The best comedy movies on Amazon Prime

The best comedy movies on Amazon Prime

Clockwise from top left: Jeff, Who Lives At Home (Screenshot); The Farewell (Photo: A24); igby Goes Down (Screenshot); Election (Screenshot); Young Adult (Screenshot); Friends With Kids (Screenshot); Ghost World (Screenshot)
Clockwise from top left: Jeff, Who Lives At Home (Screenshot); The Farewell (Photo: A24); igby Goes Down (Screenshot); Election (Screenshot); Young Adult (Screenshot); Friends With Kids (Screenshot); Ghost World (Screenshot)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Streaming libraries expand and contract. Algorithms are imperfect. Those damn thumbnail images are always changing. But you know what you can always rely on? The expert opinions and knowledgeable commentary of The A.V. Club. That’s why we’re scouring both the menus of the most popular services and our own archives to bring you these guides to the best viewing options, broken down by streamer, medium, and genre. Want to know why we’re so keen on a particular movie? Click the author’s name at the end of each passage for more in-depth analysis from The A.V. Club’s past. And be sure to check back often, because we’ll be adding more recommendations as films come and go.

Some titles on this list also appear on our best movies on Amazon Prime list, but we decided horror films deserved their own spotlight since they are often not included on our year-end lists as much as other genres. The criteria for inclusion here is that (1) the film is classified by Amazon Prime as a comedy (so don’t shoot the messenger if you think something is misgenred here), (2) The A.V. Club has written critically about the movie; and (3) if it was a graded review, it received at least a “B.” Some newer (and much older) movies will be added over time as Amazon Prime announces new additions to their library.

Looking for other movies to stream? Also check out our list of the best movies on Netflix, best movies on Disney+, and best movies on Hulu. And if you’re looking for a scare, check out our list of the best comedy movies on Amazon Prime.

This list was most recently updated on Oct. 6, 2020.

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2 / 37

2 Days In Paris

2 Days In Paris

2 Days In Paris
2 Days In Paris
Screenshot:

On paper, Julie Delpy’s 2 Days In Paris might well read like a light French farce, full of wacky characters and playful relationship banter that only turns serious toward the end of the film. The reality is much more raw. Playing a thirtysomething couple making a brief stopover in Paris after a vacation to Italy, Delpy (Before Sunrise) and co-star Adam Goldberg snipe at each other with casual venom, refusing to acknowledge or accede to each other’s calls for comfort or reassurance. When he says she’s special, she shoots back “Like in the retarded way, which is why I’m going out with you.” When she gives him more information than he wants about something, he says “It’s like dating public television.” They both seem a little neurotic and a little self-centered, but mostly, after two years together, they’ve apparently run out of reasons to be kind. And while their give-and-take is almost playful, both actors put an uncomfortable edge on it, fit to keep viewers squirming with alternate waves of sympathy and disgust. [Tasha Robinson]

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3 / 37

American Ultra

American Ultra

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart
Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart
Screenshot: American Ultra

In American Ultra—a stoned, occasionally gruesome riff on The Bourne Identity, flavored with a touch of First Blood and Burn After Reading—a small-town pothead lives blissfully unaware of his past as a brainwashed super-soldier, programmed by the CIA to be able to kill anyone using anything. Then, an intra-agency power struggle results in a termination order, and within a few hours our hapless hero finds himself in the parking lot of the Cash-N-Carry, having just killed two black-ops gunmen using nothing more than a dull spoon and a cup of ramen noodles, with no understanding of how he did it or why. Operating within the logic of severely stoned paranoia, he concludes that he must be a robot. American Ultra is one of those geeky genre mishmashes that’s very clever about being dumb. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

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4 / 37

Annie Hall

Annie Hall

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen
Diane Keaton and Woody Allen
Screenshot: Annie Hall

Few films on this list have had as massive an impact on the modern romantic comedy as Annie Hall. Woody Allen’s mid-’70s masterpiece set the template for contemporary rom-coms with a staggering degree of new twists on old formulas. From the fourth-wall-breaking tactics of Allen’s nebbish protagonist to the master class in editing, the movie serves as the crowning jewel on his decade as America’s foremost cinematic humorist, and captures essential truths about urban romance at the same time. [Alex McCown]

