The best comedies on Netflix UK
Mark Harrison | On 21, Aug 2016
With things as they are in the world, it’s more important than ever to kick back and have a laugh every once in a while. There are a whole range of comedy films on Netflix UK, from classics to modern laughers, 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. In alphabetical order, here are the 25 best comedy films now on Netflix UK.
This list will be updated regularly to reflect new releases and removals.
This Abraham-Zucker-Zucker classic is the granddaddy of parody movies and we scarcely need to explain why this is one of the funniest comedies ever made. Reworking an actual disaster movie called Zero Hour, the film has an ex-fighter pilot with a fear of flying take control of a Boeing 707, after the pilots come down with food poisoning. The exhaustive gag rate is absolutely peerless, guaranteeing that if any joke falls flat, there’ll be another gut-buster along in the next 10 seconds.
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.
Jack Lemmon is Bud Baxter, who slaves away his days at a New York insurance company by day and lets his flat out to senior colleagues and their mistresses by night, in Billy Wilder’s quick and witty romantic comedy. When his boss (Fred MacMurray) starts fooling around with the lift attendant (Shirley MacLaine) whom he loves, Bud has a whole heap of trouble on his hands, romance-wise.
This affectionate ode to blaxploitation and martial arts movies of the 1970s stars Michael Jai White as Black Dynamite, a former secret agent who declares war on drugs in his community, after his brother is killed by The Man. Over 90 delirious minutes, the stakes escalate ridiculously, but once it gets to where it’s going, it all makes some sort of sense. To paraphrase the film itself, its tendency towards scientific biological transmogrifications is matched only by its zest for kung-fu foolishness.
A day in the life of Dante Hicks, a shiftless convenience store employee, who’s called into work on his day off and has to contend with the idiotic customers, the hockey team who need him to play that day and the mischief of his colleague, Randall. Kevin Smith’s debut feature is a triumph of indie filmmaking, made on a shoestring, but full of the filthy and observant comedy that instantly became his trademark.
Coming To America
Prince Akeem of Zamunda yearns to marry for love and postpones his arranged marriage by going to work in a second-rate fast food restaurant in the United States. This is an irresistible rom-com with some of the finest production design in any comedy – as lofty as the royal family’s customs may be, the fictional country in which they rule feels lived-in, rather than ridiculous, and the movie really comes alive when it reaches the streets of New York. Eddie Murphy plays multiple roles for the first time here, and although this would become a bad habit later on, Coming To America may be his finest hour.
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.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
An effete British con artist (Michael Caine) and a brash young American (Steve Martin) butt heads over who will rule a small town on the French riviera, with their professional rivalry staked on swindling a young woman out of $50,000. From the title down, Frank Oz’s remake of Ralph Levy’s Bedtime Story feels like a holdover from another era and its good old fashioned capering makes it essential viewing, especially for fans of Caine and/or Martin.
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.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
An Oscar-winning nesting-doll of a story, related by Zero (Tony Revolori and F. Murray Abraham), the lobby boy turned proprietor of the titular hotel, about his randy mentor, Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes). For a comedy, Wes Anderson’s vibrant concoction of equal parts Tintin and Hitchcock is surprisingly full of sadness and nostalgia, but these serve to throw the really funny bits into sharper relief, making for an epic farce with light and shade to spare.
A Hard Day’s Night
At the peak of Beatlemania, director Richard Lester came along and put John, Paul, George and Ringo in the first ever music video, chronicling a day in the life of the global mega-stars, as they deal with fans, coppers and Paul’s interfering granddad (played by the great Wilfred Brambell). Undoubtedly one of the most influential comedies ever made, this is a frenzied and immensely likeable trifle with an unimprovable soundtrack and terrific acting from the Fab Four.
Second-generation stuntman Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) must perform a death-defying feat in order to save, and subsequently kick the ass of, his ailing stepfather (Ian McShane). The Lonely Island are well known for their Digital Shorts on Saturday Night Live, but their debut feature was an underdog story in every sense, and it remains criminally under-appreciated. South Park writer Pam Brady’s script offers similarly surreal non-sequiturs to the Anchorman films, but it has buckets of charm of its own.
Kung Fu Hustle
Since his humble beginnings in children’s TV, director Stephen Chow has perfected a style called Mo Lei Tau, meaning “nonsense”, and the apex of this discipline is Kung Fu Hustle, a berserk mobster movie about super-powered residents defending their housing complex from the Axe Gang. This is a dazzling action-comedy, and as close to a fully live acton Looney Tunes movie as you’ll ever see. (If you like this, look out for Chow’s Shaolin Soccer too, which is also available on Netflix.)
After his wife leaves him for another man, David (Colin Farrell) is a single man who has been dispatched to The Hotel, where he must find a romantic partner in 40 days, or submit to being transformed into a beast of his choice. Yorgos Lanthimos’ wickedly weird dystopian love story was one of the funniest films of 2015 and if you missed it in cinemas, it’s a must-see. It’s cold to the touch, but warmed through by frequent fits of surreal humour.
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.
George Kellerman (Jack Lemmon, again) has to be at the most important job interview of his life in New York City, but he and his wife (Sandy Dennis) stumble into a series of delays, strikes and demonstrations in the Big Apple in the 24 hours leading up to it. Lemmon’s indomitable screen presence lends great pathos to George’s desperate and super-litigious antics, while Dennis makes an endlessly supportive foil, but it’s the relentless pile-up of misfortunes that makes it impossible to look away from the Kellermans’ plight.
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.
An early entry in the Coen brothers’ canon finds Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter plotting to relieve a rich furniture magnate of one of their newborn quintuplets, when they discover that they can’t have children of their own. Still celebrated as one of the very best of the Coens’ movies, and aside from the impossibly good infant acting on display, Raising Arizona is fit to burst with slapstick violence, zingy dialogue and surprising emotional depth.
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.
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 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.
Team America: World Police
Broadway actor Gary is recruited to the paramilitary organisation Team America in order to take down a terrorist plot orchestrated by Kim Jong-il in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s puppet parody of Bruckheimer blockbusters. It takes no prisoners when it comes to these movies, literally including a sad ballad about how much Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor sucked in its superb songbook. It’s still their most recent film to date, perhaps because it was such a herculean effort of production design and direction, but the result is no less funny 12 years after the peak of its topical powers.
22 Jump Street
Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s sequel to their implausibly funny reboot of 21 Jump Street is implausibly even funnier, while also serving as a meta-commentary on comedy sequels just doing the same stuff all over again. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are given “Cate Blanchett” with the budget and sent to college this time around, where they have to bust another drug ring and re-evaluate their bromance.
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.
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.
This year’s long-awaited sequel was a bit of a let down, but Ben Stiller’s male modelling comedy remains as funny as ever. Consigned to the out crowd and rendered friendless by a freak gasoline fight accident, Derek Zoolander (Stiller) is exploited by fashion designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell) as part of a plot to assassinate the Malaysian prime minister. As with various other films on our list, there are quotes and cameos galore, but the diminished return in Zoolander 2 only shows how rare it is to get it as right as this one does.