By Maureen Lee Lenker
August 13, 2020 at 01:37 PM EDT
Everett Collection (2); Ed Araquel/Netflix

There are few times when we couldn’t use a good laugh, and perhaps now that is truer than ever. When we’re scrolling through Netflix trying to decide what to watch, it’s natural to feel hungry for a comedy to help us take our mind off things.

Netflix is bursting with comedic gems, whether you’re looking for a rom-coms, a satire, a farce, something raunchy, or something cerebral. Here’s EW’s list of the 20 comedy films you should be watching on the streamer right now if you need to tickle your funny bone. Check back regularly for our updated list as the Netflix lineup changes, but in the meantime, get ready to laugh!

Airplane! (1980)

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A parody of disaster films, particularly 1957’s Zero Hour and the Airport films, this farce from the Zucker Bros. and Jim Abrahams is routinely cited as one of the funniest movies ever made. Airplane! follows ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays), who most conquer his trauma to successfully land a commercial flight when the entire crew (and many of the passengers) are felled by food poisoning. It made Leslie Nielsen a comedy star, and provided a treasure trove of quotable lines. It’s seriously comedy gold. We are serious, and stop calling us Shirley.

Laugh Factor: 😂😂😂😂😂

Best gags: Otto the pilot, Flashback sequences, Famous basketball player cameos, the wrong week to quit sniffing glue

Talent: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Lloyd Bridges

The Bad News Bears (1976)

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Whether you’re missing the full baseball season, little league or just think the Yankees are real turds, this comedy about a kids’ baseball team is a home run. Walter Matthau leads the cast as alcoholic, retired minor-league baseball player Morris Buttermaker, who is recruited to coach a rag-tag bunch of kids in Little League. The team, which includes Tatum O’Neal’s Amanda Whurlitzer and Jackie Earle Haley’s bad boy Kelly Leak, is hopeless, at first. But much of the comedy arrives from their hapless playing and their foul-mouthed antics all set to Bizet’s Carmen for dramatic effect. Some of the more off-color jokes are certainly reflective of a different era, but there’s still plenty of laughs to be found in spite of it.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂😂

Best gags: Sticking trophies where the sun don’t shine, competitive shouting matches, flouting of open container laws

Talent: Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Jackie Earle Haley, Vic Morrow, Chris Barnes

Elf (2003)

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If smiling’s your favorite, you can’t get much more of a grin-fest than this Christmas chestnut (no, it’s not roasting over an open fire). Will Ferrell gives his career best performance as Buddy the Elf, an earnest man raised by Santa’s elves who journeys to New York City to meet and bond with his biological father, Walter (James Caan). But Buddy’s love of singing, Christmas, and maple syrup might be too much for his new family to handle. With it’s hysterically quotable script, heartfelt message, and endless joy, it’s the perfect movie any time of year — because after all, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. And to quote another holiday classic, we could use a little Christmas now.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂😂😂

Best gags: Lego villages, fist fights with store Santa, Francisco that’s fun to say, mail-room antics, snow ball fights, the five elf food groups

EW grade: B+ 

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

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The Coen Brothers love letter to classic Hollywood is an under-sung delight. Real life studio fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) struggles to keep his bumbling studio stars in line — from the romantic entanglements of young star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) to the disappearance of leading man Baird Whitlock (George Clooney). The Coen Brothers lovingly send up everyone from famous gossip columnist Louella Parsons to bathing beauty Esther Williams. And if watching George Clooney play a buffoon of a movie star isn’t a big enough delight, you get Channing Tatum doing his best Gene Kelly for extra measure.

Laugh factor: 😂😂

Best gags: Feuding twin gossip columnists, accidental communism, Southern accents, water stunts, Clooney kidnapping

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Talent: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Alden Ehrenreich, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Alison Pill

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

Doane Gregory/Netflix

This Netflix original rom-com about estranged childhood best friends Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) is both a romantic delight and a love letter to San Francisco. While Sasha has found explosive success as a chef, Marcus has remained stunted by the death of his mother. The two help each other find balance along the way, while also providing an opportunity for a hilarious, completely brilliant Keanu Reeves cameo.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂

Best gags: Garage bands, awkward birthday parties, pretentious restaurants, and did we mention Keanu?

EW grade: B (read the review)

Talent: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Dae Kim, James Saito, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang

She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

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Spike Lee’s feature directorial debut is this dramedy about relationships and sex, that follows Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) as she juggles three men. Forced to make a choice between the three of them, she turns the tables and asks for a life of celibate monogamy. But it’s the way the movie celebrates a woman’s sexual and romantic choices, refusing to kow-tow to societal expectations that makes it a true standout.

Laugh factor: 😂

Best gags: A three-timing heroine, attempts at celibacy, the concept of monogamy

Talent: Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee, S. Epatha Merkerson

Lady Bird (2018)

Merie Wallace/A24

Greta Gerwig nails a young woman’s coming-of-age with this heartfelt dramedy about artistic dreamer Lady Bird McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and her struggles to hone her identity outside her lower middle-class Sacramento upbringing. Her complicated relationship with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) provides equal amounts of relatable laughs and tears, while there’s endless joy and delight to be mined from her experiences in the drama department at a private Catholic high school. It’s messy and real and funny and heartbreaking in all the best ways. Ronan is a revelation, which is to be expected since it’s the titular role.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂

Best gags: Binging on communion wafers, high school football coach subbing for the drama teacher, jumping out of moving vehicles, prom dress shopping, Merrily We Roll Along

EW grade: A- (Read the review)

Talent: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet

Spaceballs (1987)