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5 / 37

The Band’s Visit

The Band’s Visit

The Band’s Visit
The Band’s Visit
Screenshot:

Eran Kolirin’s debut feature, The Band’s Visit, tells the story of an Egyptian police band that’s invited to perform at an Arab cultural center in Israel, but arrives to find no welcoming committee, and—at first—no help from the locals. Through a series of wrong turns, they end up in a small town, where the troupe’s leader, Sasson Gabai, meets friendly café owner Ronit Elkabetz, who offers to put them up for the night. Over the course of the evening, the Israelis and the Egyptians feel each other out, bonding over some topics while still repeatedly hitting a wall of mutual distrust. Kolirin is particularly interested in the interaction between Elakbetz and Gabai–the former thinks of herself as a free spirit, and would love to blow her neighbors’ minds by befriending an Arab, while the latter is the kind of prim man who can’t help but be shocked by his hostesses’ bare feet and painted toenails, even though he’s too polite to say anything about them. [Noel Murray]

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6 / 37

Big Fan

Big Fan

Patto Oswalt
Patto Oswalt
Screenshot: Big Fan

Siegel’s directorial debut, Big Fan, follows the world’s biggest Giants fan—played by Patton Oswalt—as he has an unpleasant encounter with his favorite player, and subsequently contemplates a conversion. (The character’s name, appropriately enough, is “Paul.”) Oswalt also wrestles with a potential sacrifice, suffers physical pain for the sake of his team, and even briefly changes his name. It’s hard to say whether Siegel intentionally laced Big Fan with Christian themes, or he’s just drawing on the common well of spiritual-crisis stories. Either way, Big Fan is clearly a movie of ambition, and not just a melancholy comedy about a football-loving schmuck who gets his ass kicked by everyone he loves. [Noel Murray]

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7 / 37

The Big Sick

The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
Photo: Amazon/Lionsgate

Interesting anecdotes don’t always make for interesting movies; your story may kill at parties, but that doesn’t mean it belongs on the big screen. In The Big Sick, stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who plays Dinesh on Silicon Valley, and Emily V. Gordon, the writer and former therapist he married, dramatize the rocky first year of their relationship, with Nanjiani starring as a lightly fictionalized version of himself. That may sound, in general synopsis, like a story better told over dinner and drinks; besides friends, family, and fans of the podcast the two co-host, who was clamoring for a feature-length glimpse into the couple’s courtship? But there was more than the usual dating-scene obstacles threatening their future together. Collaborating on the screenplay for The Big Sick, Nanjiani and Gordon have made a perceptive, winning romantic comedy from those obstacles, including the unforeseen emergency that provides the film its title. [A.A. Dowd]

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8 / 37

The Cabin In The Woods

The Cabin In The Woods

The Cabin In The Woods
The Cabin In The Woods
Screenshot:

Where Scream put a postmodern twist on slasher films, The Cabin In The Woods takes on the whole genre and twists even harder. Director Drew Goddard, screenwriter of Cloverfield and a veteran of Lost and Alias, co-wrote the film’s script with Joss Whedon, who worked with him on Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. The script brings to the fore Whedon’s love of subverting clichés while embracing them and teasing out their deeper meaning. [Keith Phipps]

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9 / 37

Clue

Clue

Lesley Ann Warren
Lesley Ann Warren
Screenshot: Clue

How do you come back from the phrase “Based on the Parker Brothers game”? Clue smartly incorporates elements of the game into a farcical structure that can sustain them and give the whole enterprise surprising legitimacy. It’s true that many of the comic situations, like the one above, are boilerplate, but even those who find Clue manic and unfunny have to admit that it’s a real effort, far more sophisticated in its design than its silly source might have suggested—or deserved. Director Jonathan Lynn and his co-writer John Landis are playful with the board-game references—divvying up the weapons like Christmas presents is cheerfully ridiculous, and giant envelopes play a prominent role—but they’re film historians first and foremost, and they use this opportunity to pay grand homage to genres that haven’t been in fashion for decades, if they ever were. [Scott Tobias]

