The 25 best comedies on Netflix

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Considering how effortless it looks, making a comedy movie ain't easy. Sure, anyone can crack a gag or retell an amusing anecdote, but there's more to crafting a top-notch chucklefest than that. On the one hand, it's not an expensive genre demanding crazy CGI sequences and a huge stunt budget. But on the other, you can't just string together loads of jokes and expect a masterpiece. For genuine comedy to work in film, there has to be a good story and solid characters holding everything together. And there's another thing; I always find a cream pie to the face hilarious, but someone else might find that type of tomfoolery less so. For that reason alone, it's tough to pepper a comedy with universal humour that hits everyone's funnybone. That's why the best way to discover what really tickles your ribs is by working your way through this list of the best 25 comedies on Netflix. 

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25. Masterminds (2016)

Region: US

On paper, Masterminds doesn't sound real. The twisting plot and casual backstabbery are so contrived, so far-fetched it seems like something written by the Coens. Turns out that it's actually based on a true story. A batshit story, granted, that's the perfect vehicle for Zach Galifianakis' brand of slapstick body humour. As dunderheaded armored truck driver David Ghantt, he's an easy mark for Owen Wilson's character, who enlists the fool to rob his own place of employment - Loomis Fargo bank. Things only get more cringeworthy from there, when it becomes a game of who's the bigger idiot. Keep an eye out for some brilliant comedic cutaways with Kate McKinnon as Galifianakis' ex-wife. 

24. Bad Santa (2003)

Region: US

Forget about the naff sequel. The original Bad Santa is still excellent, bearing a style of smutty cheer that's perfect for any time of the year. Billy Bob Thornton is on top form as Willie, a foul-mouthed alcoholic who takes mall Santa gigs so he can case 'em out and rob them at night. While he manages these deals with his friend Marcus - who dresses up as his helper Elf - the pair seemingly detest each other. The film's best LOL moments are when the two are arguing, and drop some absolutely stonking one-liners. 

23. Frances Ha (2013)

Region: US

Noah Baumbach's first genuinely laugh-out-loud comedy - after his extensive mumblecore repertoire - is a sweet flick featuring his long-time collaborator, Greta Gerwig. There's dancing, a killer soundtrack and Gerwig is on winning form as Frances, a New Yorker in her mid-twenties with no clue what to do after her best friend Sophie decides to move out. It's sort of a less mean-spirited Girls for dancers, with some hilarious witticisms and genuinely funny observations. The tender friendship between Frances and Sophie mirrors a ton of identifiable scenarios plucked from real-life, making them all the more likeable. 

22. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Region: US

"When I wake up in the morning, I piss excellence." It's one-liners like that which make Talladega Nights a worthy rival to Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay's other classic, Anchorman. Heck, I think this is funnier! Ferrell's Nascar driver Ricky Bobby skyrockets to the top with his willing buddy Cal McNaughton (the always-brilliant John C. Reilly) in tow to help him win every race. Things are going well until Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), a Formula 1 champ, moves in to steal his thunder and turns Ricky Bobby's life into a shambles. This is top notch modern comedy that warrants a watch if you haven't already seen it. 

21. Mean Girls (2004)

Region: US

Before Tina Fey became synonymous with 30 Rock, she penned and co-starred in this wickedly funny Heathers-esque teen comedy. Lindsay Lohan leads the show as the new girl at school, Cady. Oblivious to the rules of high school, she slowly gets to grips with how the system works, befriending a couple of fellow nerds (Daniel Franzese and Lizzy Caplan, who are both excellent) to help bring down the school's popular group, the Plastics. That is, before her plan goes horrendously south with the Burn Book, a scrapbook with nasty things written about every girl in school. That hideous creation is cooked up by Regina George, the bitchy, manipulative queen bee played by Rachel McAdams in her breakout turn. It's a joy to watch her takedown Lohan's goody two-shoes, but perhaps more funny are her two sidekicks: Amanda Seyfried's dim-witted Karen and Lacey Chabert's eager-to-please Gretchen. 

20. Spaceballs (1987)

Region: UK 

Over the years Star Wars spoofs have become commonplace. But Spaceballs is the definitive riff on the space opera. Mel Brooks writes and directs this retread of A New Hope that includes loads of nods to other sci-fi fare like Star Trek and Planet of the Apes. It's stuffed with daft puns (Rick Moranis' baddie wears a big helmet and is called Dark Helmet) and one-liners ("Use the Schwartz") that are unashamedly silly, none more so than the hilarious Alien ripoff.

19. Adventureland (2009)

Region: UK

Gregg Mottola's coming-of-age story isn't a laugh-out-loud comedy, but don't let its absence of obvious humor turn you off. It's funny in a way that's reminiscent of Richard Linklater and early Cameron Crowe films. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart star as two twenty-somethings working at a theme park to scrape together some post-college money. The heady, never-ending-summer vibe at Adventureland is an apt backdrop for all the social cliques to mix against, including Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the awkward park managers.

18. Best in Show (2000)

Region: US

Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy scribbled out a quick outline for a mockumentary about a dog show, thinking it was a risky idea that might not work. Would an improvised comedy on this scale work? In a word: yes. The movie is now regarded as one of Guest's finest comedies. Levy delivers a career-best performance as Gerry Fleck, just one of many dog owners and handlers whose lives are explored in the weeks leading up to the prestigious Mayflower Dog Show. The whole cast are what make this seemingly domestic event a massive life-changing experience that brings out a whole host of eccentricities and absolutely superb one-liners. Jennifer Coolidge's "We both love soup" monologue being quite possibly the best.

17. While We're Young (2014)

Region: US

With each of his movies, Noah Baumbach adds a giant dollop of commentary about the current status of his own life. In While We're Young Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts' forty-somethings take on his woes about growing old. When the childless couple befriend an achingly hip duo played by Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver, they re-evaluate how to get the most out of living. It's funny, moving and at times, downright bizarre. Hipster culture gets a heavy skewering - always a bonus - and the final act takes an unexpected swerve into mystery territory. 

16. World's Greatest Dad (2009)

Region: US  

Robin Williams plays the title dad, Lance Clayton, a teacher whose difficult relationship with his bratty son forms the basis for a lot of... err... awkwardness. It's those scenarios that make World's Greatest Dad a true black comedy. Directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite - who you'll remember as Police Academy's loose cannon Zed - the film comes over like Heathers crossed with Dead Poets Society, a dark riff on societal taboos. Clayton's struggle to connect with his son give Williams one of his most underrated roles, showing off another side to his comedy skill set.