The Best Comedies on Netflix Right Now (April 2021)

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The Best Comedies on Netflix Right Now (April 2021)

Netflix’s focus on original content is really starting to impact its lineup of movies. You’ll see a lot of Netflix originals on the list below, but not enough to make up for all the classics that have fallen out of rotation over the last few years. At one point this list had 50 movies on it every month; now it’s usually only 30 movies deep. At this point we might have to sit through every one of those Adam Sandler movies to see if any are actually good enough to recommend.

Instead of highlighting what was lost, let’s focus on the good news. Netflix’s best original comedy yet, Bad Trip, made its debut in March, and immediately hit our top 10. Also new this month are Tenacious D’s underrated first movie, Paul Rudd’s low-key Our Idiot Brother, and one of the biggest comedies of the ‘00s: Legally Blonde. They’re all perfectly fine.

Anyway. Enough blather. Let’s take a quick trip through the 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 (RIP!) Rule—yeah, they’re not better movies than, say, The Artist, but they definitely make me laugh more.

Here are the best comedies on Netflix as of April 2021.

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. 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



3. Superbad


superbad poster.png Year: 2007
Director: Greg Mottola
Stars: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Martha MacIsaac, Emma Stone
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Rating: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

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Every generation of teens has its generation of teen movies, and Greg Mottola’s Superbad is the epitome of mine. In Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), my friends and I had a mirror for our own insecurity and awkwardness—they were our modern-day Anthony Michael Halls. In Fogell/McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), we had an icon of weird who somehow ended up a winner, a sort of photonegative of Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick). And in Superbad’s constant dick jokes (care of a script by namesakes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg), we had an accurate representation of the way we all talked, maturity be damned. The film would join the pantheon of mid-2000s comedies—most notably Anchorman and Step Brothers—that created a white-adolescent-boy language made up entirely of lewd, absurd references. It’s a rom-com in many respects, but unlike its predecessors, Superbad is a romance between two buddies, a story wherein the ostensible sex drive is secondary to Platonic need. Most of John Hughes’ ’80s oeuvre centers on the cringe-worthy struggle of X character getting Y other character to notice their existence in order to have Y inevitably fall for X. No matter what else Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink have to say, their endgame remains Molly Ringwald getting with the correct Good Guy. Ditto Amy Heckerling’s iconic contributions to the genre, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, and the literary reimaginings (Ten Things I Hate About You, et. al.) that followed in the latter’s wake. In Superbad, Seth and Evan’s versions of the Good Guy aren’t Jules (a precocious Emma Stone) and Becca (Martha MacIsaac): they’re each other. In the film’s denouement, with the two leads snuggled up close in sleeping bags, Seth literally says, “I just wanna go to the rooftops and scream, ‘I love my best friend, Evan.’” For teenage boys struggling with anxiety over the seeming hopelessness of losing their virginity, Superbad provides a welcome respite, an acknowledgement that focusing your entire life upon your dick is pointless when there’s fulfillment to be had by your side the entire time. —Zach Blumenfeld



4. 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



5. 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



6. 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



7. 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



8. Hunt for the Wilderpeople


hunt-for-wilderpeople.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Taika Waititi
Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Rhys Darby
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Bella’s (Rima Te Wiata) first encounter with Ricky (Julian Dennison), the new foster child she’s agreed to take on, doesn’t inspire confidence, especially with her clumsy jokes at the expense of his weight. In turn, with child-services representative Paula (Rachel House) painting Ricky as an unruly wild child, one dreads the prospect of seeing the kid walk all over this possibly in-over-her-head mother. But Bella wears him down with kindness. And Ricky ends up less of a tough cookie than he—with his fondness for gangsta rap and all that implies—initially tried to project. An adaptation of Barry Crump’s novel Wild Pork and Watercress, Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople thrives on upending preconceived notions. The director shows sympathy for Ricky’s innocence, which is reflected in the film’s grand-adventure style. Cinematographer Lachlan Milne’s sweeping, colorful panoramas and a chapter-based narrative structure gives Hunt for the Wilderpeople the feel of a storybook fable, but thanks to the warm-hearted dynamic between Ricky and Hec (Sam Neill), even the film’s most whimsical moments carry a sense of real underlying pain: Both of these characters are outsiders ultimately looking for a home to call their own. —Kenji Fujishima



