From true crime dramas to Oscar-nominated features, Netflix has a wide range of original content that’s only increasing with every passing month. Despite its high-budget productions, Netflix has also produced and distributed some hidden comedic gems that might not be of the highest production value but still feature some well-known talents.
These films might not garner the most viewership but have received good-enough acclaim from critics and audiences alike and should be on one’s watchlist if one plans to discover a light-hearted, feel-good watch on Netflix.
10 Happy Anniversary (2018)
Starring Parks and Recreation‘s Ben Schwartz and Master of None‘s Noël Wells, this rom-com details one anniversary in the life of an ordinary couple. Amidst planning for gifts and talking to their friends, both partners undergo a lot of thinking, conflicted upon the choices between going ahead with this relationship or breaking it off.
Clocking at just 1 hour and 18 minutes, the film is a quick glimpse into several relatable issues that a commitment-phobic couple would face. Fans of Rahul Kohli should also give Happy Anniversary a watch as the Haunting of Bly Manor actor has a hilarious supporting role as a friend of the couple.
9 Paddleton (2019)
A highly acclaimed Netflix original that seemed to go under the radar for some was Paddleton. Mark Duplass and Ray Romano star as single, middle-aged neighbors who cultivate a deeper friendship when one of them gets diagnosed with cancer.
The film’s narrative treads on familiar ground but it still adds a fresh, heartfelt touch to its slice-of-life formula, thanks to the impeccable chemistry between its two leads. Duplass also produces and co-writes the screenplay, adding to his diverse filmography (a large part of which includes Netflix original films).
8 Little Evil (2017)
Little Evil plays on the common horror trope of raising a Satanic incarnation as a child (the idea that most probably stemmed from the cult horror Omen). Adam Scott stars as a man named Gary who marries a single mother called Samantha (Evangeline Lily).
While he initially tries to build a bond with her quiet and reserved six-year-old son Lucas, he is convinced that Lucas might just be the Antichrist. Like other films on this list, this comedy too is of a short runtime and doesn’t stretch any plot points unnecessarily, while retaining its intentionally derivative charm.
7 A Futile And Stupid Gesture (2018)
Douglas Kenny, the founder of the National Lampoon magazine (that spawned a comedic cinematic universe of its own), was quite a polarizing figure of his times. Apart from his outrageous mannerisms, his humor was intentionally controversial but popular enough to build a legacy around.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture is a semi-biopic that seems to retell the late Kenny’s story with over-the-top melodrama, meta-references, and a lot of fourth-wall breaking. Will Forte gives his all as the lead character in this largely underappreciated performance. For viewers who like unconventional biopics like Man on the Mann, this would make for an amusing watch.
6 The Incredible Jessica James (2017)
The Incredible Jessica James belongs to the pantheon of the new-age rom-com that tends to ditch fancy love stories for more grounded, ‘post-relationship’ stories. The titular heroine (Jessica Williams) is a playwright who recovers from a breakup as she finds Boone (Chris O’Dowd) who is himself recovering from a recent divorce.
This leads to a wholesome friendship that finds them reminiscing on each other’s professional work and old flames. The film is suited for a new age of romance that’s increasingly relying on online dating and social media.
5 War Machine (2017)
A satire on America’s military efforts at Afghanistan, War Machine received a mixed response upon its release. If nothing, the film can be revisited for its lead performance alone, as Brad Pitt features as a caricaturish four-star general leading an ensemble of well-known actors like Anthony Michael Hall and Lakeith Stanfield.
War Machine covers several ups and downs of the charismatic general’s life as he confronts not just his peers and bureaucrats but also a journalist who plans to run an expose behind his campaigns. It ultimately boils down to serious themes like the morality of conflict and the violence that accompanies it, making for a thought-provoking and darkly funny narrative.
4 Mindhorn (2016)
Mindhorn was released in theatres in the UK but was then distributed for the rest of the world as a Netflix comedy. The film mocks the spy genre and its goofiness. Relying on offbeat humor, the film benefits greatly from a committed performance in the title role by Julian Barratt.
Barratt plays a washed-out actor who achieved fame for playing a detective named Bruce Mindhorn in an 80s TV show. He’s forced back into action as Mindhorn when a criminal who believes Mindhorn to be real, starts playing a cat-and-mouse game with him.
3 Win It All (2017)
A crime comedy starring Jake Johnson along with a hilarious ensemble comprising of Keegan-Key and Joe Lo Truglio, Win It All is directed by Joe Swanberg who’s known for his micro-budget comedy films and for creating the Netflix anthology series Easy.
Johnson stars as a small-time gambler who’s assigned the task of guarding a duffel bag full of money after its owner heads to prison. But he can’t resist the urge to gamble it all away, a move that lands him in a series of unfortunate events.
2 Deidra & Laney Rob A Train (2017)
Deidra and Laney are sisters who desperately seek to free their mother from jail and pay for her release. The desperation results in robbing trains. In their criminal pursuits, the sisters end up rekindling old family and romantic relationships, as a detective tails them.
Like many of Netflix’s underrated comedies, Deidra & Laney Rob A Train initially premiered at Sundance Film Festival from where it was picked by the distribution service. The film benefits greatly from the chemistry between the two sisters, played by Riverdale‘s Ashleigh Murray and singer Rachel Crow.
1 I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017)
Starring Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood, this bizarrely-titled comedy-thriller finds a depressed woman joining forces with her unruly neighbor as they set out to find a gang of thieves that has ransacked her home.
Another film that was screened at Sundance, it ended up winning the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic Competition. I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore also functions as an effective satire that touches upon gender norms, and American modernism.
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