Netflix’s streaming service offers hundreds of comedies, but which ones are the best? Here’s one critic’s list of the ten finest laffers since 1990 that you can punch up tonight on Netflix.
10. Happy Gilmore (1996)
Adam Sandler has had his ups and downs, but in his early films his lost little kid act was inspired. The way the title character makes the world around him adapt to his skills (he’s a hockey player whose slap-shot style makes him a strangely gifted golfer, and he needs to win a tournament to save his grandma’s house) neatly jibes with how Sandler nudged Hollywood comedy to accommodate his peculiar persona. And who else would have been willing to fistfight Bob Barker?
9. Nacho Libre (2006)
While not as hilarious as Jared Hess’s previous effort Napoleon Dynamite, this strange piece of whimsy set in the lowbrow Mexican wrestling circuit made excellent use of Jack Black as the boy-man who wrestles for the children he cares for at an orphanage. Black’s over-the-top physicality makes for an interesting clash with Hess’s deadpan sensibility.
8. Clueless (1995)
Alicia Silverstone came out of nowhere (to which she immediately retreated) with this updated Valley Girl tale about a spoiled but somehow winsome teen who plays Cupid for her less popular friends. Silverstone managed to be ditzy and sweet at the same time.
7. Zoolander (2001)
Ben Stiller’s incessant mugging as the world’s ugliest male model can be exasperating, but the clash between him and Owen Wilson as rival man-mannequins yielded some great moments, and the gas station scene in which the himbos spray each other with unleaded was inspired.
6. Flirting with Disaster (1996)
Easily David O. Russell’s best film, this one also starred Stiller, who this time underplayed his part for a change as he later would in Meet the Parents. He’s a New York-raised adoptee who goes on a cross-country mission trying to discover his real parents while torn between his wife (Patricia Arquette) and a sexy adoption agency counselor (Tea Leoni in her prime).
5. Wayne’s World (1992)
Mike Myers and Dana Carvey’s nerd anthem cracked open a simple “SNL” sketch and turned it into a freewheeling goof-a-rama featuring dozens of widely quoted lines and catchphrases that were so dumb they were kind of smart.
4. Pain and Gain (2013)
Leveraging his Transformers success to try his hand at the unloved category of social satire, Michael Bay
delivered an uproarious true-life tale of three unbelievably dim weight lifters (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) who thought it would be easy to kidnap a rich guy and torture him into allowing them to clean out his bank accounts and move into his house. Modeled on Goodfellas, the movie gets more bizarre and hilarious as it goes on.
3. In the Loop (2009)
An edgy, black comedy that updated Dr. Strangelove for the Iraq War, this British import starred Peter Capaldi as a memorably foul-mouthed British spinmeister who comes to Washington, D.C., to meet with his American counterparts. James Gandolfini had a screamingly funny bit part as a general.
2. Tommy Boy (1995)
The late Chris Farley and David Spade instantly perfected a buddy act that was even better than Steve Martin and John Candy’s in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. In a story about the heir (Farley) of an auto-parts business who hits the road on a sales mission to save the family firm, Farley made a boorish but irrepressible dreamer while Spade played the snarky straight man with aplomb. The screenwriters, Bonnie and Terry Turner, also wrote (with Myers) Wayne’s World, not to mention The Brady Bunch Movie.
1. Bad Santa (2003)
So, so wrong and so, so funny. Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic jerk who plays mall Santas each year so he can plunder the store safes, but things get complicated when a really stupid kid mistakes him for the real Kris Kringle. Caustically funny, this extremely R-rated movie has wicked fun upending every Hallmark Channel-style seasonal cliche you can think of.