside out. At the same time, Smith and Mendes generate real chemistry, provoking a genuine rooting interest in the midst of this lightweight romp. (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay first partnered up on “Saturday Night Live,” and continued that collaboration on the big screen, with McKay co-writing and directing several of Ferrell’s funniest vehicles. Some prefer “Step Brothers” (if so, hurry; it leaves Netflix at the end of the month), but don’t sleep on this wickedly smart spoof of tough-guy buddy cop movies, which unexpectedly twists into a takedown of white-collar crime in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown — foreshadowing McKay’s later success with “The Big Short.” (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

John Hughes may have made more poignant or romantic teen comedies during his mid-80s heyday, but this was his funniest picture: confident, brash and eminently quotable. Matthew Broderick is the unflappably cool title character, who decides to take a mental health day — not only for himself and his adoring girlfriend (Mia Sara), but also for his uptight best pal (Alan Ruck). Together, they crash a fancy restaurant, a midday parade, and a very expensive car, all while humiliating a buzzkill school administrator. (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

This road movie was a revelation at the time of its release: a mainstream studio comedy concerning three drag queens, all played by marquee movie stars, free of the condescension and gay panic so typical of ’90s popular culture. Patrick Swayze is disarming as the den mother of the trio, whose cross-country trip to the Miss Drag Queen of America Pageant is diverted by car trouble into a back-road small town, and Wesley Snipes delivers his one-liners with screwball snap. But John Leguizamo steals the show as a “drag princess” in training; his performance is energetic, upbeat and enjoyable, and the movie offers much of the same. (Read the New York Times review.)

Stream it here.

Mike Myers’s out-of-his-time swinging superspy has become such a cultural cliché, his catchphrases so overused by your least funny friends, that it’s easy to forget how delightfully clever and deliciously weird the source material can be — dizzy riffs on Peter Sellers’s multicharacter romps, parodying both the hedonism of the past and the caution of the present. All three have their moments, but the highlight is this middle installment, which introduces both the inexplicable “Mini-Me” and the grotesque “Fat Bastard.” (Read the New York Times review.)



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