With things as they are in the world, it’s important than ever to kick back and have a laugh every once in a while. There are a whole range of comedies, from classics to modern laughers, available on demand to help you there- in fact, you’re probably spoiled for choice. Luckily for you, we’ve picked out a selection of side-splitters currently available to stream.
We’ve tried to maintain a good mix of eras and styles and hopefully there will be some that you haven’t seen or heard of before, as well as a few you’d like to revisit – this is our pick of the 25 best comedy films on Netflix UK.
This list will be updated regularly to reflect new releases and removals.
Woody Allen’s best film finds him in fourth-wall-busting form as Alvy Singer, who’s trying to figure out why his relationship with the titular character has failed. Allen’s impeccable script keeps his endlessly cynical and self-sabotaging protagonist from being unbearable and, indeed, makes this one of the funniest, saddest romantic comedies ever made – approach with caution, if you’ve recently been through a break-up. Otherwise, watch out for one of the great cameos of all time, from Christopher Walken (who else?) as Annie’s brother.
Back To The Future
How many times have we seen this before? Boy meets girl. Boy wants to take girl out to the lake. Boy is sidetracked by his mad scientist friend’s time travel experiment and gets stranded in 1955, trying to make sure his parents get together in high school so that he can be born. We might know about that old tale, but Back To The Future remains the funniest and most imaginative time travel comedy ever made.
The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges is the carefree Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, whose older, richer namesake (David Huddleston) is targeted by kidnappers, nihilists and other unsavoury sorts. It’s a shaggy dog story with a standout performance by John Goodman as the Dude’s Vietnam-obsessed bowling buddy. If the cultural impact of the Coen brothers’ cult comedy isn’t obvious already, it has literally spawned its own religion, called Dudeism. You needn’t join the Church of the Latter-Day Dude, but we can all learn a thing or two from this one.
“What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.” Danny Rubin and director Harold Ramis deliver the platonic ideal of a high concept comedy script by plunging jaded weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) into a time-loop of his least favourite day of the year until he learns to be a better man. By all conventional measures, it’s a flawless movie, but this gains bonus points for containing ever more new details (look, it’s little Michael Shannon!) on repeat viewings, just as Phil himself gains a new perspective through his repeated experiences.
Tom Hanks’ infrequent guest appearances on Saturday Night Live are always a welcome reminder of his comic talents, which don’t get quite as much of a workout in his more dramatic fare. In Joe Dante’s hilarious paranoid thriller, he plays suburban dad Ray Peterson, who suspects the secretive new neighbours of mischief and evil-doing. Hanks is at the peak of his powers here, and the supporting cast, including Carrie Fisher as his long-suffering wife, Bruce Dern as a Vietnam veteran and Corey Feldman as a gleeful agitator, helps to make this one of the most memorable treats of its decade.
The funniest of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy is a macabre and outrageously quotable mashup of Midsomer Murders and Michael Bay, in which top London cop Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is re-assigned to the sleepy idyll of Sandford. With the help of his awestruck partner Danny Butterman, (Nick Frost) he finds there’s more to the town than meets the eye. Beat for beat and gag for gag, it effortlessly matches the high watermark of cop spoofs like The Naked Gun for laughs, with a score of British character actors, including Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton and Paddy Considine, lined up to play along.
The Court Jester
If Game Of Thrones cheered up a bit, you might get something like Danny Kaye’s musical parody of the Robin Hood legend, in which a loyal subject of the infant king leads the battle to save his kingdom from a dastardly pretender. Unusually for a musical, it’s fast and furious in its pacing and it’s often given to verbal gymnastics and immaculate slapstick, led magnificently by Kaye’s performance. With a budget of $4m, it was the most expensive comedy ever made in its day and though it was a costly box office bomb, it has deservedly found its audience.
Hunt For The Wilderpeople
Strictly speaking, “Sam Neill hates kids and hides in the trees until he doesn’t hate kids” is not a genre, but with Taika Waititi’s comedy adventure, it’s two for two on generating modern classics. Hunt For The Wilderpeople pairs Neill’s cantankerous bushman Hec with Julian Dennison’s irrepressible tearaway Ricky Baker as they traverse the wilderness of New Zealand on the run from social services. Inventive, moving and utterly hilarious, this is Waititi’s most “majestical” work to date.
Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb
General Jack D. Ripper goes off reservation and orders airborne units to drop hydrogen bombs in Russia, setting off a chain of events that could lead to the end of the world. Meanwhile, George C. Scott and numerous Peter Sellerses scramble to try and avert catastrophe from the US government’s war room. Stanley Kubrick’s evergreen satire of Cold War politics is as potent now as it ever was – even though the world stage is continuously populated by people who might get worried about mineshaft gaps or precious bodily fluids, you’ll laugh to keep from crying.
Martin McDonagh’s debut feature is as hilarious as it is profoundly sad. Two hitmen hide out in Belgium for a fortnight after a job gone wrong – Colin Farrell mopes and whinges that he can’t spend the whole two weeks in the pub and Brendan Gleeson is the wiser head who tries to keep him in line. It’s heavier than many of the comedies on this list, but the profane interplay between the characters, especially when Ralph Fiennes arrives as their boss, is endlessly quotable.
