Overwhelmed by the state of the world? Trying to find something fun to watch on your friendly neighborhood international multibillion-dollar corporation’s streaming service? It’s OK to ignore the ever-growing pile of worthy but harrowing dramas and acclaimed documentaries on your watchlist for another hour or two. Treat yourself by hitting play on some of the finest comedies in the Amazon Prime Video library.
From old faves to cult comedies and sweet hidden gems, whether you’re after a highbrow chuckle, crumb-spraying sputters, or screeching, hysterical, hang-on-hang-on-just-pause-for-a-moment cackling, Prime Video has got something to split your sides.
So here we go: the best comedy movies now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
1. Walk Hard
Credit: Gemma La Mana/Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock
If you’ve never seen this underappreciated, star-studded work of genius, it’s time to fix that. The story of the rise, fall, and rise again of country-rock legend Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) is a pitch-perfect parody of all the Oscar-bait music biopics you know and love, from Walk The Line and Ray to the documentary Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back. In its own right, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is an epic tale, which Reilly’s commitment makes surprisingly affecting for a film where someone gets accidentally cut in half with a machete (which people constantly keep bringing up). The songs are genuinely great. It’s as endlessly quotable in your daily life as golden-era Simpsons. Plus, the cast is uniformly great — from The Office‘s Jenna Fischer and character actress Margo Martindale to a raft of cameos too good to spoil here.
2. Napoleon Dynamite
The movie that launched a thousand VOTE FOR PEDRO t-shirts retains the oddball spirit that made it a hit in the first place. As Napoleon (Jon Heder) navigates high school in small-town Idaho — from class president elections to asking his crush to the dance — he must also deal with his awkward family members and their schemes — and take care of Tina the llama, who won’t eat her darn food. For every joke and quote that’s been memed into the ground, there’s another slyly hilarious one you’ve forgotten about.
The legendary Mel Brooks’ 1987 parody of Star Wars (and Star Trek, and Alien…) is both a snapshot of its time and an ageless comedy classic. For the uninitiated: Rick Moranis plays villain Dark Helmet, a goofy megalomanic in a giant not-Darth-Vader helmet whose ship goes to speeds including Ludicrous and Plaid. Meanwhile, mercenary and scoundrel Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) leads a ragtag bunch of misfits against Dark Helmet, including sassy Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga), her robot maid Dot Matrix (the late, great Joan Rivers), and Starr’s half-man-half-dog, ever-loyal companion Barf (John Candy).
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic co-wrote and stars in this cult classic about a dreamer with a wild imagination, who suddenly finds himself running a local TV station. Then, he finds sudden success by letting his goofy janitor (Seinfeld‘s Michael Richards) host a chaotic kids’ show. Inspired by that chaos, they program an ever-weirder lineup of absolutely wild shows, taking on the suits at the big networks in a classic underdog arc. Weird Al plays the straight man here, imbuing his earnest hero with a can-do spirit you want to root for. Plus, a pre-The Nanny Fran Drescher sails in to show why she ended up a star.
5. I Want You Back
Credit: Amazon Studios
A new rom-com starring Charlie Day and Jenny Slate, I Want You Back enchanted Mashable’s Nicole Gallucci with its willingness to skip over some of the most played-out tropes of the genre. “Every successful rom-com has a source of authentic chemistry, and Slate and Day’s natural rapport delivers,” she wrote in her review. “The two shine as heartbroken hot messes who desperately want their search for soulmates to be over, and their shared sense of humor proves to be ceaselessly charming.”
6. The Big Sick
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s Oscar-nominated screenplay fictionalizes a rocky period from early in their real-life relationship, where Gordon was seriously ill. While it does get emotionally intense in parts, it’s also hysterically funny — from a scene where Emily (Zoe Kazan) freaks out over the prospect of pooping when Kumail (Nanjiani, playing a version of himself) is in the apartment, to what might be the single best and darkest 9/11 joke made on film to date.
7. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
This one’s another comedy that gets you right in the feels on a regular basis, but this time with the quintessential Wes Anderson charm. Inspired by, paying homage to, and gently parodying the legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Steve Zissou (Bill Murray, arguably never better) leads a somewhat disgruntled crew played by a slate of stars (Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, and more) on a mission to capture the rare shark that killed the cranky Captain’s partner. Soundtracked by a gorgeous array of David Bowie covers — performed in Portuguese by cast member Seu Jorge — The Life Aquatic is what to put on when you feel like being taken on an adventure.
8. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The sequel to Sacha Baron Cohen’s mockumentary Borat was a bright spot in an otherwise grim 2020. It scored Oscar nominations and critical acclaim, especially for Bulgarian actor Maria Bakalova, who stole the spotlight as Borat’s awkward daughter, Tutar.
Both films follow Baron Cohen, disguised as boorish, backward journalist Borat Sagdiyev, as he endeavors to understand American culture through a series of improvisation set-ups at the expense of unsuspecting real people. Not only as viciously funny as the original, but this sequel also caught in its net then-President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani in a notorious hotel room scene. It’s one of the strangest and most oddly affecting products of cinema’s — and the world’s — weirdest years ever.
9. The Sapphires
A little bit Dreamgirls, a little bit That Thing You Do!, and a whole lot of stellar soul covers: That’s the Australian period musical-comedy The Sapphires. The film follows four young singers from a remote Indigenous community (Jessica Mauboy, Miranda Tapsell, Deborah Mailman, and Shari Sebbens) in the 1960s, who are discovered by an aimless manager (Chris O’Dowd), who turns them into a perfectly choreographed girl group bound for Vietnam to perform for the troops. Totally charming, this is one to watch with your parents.
Credit: Cinemarque-New World/Kobal/Shutterstock
What’s your damage? Long before Mean Girls was hitting popular bitches with buses, this 1989 pitch-black comedy bridged the gap between the John Hughes era and the more cynical teen cinema that would emerge in the ’90s. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater star as Veronica and J.D., a discontented popular girl and outcast newcomer respectively, who take revenge on a cruel clique of rich girls named Heather. The film takes the viciousness of high school to a darkly hilarious extreme, with its own snarky vernacular and vision of 80s excess (croquet! in blazers!).
11. His Girl Friday
This classic screwball rom-com, adapted from the play The Front Page, sees star reporter Hildy Johnson take on one last assignment with her editor ex-husband before she gets out of the game for good to remarry and retire to a quiet life of motherhood. If you’re a little burned out on contemporary comedy, there’s nothing better for the soul than watching a dame with moxie stalk around in gorgeous skirt suits tossing out rapid-fire banter in a Mid-Atlantic accent. As Hildy Johnson, Rosalind Russell does it better than just about anyone. Throw in Cary Grant as the former boss who’s still in love with her — and still gives as good as he gets — and this 1940 film still crackles with energy and wit.
12. Late Night
Mindy Kaling and a wonderful Emma Thompson spark off each other in this spiky, smart comedy set in the world of late-night TV. Kaling’s script follows Molly, an aspiring comedy writer who lands in the male, pale, and stale writer’s room ruled with an iron fist by Thompson’s legendary host, Katherine Newbury. (Oh, for a world where a woman was allowed to become a legendary late-night host.) While there’s a sweet romance side plot with one of the many hey-it’s-that-guy faces in the writing staff, the real focus is the relationship between Molly and Katherine, and their quest to work out what’s really funny, and why. It’s hilarious and heartfelt.