9. Bad Trip

bad_trip_poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Kitao Sakurai
Stars: Eric Andre, Tiffany Haddish, Lil Rel Howery, Michaela Conlin
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
Rating: R
Runtime: 84 minutes

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What’s most distinguishable about Bad Trip is the way that it depicts the public which it interacts with. The film never aims to humiliate or dehumanize its subjects—instead of being disparaged or mocked in the name of comedy, bystanders are portrayed as more of a righteous tribunal than mere crabs in a barrel. The reprehensible behavior showcased always stems from Andre, Haddish or Howery, with spectators taking it upon themselves to moralize and attempt to salvage any remaining shred of the incognito actors’ perceived dignity—perhaps all too perfectly exemplified in a scene with a parking lot Army recruiter who civilly declines Andre’s offer of a blowjob in exchange for execution during a profound period of hopelessness. This ability to invoke public reaction—with no rubric for hardline emotions that the actors must elicit—is what allows the fabric of Bad Trip’s humor to shine through. With the professional actors shouldering the burden of both maintaining character for the benefit of the film’s overarching narrative as well as ensuring that the orchestrated gags play perfectly, the public’s only obligation is reacting genuinely, whether that be expressing anger, frustration, disdain or bewilderment. It’s this spectrum of varied emotion that is woven into the very fabric of the film, giving it an overtly genuine tone. At times it is even surprisingly heartwarming, with good samaritans stepping in to talk characters off of ledges and break up public quarrels.



10. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

christmas_vacation_poster.jpg Year: 1989
Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Diane Ladd, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 97 minutes

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is not the most appropriate film for children, but then again, what are you really expecting? Written by the king of ’80s film himself, John Hughes, the holiday adventures of the Griswold family are led by Clark (Chevy Chase) through farce after farce as the family tries their damnedest to have a traditional Christmas. Of course, tradition isn’t in the Griswold family repertoire, much thanks to Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), and the Griswold kids, Audrey and Rusty (played, respectively, by Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki) aren’t much help either. Christmas Vacation gets funnier and funnier every time you watch, even if it’s only once a year. —Annie Black



11. 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



12. Legally Blonde

netflix legally blonde.png
Year: 2001
Director: Robert Luketic
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Jennifer Coolidge, Victor Garber, Matthew Davis, Holland Taylor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 minutes

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If you like the color pink and are currently between the ages of 25 and 45, there’s a good chance you’ve practiced the “Bend-and-Snap” at home at least once in your life. Legally Blonde, starring Reese Witherspoon as the lovable blonde-sorority-girl-turned-law-student who proves to her doubtful ex-boyfriend and all the other Harvard kids to be actually, like, really smart, is a perfect example of all of the girl power Rom-Coms released in the early 2000s. It’s smart, it’s quotable, and the outfits are downright iconic. There’s nothing high brow about it, it’s just pure, unadulterated fun. Just like the “Bend-and-Snap,” the film Legally Blonde works every time.—Annie Black



13. 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



14. The Muppets

muppets_2011_netflix.jpg Year: 2011
Directors: James Bobin
Stars: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, The Muppets
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 102 minutes

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The filmmakers’ approach overflows with the same adoration as their characters on screen. A wistfully placed camera pan on a wall adorned with vintage banjos and memorabilia carries with it as much emotion as the kinetic dance numbers in the gratifying finale. Even modern touches like a hilarious barbershop cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” embody the original show’s subversive zaniness.—Sean Edgar



15. 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



16. 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



17. 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



18. 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



19. 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



20. 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



21. Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny


tenacious_d_pick_poster_2.jpg Year: 2006
Director: Liam Lynch
Stars: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, JR Reed, Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, Meat Loaf, Amy Poehler
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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There’s one simple quote from The D’s vastly underrated but financially disastrous heavy metal comedy/musical/kitschy sasquatch porn feature The Pick of Destiny that tells you everything you need to know about the film’s depiction of the prince of darkness: “I am Devil, I love metal!” At the end of this painstakingly accurate biopic about Tenacious D’s rise to stardom, Jack Black and Kyle Gass have finally gotten their paws on the titular pick, forged from the chipped tooth of Satan (Dave Grohl), and are ready to blow some minds with their rock! Alas, Satan rips through hell’s searing cracks to challenge KG and Jables to a rock-off. If The D wins, Satan will let them be. If Satan wins, he’ll take KG back to hell and make him gargle copious amounts of “Devil’s mayonnaise” as his sex slave. With Grohl in the role, of course Satan shreds his drums. Does KG’s tender behind stand a chance? With the ultimate worship of everything metal in its thematic sights, The Pick of Destiny presents the wet dream of an ’80s metal cover in its depiction of the Devil, an imposing crimson beast with a voice so deep and hoarse, that it resembles that of an ’80s Kathleen Turner after a long night of karaoke. —Oktay Ege Kozak



