Laughter is the best remedy when things are at their darkest, and boy are things bleak. Between geopolitical scandals, governmental incompetence, and global climate change, you're probably in need of some escape. I've compiled the best Netflix movies and shows to watch when you're stoned, the best action movies, and best documentaries on Netflix, movies to watch when you're tripping, the best movies to watch when you're heartbroken, the finest Oscar-nominated movies new to Netflix, and movies on Netflix that pass the Bechdel test, but what about some gentle caresses for your funny bone? Here are the best comedies to watch right now on Netflix (US):
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
Alongside The Mask, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective cemented Jim Carrey as the consummate over-performer back in 1994. But where the debut Ventura film peters out with its sports-bro affectations and a transphobic finale that’s more mean than funny, When Nature Calls succeeds by doing what the pet detective does best: going batty. Here’s a fun fact: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was written and directed by Steve Oedekerk, of Kung Pow! Enter the Fist fame.
Next to Spicoli ordering a pizza in detention, is there a more singular American teen-movie moment than when Eugene Levy catches Jason Biggs fucking a cherry pie? Jim and Nadia’s nonconsensual livestreaming moment doesn’t hold up in 2018, not even with Blink-182 tuning in, but lest anyone forget, this is the film that made Seann William Scott famous.
Billy Bob Thornton is one of the best, and most underrated American actors working today. He was Oscar-worthy in Sling Blade, which he also wrote and directed. He was unforgettable as Lorne Malvo in the first season of FX’s Fargo. And as Willie T. Soke, the alcoholic anti-hero in Ghost World director Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa, he’s as downright reprehensible as it gets. Also, rest in peace, Bernie Mac.
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Remember The Zoo Story? Well, this right here is also a pitch-black dog torture comedy, but don’t let that dissuade you from watching what’s ultimately a stylish and supremely satisfying debut film from Bong Joon-Ho, the director of Okja, Snowpiercer, and The Host.
Following the breakout success of Super Troopers and Club Dread, the Broken Lizard comedy troupe turned their attention to the dumb-as-dogshit world of drinking games, and actually made something fun and inclusive out of it. What makes Beerfest work is great characters, from PhD chemist Steve "Fink" Finklestein to drinking game wizard turned male prostitute Barry Badrinath, along with perfectly selected cameos like Das Boot star Jürgen Prochnow as a Bavarian beer baron.
Burn After Reading
Call this one Fargo-lite. The black comedy starts bleak and ends bleaker after alcoholism and infidelity sets CIA analyst Osbourne Cox (George Clooney) off on a soul-searching quest to write a memoir. This underappreciated entry in the Coen brothers’ catalog also features Brad Pitt as a total fucking moron (he’s great at it), and cinematography by the legendary Emmanuel Lubezki.
Damn, I have to explain why you should watch Caddyshack? OK, here goes: Golfers, gophers, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray. And if you haven’t seen it already, do not continue on with this list until you have. This right here is one of the all-time greatest American comedies, right up there with Airplane!, Animal House, and Coming to America.
Disney’s semi-true tale of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team features all the trappings of a classic sports comedy: an underdog story, a down-on-his-luck coach (the inimitable John Candy, in this case), and a sing-along theme song. If you haven’t watched Cool Runnings since you were a kid, why not now?
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
When Freaks and Geeks fan favorite, Jason Segel, wrote a movie for Judd Apatow, few expected it to be as charming or as hilarious as this. Featuring never-better roles from Mila Kunis and Russell Brand, this one will have you forgetting your own Sarah Marshall, but not forgetting Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Or something.
The least funny thing about this movie is that it came out the same year three NHL enforcers—the guys who get in the fistfights—died of complications related to head trauma. The funniest part is that Superbad co-writer Evan Goldberg teamed up with Jay Baruchel to write a hockey-fistfighting movie starring Seann William Scott as an anti-homophobic Stifler.
