FlixWorthy Brings You Toys, Time Machines, And The Twilight Zone
Your guide to Netflix streaming is back with Toy Story 3, a time-traveling hot tub, and a portal into the Twilight Zone. Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's Instant Watch 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.
Toy Story 3
(2010, Rated G, 102 min.)
Do I even need to sell you on this one? It's Pixar, a company that can damn near do no wrong (even if I still don't have any real desire to see Cars). It's the third film in one of the most beloved family-friendly series in recent memory. It won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. It's freakin' Toy Story, man! If Pixar and Disney decide to continue the franchise, I have no doubt they'll come up with something good, but I almost wish they would simply let Toy Story 3 be their final word on Buzz, Woody, and the gang. It's hard to imagine a more eloquent, more emotional, more pitch-perfect send-off for Andy's toys, especially since there are quite a few audience members who have literally grown up with the movies, their development paralleling Andy's. In Toy Story, Pixar has given us that all-too-rare commodity: a perfect trilogy. Now if only Netflix would add the first two movies to their streaming catalogue.
Double-Feature It With...
(2009, Rated PG, 96 min.)
Speaking of perfection, I challenge you to find a more beautifully realized cinematic moment than the montage that carries us through the lives of Carl and Ellie. You may find some that equal it, but I doubt you'll find any that surpass the simple and elegant way it tells an entire story almost entirely through visuals. Granted, you may have a hard time fully appreciating it over the sound of your blubbering. The rest of the film is a great, entertaining adventure, but Up is never better than during the time we spend with Carl and Ellie. And yes, I realize I've recommended it before, but I don't care. I can't think of a better pairing for Toy Story 3.
Hot Tub Time Machine
(2010, Rated R, 100 min.)
There have been plenty of movie premises that sounded ridiculous over the years. Some, such as Snakes on a Plane, prove that just because a one-line pitch makes you laugh, that doesn't mean it can hold up for 90 minutes. Others prove just crazy enough to work -- witness Hot Tub Time Machine. HTTM fully embraces the stupidity of its premise, but then crafts a support structure composed of a solid cast, more pop culture references than you can count, and the best running joke involving the severing of a man's arm this or any other generation has ever seen. The motley assemblage of John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, and Clark Duke somehow manage to work as a group of friends hoping to recapture their youth by returning to the scene of hedonism past, and the script by Josh Heald, Sean Anders, and John Morris takes great pleasure in embracing then inherent logical gaps in any time travel story.
Double-Feature It With:
Being John Malkovich
(1999, Rated R, 112 min., HD)
Speaking of bizarre concepts, you'd be hard pressed to find one odder than that of Being John Malkovich. But whereas Hot Tub Time Machine gleefully seizes hold of the ridiculous, Being John Malkovich sets up camp squarely in the middle of the peculiar. An office located on the 7 1/2th floor. Brain portals hidden behind filing cabinets. An army of Malkovichi. It doesn't get any weirder than this, and I'm fairly certain his appearance in this movie is directly responsible for Charlie Sheen eventually losing his mind.
(1966, Not Rated, One Season Available, HD)
Ah, Glee. Every once in a while there's some monumental pop culture phenomenon that seizes ahold of the public consciousness, and which I just don't get. Glee is one such phenomenon, settling in alongside American Idol, the Twilight series, and the Transformers movies. But while their successes may befuddle me, that doesn't mean I can deny them. So for all you Gleeks out there (That is what you prefer to be called, isn't it? Did you intentionally name yourself after a cartoon monkey?), Netflix has added the first season of Glee to its streaming catalogue. This is part of the deal Netflix just signed with Fox, so presumably more seasons will become available in the future. So you'll be able to sing along while dancing around your living room in your underwear at your leisure, if that's the sort of thing you're into.
Double-Feature It With:
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey
(1993, Rated PG, 83 min.)