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10 / 37

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

Elsie Fisher
Elsie Fisher
Photo: A24

Middle school is a nightmare. It’s like prison with homework, or a pitiless social experiment. For three very long years, half-adults with raging hormones and underdeveloped empathy glands prey on their peers, pouncing on any weakness, securing through cruelty their own place in the Darwinian pecking order. You don’t graduate from middle school. You survive it, if you can. Eighth Grade, the directorial debut of comedian Bo Burnham, has been made with a bone-deep and clear-eyed understanding of this unfortunate chapter of adolescence, and just how hard it can be for all but the most adaptive and impossibly popular. But the commiserative insight comes with an accompanying gust of warmth. What makes this coming-of-age film special is that it’s at once harsh and humanist: a perceptive, realistic comedy about tweenage life that’s also rich in compassion, that scarcest of junior-high commodities. [A.A. Dowd]

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11 / 37

Election

Election

Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Brodrick
Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Brodrick
Screenshot: Election

Alexander Payne’s Election centers on a divisive student-council race between three students, meant in the original Tom Perrotta novel as a sort-of echo of the 1992 presidential race, particularly the rise and fall of that year’s third-party candidate Ross Perot. But the film doesn’t really boil down to the competition that pits striver Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) against popular doofus Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) and his wild-card sister Tammy (Jessica Campbell); from the beginning, it’s a face-off between Tracy and her teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick). The conflict starts off passive-aggressive, with Broderick’s student government advisor “Mr. M” claiming genial, student-friendly impartiality (as well as expertise in both “morals” and “ethics,” neither of which ever quite get defined in the film). But his problems with Tracy are evident from their first classroom scene, where McAllister leads his morals-versus-ethics discussion and quietly looks around for any student to call on but Tracy, whose focused, goal-oriented insistence gets under his skin. The hostility simmering underneath their early interactions comes to a boil in a terrific scene where McAllister accuses Tracy of destroying opposing campaign signs and she fires back without blinking. But this isn’t a movie of dramatic confrontations. Ambition squares off against corrupt would-be decency, and life goes on. So many movies about high school pit groups against other groups: jocks against nerds, mean girls against the unpopular, students against unfeeling teachers. In Election, the showdown between McAllister and Flick resonates because both characters feel so utterly alone—before and after. [Jesse Hassenger]

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12 / 37

The Farewell

The Farewell

The Farewell
The Farewell
Photo: A24

If you’ve heard anything about The Farewell other than it stars rapper-turned-actress Awkwafina, maybe it’s the tagline: “Based on a true lie.” The lie in question isn’t a treacherous one, but it is illegal—at least in the States, where it’s expected that if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, well, you’ll be hearing about it. But in China, some follow a different protocol, perhaps a more merciful one, in which families carry the emotional burden by simply not telling a dying loved one that they’re dying. It’s an unbelievable practice from a Western point of view, but things aren’t as clear-cut when you’re standing with one foot in your native culture and the other in an adopted one. Lulu Wang’s sophomore feature captures this tension with tenderness and despair, revisiting the inter-generational family drama—the kind a pre-Hollywood Ang Lee specialized in—through the lens of first generation Chinese-Americans. [Beatrice Loayza]

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13 / 37

Fort Tilden

Fort Tilden

Clare McNulty and Bridey Elliott
Clare McNulty and Bridey Elliott
Screenshot: Fort Tilden

“It’s authentically distressed,” says Allie (Clare McNulty) of the barrel she and her friend Harper (Bridey Elliott) find lying in the sand near the end of Fort Tilden. Like so many lines in Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers’ caustic comedy, it’s a sharply double-edged observation. Not only is the chipped wooden container in question more genuinely weathered than the one the women had already purchased as a conversation piece before beginning their trip to the beach, but Allie’s observation also stands as a piece of inadvertently pointed self-analysis. Harper and Allie are indeed damsels in distress, and not just because they can’t efficiently navigate the way from a Brooklyn loft to the Rockaways (a disastrous, distended day trip to hook up with some boys, which makes up the film’s entire plot). They’ve been shaped by a parentally subsidized lifestyle that permits neo-bohemian arrogance without the threat of actual starving-artist poverty; their family ties simultaneously insulate them from harm while rendering them defenseless against the smallest challenges to their egos and routines. Far from the exercise in vicarious hipster-voodoo-doll skewering its basic setup suggests, Fort Tilden is at once less sentimental and more incisive about privilege and its discontents than the recent films of Noah Baumbach. It’s also funnier. [Adam Nayman]