I Love You, Man
Twitter user John-Michael Bond wrote, “The most unbelievable part of the Bible is a 32-year-old man with 12 close friends.” And that is pretty much the basis for this 2009 bromantic comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. Need some more platonic pet names to call your best bud? Watch this film, directed by Zoolander and Meet the Parents co-writer John Hamburg.
For the uninitiated, the narrative non-conventions of Bollywood mean it’s a genre that won’t immediately make a lot of sense. But for those willing to take the plunge, Jaal, technically an action-thriller, is all the right amounts of basketball-dance-fight-in-gravity-defying-moon boots.
Jackass: Number Two
Mac and Devin Go to High School
There’s something inherently funny about rappers Wiz Khalifa, 30, and Snoop Dogg, 46, putting the high back in high school. Add the fact that all the “prop” weed was real—real enough to get the production kicked out of its original shooting location, an actual high school—and you’ve certainly got the perfect recipe for a stoner comedy.
Callie Khouri, the Academy Award–winning screenwriter of Thelma & Louise, directed this female-led crime comedy. It stars Diane Keaton, Katie Holmes, and Queen Latifah—a combination that will definitely make you feel old—but that alone makes it way more interesting than 99 percent of films in the genre.
Meet the Parents
There are a lot of good Robert De Niro movies out there, but few of them are on Netflix. The two-time Academy Award–winning actor’s comedic chops get their due opposite Ben Stiller in this mega-successful family comedy, which has about as many memorable lines as Zoolander (which came not shortly after). “I have nipples, Greg. Can you milk me?”
Following his performances in School of Rock and Orange County, with Nacho Libre Jack Black fully filled the vacuum left behind after Jim Carrey stopped doing over-the-top comedy. The story of a dimwitted monk who just wants to be a luchador is just as funny today as it was when it came out in 2006, thanks in large part to the perfect pairing of Black with the off-kilter humor of Napoleon Dynamite creators Jared and Jerusha Hess.
I’m waiting for Marlon Wayans’s Netflix deal to kick off a Wayans-issaince, because now is when we could really use it. This one co-stars Regina Hall in a Groundhog Day–type story wherein Wayans keeps waking up, in the buff, on the floor of a hotel elevator. What a nightmare.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Will Ferrell went all-American for this full-throated parody of/paean to NASCAR culture. Co-starring John C. Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen, it’s essential viewing for fans of the full-grown baby-man genre (along with other Ferrell favorites Anchorman, Elf, and Old School).
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
The story behind this 1995 road comedy in drag, starring John Leguizamo, Wesley Snipes, and Patrick Swayze as three gay queens headed cross-country, is every bit as good as the film—so you should read it. Basically even though Steven Spielberg personally vouched for the screenplay, it was a tough sell during a time when the realities of the AIDS epidemic had been swept back under the rug in Hollywood. Nevertheless, the film emerged as a modest box-office success, and today it remains some of the most interesting work by its three leading men (plus it has an incredible cameo by Robin Williams).
Legendary director John Landis brought comedic stars Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy together for an 80s-ass take on Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. Basically, it’s like Wall Street but glorifying good deeds instead of greed.
You knew this one starred Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. But did you know Stiller directed, and co-wrote the screenplay with Idiocracy co-writer Etan Cohen and The Leftovers star Justin Theroux? Chew on that next time you’re watching Tom Cruise chew-out Matthew McConaughey.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Few comedies approach the scale and scope of an epic, but Walk Hard is one of those films. The fictional account of Johnny Cash-type Dewey Cox is basically a biographical parody of rock ’n’ roll itself, in America and abroad. Come for the earnest skewering of cliches portrayed in biopics like Ray, stay for Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman as the India-era Beatles.
Everything you need to know about sports culture in America can be summed up with the single line “Water sucks. Gatorade is better.”
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers might be the only likeable pair of pickup artists on the planet. If you’re the type of “motorboatin’ sonofabitch” who takes this kind of approach to getting laid seriously, there’s a reckoning coming for your lying ass. For the rest of you, who aren’t so stupid as to apply in real life the things you see in movies, this one’s as devilish as the idea of getting a date at a funeral. (The idea!)
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