After two weeks of protests and rioting centered around the already-depressing tragedy of George Floyd’s death, this week I’ve decided to spotlight some of the funniest movies on Netflix because we all desperately need to have some laughs. So search for any one of these on the site and enjoy, dear readers!
THE NAKED GUN AND NAKED GUN 2 ½: THE SMELL OF FEAR: No one ever could have guessed that the unsuccessful TV series Police Squad! would turn into the wildly successful film series The Naked Gun, which was such a hit on its 1988 release that it turned Leslie Nielsen into a massive star and produced two sequels. The first film is still a best, a gloriously ridiculous spoof of cop shows/films in which Nielsen’s Frank Drebin stumbles upon a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth II that involves Reggie Jackson. It’s too bad they don’t make movies this gloriously stupid (in a good way) as often as they did in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The second film is also on Netflix (but not the third.)
NACHO LIBRE: Jared Hess and Jack Black’s goofy senses of humor meshed well in this 2006 comedy hit. Black plays a cook at a Oaxacan monastery who unexpectedly becomes a famous luchador, but that’s just the skeleton of a plot on which to hang physical humor and silly behavior. It’s the kind of comedy that’s easy to put on in the background while you’re doing other things. Sometimes that’s all you want from Netflix. And it’s got a nice treatment of Catholic characters and their work with children to boot.
THE MONEY PIT: Tom Hanks used to just make movies to make us laugh, before he got two Oscars and turned into the Jimmy Stewart of our times. He and Shelley Long star in this 1986 hit about a couple who end up with a disastrous home and try to renovate it with hysterical results. A whole generation of ‘80s kids love this movie, which has a nice blend of physical comedy for the little ones and the kind of nightmarish situation to which their parents can relate. This is one you can watch with anyone in any generation of your family.
JULIE & JULIA: Meryl Streep landed an Oscar nomination for this Nora Ephron adaptation of two stories: the legendary Julia Child and a New Yorker named Julie Powell who tried to cook all 524 recipes of the famous chef. The movie is a little slight, but the performances are great, including Streep, Amy Adams, and Stanley Tucci. It’s also a movie with a nice message about getting outside your comfort zone and a reminder of how influential Julia Child was on the home chef market for generations.
The “Naked Gun” movies exist solely to make you laugh and laugh hard, and the same can be said for ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE, the movie that made Jim Carrey a superstar. It’s over 25 years old already, but its star’s fearless physical comedy style doesn’t really age. Carrey plays the title character, who gets caught up in a case involving the kidnapping of the Miami Dolphins mascot. It’s just an excuse for Carrey to act as goofy as possible. He would do anything to get a laugh.
THE AUSTIN POWERS TRILOGY
Mike Myers never could have imagined that his goofy superspy parody would launch a franchise, but all three films about the inimitable Austin Powers are on Netflix, just waiting for a rainy-day marathon. The reason these movies work is Myers’ complete fearlessness — he’ll also do anything to make you laugh. Yes, they’re filled with risqué sight gags and double entendres, but they’re also just PG13 and right now we all need to just forget everything and have some good guffaws.