As the month of June winds down, there are still plenty of films left unseen on the “Big 3” streaming services. Comedy is subjective, but I picked some titles that I think everyone can enjoy–well, most of them. I’ve given warnings of the ones that may have some “questionable” content, at least. But on the whole, many of these are OK for the 14-and-above crowd. Here are a few suggestions for comedy fans that are currently streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
Blazing Saddles: I’ve recently written an article about how excellent Blazing Saddles is, but for anyone who’s never seen this Mel Brooks masterpiece–and doesn’t mind the very un-PC nature of the entire endeavor–will find one of the funniest movies ever made. Act now, though: it’s leaving Netflix on July 1!
Silver Streak: Similar to Blazing Saddles, for the Gene Wilder fan it doesn’t get much more Gene Wilder than Silver Streak. Following the increasing misadventures of a soft-spoken book editor taking the Silver Streak line from California to Chicago, he finds romance, gets involved in a murder mystery, and teams up with car thief Richard Pryor along the way. A fun, classic comedy that features Wilder’s incredible comedic timing and delivery, Silver Streak is easy-to-watch and a great amount of fun.
Sausage Party: Is this a profanity-laden, crude fim? Yes. But it’s also a rather funny, somewhat trippy movie about the secret life of food products. Specifically, that every food item in a supermarket is conscious and alive and have been led to believe that being bought by customers is like going to heaven. Instead, it follows as a sausage (voiced by Seth Rogan) finds out what actually happens to food after it’s bought–specifically, that it’s eaten. This is a rather insane film but it’s also very funny and wildly inappropriate, especially since it has Pixar-like animation for characters that curse and have sex–which is in itself disturbing enough. The point being, make sure you watch it after putting the kids to bed.
Hot Fuzz: Simon Pegg plays a straight-laced supercop who’s so good at his job that his boss relocates him from London to a quaint town in the English suburbs. While at first he’s too high-strung for everyone but a goofy, action movie-obsessed cop (played by Nick Frost), Pegg begins to unravel a much larger, more horrifying conspiracy underneath the town’s placid surface. A great send-up of action films that eventually becomes a cliche-ridden action film of its own, it’s the type of top-notch comedy from the creators and stars of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead.
Mascots: Christopher Guest practically invented the mockumentary, having started with This Is Spinal Tap and continuing (maybe even perfecting it) with Waiting For Guffman and Best in Show. His latest entry in the format is Mascots, which follows (what else?) costumed mascots for sports teams as they come together to compete against each other. Featuring his usual cast of players, including Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, and Ed Bagley, Jr., it’s not his best but it’s still a solid, silly send-up where he focuses in on a very specific world of ridiculous people taking something rather stupid deadly serious.
Best In Show: Speaking of Christopher Guest, this is maybe his best movie. Best In Show follows a group of dog owners who are showing their dogs at the Westminster Dog Show looking for the coveted Best In Show. The characters are ridiculous human beings who would be pathetic if they weren’t so sure in their delusions. Just the best.
Clue: The Movie: In case you haven’t heard of this movie or seen it before, Clue is one of the funniest oddities produced in the 1980’s. Maybe the only good movie ever adapted from a board game, the familiar characters from Clue–Col. Mustard, Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, etc.–are locked in a mansion where, after a murder occurs, they dash around trying to figure out whodunit. This screwball comedy mostly succeeds because of the great comedic actors involved, including Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Martin Mull, and Tim Curry, and is a great comedy to enjoy on a dark and stormy night.
Cadillac Man: Robin Williams (RIP) plays a not-very-ethical but essentially OK car salesman who’s in a bind: he has to sell 15 cars in one day or he’ll lose his job. But that’s not the worst of it after a co-worker’s husband (Tim Robbins) crashes his motorcycle into the dealership with a machine gun and demands to know who’s been screwing his wife. It’s not Williams, but he takes the blame anyway and then spends the rest of the movie trying to save his co-workers, and eventually Robbins, as the police surround the quickly escalating hostage situation. A more subdued Robin Williams was often a very good Robin Williams, as is the case in this great and often overlooked comedy.
Multiplicity: Let’s talk about Michael Keaton for a moment. Now a well-loved American treasure who’s experienced a resurgence in his career after the stellar Birdman, Keaton was initially known for his comedic performances. Even after becoming Batman, Keaton went back to comedy, making the funny and silly Multiplicity about an overworked married man who can’t seem to be everywhere he needs to at once. The solution? His scientist friend provides him with a clone of himself. Problem solved! That is, until the clone also finds himself overworked so he clones himself. And then that clone clones himself. And then…well, you get the idea. A silly comedic fantasy that’s nonetheless saved by Keaton being as likable as always, Multiplicity speaks to the overworked, harried grown-up in all of us.
Everybody Wants Some!!: Richard Linklater has made probably the best movie ever about youth, Dazed & Confused, along with the best movie ever made about dreams, Waking Life. In Everybody Wants Some!!, Linklater seems to extend the drifting, rambling slice-of-life style that he captured in Dazed to the first semester of college for a young pitcher who moves into a baseball player house off-campus and begins his experience in higher education–but mostly screws around with his new friends having fun and trying on the numerous personas college kids tend to experiment with. As charming as Dazed and a great piece of nostalgia firmly set in 1980, Everybody Wants Some!! Proves that Linklater knows how capture the spirit of American youth. Also available on Hulu.
The Lobster: In the future, if you don’t have a partner in life, you are to be turned into an animal. The Lobster follows as a recently divorced man (Colin Farrell) is sent to a sort of hotel for the lonely who are destined to be turned into animals unless they find a partner there. Incredibly weird, The Lobster is a dystopia that certainly has never been thought of before, while the bone dry humor and absurdity of the film helps keep the underlying dread of the situation at bay.
A Boy and His Dog: Look, most post-apocalypse films aren’t very funny, and for good reason: it’s not a funny idea. The desperation, violence, and unbelievably bleak situation the idea poses is pretty much antithetical to comedy. But A Boy and His Dog tries: following a young man and his telepathic dog (yes, the dog speaks to him in complete sentences through thought alone) as they try to survive, A Boy and His Dog is as funny as a comedy set in a post-apocalyptic world can get. Is it bleak? Of course it’s bleak–but it’s also darkly humorous, particularly after he comes across an underground society that’s trying to live as if nothing horrifying has happened in the world. For those who can enjoy pitch-black humor and can ignore the more horrifying aspects of, well, the reality of the situation, A Boy and His Dog is a wildly unique cult classic.
Rifftrax (Various Titles): More of a general recommendation, the core group of the second iteration of the brilliant TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 started their own concern after the end of that series with Rifftrax. While initially starting as a commentary track that you could download and sync up to various Hollywood films, they expanded their franchise with on-demand videos of terrible movies they bought the rights to. Now with many titles available on Amazon Prime, for fans of the old MST3K spirit of snarking over poorly written dialogue and ridiculous visuals, check out Rifftrax on Prime. Some recommended titles to start off with include their send-ups of Birdemic, Samauri Cop, Cool as Ice, and The Boy In the Plastic Bubble.