The Best Comedies On Netflix Right Now

Olivia Ovenden
Esquire
Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

From Esquire

In need of a laugh? The good news is that there's plenty of comedy on Netflix that can satisfy that itch. We're not just talking stoner bro comedies – though they are there, should you wish – because the streaming service also boasts hilarious indie dramas, amusing coming-of-age feminist films and so-awkward-it's-funny family portraits.

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True crime and gripping documentaries are great, but sometimes you need something a little lighter.

Gloria Bell

From hit-machine indie studio A24, Gloria Bell is a near shot-by-shot remake of 2013 Spanish film Gloria, made by the same director, Sebastian Lelio. The titular character, played superbly by Julianne Moore, is a middle-aged divorcée partying her way around Los Angeles until she meets a kindred spirit who she starts a precarious relationship with.

There's a carefree abandon to the film, flipping the typically dour topic of single older women into something that feels more like a bro comedy in parts, and we mean that in the best way possible.

Fighting with my family

Stephen Merchant directs this true story of a foul-mouthed family of wrestlers from Norwich who are thrown into the big leagues when their daughter is selected for the WWE roster in America. It's a story not often seen on screen - that of a working class girl making it across the pond - as Paige becomes the youngest ever holder of the Divas Champion title.

With a cast that includes Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden and Vince Vaughn, and containing some superb one-liners ("I’ve never had rectal bleeding before, but I’m pretty sure I’m not a fan of that") the family in the ring will leave you surprisingly misty-eyed by the end.

Ladybird

Greta Gerwig's breakout coming-of-age drama is about a pretentious but endearing teenage girl who demands her family call her 'Ladybird' as she navigates the awkward tail end of adolescence. What Gerwig's directorial debut so perfectly captures is the war of attrition between parents and children in these awkward years between childhood and being an adult.

Saorise Ronan is brilliant in the titular role, but the sparring matches between her and her mother (played faultlessly by Laurie Metcalf) are where the real comedy gold – including a scene where Ladybird rolls out of a moving car – come from. There's also great performances from Timothée Chalamet, Lucas Hedges and Beanie Feldstein.

The Big Short

Based on a book of the same name by Michael Lewis (Liar's Poker, Moneyball), the 2008 financial crisis and subprime mortgage scam in America gets a slick and amusing adaptation courtesy of Vice and Anchorman director Adam McKay.

Christian Bale is on his typically chameleonic form as Michael Burry, an eccentric ex-physician and one of the group of investors who bet against the mortgage market and walked away with millions. There's plenty of zingers in the sharp script and any fears of boring financial jargon are seen to by having Margot Robbie in the bath explaining what is going on.

Wedding Crashers

"It's wedding season baby!", and by that we mean it is time to watch or rewatch this funny foray into the cringe-ness of modern weddings. In it Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play a pair of best friends who spend their summers crashing weddings until they end up at one where they are tangled up with the family hosting.

It's soppy at times, and there's a few storylines that haven't aged brilliantly, but it still delivers the laughs whether it's the first or fourteenth time you're watching it.

Marriage Story

OK, we concede that Noah Baumbach's 2019 portrait of a marriage breaking down from the inside is a tearjerker, but its brilliance lies in the fact it's also very, very funny. Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver) play a pair of artists navigating the end of their relationship and custody battle of their son which, despite their good intentions, turns very nasty.

The biggest target is the American legal system and subsequently the most hilarious performances come from the pair's lawyers, played by Laura Dern, who won an Oscar for her acidic turn as Nora Fanshaw, and her opponent played by Ray Liotta.

The Death of Stalin

Armando Iannucci, the master of satire behind The Thick of It and Veep, turns his sharp wit to the Soviet Union in this farcical story about the days following the death of Joseph Stalin. As with his other political comedies, Iannucci focuses on the cronies that muscle for control in the subsequent power struggle, with hapless idiots and their schemes going wrong making for very amusing watching.

These power-hungry idiots are played by heavyweights including Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Tambor and Paddy Considine who together make the jet-black humour sing.

Snatch

The 2000 film starring Jason Statham as a boxing matcher and Brad Pitt as a rugged traveller is a classic Guy Ritchie crime caper stuffed with scornful one-liners. "Should I call you bullet tooth..?" Avi asks Vinnie Jones character at one point. "You can call me Susan if it makes you happy," he replies sardonically.

True, it's largely retreading a lot of the same ground as Ritchie's prior film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but he still manages to capture a very British, and very funny, kind of sarcasm.

Long Shot

The team behind Knocked Up flip the script with this comedy about a woman running for President (Charlize Theron) and the romance that blossoms between her and a friend she hires to write her speeches (Seth Rogen).

While the premise is obviously far-fetched – would a newspaper lackey working at a crumbling media empire really get the call up to Air Force One? – the comic performances and chemistry between Theron and Rogen lift this from being romcom fodder to something genuinely amusing.

Velvet Buzzsaw

A satirical thriller set in the art scene of Los Angeles, Velvet Buzzsaw satisfyingly skewers the critics and collectors of this underworld and sees Jake Gyllenhaal reunited with Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy.

Here pretentious installations and vapid art enthusiasts are the primary target, think "Kindergarten go-pro" exhibitions and people asking "are those the new Persols?" in response to somebody wearing optician-issue light sensitivity glasses. The supporting cast of Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge make an excellent pack of wheelers and dealers trying to cash in on the work of a unknown dead artist. Thankfully, justice is served in gruesome fashion when the work comes to life and goes after this pack of reprobates.

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