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14 / 37

Friends With Kids

Friends With Kids

Illustration for article titled The best comedy movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Friends With Kids

While it’s true that most romantic comedies merely make minor tweaks to a rusted-out formula, it’s also true that many critics approach rom-coms with a sense of eye-rolling obligation, while solidly unspectacular movies like Lockout get praised to the skies. There’s formula in Jennifer Westfeldt’s directorial debut, but feeling as well. And anyone who thinks it’s far-fetched to see two friends of opposite gender agreeing to raise a child while they continue to date other people hasn’t touched base with single urbanites in their late 30s recently. (It’s absurd, but only by about 10 percent.) If nothing else, the film deserves endless praise for its bombshell kicker, a final line that blasts through the coy innuendo at the heart of most screen romances. [Sam Adams]

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15 / 37

Ghost Town

Ghost Town

Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear
Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear
Screenshot: Ghost Town

It takes an awful lot of effort for a contemporary comedy to win an audience back after opening with yet another “Holy crap, that guy just got hit by a bus!” scene, but Ghost Town perseveres, and eventually emerges as a likeable time-waster, albeit more sweet than funny. The bus-victim in Ghost Town’s opening scene is Greg Kinnear, a stock “asshole New York businessman” who’s working on buying a love-nest for his mistress when the city’s mass-transit system gets the better of him. Now reduced to quietly haunting ex-wife Téa Leoni, Kinnear sees a ray of hope when he meets a living man who can talk to the dead, and potentially help Kinnear sort out his unfinished business on earth. The problem? The ghost-talker is irascible dentist Ricky Gervais, who wants nothing to do with the legion of spirits who’ve been hassling him ever since a near-death experience gave him the gift. [Noel Murray]

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16 / 37

Ghost World

Ghost World

Thora Birch
Thora Birch
Screenshot: Ghost World

The overwhelming majority of films based on comic books strain to imitate their sources’ flashy graphic elements, usually resulting in a busy mishmash of garish colors, swirling camera movements, grotesque characterization, and excessive special effects. Granted, Daniel Clowes’ celebrated graphic novel Ghost World isn’t that kind of comic. But director Terry Zwigoff’s inspired and achingly funny adaptation aims for something considerably trickier: matching the panel-by-panel rhythms of a universe that’s built on the patient accumulation of self-contained, vividly rendered episodes. Like few films since Zwigoff’s superb 1995 documentary Crumb, Ghost World sees an underlying poignancy in the lives of outcasts who combat their misery through withering sarcasm and creative misanthropy. [Scott Tobias]

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17 / 37

Heathers

Heathers

The Heathers (and a Veronica)
The Heathers (and a Veronica)
Screenshot: Heathers

Heathers isn’t a perfect movie by any stretch: The heavily worked-over ending feels frantic and rushed, not the exclamation point it needed to be, and the dialogue occasionally crosses the line between clever and overly pleased with itself. (Call it “The Diablo Cody Threshold.”) Yet coming at the end of the ’80s, Heathers still stands out for questioning the prevailing stereotypes of teen movies rather than accepting them as a given. Two decades later, the Hughes model of teen comedy/dramas is still pervasive, but the goings-on at Westerburg High have only gained in potency, perhaps because so few movies have had the courage (or the approval) to follow Heathers’ lead. “It’s not very subtle,” as J.D. says, “but neither is blowing up a whole school.” [Scott Tobias]

