Netflix's #1 movie is a comedy critics despise – watch these 4 highly-rated funnies instead

Old Dads still image showing Bill Burr looking angry
(Image credit: Netflix)

Sometimes we look at the charts and we wonder at the choices made by some of our fellow humans. And that's definitely the case looking at the Netflix global streaming chart this week: the most popular movie on the streaming service, the film that viewers have looked at and overwhelmingly said "yes, I am aware of the sheer range of cinematic history available to me including some of the greatest films ever made, and this definitely looks like the best option", is Old Dads.

If you're not familiar with the film, which has struggled with only a 24% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, it's a vehicle for comedian Bill Burr. It's essentially his stand-up act turned into a fairly predictable movie; if you like his act you'll probably like this, and if you don't you won't: Deadline says it's "a boorish and obnoxiously vulgar comedy"; The Associated Press says it's "a meandering, unfunny assault on PC culture" and Collider says that "the attempts to be offensive fail, the emotional beats are never effective, and despite a handful of good laughs and amusing cameos, it's never that funny." It will not be joining our list of the best Netflix movies, it's safe to say.

However, we like funny, so here are four highly rated alternatives you can watch on Netflix instead.

Midnight Run

Yes, it's old, much like the dads we're avoiding. And it's an old idea too: the good guy and bad guy who have to go on the run together, with hilarious consequences. But if you haven't seen this 1988 buddy movie starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, you're missing out on one of the funniest films of its genre and one of the funniest films period. The 95% Rotten Tomatoes critics rating is well deserved: as Film Frenzy says, it's "an extremely satisfying action-comedy, and one that still hasn't fully received its due".

It's up there with the very best road movies, and the chemistry between the two leads is the kind of thing you wish you could bottle and give to lesser actors. Because this is all about the acting: in lesser hands the clunkier bits of the plot would distract, but the double act is just too much fun to care about such minor things. 

Groundhog Day

Sometimes it's hard to remember just how weird Groundhog Day was: while it's firmly rooted in the tradition of screwball comedies, there's an inventiveness, a cynicism and a darkness here that's more akin to It's a Wonderful Life. It's another case of material that's elevated by the actors and directors, in this case director Harold Ramis and the perfect pairing of Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. And it features one of the greatest punches in cinema history. We've seen this more times than we can count (appropriately) and it still delivers big laughs every time.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Life of Brian tends to get most of the accolades, but for our money this is the funnier of the Monty Python movies. Made on a budget of what looks to be around the same as you'd spend on a second-hand bike, it's a gloriously silly movie, endlessly inventive and very, very stupid in the way only movies made by very clever people can be. It takes everything that was great about the Python TV shows without the bad (the show is very uneven and often finds itself much funnier than it is; unlike the films, it hasn't aged well) and distils it to the very essence of absurd comedy – at its worst, it's mereyly funny, and at its best it'll make you laugh so hard you'll worry you've damaged something internal and important. 

They Cloned Tyrone

With 95% Rotten Tomatoes approval ratings from the critics and 100% from viewers, this sci-fi comedy is as popular as it's funny. There are serious smarts here both in terms of the writing and in the direction, and it's a stereotype-smashing, genre-hopping burst of absolute joy that has enormous fun with the tropes of ’70s blaxsploitation movies and even a bit of Scooby-Doo. Jamie Foxx, John Boyega and Teyonah Parris are spectacular, and the film manages the very tricky balancing act of putting social commentary into a fun and very funny film. Did we mention that it's funny?

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.