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Of all the movies available on Netflix, the comedy section is the most hit or miss, in my opinion. There’s a deep pool of terrific television (seriously), geek/sci-fi, action, and documentary films, but in regards to Netflix’s comedy offerings, there are a some really solid ones, some really bad ones, and the rest gets lost in an ocean of mediocrity.
In order to come up with the highest rated comedies on Netflix I looked at the movie’s rating and number of user votes. I only included movies with a million votes or more to balance out the more solid ratings against those that maybe only had a 100,000 votes. I also only included scripted comedies, so no stand-up specials made the list. And before somebody points it out, yes, Fargo has an incredibly high rating, but Francis McDormand one-liners aside, it’s a crime thriller first and a dark comedy a distant second.
Feel free to discuss in the comments how the list is heavily dominated with movies from the 1980s — three of them being John Hughes films — and only one movie from the last 10 years. Does Netflix have an aversion to streaming post-1989 comedies or do audiences just have a preference for the comedies they grew up with?
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 4.1 stars out of 1,946,240 ratings.
Last month I wrote about Christmas Vacation’s behind-the-scenes facts and if you didn’t watch it on Netflix over the holidays, January is still a perfectly good time to enjoy this comedy classic. The most popular of the Vacation movies, John Hughe’s yarn of Clark Griswold’s attempt to give his family the traditional Christmas is 97 minutes of slapstick humor at its best. Few movies are worthy of the “Christmas classic” label, but 25 years after its release, Cousin Eddie and the rest of the Griswolds still deliver. Rotten Tomatoes 86, IMDB 7.5
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil 4 stars out of 1,506,028 ratings.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is the wildcard in this list, but the indie horror/comedy is a blood-splattered gem that is quickly rising up the Netflix ranks. Tucker and Dale are two redneck buddies who want to enjoy a quiet weekend in the woods, but are mistaken by a group of college kids — that can’t seem to stop dying — as backwoods murders. Horror meets comedy is difficult to pull off, but Tucker & Dale manages to make it work by mimicking nearly every teen-slasher stereotype and flipping it on its head. Rotten Tomatoes 84, IMDB 7.6
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 3.9 stars out of 12,909,102 ratings.
I’m going to declare Ferris Bueller’s Day Off the greatest teen comedy of all time (at least of the 1980s). Matthew Broderick is able to pull off the feat of being the most popular guy in school without being a douchebag, and all the of other essential teen comedy characters are in place: sidekick, hot girlfriend, evil sister, villainous principal. If it’s been a while since you’ve watched this movie about three friends skipping school and cavorting around Chicago in a stolen Porsche, do yourself a favor and call in sick. Rotten Tomatoes 92, IMDB 7.9
Happy Gilmore 3.9 stars out of 8,478,706 ratings.
Ah, Happy Gilmore, back when Adam Sandler’s screaming was funny. It was funny, right? It might be tricky to go back and enjoy Happy Gilmore knowing that Sandler’s film future would be paved with turds like Jack and Jill and Just Go With It. Present comedy crimes aside, Sandler’s story of a reject hockey player who shakes up the stuffy world of professional golf is an example of sophomoric humor done right. It’s got absurd dream sequences, Sandler wrestling an alligator, and my favorite Ben Stiller cameo of all time. Rotten Tomatoes 85, IMDB 7.0
Super Troopers 3.9 stars out of 4,874,309 ratings.
Much like Office Space, Tucker & Dale, and a long list of other great comedies, Super Troopers didn’t make many waves at the box office, but would go on to be a powerhouse rental and now popular streaming choice. At one time considered the successor to National Lampoon’s R-rated comedy legacy, Broken Lizard’s stoner comedy follows the hijinks of a group of Vermont State Troopers who must stop a drug smuggling ring in order to save their jobs. A sequel is tentatively slated for release later this year. Rotten Tomatoes 90, IMDB 7.1
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 3.9 stars out of 3,261,992 ratings.