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18 / 37

Hot Rod

Hot Rod

Andy Samberg
Andy Samberg
Screenshot: Hot Rod

With “Lazy Sunday” and the digital shorts that followed, comedy troupe The Lonely IslandAndy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone—circumvented SNL’s process, brought some flexibility into an ancient format, and ushered the show kicking and screaming into the viral age. And though few at the time were hailing Hot Rod for its innovation, the film works hard to wriggle out of tired old formulas. Or if it must adhere to formula, at least the Lonely Islanders are going to make the audience aware of it and clown around as much as possible. Consider the oddest scene from Hot Rod. Aspiring stuntman Rod Kimble (Samberg) pays a visit his half-brother Kevin (Taccone) to mend fences after Kevin’s movie, intended to promote Rod’s awesome achievements, premières to mass ridicule. Rod apologizes for his public outburst; Kevin expresses sympathy for a devastating revelation about Rod’s father. “Cool beans?,” Kevin asks. “Cool beans,” Rod confirms. In A Night At The Roxbury, this is where the scene would end: Obligatory reconciliation, done as quickly and painlessly as possible. In Hot Rod, it keeps going, first with the phrase ping-ponging back and forth between Samberg and Taccone, and then with a full-on rap breakdown with piped-in beats and stuttering frames. Now, this boring apology scene has ticked out the half-brother reconciliation box while transforming into a left-field comic setpiece. It’s just one of many moments when this restless, inspired, and only occasionally slapdash comedy refuses to play by the rules. [Scott Tobias]

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19 / 37

Igby Goes Down

Igby Goes Down

Kiernan Culkin
Kiernan Culkin
Screenshot: Igby Goes Down

Cast adrift in the loftiest realms of Manhattan, the disaffected young hero in writer-director Burr Steers’ auspicious black comedy Igby Goes Down is like a Larry Clark baby with breeding and a budget, free to test his limits without having to worry much about the consequences. From the opening scene, when Kieran Culkin and his older brother circle like vultures over their mother’s deathbed, Steers faces an uphill battle: Why should anyone care about a rich, sullen brat who spits the silver spoon out of his mouth? But once his novelistic script sets the film’s off-center, comically dysfunctional universe in motion, it stirs up great affection for a character whose very presence, by all accounts, invites more than his fair share of beatings. [Scott Tobias]

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20 / 37

It’s A Disaster

It’s A Disaster

It’s A Disaster
It’s A Disaster
Screenshot: It’s A Disaster

An unusually eventful “couples brunch” among a neurotic group of bright, colorful friends is rudely interrupted by news of imminent apocalypse in It’s A Disaster, a droll social comedy about a party that takes a number of strange turns. It’s a smart, dark, tonally tricky affair about what happens when the bonds that hold civilization together come apart, whether through the impending divorce of a couple whose union helps keep a disparate group of friends together, or through some manner of dirty bomb or zombie attack. [Nathan Rabin]

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21 / 37

Jeff, Who Lives At Home

Jeff, Who Lives At Home

Jason Segel and Ed Helms
Jason Segel and Ed Helms
Screenshot: Jeff, Who Lives At Home

In Jeff, Who Lives At Home, Jason Segel plays a quintessential mumblecore fixture: the eternal adolescent whose life is locked in a holding pattern. Too old for a quarter-life crisis but not old enough for the mid-life variation, Segel lacks a rudder. But he does have a vague conception of destiny, which leads him in a series of surprising and then predictable directions. Segel begins the film with a wonderfully spacey monologue about M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, then sets off into the world in search of symbols and codes. He’s a spiritual seeker with a mind clouded with cannabis, and an animal decency that makes it easy to root for him, no matter how misguided his actions. Life changes for Segel’s 30-year-old slacker when his mother (Susan Sarandon) sends him to the store for wood glue. Before Segel can get it, he catches Judy Greer, the wife of his estranged brother Ed Helms, with another man, and reconnects with Helms to conduct a half-assed surveillance on her. Sarandon, meanwhile, receives mysterious messages from a secret admirer at work and contemplates giving romance another go late in the game. [Nathan Rabin]

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22 / 37

Knives Out

Knives Out

Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig
Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig
Photo: Lionsgate

Rian Johnson’s witty and phenomenally entertaining whodunit may have been inspired by classic Agatha Christie adaptations, but its underlying story of fortune and upward mobility owes more to Charles Dickens (who had his own fondness for mystery plots). Explaining why, however, would involve spoiling some of the film’s crucial twists. After a famous mystery novelist dies of an apparent (but very suspicious) suicide on his 85th birthday, an anachronistic “gentleman sleuth” (Daniel Craig) arrives to investigate the family of the deceased—a rogues’ gallery of useless modern-day aristocrats that includes a trust-fund playboy, an “alt-right” shitposter, and a New Age lifestyle guru. Johnson, who made his name with geeky delights like Brick and Looper before hitting it big with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, finds ingenious solutions to the rules of the murder-mystery movie formula. But more impressively, he manages to stake out a moral position in a genre in which everyone is supposed to be a suspect. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