22. 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



23. Safety Not Guaranteed

safety_not_guaranteed_netflix.jpg Year: 2012
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Kristen Bell
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Rating: R
Runtime: 86 minutes

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A running joke has developed about the ubiquity of Mark Duplass. It seems like if he’s not writing and directing an independent film with his brother Jay (Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives at Home), he’s producing and/or starring in another. But while indie film fans may feel like they’ve gotten a handle on Duplass’s hipster vibe, his performance in Safety Not Guaranteed shows that he can be mysterious as well as funny, brooding as well as charming.—Jeremy Matthews



24. 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



25. 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



26. 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



27. Wine Country

wine_country_netflix.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Amy Poehler
Stars: Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, Tina Fey, Jason Schwartzman, Cherry Jones
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%
Rating: R
Runtime: 100 minutes

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As much of a vacation for its cast as a movie, Amy Poehler’s Wine Country is a low stakes sketch of a movie that gets by on charisma and sweetness. Poehler and a crew of fellow Saturday Night Live vets—including Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer and Tina Fey, as well as former SNL writers Paula Pell and Emily Spivey—play a group of friends touring California’s wine country on a 50th birthday trip. They’re each in their own way dealing with their own midlife crises and disappointments, and the ways they discuss and relate to them are both funny and realistic. It’s essentially a woman’s take on the kind of shaggy hang-out comedy Adam Sandler’s been making with his friends for decades, and with the requisite differences in taste and perspective you’d expect from that comparison. Wine Country is perfectly fine.—Garrett Martin



28. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

eurovision_netflix.jpg Year: 2020
Director: David Dobkins
Stars: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 121 minutes

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is—let’s be honest here—a bit on the thin side, and a little confusing. It’s got just enough sincerity to undermine its own satirical impulses and just enough pandering snark to undermine its own sincerity. It runs long, and it leans on a trope, Ferrell’s master trope and the common denominator in most of his best performances—the lovable but fundamentally clueless and self-absorbed man-baby who can’t get out of his own way. It’s a trope that, thanks to Ferrell himself, we have mined pretty thoroughly in comedy over the last few decades. And yet, even as Eurovision Song Contest makes a number of perplexing moves in its two-hour-plus runtime, you kind of can’t help rooting for it, and for its principal characters, because its refusal to be cynical operates as a vital, oxygenating escape hatch right now.—Amy Glynn



29. Vampires vs. the Bronx

vampires_bronx_poster.png Year: 2020
Director: Osmany Rodriguez
Stars: Jaden Michael, Gregory Diaz IV, Sarah Gadon, Shea Whigham, Method Man, Chris Redd
Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 85 minutes

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Vampires have historically been used as a metaphor for practically any societal evil you can think of in cinema, but the “vampire as gentrification allegory”? Now that’s a new one. And that’s what you’ll see in Netflix’s Vampires vs. The Bronx. It makes its political message abundantly clear. These are indeed vampiric real estate developers, intent on snapping up properties like the neighborhood courthouse, which is immediately reimagined as an upscale condo development titled “The Courthaus.” A bit on the nose, perhaps, but pretty funny at the same time.—Jim Vorel



30. Our Idiot Brother


netflix our idiot brother.jpg
Year: 2011
Director: Jesse Peretz
Stars: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

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Netflix wasn’t making original movies in 2011, and yet that’s exactly what Our Idiot Brother feels like. It’s a movie that’s so relaxed and where the stakes are so low that it barely feels like it exists, but with a great cast full of funny and likable performers. Paul Rudd stars as a guileless modern day hippie failing to rebuild his life after a jail sentence, with Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Coogan and Rashida Jones playing the various siblings, exes and in-laws that he bothers. It’s a minor but pleasant film that stays afloat almost entirely because of that cast and its own lack of pretension.—Garrett Martin

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