It's Thanksgiving, which means appreciating our good fortune, over-eating and spending time with loved ones. But if you spend enough time with loved ones, you run out of stuff to talk about and do. Entertain your family and yourselves with some great titles on Netflix Instant Watch this weekend.
With Family (mostly parent and kid-safe):
Sure, we've all seen it. But with the news that Arrested Development is returning to television exclusively via Netflix in 2013 (can I actually count on its return now? I don't know, I'm still nervous), what better way to celebrate than by re-watching the original three seasons start to finish? And the Bluths' spectacular disfunctionality can only make your own family look better by comparison.
The short-lived ABC sitcom takes place in ominous pharmaceutical company Veridian Dynamics. While the titular protagonist Ted is a little bland, the supporting cast of this comedy is amazing, particularly Porta de Rossi as hard-core, cold-ass Veridian executive Veronica. (Yes, that's right. I'm recommending two de Rossi sitcoms back to back. She rules.) The highly unethical scientific endeavors of Veridian make for great action, and the series' quirky, heightened comedy is refreshingly original--and probably the reason it was canceled so quickly.
The 1996 Jane Austen adaptation stars Gwyneth Paltrow at her most ineffable, before she became sort of insufferable. The titular heroine is nosy, bossy and unbelievably charming, and the comedy of manners written and directed by Douglas McGrath is honestly hilarious. Skeptical gentlemen, trust me. You will laugh out loud.
If you never got a chance to watch this commercially challenged, critically acclaimed series about football (and oh so much more) in a small East Texas town, now's your chance. FNL is stunningly directed with wonderful performances and a family-friendly message that you'll still find absolutely riveting. Don't care about football? Take my word for it. You'll love the show, anyway.
Right now Netflix is offering several classic Gregory Peck films: Twelve O'Clock High, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit, The Bravados, Mirage, Arabesque and Sea Wolves. Pick your faves and cuddle up for several hours of one of Hollywood's most beloved stars.
MST3K has the sort of sense of humor that delights all and offends none. Goofing on some of the most adorably crap B movies in existence, Joel-or-Mike and his robot pals put on a great show, and Netflix offers dozens of these doozies.
I love Jane Austen, okay? And the two films on this list are two of the best adaptations of her works, the flawless 5-hour mini-series of P&P aside. Ang Lee's lush 1995 film, from the screenplay by star Emma Thompson, is gorgeous, heart-wrenching and utterly engaging. Co-starring Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman, this film won't leave a dry eye in the house.
Disney's Rapunzel pic from last year is a charming blast, a perfect choice to entertain the kids without making the grown-ups want to eat a gun. With voice talent from Mandy Moore, Zachari Levi and Ron Perlman, great jokes, music by Disney vet Alan Menken and a decadently evil queen performance by Donna Murphy, the film feels like a throwback in story with fresh new animation.
This quirky townie tale starring, written, directed and composed by Talking Head's David Byrne is an absolute delight to any-age audiences. With co-starring turns by John Goodman and Swoosie Kurtz, a grand finale at the town's "Celebration of Specialness," and the greatest soundtrack ever, True Stories is pure pleasant entertainment.
Recently added to the Instant Watch lineup, The Wonder Years hasn't changed a frame from the nostalgia-drenched family drama you remember. Kevin's still outrageously adorable, Paul is still painfully dorky, Kevin's dad is still a hard-ass, Winnie's still shy and beautiful and Wayne is still a total dick.
After The Fam Goes To Sleep (unless your parents are cooler than mine):
Rian Johnson's feature debut is a staggering feat. Shot in 20 days, edited on a home computer and made for under $500,000, possibly the most impressive aspect of the film is that it's a noir set in high school that isn't annoying--at least partially due to a smokin' hot performance by perpetual badass Joseph Gordon-Levitt. With rapid-fire dialogue and a ton of clever twists, Brick is solid cinema.
This is what I intend to watch this holiday weekend after the in-laws have hit the sack, because believe it or not, I've never seen it. Feel free to bombard me with aghast comments in the thread below.
I've written about Children's Hospital a time or two or three on BAD, so I won't go on too long here except to say that one episode of this show will only take five minutes of your life. It's perfect post-turkey, pre-pass out comedy.
The House of Yes is one of those movies that I have periodically checked Instant Watch for through the years, always assuming that it must be streaming because it's such a perfect fit for that format. The 1997 Mark Waters pitch black comedy stars Parker Posey at her posiest, as a Jackie O-obsessed, murderously jealous twin. AND it's a Thanksgiving movie! Perfection.
The 2010 haunted house movie by Saw creators James Wan and Leigh Wannell caught me completely off guard. The film is legitimately scary with an unpredictable twist on the haunted house oeuvre. The end is a bit of a letdown, but most of the film is pure fun.
I actually missed this 2010 Fantastic Fest film by Alex de la Iglesia and have been dying to see it ever since. And now I can, and so can you! It's a gory circus flick that triples as dark comedy and social commentary. The trailer blows my mind:
The unusual FX series written, directed by and starring Louis C.K., sees the comedian playing himself in a series of increasingly uncomfortable vignettes. The show's modern format and incisive writing make it one of my favorite new(ish) comedies.
This documentary by Mark Hartley, the director of Not Quite Hollywood, dives deep into the world of exploitation films made in the Philippines in the 70s and 80s by shock maestros such as Roger Corman and Eddie Romero and starring Pam Grier, among others. The movie is a total blast, much more fun than any documentary has a right to be.
A 1990 British film by director Nigel Cole stars Brenda Blethyn as a mild, widowed gardening-lover who learns that her late husband was unfaithful and left her with nearly insurmountable debt, to boot. Grace collaborates with her yard guy to begin growing and selling high-grade hydroponic pot to counter her debt. If it sounds like Weeds, it's because Weeds totally ripped off Saving Grace.
A summer camp satire starring most of The State, Wet Hot American Summer is hilarious and adorable, imminently quotable and fun. The ensemble cast is made of some of the greatest names in comedy, with lots of names that have gotten much bigger since (Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, etc).
At The Theater:
For you and the fam, it's a no brainer, y'all.
I hope these titles help pass the time you spend with those you love. Happy Thanksgiving, BAD guys.