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23 / 37

Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky
Logan Lucky
Photo: Fingerprint Releasing/Bleecker Street

As a heist picture, Logan Lucky knows just how often to alternate straight exposition with cagey withholding. The full robbery blueprint is revealed slowly—new details are still twisting the narrative even after the big heist day has passed, perfect for Steven Soderbergh’s control-freak tendencies (once again, he shoots and edits himself). The snappy script by unknown (and possibly pseudonymous) newcomer Rebecca Blunt offers some Coen brothers-like dialogue, which Soderbergh complements with his compositions. Sometimes he gets a laugh just by how he positions the actors in the frame, and there are multiple gags predicated on the timing of explosions. [Jesse Hassenger]

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24 / 37

Love & Friendship

Love & Friendship

Love & Frienship
Love & Frienship
Screenshot:

Whit Stillman adapting Jane Austen feels at once apt and almost unnecessary. His previous films—obsessed as they are with manners, social status, and conversational diplomacy—come pretty close to fulfilling any need we might have for a modern-day Austen. Metropolitan’s characters even discuss Austen at length, arguing passionately about Mansfield Park’s virtuous heroine and her relevance to contemporary readers. Some cinephiles may still feel exhausted, too, by the deluge of Austen adaptations that hit TV and multiplexes during the mid-’90s: BBC’s six-part Pride And Prejudice, Ang Lee’s Sense And Sensibility, Roger Michell’s Persuasion, the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma. (These all aired or were theatrically released within a 16-month period, believe it or not.) Still, it’s not as if movies today offer such a surfeit of wit and sophistication that one as purely pleasurable as Stillman’s Love & Friendship can be dismissed. If nothing else, it gives Kate Beckinsale, who previously starred in Stillman’s The Last Days Of Disco, a lead role that isn’t a vampire, and doesn’t require her to battle werewolves while clad in black-rubber fetish gear. [Mike D’Angelo]

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25 / 37

The Love Witch

The Love Witch

The Love Witch
The Love Witch
Photo: Oscilloscope Labs

In a perfect world, Anna Biller would be swimming in the kind of grant money that Cindy Sherman was getting back in the ’90s. But this isn’t and she’s not, so we only get a Biller film every half decade or so. (It takes a long time to sew all the costumes and make all of the sets and write and direct and edit and produce a movie all on your own.) The level of control in Biller’s newest, The Love Witch, is remarkable; from the mannered performance of its lead actress to the rich interplay of colors in its mise en scène, The Love Witch is designed to evoke an extremely specific period in cinema history and to subtly undermine its ideology through that very faithfulness. Biller plays with the idea of the femme fatale by making her a fool for love and her victims straight fools; early on in the film, someone tells Elaine (Samantha Robinson), “You sound like you’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy,” not yet realizing that that’s exactly what makes her so dangerous. Unapologetically feminine and wickedly subversive, The Love Witch is a treat for both the eye and the mind. [Katie Rife]

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26 / 37

Megamind

Megamind

Megamind
Megamind
Image: Dreamworks

Most decent kids’ entertainment blends material for older and younger viewers. But DreamWorks’ CGI movie, Megamind, pushes this dynamic weirdly far, squarely targeting viewers who’ll catch jokes based on the original Donkey Kong, or recognize Marlon Brando from Superman, or Pat Morita from Karate Kid. The tone draws heavily on wryly postmodern, self-aware send-ups like The Venture Bros., and it’s so packed with references familiar to longtime superhero aficionados that smaller viewers may not be sure what they’re seeing, apart from bickering and explosions. There’s nothing wrong with animation aimed at adults, but this may be the first kids’ movie that throws fewer bones to its supposed intended viewers than to their parents. [Tasha Robinson]

