So a new week has arrived, and you wanna plop down on the couch, fire up the ol’ set-top box, and stream a movie on Netflix. Hopefully, you’re feeling adventurous, and you want something new that’ll be good for you and your significant other. Something funny, but with a little more quirk or character than your typical spoof or romcom. Indie comedy it is, then. But beware — this is a big category, and it can take a long time to sift through it on a Friday night. That’s why you should consider watching these five flicks!
Directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood, School of Rock), this dark comedy is based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, an odd funeral director (Jack Black) who is beloved by the residents of his small Texas town. When Bernie grows unusually close with a wealthy but cruel older widow (Shirley MacLaine), the town isn’t sure what to think. But when the mean old widow goes missing, Bernie is suddenly the center of a legal firestorm conducted by the local DA (Matthew McConaughey). Presented in a half-mockumentary style, Bernie is wickedly funny, but carries the same small-town murder intrigue we saw in Making A Murderer. Think of it like Mike Judge (King of the Hill) meets Christopher Guest (Best in Show). If you binge watched Documentary Now!, you’ll love Bernie.
Though he’s certainly evolved as a filmmaker, Kevin Smith’s output since Red State has only grown more bizarre. Whether you like it or not, Smith has found a new comfort zone telling silly stories about cartoonish Canadians. He may be tired of hearing this, but that doesn’t matter: Clerks is undoubtedly Kevin Smith’s best and funniest picture, a deserving cult classic. It’s rough, it’s juvenile, and it’s aged remarkably well. If you’re in the mood to hear a pair of slacker nerds swearing at each other, consider Clerks your jam.
If you’re into the hipster comedy of HBO’s Girls, Frances Ha is the next step. Greta Gerwig (who co-wrote the screenplay with director Noah Baumbach) stars as Frances: a young Brooklyn dancer whose life is thrown into turmoil when Sophie, her best friend and roommate, decides to move to Tribeca. Frances must navigate the difficulties of being broke, finding a new place to live in New York, and dealing with the growing distance between her and Sophie. Trust me — it’s a lot funnier and fast-paced than any synopsis makes it sound. Gerwig imbues Frances with an endearing heap of insecurities.
Wet Hot American Summer
When it came out in 2001, the smattering of critical response it got was harsh and dismissive. But now, David Wain’s gonzo summer camp farce is widely regarded as being ahead of its time. Starring Janeane Garofolo, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and even more funny folks you’ll immediately recognize, Wet Hot American Summer is a perfect Friday night watch. And there’s more where that came from — Netflix’s prequel series is just as good. They have a sequel series in the works, too!
Sleepwalk With Me
Stand-up comic Mike Birbiglia made his directing debut with this film, which he adapted from his hilarious one-man show of the same name. Birbiglia stars as a fictionalized version of himself, a broke comic ascending through the first rough stages of his touring career. But his career and his relationship with his girlfriend are put at serious risk when he starts to show symptoms of REM Behavior Disorder: a dangerous condition that can prevent paralysis during REM sleep, so patients physically act out their dreams. The wonderful Carol Kane (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and James Rebhorn play Mike’s parents, which helps turns this otherwise good film into a damn good one.