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Is a comedy movie list really complete without a Mel Brooks movie? Netflix offers this send-up of the Star Wars trilogy (and sci-fi adventure films at large) as it’s primary title from the Brooks oeuvre. Mercenary Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and his sidekick Barf (John Candy) take a mercenary gig to rescue Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the clutches of the cruel Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis). Star Wars gags abound, as it invites you along to believe in the power of the Schwartz.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂😂

Best gags: Pizza the Hutt, Winnebago spaceships, vacuum cleaners, Schwartz rings, Alien cameo, Nose jobs

Talent: Bill Pullman, John Candy, Daphne Zuniga, Mel Brooks, Rick Moranis, Dom DeLuise

The Death of Stalin (2017)


From Veep creator Armando Iannucci comes this darkly satiric look at the Soviet Union in the 1950s. When communist dictator Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) suddenly dies, the government and Stalin’s scheming, bumbling ministers are thrown into disarray. Iannucci spears the fumblings of authoritarian regimes with a hilarious and unnerving eye, making timely parallels to our contemporary moment. Who ever thought Stalinism would make for comedic fodder?

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂

Best gags: Weekend at Bernie’s level shenanigans, Military coups, State funerals, kangaroo courts

EW grade: B (read the review)

Talent: Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaac, Adrian McLoughlin, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough, Jeffrey Tambor, Olga Kurylenko

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

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It’s the romantic comedy for anyone who’s ever wanted to be in love in a movie. This Nora Ephron flick helped enshrine her as the queen of the modern rom-com, only underscored by her pulling double duty as the film’s director. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star as widowed Sam Baldwin and Annie Reed, a woman who falls for Sam after hearing him talk about his late wife on the radio. It’s a sentimental movie at heart, pulling inspiration and its Empire State Building climax from classic weepie An Affair to Remember. But alongside all that heart is plenty of humor, infused from its stacked supporting cast and adorable Ross Malinger as Hanks’ son Jonah. Ephron was a master of witty dialogue, and this film is a sterling example of her unmatchable skill.

Laugh factor: 😂😂

Best gags: An Affair to Remember and The Dirty Dozen, a kid wise beyond his years, friends who tell it like it is

EW grade: C (read the review)

Talent: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Victor Garber, Bill Pullman, Rita Wilson, Rosie O’Donnell

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)


In this adorable animated sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, Disney harnessed the full power of its franchises for gags and laughs. When video game Sugar Rush is unplugged at the arcade, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) must venture into the internet via wi-fi router to save the game. As they face the challenges of eBay, multiplayer online gaming, and viral videos, they also encounter everything from First Order Stormtroopers to a whole cadre of Disney princesses. It’s a rare sequel that not only doesn’t wreck it, it’s better than the original.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂

Best gags: Musical epiphanies, BuzzzTube, Disney princess send-ups, the Surge Protector

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Talent: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, Alan Tudyk

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

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Before Bradley Cooper declared himself a writer-director with A Star Is Born, he amply proved his acting chops exceeded The Hangover pretty-boy roles with this romantic dramedy about mental illness. Written and directed by David O. Russell, it follows Cooper’s Pat, who has bipolar disorder, as he struggles to rebuild his life after being released from a mental institution and moving in with his parents. When he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence in her Oscar-winning role), who is suffering from grief over the death of her husband, they bond while they prepare for an upcoming ballroom dancing competition. It’s a movie that reminds us compassion is the silver lining in life.

Laugh factor: 😂😂

Best gags: Philadelphia Eagles fandom, De Niro trying to work a remote, J.Law embracing people thinking she’s dark and twisty

EW grade: A (read the review)

Talent: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Shea Wigham, John Ortiz, Julia Stiles

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

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Monty Python brought their signature off-the-wall sense of humor to religion with this satire about a young Jewish man, Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman), born next door to – and on the same day as Jesus Christ. He is mistaken for the Messiah, which leads to a series of events that include faking miracles and his eventual crucifixion. It includes the infamous scene where Brian and his fellow crucified sufferers sing Monty Python classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” The film was condemned and declared blasphemous by some religious groups, only upping its comedic and controversial credentials.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂😂😂

Best gags: Mob scenes, speech impediments, miracle cures, and Spartacus spoofs

Talent: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, Sue Jones-Davies

The Ugly Truth (2009)

Saeed Adyani/Columbia

Remember when Katherine Heigl led rom-coms were a thing? We do, and we miss it! In this film, Heigl is morning TV producer Abby Richter, who in danger of losing her job due to low ratings. When relationship expert Mike Chadway (Gerald Butler) is invited to do a segment on her show, the two clash, Abby disgusted by his crass view of what men want. But as Mike coaches her in his relationship techniques to help her land her dream guy, the two start to fall for each other in spite of their differing views. Because the ugly truth is sometimes opposites attract.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂😂

Best gags: Suggestive hot dog eating, riffs on When Harry Met Sally, Drunken kisses, Hot air balloons

EW grade: C+ (read the review)

Talent: Katherine Heigl, Gerald Butler, Eric Winter, Nick Searcy, Cheryl Hines

The Addams Family (1991)

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There’s been numerous screen iterations of the ghoulish delightful cartoon characters created by Charles Addams, including the iconic 1960s television show. But our favorite version just might be this 1991 black comedy from Barry Sonnenfeld that stars Anjelica Huston as the darkly stylish Morticia and Raul Julia as her devoted husband Gomez. When con artists attempt to convince the Addams Family their long-lost Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) has returned to the fold, ghoulish havoc ensues. The entire family is a scream, but watch if only to see Christina Ricci make the goth girl cool with her portrayal of Wednesday Addams. They're creepy and they're spooky after all.

Laugh factor: 😂😂😂

Best gags: Home movies, booby traps, Morticia teaching preschool

EW grade: C+ (read the review)

Talent: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman, Judith Malin, Carel Struycken

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