If you'd like a musical journey more eclectic than a bunch of twentysomethings pretending to be teenagers while covering modern pop hits, perhaps you'd like to learn the history of the theremin. If you have no idea of what a thermin is, I assure you that you've encountered one if you've ever watched any '50s monster movies. The unmistakable warbling sound has become synonymous with rubber-suited alien invaders and giant radioactive critters of every sort. This great little documentary introduces us to the man who invented the device, a refugee from the Russian communist revolution who was later dragged back by Soviet agents and forced to invent spy tech. Suck on that, Mr. Glockenspiel.
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones
(1992, Not Rated, Three Seasons Available)
Showing us "the early years" of popular characters is always a gamble. Especially when George Lucas is involved. Try as we might, some of us will never be able to fully enjoy the original Star Wars films without picturing Hayden Christensen's head under the iconic Vader mask in every scene, probably whining about sand. Thankfully, when Lucas decided to create a series focusing on various stages of Indiana Jones' adolescence, the results were considerably more enjoyable than the glimpses he provided at mini-Vader. Airing in the early '90s, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles followed the adventures of Henry Jones Jr. as both a child (Corey Carrier) and as a young adult (Sean Patrick Flannery). While his most epic adventures were still years away, the series sees Indy traipse around the globe, encountering a parade of famous personages, getting into trouble, and covertly teaching the young audience about history. The show is hit and miss, but there are plenty of gems to be found, and it's a great sneaky instructional tool. Netflix has added all three of the volumes previously released on DVD, so clear your schedule, dive in, and try to forget that The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ever happened.
Double-Feature It With:
Beauty and the Beast
(1987, Not Rated, Three Seasons Available)
Another fond relic from my childhood, Beauty and the Beast is the sort of show that would probably never make it to air these days. Or if it did, the middle-aged leads would be rewritten as a pair of love-struck teens. Come to think of it, I'm kind of astonished that remake hasn't happened yet. Screw that noise. Give me Linda Hamilton, a leonine Ron Perlman as Vincent, and love amongst the sewers.
(1994, Unrated, Four eps.)
While many of Stephen King's works have made it to the big screen, for both good (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) and ill (Dreamcatcher, Secret Window), there was a time during the '90s when it seemed like a year couldn't go by without a new miniseries or TV movie adaptation of his books. Some were quite forgettable (The Langoliers), but some are fondly remembered even today. Top of this list would be It (the first half, anyway) and this version of King's epic, post-apocalyptic tome, The Stand. While stuck within the confines of a TV budget, the series was event television at the time, and sported a solid cast including Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, and Ossie Davis. Until one of the cable networks decides to throw a few million at it to make a definitive version unhampered by network standards and practices, this one will have to do.
Double-Feature It With:
Sons of Anarchy
(2008, TV-MA, Two Seasons Available, HD)
You shouldn't need any excuse to check out FX's excellent biker drama, but if you simply must have a tie-in, how about this: Stephen King did a cameo in a season three episode last year. Granted, you can't watch that episode since season three isn't streaming yet. But like I said: you shouldn't need an excuse.
The Twilight Zone
(1959, Not Rated, Three Seasons Available, HD)
It wasn't long ago that I raved about the new Blu-ray release of The Twilight Zone's first season. If my lavish praise didn't sway you enough to pick up the set, good news: Netflix has posted a whole mess of classic Twilight Zone, all available in glorious HD. As I said in the review, the show looks amazing in HD despite being 50 years old, and most of the episodes still hold up wonderfully. While TZ has been in syndication for longer than many of us have been alive, it's fascinating to revisit the show back to back. For every well-known classic such as "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," you'll likely discover several gems you've either never seen or simply don't remember. What, you'd rather be watching The Voice?
Double-Feature It With:
(1966, Not Rated, Seven Seasons Available, HD)
Yes, long before Tom Cruise was starring in increasingly incoherent big-screen Mission: Impossible flicks, the IMF was undertaking impossible missions at the behest of Jim Phelps (Peter Graves). Netflix has added all seven seasons of the series, and supposedly the show is pretty damn good for about half of those. Either way, keep your eyes out for Martin Landau and Leonard Nimoy.
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