Guy Ritchie films can be rather polarizing, but his feature film debut of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels hits the mark for a well done funny crime thriller.
“A botched card game in London triggers four friends, thugs, weed-growers, hard gangsters, loan sharks and debt collectors to collide with each other in a series of unexpected events, all for the sake of weed, cash and two antique shotguns.” — IMDB description.
Watching serves as reminder that Jason Statham can actually be pretty funny when he’s not bashing faces in — there’s still plenty of that though, too. Rotten Tomatoes 76, IMDB 8.2
Trading Places 3.9 stars out of 2,937,112 ratings.
One of best comedies to come out of the 1980s, the plot follows The Prince and the Pauper storyline of a homeless man who switches lives with a rich jerk as part of an elaborate bet put in place by even richer jerks. Along with Coming To America, Trading Places is Eddie Murphy in his movie-making prime and was a hit with both audiences and critics alike upon its release. Little known fact, the movie actually played a role in Congress’s decision to ban using misappropriated government information in trading commodity markets. Rotten Tomatoes 85, IMDB 7.5
Ghostbusters 3.8 stars out of 9,828,194 ratings.
Bill Murray, that is all. Really though, if you haven’t seen this movie about a group of screwball scientists who start their own paranormal extermination business and must save New York City from an ancient evil, stop reading this immediately and stream it. Rotten Tomatoes 87, IMDB 7.8
Tommy Boy 3.8 stars out of 5,152,204 ratings.
Tommy Boy was hated by critics at the time of its release almost if not more than Happy Gilmore. It relies on Chris Farley falling down and crass insults from David Spade to get laughs, which is exactly what fans of mid-90s SNL expected. Chris Farley redefines “dimwitted idiot” as he takes his business partner on the road to save his father’s auto parts factory from a con artist couple. The movie revels in its stupidity, but that’s probably why myself and so many other Netflix users enjoy it so much. Because sometimes a pie-to-the-face gag — or in Tommy Boy’s case manure — can be just as funny as a witty joke. Rotten Tomatoes 91, IMDB 7.0
Beverly Hills Cop 3.8 stars out of Average of 3,899,738 ratings.
Eddie Murphy makes his second appearance on our list with his portrayal of Axel Foley, a Detroit cop who finds himself navigating the very different world of posh Beverley Hills while investigating a murder. Beverly Hills Cop was the most successful movie of 1984 and went on to spawn two more sequels. As far as action comedies go, it’s pretty much the quintessential movie that all other action comedies try to replicate and are judged by. Rotten Tomatoes 83, IMDB 7.3
Planes, Trains and Automobiles 3.8 stars out of 2,397,735 ratings.
We really don’t see that many movies like Planes, Trains and Automobiles anymore. I don’t mean road trip movies (Hollywood tried to capture Planes’ magic a few years back with Due Date). But as far as movies that incorporate both slapstick humor, wit, and heart, all while under an R-rating — even if it is a soft 1980s R-rating — Planes, Trains and Automobiles is sort of in a category by itself, with Little Miss Sunshine probably coming the closest. The story follows Steve Martin as an executive who is forced to travel with an obnoxious slob over the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s one of the late John Candy’s best movies. Rotten Tomatoes 87, IMDB 7.6
Clerks 3.7 stars out of 4,911,076 ratings.
I was kind of surprised to see that Clerks scored as high as it has, how many black and white indie movies really have such mainstream appeal? Clerks had everything going against it for mainstream success; no well-known actors, bad acting, bad sound, yet, the characters’ mundane lives and the world they live in are so funny it’s impossible not to be drawn in. The movie about a day in the life of two New Jersey convenience store clerks launched Kevin Smith’s career, gave birth to his View Askew Universe and an equally funny Clerk’s sequel. Smith has started working on a third film in the franchise and I couldn’t be more curious to see how it stacks up. Rotten Tomatoes 89, IMDB 7.9