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27 / 37

Paterson

Paterson

Adam Driver
Adam Driver
Photo: Bleeker Street

To describe Paterson, the new film by Jim Jarmusch, is to risk making it sound both cutesy and condescending. Adam Driver, gangly millennial prince, plays Paterson from Paterson, New Jersey, a bus driver who moonlights as a poet. If the wordplay of that setup doesn’t make you gag (even the casting is a pun), there’s the implied novelty of the premise: Is it really so unusual, the idea that the dude manning the wheel of public transportation could be (gasp!) a creative person? And yet for all the warning flags its log line throws up, Paterson turns out to be something really special: a sublimely mellow comedy about everyday life. And that’s because Jarmusch, that aging ambassador of cool, sincerely respects both the the ordinariness and the artistry of his blue-collar hero. One does not contradict the other. They are intimately related. [A.A. Dowd]

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28 / 37

A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor
A Simple Favor

Gallons of ink have been spilled on Paul Feig’s female-focused approach to comedy, so why isn’t one of the year’s best vehicles for women getting more press? Starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in a twisted tale of suburban intrigue, A Simple Favor pioneers the subgenre of mommy-blog noir. But while it lives in the mundane realm of play dates and PTA meetings, the film also recognizes that, while they might spend a lot of time with kids, its characters (and target audience!) are still intelligent adults with sophisticated tastes, from dry gin martinis to designer menswear. [Katie Rife]

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29 / 37

Smiley Face

Smiley Face

Anna Faris
Anna Faris
Screenshot: Smiley Face

The world probably doesn’t need another stoner comedy—not with the likes of The Big Lebowski, Dazed And Confused, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, and Dude, Where’s My Car? in constant rotation—but it gets one anyway in Gregg Araki’s Smiley Face, which probably connects to the experience of being baked better than any of them. To wit: In one scene, a completely toasted Anna Faris is scarfing down a bowl of corn chips in a stranger’s house when she notices a framed black-and-white picture of an ear of corn. She surmises that the person who took the picture must love the corn that went into those chips, and thus has framed this thing that he loves. That gives her the idea that she should start framing pictures of things that she loves, like lasagna, which of course Garfield loves, so maybe to be “meta,” she should frame a picture of President James Garfield. This is how the stoned mind operates, making brilliant, inspired connections that are usually completely inane. [Scott Tobias]

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30 / 37

Something’s Gotta Give

Something’s Gotta Give

Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson
Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson
Screenshot: Something’s Gotta Give

In Something’s Gotta Give, Jack Nicholson plays a man who’s worlds apart from Warren Schmidt, but who comes to wear Schmidt’s knowledge for all the world to see. That adds a touch of gravity to Nancy Meyers’ pleasantly but deceptively lightweight film, a romantic comedy that takes a rare tack by leaving its characters different from how it finds them. Nicholson begins the film as a man happy to keep reminders of aging at arm’s length: He’s driving to a romantic Hamptons weekend with girlfriend Amanda Peet, the latest in his string of nubile twentysomethings. But their getaway is interrupted by the arrival of Peet’s playwright mother, Diane Keaton, then by a mild heart attack that leaves him recuperating in the latter’s beach house. The setup is about as obvious as they come, but Meyers steers away from romantic-comedy clichés until she has no other choice. But mostly, it’s just a pleasure to watch Keaton and Nicholson learning new steps in an old dance, stumbling to grab at happiness before it’s too late. [Keith Phipps]

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31 / 37

Spaceballs

Spaceballs

Illustration for article titled The best comedy movies on Amazon Prime
Screenshot: Spaceballs

Spaceballs wasn’t one of Brooks’ great successes, but it’s endured in the shadow of Star Wars as a lone “official” parody version. In retrospect, its comic deconstruction of the most successful movies of all time looks more respectful than Lucas’ own prequels, which ultimately seemed to understand less about the appeal (and pitfalls) of their source material. Certainly, George Lucas had good intentions when he tried to redo his own greatest hits, but as Spaceballs teaches us, good is often very, very dumb. [Adam Nayman]

