FlixWorthy: Law Abiding Citizen Inherits Brewster's Millions
Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your weekly guide to Netflix streaming. Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's streaming catalogue. Some will be classics, some will be little-seen gems, some will be shows you might have missed, and some...some will be crap so awful they simply has to be seen to be believed. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.
(2009, Rated R, 109 min.)
Rarely have I been more annoyed with a movie than I was by Law Abiding Citizen. Gerard Butler takes time off from starring in horrible rom-coms to play Clyde Shelton, a man failed by the system he trusted to protect him. After his wife and daughter are killed, Shelton watches helplessly as the men responsible work a deal and go free. He resolves to take vengeance himself, a quest that puts him at odds with both the case's ambitious prosecutor (Jamie Foxx) and the legal system as a whole. Let's be frank: Law Abiding Citizen is not a very good movie. But for the first two-thirds of it or so, it has the makings of a guilty pleasure, a vicious little revenge fantasy where very bad things are done to very bad people. Then the movie begins to answer all the questions it's raised, and in the process, so totally abandons logic, realism, and believability that it undermines whatever enjoyment we may have gotten from it up to that point. It has its moments, but Law Abiding Citizen mostly serves as a cautionary tale about wrong-headed screenwriting. (And seriously, could somebody send an emergency shipment of hyphens to Hollywood already?)
Double-Feature It With:
(1995, Rated R, 172 min.)
If you're anything like me, after sitting through Law Abiding Citizen, you're going to need to cleanse your palate and temper your anger. I recommend doing so with a much better movie about very smart bad guys trying to outsmart very smart good guys.
(1985, Rated PG, 102 min.)
The FlixWorthy Grand Tour of Richard Pryor's career continues with a great little flick called Brewster's Millions. This time out Pryor is a down-on-his-luck baseball player who inherits $300 million from a dead uncle. Of course, there's a catch: he has 30 days to spend $30 million of the fortune or he doesn't get any of it...and he can't actually acquire anything during the spending spree. He hires a buddy (John Candy) to help out and the pair soon realize that spending that much money that quickly is harder than it sounds. Pryor and Candy make such a good match, you can't help but wish they'd done more movies together. This being a somewhat beloved '80s movie, there is of course a remake in the works, but it's hard to be too angry about that...the movie itself is an adaptation of a 1902 novel, and prior to Pryor coming along, the book had already been brought to the screen a half dozen times.
Double-Feature It With...
(1989, Rated PG, 100 min.)
One good Candy flick deserves another, and there are few better than this John Hughes movie that gave Candy one his best-remembered roles. I don't know about you, but I miss the big galoot.
(2008, Rated R, 148 min., HD)
John Woo took a break from Hollywood-style action with Red Cliff, an historical epic based on the Battle of Red Cliffs. The Mandarin-language spectacle clocks in at an imposing 148 minutes, so don't dive in unless your schedule is free and you don't mind subtitles. With a reported budget of $80 million, Red Cliff is one of the most expensive Asian films ever, and features a cast of thousands. If you were a fan of the enormous battles of the Lord of the Rings films (or less successful epics such as Troy or Kingdom of Heaven), you'll likely find plenty to love here, even if you're not familiar with Asian cinema. Take note that this version is the theatrical cut, which is a shortened and re-edited incarnation of the much longer two-part version that was released in Asia. If you want the full experience, Netflix also has parts one and two of the original international version available on disc.
Double-Feature It With...
The Emperor and the Assassin
(1998, Rated R, 161 min.)
This one's a shot in the dark, because my knowledge of Asian cinema is sadly limited. Suffice to say, it was the first thing Netflix recommended when I added Red Cliff to my queue and it has an 88% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, which is good enough for me.
(2007, Rated R, 117 min., HD)
If storytelling is in some ways the art of trapping your protagonists up a tree and then throwing rocks at them, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is a masterpiece. BTDKYD stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke as brothers who concoct a scheme to rob their parents' jewelry store, a scheme that goes wrong in pretty much every imaginable way. This is train-wreck entertainment, a thoroughly hypnotic tale that presents a series of events and then unfolds as its protagonists make horrible decision after horrible decision after horrible decision. It's like the scene where Indiana Jones flees a rolling boulder, but this time there's no question that it's going to crush him -- it's just a question of how far he'll make it before he gets pancaked. Fair warning: you will see more of Philip Seymour Hoffman than you probably ever cared to in the opening scene. You will also see quite a bit of Marisa Tomei, if that balances things out for you.
Double-Feature It With:
(1964, Not Rated, 112 min.)
After that bit of tragedy, you're going to need to unwind with something light-hearted. If you ever thought Dr. Strangelove would have been a great movie if it wasn't for all the comedy, Fail-Safe is for you.
(2010, Not Rated, 2 eps. available now)
Don't judge comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U'Know by their unfortunate feature-length experiment, Miss March. Instead judge them by their gun-control sketch wherein they argue for the necessity of baby-skull-seeking ammunition. Or the one where they reveal the terrible truth that Abraham Lincoln was actually killed by being hammered in the ass so much that he died of being hammered in the ass. Or -- my personal favorite -- the one about a pitch-meeting for a children's soda mascot named "The Grapist." Vulgar and hilarious, The Whitest Kids became a YouTube hit and have brought their comedy to IFC for three seasons so far, with this fourth just having started. Right now there are only two eps uploaded, but they're adding them weekly as the season progresses.
Double-Feature It With:
The League of Gentlemen: Series 1
(1999, Not Rated, 6 eps.)
Set in the fictional English town of Royston Vasey, The League of Gentlemen stars three actors as, well, pretty much the entire eccentric population of the village. A mix between sketch comedy and sitcom, the quirky show has three seasons and a Christmas special streaming on Netflix, so dive right in.
Last-Chance Theater -- Expiring Soon!
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Expires 6/27)
The first 10 seasons are streaming, but only for a couple of weeks. Time for a cram session!
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Expires 6/28)
Michael Cera branches out and plays an awkward teenager looking for love.
Rocky II and Rocky III (Expires 6/28)
Rocky squares off against Carl Weathers and Mr. T.
The Mangler (Expires 6/30)
There's no escape from an evil laundry-folding machine! Except, um, not actually approaching it.
Oscar and Lucinda (Expires 6/30)
Gambling and romance.
To read the FlixWorthy archives, click here!