Few comedies justify being anywhere near two hours long, but this is one of the good ones. Robert De Niro is a bounty hunter tasked with bringing accountant Charles Grodin back to Los Angeles, but the easy, so-called “midnight run” turns out to be a cross-country battle of wits with the FBI, the mafia and the accountant himself. Grodin has never been funnier and De Niro is a fine comic foil – one of the best buddy comedies of its era.
The 40 Year Old Virgin
Judd Apatow’s directorial debut is arguably still his best work. As prurient as the premise sounds to the uninitiated, it works so well because Steve Carell’s Andy is a great guy who just happens to have held onto his virginity for four decades on Earth. Paul Rudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogen are the co-workers who become obsessed with getting him laid, but this is a genuinely sweet and funny effort from the Apatow stable, with an exceptionally talented cast making the most of a strong script.
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists
Aardman’s raucous adaptation of Gideon Defoe’s children’s books is a tour de force of visual gags and cheesy jokes that deserves more praise. The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) really wants to win the coveted Pirate of the Year award, but gets himself into trouble with Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and a ravenous Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) along the way. From gorgeous stop motion cinematography to terrific voice performances, this is as good as Ham Day.
Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal are electric together in this underrated action comedy about two wise-ass Chicago cops, who are trying to survive what The Simpsons once called “ret-irony” during their 30 days’ official notice, so that they can retire and run a bar in Florida. They don’t make them as zingy as this any more, nor do they make anything quite as 1980s, right down to the banging theme song and the freeze-frame ending. It turns into more of an action movie before the end, but the characters’ chemistry keeps it lighter and funnier than the likes of Lethal Weapon.
Wet Hot American Summer
Released in 2000, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Bradley Cooper and Amy Poehler are among the 16 year olds spending a summer at Camp Firewood, dealing with life, love and the imminent camp talent show. This is essential nonsense, taking the trope of adults playing children to its illogical extreme. Furthermore, you should also check out the Netflix Original prequel series, First Day Of Camp, which was filmed 15 years later with all of the original cast still playing 16 years old.
Adam McKay was Oscar nominated for directing The Big Short, but for our money, this is his masterpiece. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play the large adult children of Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins, first fighting and then becoming best friends with disastrous and flabbergastingly funny results. It’s a kind of reverse Bugsy Malone, in which most of the characters should be children but they’re played by adults instead, and it’s glorious to behold.
Before this year’s Deadpool, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick made a big impression with Zombieland, in which Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson team up to try and survive in a world overrun by zombies. In another era, Columbus and Tallahassee might have been played by John Wayne and Woody Allen, but the chemistry between the two leads does just fine, next to sparky support from Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin and another of cinema’s greatest cameos, by Bill effing Murray.
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
There’s no way to explain how funny it is to watch Alan Tudyk tearfully explain how a teenager threw himself into a woodchipper – you’re just going to have to see it for yourself. Tudyk and Taylor Labine play the titular hillbillies in this wickedly funny inversion of the usual cabin in the woods horror formula. Far from the feared violent stereotypes they represent, Tucker and Dale just want to enjoy the holiday home they’re renovating, but are flummoxed by the sudden spate of camping youngsters dropping dead in grisly ways around them.
Mel Brooks grew up watching westerns and Universal horror movies, and in 1974, he unleashed a double whammy of Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. The latter is currently streaming and offers one of the greatest performances by the late, great Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson, who is tempted to resume his ancestor’s experiments. If you’ve never seen it, catch up before Brooks’ musical stage adaptation hits theatres this summer.
What We Did On Our Holiday
The creators of Outnumbered are behind this utterly berserk family comedy. David Tennant and Rosamund Pike take their quick-witted and inquisitive brood up to Scotland for Billy Connolly’s birthday, trying to hide the fact that they’re undergoing a divorce. The innocuous title brilliantly belies what then goes unexpectedly wrong, so without spoiling anything, this is a delightfully dark stuff with a quartet of superb performances from Connolly and the three young leads.
The Nice Guys
Ryan Gosling was nominated all over the shop for his turn in last year’s La La Land, but for our money, the real revelation was his turn as a clueless but endlessly fortunate gumshoe in Shane Black’s underrated 1970s caper. He and Russell Crowe are the fumbling, grumbling detectives whose confidence far exceeds their actual ability, while Gosling’s daughter wisely cuts through their well meaning antics. If only for the slapstick scene where Gosling tries to multitask on the toilet, it’s a must-see.
A New Leaf
Written and directed by its star, Elaine May, this flawless anti-rom-com features Walter Matthau as spoilt man-baby Henry Graham, who burns through his inheritance and plots to marry and bump off May’s painfully shy heiress in order to replenish his funds. Matthau plays charmingly charmless to a tee and while May’s Henrietta is much too adorable to be murdered, the dry wit and macabre tone constantly leaves you wondering how it’s all going to end.