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The Squid And The Whale

The Squid And The Whale

The Squid And The Whale
The Squid And The Whale
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In Noah Baumbach’s remarkable The Squid And The Whale, Daniels plays a profoundly bitter failure who rages joylessly against a world that long ago rejected him, and he futilely tries to assert his fading sense of superiority by dividing the world into intellectuals (who like books and interesting movies) and philistines (who don’t). There’s not a whole lot to like or admire about Daniels or most of the film’s compellingly flawed leads, yet Daniels maintains a certain dour magnetism throughout, and the film’s academically brilliant but emotionally challenged upper-middle-class New Yorkers are all the more fascinating for their many spiky edges and glaring faults. Baumbach can obviously see through his characters, with their crippling pretensions and noxious self-delusions, but his empathetic writing and directing engender a healthy affection for them anyway. [Nathan Rabin]

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Terri

Terri

 Jacob Wysocki and John C. Reilly
Jacob Wysocki and John C. Reilly
Screenshot: Terri

Written by Patrick deWitt and directed by Azazel Jacobs, Terri has Jacob Wysocki playing an overweight teenager who lives with his mentally ill uncle Creed Bratton, and suffers through days at a high school where his classmates honk his man-boobs and tease him mercilessly. And Wysocki doesn’t make it easy on himself, either. He’s a sweet, smart kid, but he’s sullen, and frequently tardy, which doesn’t get the teachers on his side. Plus, he wears pajamas to class. The one person who tries to help is his principal, John C. Reilly, who had a rough boyhood himself, and considers counseling the school’s misfits to be a personal crusade. He knows—and Terri knows—what it’s like to stumble through the war zone of adolescence, looking for allies. [Noel Murray]

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Thunder Road

Thunder Road

Jim Cummings
Jim Cummings
Screenshot: Thunder Road

Jim Cummings’ deeply discomfiting comedy Thunder Road takes its title from the majestic opening track of Bruce Springsteen’s breakthrough album, Born To Run, but its spirit recalls the Boss’s throatier cries from the heart and yawls of confused blue-collar emotion. In a terrific opening scene (basically a remake of Cummings’ award-winning 2016 short film of the same title, with one key change), a Texas patrolman named Jimmy Arnaud (Cummings) takes to the front of a church to deliver an improvised eulogy for his mother. He is the only one of three siblings to have made it out to the funeral, though we don’t know why. It’s obvious that he doesn’t want to be there either. His rambling, devolving 10-minute monologue slips from thank-yous and reminisces about his problems with dyslexia and his mother’s love of Bruce Springsteen (specifically “Thunder Road”) into flop sweat and meltdown, breaking into ugly, fully-body crying and finally a bizarre, silent interpretive dance of despair. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

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Up In The Air

Up In The Air

George Clooney and Vera Farmiga
George Clooney and Vera Farmiga
Screenshot: Up In The Air

George Clooney plays a man who has perfected a dubious but widely applicable skill in Up In The Air: He fires people. Somewhere along the line, he also offers some advice that makes their dismissals sound like the beginning of a glorious new tomorrow. It’s canned, but it sounds sincere coming from Clooney, and not just because he offers it with an unblinking gaze that suggests utter conviction. He really believes it. Or at the very least, he believes in a life without attachments, in which he drifts from airport lounge to hotel room while racking up an inhuman number of frequent-flier miles and returning to his sparsely appointed Omaha apartment only when need requires. Jason Reitman’s direction nicely translates the seductive appeal of sterile public places while letting the assured performances do much of the work. The film isn’t shy about laying out its themes, but Clooney’s understated work at the center lends them added complexity. What Up In The Air lacks in surprises—apart from an elusive final scene—it compensates for by conveying the pleasures of living from landing to landing, and the terror of floating away. [Keith Phipps]

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Young Adult

Young Adult

Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron
Screenshot: Young Adult

Characters reminisce about the ’90s, wear Pixies T-shirts, and maintain collections of hand-painted action figures in Young Adult, all in line with what viewers might expect from a film that reunites Juno’s writer and director, Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman. What’s different this time around? They’re on the sidelines, gazing with bewilderment, dislike, and/or awe at their heroine, played by Charlize Theron as the type of girl who once upon a time walked all over them. Though her character’s high-school glory days are almost two decades behind her, she’s dredged them up with an unstable determination that attests to the years of disappointment that followed them. It’s an empathetic but bravely brittle portrait of an aging queen bee that showcases a nuanced performance from Theron as a woman too used to being admired to admit how lonely and desperate she’s become. [Alison Willmore]

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